§ The following Amendment stood on the Order Paper, in the name of Sir ADAM MAITLAND: In page 15, line 41, to leave out "local education authority may determine," and insert "instrument may provide."
§ The Deputy-Chairman
As the hon. Member is not present, and as there is a further Amendment down, on much the same lines, in the name of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay), perhaps the hon. Member would move that Amendment.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I beg to move, in page 15, line 42, at the end, to insert:Provided that not less than one-third include parents and other persons not being members of the local authority.Whether this Amendment is on the same lines as the other I am not quite certain, but it is very much the same as the previous Amendment. Its object is to secure that parents and persons with educational experience who are co-opted shall be put on the governing bodies of these schools. I do not think I need add anything to that, as I made a speech earlier to-day which covered much of this ground, and I want to save time.
§ Sir J. Mellor
Is it your intention, Mr. Williams, that the Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Ilford (Mr. Hutchinson)—in page 15, line 42, at the end, to insert:Provided that a majority of such persons shall be appointed by the county district council in the area served by such school"—shall be discussed at the same time?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
There are four Amendments which cover much the same point—the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Faversham (Sir A. Maitland); the Amendment which has now been moved; an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd) in line 42; and an Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Ilford (Mr. Hutchinson), also in line 42—and I think we can discuss them together.
§ Mr. Butler
The mover of the original Amendment is not in his place, and there is nobody to move the Amendment. Can we discuss it?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I have called the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) to move his Amendment. They are much the same, and we can discuss them together.
§ Sir J. Mellor
Is not the Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Ilford and others, including myself, rather different from the other Amendments which you have mentioned? I want to be quite clear whether you wish it to be discussed with the Amendment which you have called, or at some other time.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I called this particular Amendment in the hope that the four Amendments would be discussed together. That is definitely my Ruling and any point arising should come in on this Amendment.
§ Sir J. Mellor
As the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ilford (Mr. Hutchinson)—in page 15, line 42, at end, insert:Provided that a majority of such persons shall be appointed by the county district council in the area served by such school"—is to be now discussed I would like to call attention to its terms. It is to secure that a majority of the persons who shall constitute the body of governors shall be 2307 appointed by the county district council in the area to be served by the school. That will mean that the local education authority, having the power to determine the manner in which the body of governors shall be appointed, shall be limited to that extent and so secure in any event that the county district council, whose area is served by the school, shall have a majority representation upon the body of governors. This is of considerable importance, because it is the anxiety of many people, and, I think, of the Government, to preserve local interest. We have discussed at other times the relationship between county councils and county district councils in regard to the future arrangements under this Bill. I do not want now to indulge in a sort of Second Reading discussion upon the respective positions of county councillors and countydistrict councillors, but it is clear that the county district councillors are far more closely in touch with the people in the county districts than are the county councillors who represent that district on the county council. That is a matter of experience. It is partly due to the much greater interest taken by the local newspapers in the proceedings of the county district councils than in the proceedings of the county councils. The people who are really concerned—the parents—will be much more familiar with their representatives on the county district councils than with their representatives on the county councils. Therefore, if the say in the constitution of the body of governors really rests with county district councils, there will be far more local confidence and we shall preserve local interest in a far more satisfactory way. Although I cannot move this Amendment, I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will give a satisfactory assurance on this point.
§ Mr. A. Bevan
It does not seem to me that this discussion has gone very much further. Consultation now depends largely on schemes which will be drawn up later on. I understand that there will be a county divisional executive, and various schemes drawn up by these managing bodies will have their fixed place. I should have thought that it would have been the desire of the Board of Education and certainly of local authorities, to identify with local schools as many local people as possible and not to draw them from other areas where they 2308 cannot possibly have much interest in the administration of these schools.
§ Mr. Ede
My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) has suggested that these matters will be dealt with under the scheme. I do not think that they will be dealt with only under the schemes of local administration, because we desire that each of the schools, as far as possible, and within reasonable limits, should have an independent life of its own and have a governing body. I would suggest to the hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor) that we do not want to restrict in one set form the way in which these schemes for governing bodies shall be made up. I imagine that in most cases, from such experience as I have had, the majority of the people will come from the locality. I do not find that they divide themselves up on the governing body between county representatives and county district representatives. Once they get on to the governing body they are all genuinely concerned with promoting the best life of the school that is possible. I have known this happen: when, for some reason or other, the proportion of people appointed by one body or another has been altered, the first meeting after the reorganisation has resulted in the same old faces in the same old places, but representing different people and carrying on in much the same old way without having regard to whether they were appointed by the town council or the county council. I imagine, as I said in an earlier discussion to-day, that we shall find most of these governing bodies will be constituted, so many people to be appointed by the county council and so many to be appointed by the local district council or councils served by the school, some other person appointed to represent the universities, and possibly one or two other people to be appointed from other interests who, either from a historical or some other reason, had some connection with the school. It might tie the hands of the people drawing up the scheme if they had to make certain that a majority of the people should be appointed from one district.
§ Mr. Ede
Which the local education authority, that is the county council or county borough council, make for county schools. They have responsibility placed upon them and are responsible for financing the school and they have to draw it up. I suppose that they might, in the unwise exercise of that discretion, decree that everybody should be a member of the appointing council. I cannot help thinking that, in a county area, it would result in never being able to get a quorum at the governors' meeting. That would be the first practical objection. If we rule that out as unlikely in a county area—the Amendment referred to by the hon. Member for Tamworth is only concerned with county areas, because there are no county district councils in county boroughs—the wisest possible thing to do is to leave this matter to be dealt with reasonably. My right hon. Friend has promised that with regard to the whole question of the government of secondary schools he is going to lay down certain general principles which will have to be observed, and I am sure one of the general principles required will be that there shall be active association between the district and the school, the district being that in which the school is situated or the district it serves, which is not always the same thing.
My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) raised the point that was partly covered by the last Amendment which we discussed on the previous Clause—the question of the appointment of parents and other persons not being members of the local authority. There, again, we desire that educational influences from the district shall be brought to bear on the school. The fixing of any exact proportion might sometimes cause difficulty and it would be unwise to lay down such a proportion. We accept the view that these governing bodies should be constituted from as wide an area of people in sympathy with secondary education as possible, and in the main, in the past, the local education authorities have endeavoured to secure the recruitment of suitable people to these bodies.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Will there be a guarantee that the promises made by the right hon. Gentleman about the general principles 2310 will be covered? I want this to be made clear. If one takes London, and there is a vacancy in a certain area for a county secondary school, it is the person who is next on the Labour or other party whip who is made a governor of the school. That may be a good thing or a bad thing, but I want it to be possible for a person interested in education in that area also to be brought in.
§ Mr. Silkin
There is no list of potential people. Whenever there is a vacancy, a person is chosen on his merits on educational grounds.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I took the trouble to make special inquiries about this matter, and it is the next person, or the person on the party ticket. He may be interested in education but not always. There are masses of people about who are interested in education, and we want to see them given a chance in education.
§ Mr. Bevan
I am a little more frightened now than before, and I will tell the Committee why. We are going to have a considerable conflict between the extinguished Part III authorities and the county councils about the local schemes to be drawn up. I have a Part III authority in my area and I have been telling them, perhaps wrongly, that, under the delegated powers which will arise when the schemes are drawn up, not only will they not lose their administrative interest in education but there will be a possibility that they will be able to interest themselves also in the administration of secondary schools from which they are now excluded.
§ Mr. Bevan
Not as authorities but as individuals concerned with education. They say that the Part III authorities are to be extinguished and that they are going to be taken over by the county authority. They are very keen about education and they may or may not themselves have a chance of being included in the schemes, and, certainly, they may not have a chance at all of having any interest in the secondary schools in the area, of which there will be a considerable number, if the provisions of the Bill are carried out. The Minister may draw up general principles but he will be stopped applying them if these words are carried out:The instrument of government for every county secondary school shall provide for the constitution of a body of governors consisting 2311 of such number of persons appointed in such manner as the local education authority may determine.I can quite see that, first of all, you are going to have an incipient antagonism between the extinguished Part III authority members and the county council over the content of the new scheme, and one of the by-products of that unhappiness may be that the county councils will exclude from the board of governors of secondary schools any of those individuals who have been taking part in the controversy and who are members of Part III authorities.
§ Captain Cobb
Several of the hon. Member's Friends have told the Committee to-day that the local education authority can be trusted always and every way. The hon. Member is now arguing against that.
§ Mr. Bevan
No, I myself took part in a Division just now in which I wanted the local authority to have more control. Nothing at all that I am saying will diminish the financial control of the county authority. We are talking about administrative organisation, not financial control at all. We are concerned that a county school shall have its own governing body vitally associated with it and interested in the life of the secondary school, but, at the same time, we want to be sure that the county authority will not be able to override any local claims. They will do that if these words become part of the Act and that would stop the Minister from interfering at all with the constitution of the governing body.
§ Mr. Loftus (Lowestoft)
I only intervene for a few moments because of remarks made by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay), who appears to think of a governing body in party terms. I have been a member of an education authority for many years and I have never known party considerations to enter into the appointment of a governor of a secondary school. In reply to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who asked about members of Part III authorities, we have 18 governors—12 representing the borough and six appointed by the county council. The appeal I would make to the Parliamentary Secretary is this. There are men working in these local authorities who have years of experience, and, while I 2312 accept his assurance that local authorities will engage their services in the future, could we not have some phrase making it more or less obligatory that local authorities should consult with the district authority so as to ensure that the services of these administrators shall be used in the future?
§ Mr. Lipson
I want to be consistent and say again that, as I advocated earlier, we should continue to trust the local authorities. In reply to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), these secondary school governors have hitherto been appointed by the county education committee, because they have administered secondary education. My experience is that, when there is a vacancy, it is the usual thing to appoint a governor from the area concerned. I think there is a very strong claim for the local county councillor to be appointed to the school in his area, and, as a matter of fact, the practice in one local authority which I know is that, when there is a vacancy for a governor of a secondary school, the senior county councillor, after consultation with his colleagues, is asked to name one of his colleagues who would be best fitted to serve, and this recommendation has to be approved by the county authority.
§ Sir J. Mellor
I am hardly reassured by what the Parliamentary Secretary said. There has often been a history of a certain amount of discord between county district councils that have been Part III authorities and the county councils. There has often been friction in other matters, and a certain amount of antagonism in the past, That may not immediately disappear, and, therefore, I think that it is necessary to have close regard to the words of this paragraph, as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale pointed out. What the Parliamentary Secretary said rather conveyed to my mind the idea that he looked to the instrument to secure adequate representation to the county district council. The instrument, if I read these words in the correct way, does not seem to me to do that. The instrument enables the local education authority to decide the manner in which these people are to be appointed. That is, surely, leaving the matter entirely in the hands of the local education authority, and though the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale made this quite 2313 clear I think we should have a very clear answer on this point. I cannot see that the Government, whatever their desire may be, will have any influence over the matter, which is entirely, as I read it, in the hands of the local education authority.
§ Mr. Silkin
Does not the Minister have to approve the instrument? If the instrument provides for unsuitable representation on the governors, he can then deal with it.
§ Mr. Ede
I am sorry to disappoint my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin), but the Minister does not make the instrument in the case of the county school. It is the instrument which we are discussing. If I may deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) about its relationship to the divisional administration, if he will look at page 81 of the Bill he will see that, in paragraph (2) of Part 3 of the First Schedule, beginning at line 28, the Divisional Executive is formed:For the purpose of exercising on behalf of the authorities, in such of the divisions as may be specified in the schemes, such functions relating to primary and secondary education as may be so specified:Let us assume that, among the functions not delegated, was that of the appointment of the governors of a county secondary school. The Ebbw Vale urban district, in the case in which the hon. Member of Ebbw Vale is interested, would make representations to the Minister that the delegation was incomplete, and at that stage, therefore, it would be possible for them to make representations that they were being unfairly treated by the county council. I think that also partly answers the point put to me by the hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor). May I say that one cannot have served on an urban council and then on a county council without knowing that there are occasions when acute friction arises between these two bodies, but, by and large, in the country, in all administrative matters like this, I think it will be found that reasonable counsels prevail, especially with the county council and the county district councils.
I suggest that the experience of the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) in regard to the way county council representation is made is a pretty general one
. 2314 The county councillors for the area covered by the school are asked to meet together and recommend someone who is a suitable person. They may choose one of their own members. Provided that the actual county council representation is not overloaded, surely that is all to the good, and there should be direct representation of the county council on the governing body. The words used by the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) show that, in another part of the country, that is, in fact, the practice, and a very important county council has had responsibility in the past for the administration of higher education in an important borough. There is a scheme by which this representation is arranged on the basis of six from the county council, five appointed by the county district councils, with three others co-opted and one appointed by the University. That kind of arrangement is the one generally adopted, although the actual numbers may vary. I am quite sure that any county council that may have been in doubt as to the wishes of the House will have learned its lesson from to-day's discussion, and I suggest that this is one of the matters in which we must leave in the Act some responsibility on the local authority, some power of initiative and some power of discretion, and this House, I am quite sure, has no reason to fear that county councils are likely to be either revolutionary or hostile bodies to the cause of secondary education.
§ Mr. Bevan
It is no use for hon. Members to be ready to brush this aside, because I want to know what is the meaning of what the hon. Gentleman has now said. In the original statement, I said I thought that the schemes to be drawn up, which will, subsequently, have to be submitted for the approval of the Minister, would include the county council, and he said "No," because it is intended that county councils shall have managing bodies of their own.
§ Mr. Bevan
Certainly, that is what we are now dealing with. I said originally that the divisional executive schemes, to which reference is made in Part III of the First Schedule, would include local secondary schools. I was informed by the hon. Gentleman that I was wrong. I 2315 then pointed out that, if I was wrong, the language of Clause 18 places the absolute authority in the hands of the county council, and that nothing the Minister wishes can have the slightest effect on what they do. I want to know which now prevails.
It now appears from Part III of the Schedule:This Part of this Schedule shall not apply to any local education authority which is the council of a county borough.The hon. Gentleman referred me to these words:schemes … for the purpose of exercising on behalf of the authorities, in such of the divisions, as may be specified in the schemes, such functions relating to primary and secondary education as may be so specified.But under the language of Clause 18 the secondary schools are specifically excluded. Now which part of the Bill prevails? Because there is obviously conflict here. I do not want to be contentious.
§ Mr. Ede
But there is no obligation to delegate it. However, I do not think that was the point which was really interesting the Committee at the time I spoke. They were interested in the point of who is to appoint the members of the governing body once the instrument of government has been drawn. That was the point to which I was directing my attention, and the attention of the hon. Member, when I referred to the second paragraph of Part III of the First Schedule. One of the functions of the local education authority may be the appointment of a certain number of the governors. That is a function which could be delegated to the county district council, and if the instrument of government did not provide for the county district council nominating, of its own volition—apart from any scheme of divisional administration—a certain number of governors, the county district council could complain when the scheme was submitted, that they were not able to discharge any of the functions of the 2316 county council with respect to the appointment of governors of secondary schools. In that way, it would be brought within the notice of my right hon. Friend and he would be able, either to direct that the functions should be delegated by amending the scheme, or to make such other representations to the county council as to ensure that the county district council would have some effective representation on the governing body.
§ Mr. Bevan
I am very grateful to my hon. Friend, and I appreciate very much the complexities of the task that he has in hand, but I am bound to say, and the Members of the Committee would agree with me, that there remains a conflict between the two sections of the Bill. Let us suppose that the county council has drawn the instrument of government for a secondary school, in accordance with the powers conferred by Clause 18. Supposing that that instrument provided for no representation whatsoever from the members of the Part III authorities, in accordance with their powers here, but they said "Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So shall be members of the body, and X.Y.Z. shall be there." The Minister cannot say a word to them under Clause 18, for they have drawn up their instrument of government. Then, in the meantime, the local schemes have been drawn up in accordance with the language that the hon. Member and myself have read out twice, which is supposed to include both secondary and primary education. In that scheme, no provision would be made for the Part III authority to have representation on the Board of Governors of the secondary school in the terms of the instrument already drawn up by the county authority. What power would my right hon. Friend have under Clause 18 to interfere? Because, although he appears to have power here, it is taken away in Clause 18.
§ Mr. Butler
Perhaps I can help. These things are very difficult, but the Committee are getting a little muddled between the Part III authority which has certain duties and powers delegated to it at the end of the Bill, and the question of this instrument which comes in Clause 18. I will try to speak without reference to papers and I would explain it like this. What the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) is worried about is that a representative of his Part III authority, 2317 in the future, might not, in the case of a county secondary school, in which a representative of that borough was interested, be able to be on the governing body of that secondary school owing to the fact that the power is placed by the Bill in the hands of the county council. That is his problem and I must try to help him.
The position as I see it is this, that the scheme as between the Part III authority and the county council—and my remarks are of general, not particular application—is made as between those two units, and in the case of an excepted district, it is made on the initiative of the Part III authority itself. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman's case is the case of an excepted district. It is what is known as an ordinary divisional executive. In that case, the scheme of arrangement of powers as between the two, especially in regard to this sort of question dealing with secondary education, is made between the two bodies with the initiative lying with the county council. But it is possible for the divisional executive to express its views and, in the event of the divisional executive not being satisfied, it is possible for the member to go to the Minister. If it is not possible, when we reach that part of the Bill, I intend to make it clear that it is possible for the question to go to the Minister.
I think the answer to the hon. Gentleman's difficulty is that if the smaller place is not sufficiently keen on getting decent burghers and citizens represented on its secondary schools at the time the scheme is made, if it is not so keen as to bring the matter to the attention of the Minister, then that place cannot really be fully awake, and the opportunity given to the hon. Gentleman and his friends is at the time of the making of the scheme of local administration. When they do not feel they have their position secured in regard to their secondary schools, they say so to their county council. If the county council bullies them and says "No," they must so arrange their machinery that the case comes to the Minister. It is that case I have been discussing outside and inside this House, and it is that case I want to meet—the opportunity for the Minister to come in, in a case of the minor authority feeling aggrieved. I will try to meet the hon. Member in the matter. I think it is already in the Schedule, but if not, I shall try to see that there is a power of appeal to the Minister.
§ Mr. Butler
I shall simply want to see that the scheme of education is so arranged that the hon. Gentleman's friends do not feel themselves aggrieved.
§ Sir J. Mellor
Does the Minister intend to take power so that if a county district council makes complaint that it is not getting sufficient representation on a body of governors, he will then be in a position to interfere with the terms of the instrument or the exercise of powers under that instrument by the county council so as to secure that the county district council shall have adequate representation?
§ Mr. Butler
Yes, provided the hon. Gentleman understands that the time for the aggrieved district to see to these matters is when its scheme of education in regard to secondary education is drawn up. If he does it at that time I can come in and help.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. C. Davies
I beg to move, in page 15, line 46, at the end, to insert:after consultation with the local education authority concerned.This deals with auxiliary schools. The first part deals with the county secondary school and, as the Committee will be aware, in the case of auxiliary secondary schools, they are to be conducted in accordance with the articles of government made in the case of auxiliary schools by an order of the Minister under Clause 16 (3). This provides that the instrument of government made by a Minister for every auxiliary secondary school shall provide for the constitution of a body of governors of the school, consisting of such number of persons as the Minister may determine. All I am suggesting is that, before so determining, he ought to consult the local education authority. I am sure that any reasonable Minister would consult the local education authority but, in future, we may not have as reasonable a Minister as we have to-day.
§ Mr. Ede
I hope it will convince my hon. and learned Friend that my right hon. Friend is very reasonable if I say that I am instructed to accept this Amend. 2319 ment Clearly, the local educational authority should have some voice in the arrangement of this instrument, in view of the heavy financial cost involved in this scheme.
§ Mr. Butler
Before the Amendment is put, Major Milner, may I say that the form of wording has been brought to my attention? It should be, after "may" to insert the words proposed. Will the hon. and learned Member accept that form? It comes to the same thing.
§ Mr. C. Davies
I am not sure. I prefer my English, but if that is the draftsman's English I give way.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment made: In page 15, line 46, after "may", insert:
after consultation with the local education authority."—[Mr. C. Davies.]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir Frank Sanderson (Ealing)
On a point of Order, Major Milner, may I ask whether it is your intention to rule out the Amendment standing in my name?
§ The Chairman
I have not selected the hon. Member's Amendment. In point of fact, it is out of Order, as it is not in the right place.
§ Mr. Lipson
While I have opposed every attempt to make any rigid recommendation in regard to the constitution of these governing bodies, I think it is advisable that governing bodies should be as aware as possible of the view of the Members of the Committee as to their constitution, so that they may, at least, have guidance. I would express the hope that when the local education authorities are appointing their governing bodies of secondary schools, they should consider the advisability of having members of the teaching staff on those governing bodies. That would tend to improve the spirit of co-operation in the school and would be 2320 all to the good of the school. I should also like to see a representative of the assistant masters or mistresses, If that were done, there would be a greater understanding between the governing body and the staff than exists at present, and difficulties that might be serious if they were not dealt with in time, could be brought to the notice of the governing body. At the same time, I think the staffs would appreciate the difficulties that the governing bodies would also have to overcome. It is really applying to our schools something of the principle we have set up in industry, so far as local production committees are concerned. If the education authority would bear the advisability of this in mind, I think it would make for the better working of the Bill and achieve the objects we all have in mind.
§ Mr. E. Harvey
I was very glad to hear the suggestion made by my hon. Friend opposite, because I know that a large number of the members of the staffs of secondary schools would warmly support the idea that there should be some method of representation for them on the governing bodies of these schools. I am glad the Government have made clear that they wish a wide field of choice for the governors of these schools, because it is important that we should get the best men and women, those most qualified and interested in education, to serve in this way. If that is to be done it is vital that governing bodies should have same real power entrusted to them. They must not be—as they so often are to-day—governors in name only; they must meet at the school, visit it frequently, become friends of the teachers, and be interested in the old boys and the old girls and in the out-of-school activities of the pupils. If you are to attract the services of the right type of person you must entrust that person with some powers. It should be a regular practice of the governing body to meet in the school, or schools, for which they are responsible.
I know a case where a board of governors met in the office of the local education authority. The headmaster of the school persuaded some of them to visit the school for which they were responsible. They did so, they showed the greatest interest, and later he was able to persuade them to meet at the school, to the great annoyance of the director of education. We do not want governors who are 2321 shadows, with no intimate knowledge of the school they are governing. Therefore I hope that we may get from the Parliamentary Secretary an assurance that in order to get the right people to take up this great service governors will be given definite responsibility, that efforts will be made to see that they are kept in living touch with the school or schools, and that they do not just meet in the offices of the local education authority.
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell (Cambridge)
I would like to support my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson). I hope the Government will consider putting into the Bill a direction which will bring about that very necessary liaison between governors and schools. Governors are very busy men and they have not that detailed knowledge of the inner workings of a school. I understand that there is a tendency for headmasters to be excluded from governors' meetings and if they could attend it would be of great benefit in governing the school properly. I think that assistant masters, also, should have the chance of being able to put their case personally, on behalf of their colleagues, at these meetings.
§ Captain Cobb
The need has been expressed frequently during this Debate of the necessity of having, as governors, people who are interested in the school and its activities. I do not think you will get anybody who is more interested than an effective representative of an old boys' or an old girls' association. It is of the first importance that the right of an old boys' or an old girls' association to be represented on a governing body should be fully recognised. What I have to say on this subject applies also to parents' associations, although the rights of old boys' or old girls' associations are, in my opinion, far greater than the parents' rights. I have been told—and it is almost unbelievable—that some secondary schools seldom allow headmasters or headmistresses to attend governors' meetings. Everyone will agree that this is most undesirable. It is of great importance that the rules which apply to these governing bodies should make it dear that headmasters or headmistresses have the right to attend every meeting of the governors.
§ Sir G. Schuster
I also wish to support my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on the representation 2322 of assistant masters and to express my agreement with the sentiments of other Members. The question of the reality of the interest of governing bodies is one of the key points regarding the future development of the whole of this plan. Although one cannot lay down precise regulations now, as to how they are to function, this is a matter which Parliament ought to watch. This will be a testing point of the way in which the plan works, if my right hon. Friend's ideas are to become a reality. I would like my right hon. Friend to say that at some reasonable date, after the passing of this Bill, there shall be a detailed review of the working of governing bodies, and that a report shall be made to the House so that everyone who serves on a governing body or a governing council shall know that his activities will be brought under review, and that Parliament will take an interest in what he is doing. If we put on record now that we want that, it will have a valuable effect on this whole plan.
§ Mr. Messer
Old scholars' and parents' associations exist only because they are interested in their schools. I am in favour of the suggestion which has been made, because it will bring to governing bodies people who know something about education. It has been said that, by some mysterious means, there have gravitated to the board of governors of foundation schools people who know a great deal about education, and that you do not get such people as members of local education authorities. I happen to be a governor of four different types of school. My experience is that local authority education committees only attract those who are interested in education. We shall be assured that there is some one who has a personal and real interest in the school, if we provide for representation of parents and old scholars' associations.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I think the root point is that pointed out by the hon. Member for the Combined Universities (Mr. Harvey). I know something of the background from which he was talking. What we object to is the Education Office, rather than the school, becoming the centre of gravity, and we can quote examples where we know of its existence. I know that these things exist. It is a very difficult role that the headmaster has to play. 2323 We want some safeguard, although we realise that in many areas the relations are admirable.
§ Mr. Ede
I think the Committee has had a very useful discussion, because it has enabled the Committee to make clear to the country, to local education authorities and to governing bodies the high store it sets upon the work of governing bodies. With regard to what the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) has said, I am sure he will agree that the number of cases where there is excessive tyranny by the education office over the secondary school is not very large, and it would be very wrong for it to go out from this Committee that there is general oppression of the secondary school by the local education authority.
There are a few cases where, quite clearly, reform is necssary, but they can be met most ably by taking note of better examples with which these authorities are surrounded. I particularly welcome what has been said about the position of the head teacher in relation to the governing body. We have placed in the Bill for the first time, in Clause 16, a stipulation that the position of the head teacher in relation to the governing body shall be settled in the articles of government. I cannot think that any articles of government in future will be so framed as to allow the head teacher to be excluded from the governing body while the ordinary policy of the school is discussed. If they are considering whether they should give him an increment of salary, he would probably desire to be absent from the discussion, and there might also be occasions when, in the interest of all concerned, he should be excluded. But I am sure his right to attend in normal circumstances will be secured to him by the articles of government.
We also heartily endorse what has been said by several Members on the position of old scholars' and parents' associations. We think it very desirable that, in order that the spirit of the schools shall be maintained, and even made known on occasion to the governing body, the old scholars' associations should have representation when there is a suitable old scholar who may be appointed. After all, a school must have had some ten or 12 years of life before it will get any person who can properly be recruited, but after that 2324 period I hope old scholars' associations will be regarded as one of the best recruiting grounds for the appointment of governors, whether they are appointed by the foundation, or by the local education authority. We have emphasised, again and again, that we desire that each of these secondary schools should have an individual life closely related to the children who attend it and to the district which it serves, and all the healthy influences which can be recruited from the environment on to the governing body will, we believe, make for a greater appreciation of secondary education, both by the people and by parents.
§ Mr. Lipson
The hon. Gentleman made no reference to the representation of assistant masters and mistresses. Will he make it clear that he will welcome that too?
§ Mr. Ede
In some of these matters, we must leave a certain amount of discretion to the local education authority. There is a dispute in some quarters whether it should be a member of the assistant staff or a person whom they nominate from outside their own numbers. We have every desire that the collective wisdom of the assistant staff should be available to the governing body, and that will be increasingly necessary as the schools get larger and the opportunities for promotion of assistant teachers get less in consequence. These experienced people should be able, in suitable circumstances, to make their wishes known with regard to the condition of the school and their view as to the way it should be developed.
§ Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.