§ 8.12 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr.Westwood)
The Education Estimate, which I understand is now to be debated, shows a net increase of nearly £2 million over the preceding year. A large part of this increase is due to the provision required because of the progress of the scheme of educational development which was embodied in the Education (Scotland) Act, 1945. It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I give a brief account of what is being done under some of the main heads of this programme. I will deal first with a matter which is of vital importance for the well-being of the younger generation, the provision of meals and milk for schoolchildren. As was announced in the House of Commons on 28th March, 1946, the Government have decided that milk for drinking shall be supplied free of charge in grant-aided primary and secondary schools from 6th August, 1946, the same date as that on which cash family allowances begin to be payable.
The Government also intend that midday meals in schools shall be free as soon as possible, but this cannot be done until school feeding facilities are more generally available. In the meantime, parents' payments for school dinners will continue, but will not exceed the cost of the food supplied. They may be remitted wholly or in part in proved cases of hardship. Within the next few days I shall be sending to the Scottish education authorities draft Regulations giving effect to these arrangements and laying down general rules for the administration of the school meals service. The draft Regulations will be accompanied by an explanatory circular. I should add that the whole cost of free milk will be borne by the Exchequer, which will also meet in full, from 1st April, 1947, the reasonable cost to authorities of supplying school dinners, after deducting the payments received from the parents.
2248 I would like to give some indication of the growth of the school meals service in the last four years. In February, 1942, 63,000 children were taking midday meals at school. In 1946, the number was 213,000, or 28 per cent. of all the children on the school roll. Since the accelerated programme was launched in May, 1943, no fewer than 487 projects have been approved, involving the erection of kitchens with an aggregate capacity for some 210,000 meals, and dining rooms to accommodate approximately 88,000 children. Approval has also been given to a large number of adaptations of existing premises to provide kitchen, dining and scullery accommodation. When the projects already announced are completed, kitchen capacity will have reached 348,000, or about 48 per cent. of Scotland's school population. Since May, 1943, the cost of buildings and adaptations of buildings for the school meals service has been met entirely by Exchequer grant.
I would like to turn to the state of our preparations for raising the school-leaving age to 15 on 1st April, 1947. I will deal with the matter under two main heads: teachers and accommodation. Firstly, I wish to remind the Committee that the full provision of additional teachers and accommodation will not be needed in April next year. The result of raising the age will be that, after 1st April, 1947, pupils, on reaching the age of 14, or, rather, the school-leaving date following their 14th birthday—will not be free to leave school but will be required to stay for another year. Therefore, the number of pupils will increase gradually. The full effect of the higher school-leaving age will not be felt until the early Autumn of 1948. I am sure that Members who have been associated with education committee work and education authority work will agree with me in the statement I make. By that time we must aim at having our preparations complete.
The chief source of supply on which we rely for the additional teachers who will be required is the emergency training scheme, under which short courses of training are provided for men and women who have served in the Forces during the war or who have been employed in other work of national importance. I have selection boards in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. They select suitable candidates for train - 2249 ing, decide what courses they shall follow and how long a course is required for each student. A student taking an emergency course is eligible for an allowance to enable him or her to take advantage of the course without hardship to the student or to the parents. Slightly more than 7,000 applications have already been received for the emergency training scheme. The number so far accepted is 2,000. Of those, more than 800 have begun their training. A few have already completed it. The remaining 5,000 are accounted for as follows: 1000 have been interviewed, but decision has been deferred pending the receipt of further information; 1,000 have been found unsuitable for training; 3,000 have still to he interviewed.
Several hundreds of those awaiting interview are still serving in the Forces overseas—in Germany, the Central Mediterranean, the Middle East, India and the Far East. By arrangement with the Minister of Education and the Service Departments, two interviewing boards have been sent to each of these areas—ten boards in all—to interview the applicants both for the English and the Scottish Emergency Schemes. Each board includes a Scottish educationist, so that the interviewing of the Scottish applicants may be conducted with the assistance of full information about Scottish conditions. I should like to express my appreciation of the public spirit shown by those who have undertaken this important and onerous duty, and by the education authorities and the National Committee for the Training of Teachers, who have set them free for this work.
Already it can be said, in general, that the scheme is likely to assure the necessary supply of additional teachers for the raising of the school-leaving age This, of course, is always assuming that the married women and retired teachers will remain in the service as long as we require them. But this is not the limit of our requirements. We need still more teachers in order to bring about a much needed reduction in the size of classes. Therefore, I hope that no suitable man or woman who thinks of taking up teaching as a career will hesitate to send in his or her application. We are specially anxious to secure a large number of additional applications from women who would wish to become physical training instructors.
2250 The next problem is to provide extra school accommodation without drawing too heavily on the limited supply of labour and materials. In some places there are unfinished school buildings, and where they can be completed on austerity lines they will make a valuable contribution towards solving the problem. For the most part, however, we shall have to make use of prefabricated huts, which will be supplied by the Ministry of Works on favorable financial terms, and will be erected by them if the education authorities so desire. I estimate that we shall require in the form of huts, for all Scotland, 800 classrooms and 750 rooms for practical work. The education authorities are at present engaged on the task of deciding exactly how many huts will be required and where they shall be placed. So far, I have received definite proposals for 343 classrooms and 347 rooms for practical work. These figures may seem a little disappointing in the light of our estimate of the total requirements, but we have to remember that a great deal of work has to be done by each education authority before definite proposals can be framed, and that once this preliminary work has been done the erection of the huts can be carried out in a comparatively short time.
The present position is that proposals for nine education areas are complete or practically complete, and for three other areas are in an advanced state. Substantial installments of their programmes have been submitted by seven authorities, and there are three areas in which no huts will be required. There remain 13 areas from which definite proposals have not yet been received. I am discussing the position in each of these areas with the authorities concerned, with a view to seeing whether there is anything I can do to expedite progress. On the whole, I think that the position is not altogether unsatisfactory, and that, with continued effort on the part of all concerned, there is good reason to hope that the requisite accommodation will be available in time. I shall shortly be asking the education authorities to prepare schemes for the provision of primary and secondary education appropriate to the age, the ability and the aptitude of the pupils and adapted to a leaving age of 15, as against the leaving age of 14 that operates at the present time. The general lines on which the schemes should 2251 be framed are indicated in the Code and the Explanatory Memorandum which were issued as far back as 1939, and have no doubt that authorities will find further guidance in the reports of the Advisory Council, which are at present engaged—and I understand they hope to complete them in the near future—on reports on the primary schools and secondary schools. I propose now to say a few words about bursaries.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Can the right hon. Gentleman give the number of prefabricated huts that are in process of erection?
§ Mr. Hughes
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that none have been erected, or are in process of the erection, in Ayrshire? Sir W. Darling: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are over 1000 church halls in Scotland which might very reasonably be used in place of the prefabricated huts, which he is unable to supply?
§ Mr. Westwood
I am not aware of the exact number of church halls, but I have no reason to doubt the number of 1,000 mentioned by the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling). As to whether it would be cheaper, easier and speedier to use these halls, and whether they would provide equal accommodation, I cannot say at the moment.
§ Mr. Westwood
That is a matter which can be considered. I propose now to say a few words about bursaries, particularly bursaries for students at universities. This matter is of interest to all of us in view of the Scottish tradition that access to the university should be open to all who can profit by it. We are fortunate in Scotland in having many valuable educational endowments applicable to university bursaries. There are also bursaries awarded by education authorities under the bursary schemes made by them and approved in terms of the 1918 Act. It has not been the normal practice in Scotland to award State scholarships tenable at universities. It is true that, during the 2252 war, State bursaries have been awarded in science and in oriental languages, but this was a temporary scheme to meet war needs, and it has now been discontinued.
The Advisory Council, to which I have already referred, have reviewed the question of bursaries and have presented to me a report on the subject. They recommend that there should be some State bursaries in Scotland to be awarded for special purposes, for instance, to students engaged in postgraduate research or pursuing higher education in the field of study which they followed during their undergraduate course. With this exception, they recommend that it should continue to 'be a function of the education authorities to award bursaries, including bursaries for undergraduate study at universities, but they have called my attention—I do not think it was altogether necessary, because of my experience in connection with education administration—to the inadequacy of many existing awards and to the variations between different areas, and they suggest ways in which these defects may be remedied. I propose to accept these recommendations, and I am preparing regulations which will secure that the bursaries awarded shall be of an amount sufficient to meet the needs of the students, and to enable them to pursue a course of university study without financial hardship to themselves or to their parents.
§ Mr. Stephen
Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the provision in this respect for Scottish children will be at least equal to what has been announced by the Minister of Education for England?
§ Mr. Westwood
No one knows better than the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) that I do not require to give an assurance that I am not prepared to accept anything lower in the way of standards for Scotland than is provided in England. That is my aim and object and in my administration in Scotland I do all I can to see that standards are at least not lower than in England.
§ Mr. Stephen
What is worrying some of us in Scotland is that the grant that may be made for the Scottish people may be much less because the cost of education at, say, Oxford or Cambridge University has ' always been a, higher figure than that for Glasgow or Edinburgh. We 2253 are hoping that in the future the young people in Scotland will get at least added grants that are as much as those given in England.
§ Mr. Westwood
I shall certainly keep in mind the points mentioned by the hon. Gentleman when we are framing the Regulations to which I have referred. In accordance with the procedure laid down in the Act, the education authorities will have a full opportunity for considering those Regulations in draft form, and they will be laid before Parliament as soon as they have been made; but it will not be possible to complete this procedure in time for the Regulations to apply to the awards which will be made by education authorities for the coming Session. I intend, therefore, to send a circular—this is my immediate action—to all educational authorities asking them to give special consideration to the amount of their awards for the coming year so that the needs of students may be adequately met.
In some of the existing bursary schemes in Scotland there are limits to the amount of the bursary which may be awarded, and in one or two cases the limit may be found to be too low in the light of present circumstances and conditions. I therefore propose to make a provisional Regulation, which I am empowered to do under the 1945 Act, to remove any limit of this kind and so enable the education authorities to make awards of sufficient amounts. These provisional Regulations will be made at once and will come into operation immediately. It is my intention that they shall apply only to awards to be made for the academic year 1946–47, and that before the awards for 1947–48 have to be made the new detailed Regulations to which I have already referred will be in operation. Had time permitted I should have liked to give the Committee some information about other measures which have been taken to implement the 1945 Act.
§ Mr. McAllister
I wonder if the Secretary of State will tell the Committee two things. I welcome his assurance that there will be no limit to the bursaries the education committees may grant, but how does he reconcile that with the fact that, in assessing a war grant for educational purposes, his Department takes the whole of a bursary into account and deducts it from the war education grant? Secondly, I would ask the Secretary of 2254 State if, in view of the large number of young people in Scotland who are desperately anxious to get to the universities but who are going to be frustrated this year, he would take a leaf out of the book of the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) and at least suggest to the university authorities that they do everything they can to provide places in the coming academic year.
§ Mr. Westwood
I can assure hon. Members that, as is my practice with all Debates on Scottish Estimates, I shall tomorrow go over the points which have been made with a view to utilising the suggestions from hon. Members on both sides of the House.
§ Mr. Willis (Edinburgh, North)
In connection with the bursaries for universities, would the Secretary of State tell us whether in framing the proposals consideration has been taken of the fact that 90 per cent. of these places are earmarked for Servicemen, which already limits the accommodation available in the universities, and whether any provision is being made so that the suggestion he is now making may actually be effective?
§ Mr. Westwood
The point raised by my hon. Friend will be dealt with by the Under-Secretary when he winds up. I have already pointed out that I am limited in this Debate on education. could probably have taken up the whole of the time dealing with points, but there are other Members who want to take part in the Debate. Had time permitted, I should have liked to give the Committee some information about other matters, as I have indicated. Time flies on, even when a Scottish Debate is taking place in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Westwood
Even the hon. Member and I sometimes fly to Scotland. I should have liked to give information about other measures which have been taken to give effect to the Act of 1945 and to show the way in which the educational system is recovering from the effects of the war, but my remarks must be confined within narrow limits. I will refer only to the restoration of the written examination for the senior leaving certificate. During the war the normal arrangements for the award of the certificate had to be suspended. In their place, we instituted a 2255 scheme for the award of a certificate on an area basis instead of a national basis, under which the formal written examination conducted by the Scottish Education Department was dispensed with. Though this emergency scheme operated to the satisfaction of other Government Departments, the Scottish Universities Entrance Board and the professional bodies by whom the certificate is accepted, a strong desire persisted for a return to the old procedure, and the restoration of the old arrangements took place at the recent examinations. I understand that it has been generally welcomed.
With regard to the measures taken to give effect to the 1945 Act, I will mention only the more important regulations that have been dealt with during recent months—standard national scales of salaries for teachers; grants for social and physical training; emergency training schemes for teachers; grants to central institutions. Among the numerous circulars which have been issued are many dealing with various provisions of the Act, such as school attendance, the school medical service, superannuation for teachers, travelling and boarding arrangements for pupils, school meals, further education, and facilities for recreation and for social and physical training. I have also asked the local education authorities to submit revised schemes for the administration of their functions relating to education, which will give effect to the provisions of the Act relating to the delegation of functions to education committees. Several draft schemes have been received and are under discussion with the education authorities themselves
§ Mr. Stephen
Can the Secretary of State for Scotland tell us some of the authorities who have submitted draft schemes?
§ Mr. Westwood
Schemes have been received from Ayrshire, Dumbarton, East Lothian, Glasgow, Lanark shire and Selkirk. The brief survey I have given will, I hope, give some idea of the task of implementing the 1945 Act and of equipping the coming generation to face the future which lies before it—a future which we cannot clearly discern, but which has great possibilities and will undoubtedly call for all the qualities of character, skill, intelligence and enterprise that we in Scotland can muster.
§ Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)
As the Secretary of State truly said a few minutes ago, time flies on, and I must express my regret at the outset to the Under-Secretary of State, who, I understand, is replying that I shall not be able to stay to hear his reply to this discussion, because trains wait for no man and I have to catch the night train to Edinburgh, as he knows, to fulfill an engagement there tomorrow.
This is the first occasion since the 1945 Act was passed into law that we have had a Debate on Scottish education. It is regrettable that it has had to be compressed and that there is no background for discussion in the shape of the Summary Report on Education which is normally issued. The last copy was for 1944, which is decidedly out of date. I suggest to the Secretary of State, therefore, that he might produce a rather fuller edition this year, incorporating the various matters which he has been unable to cover in his opening address. As the Secretary of State truly said, the 1945 Act—which, be it remembered, was the product of a Coalition, Government—marks a very notable step forward in the development of education in Scotland, and it is natural that we should all want to know what is being done under its various provisions.
§ Mr. Westwood
Surely it would have been fairer to say that the two Ministers who were directly responsible were Ministers who belonged to this side.
§ Lieut.-Commander Hutchison
I said " Coalition Government." After all, it was approved by the Cabinet. Moreover, I would also point out that it was actually passed into law under the Conservative Government in which the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) was Under-Secretary.
§ Lieut.-Commander Hutchison
I beg pardon, I meant to say National Government. There are two points on which I would like to touch which have already been mentioned by the Secretary of State. First and most important is the question of the school-leaving age and with it the associated subject of the size of classes. I was pleased to hear that the Secretary of State intends to confirm the raising of 2257 the age on 1st April 1947, but he did not mention what his intentions were in regard to the further raising of the age to 16, which is provided for in Section 23 (3) of the Act, and I think it might be appropriate if the Under-Secretary could give us some indication of when it might be possible to raise the age to 16.
The right hon. Gentleman gave some figures in regard to teachers and accommodation in relation to the question of the school-leaving age but, frankly, I feel that probably he has been a bit optimistic in this matter. He may find that he is overloading the teachers and probably will have accommodation difficulties before he is through with this business. I am alarmed about the size of classes. It is a very real problem. When we discussed the 1945 Act on its Second Reading, Mr. Tom Johnston was Secretary of State, and I remember he said the average size of classes in Scotland as a whole was 32 pupils. I think that covered both primary and secondary classes, and he said that in the year 1942 there were some 362 classes above the maximum size. I am not sure that hon. Members at that time were entirely satisfied with Mr. Johnston's statistics, and I remember that during the passage of the Bill, the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), who is now Joint Under-Secretary of State, stated that in the West of Scotland, at any rate, 5o was by no means uncommon. I know that in Edinburgh there are certain classes also of 5o. I would therefore like to know whether there has been a substantial reduction in the numbers of pupils in the primary school classes, because I feel that the problem may become unmanageable when the age is raised unless the Secretary of State is very careful.
The next point I would like to touch upon is the question of the progress made in regard to school meals and milk. I have a proprietary interest in the 1942 Act, as I made my maiden speech on it. It was the first of the modern Acts dealing with this matter. It was amended considerably by the Fourth Schedule to the 1945 Act, and considerable progress has been made. But I suggest to the Secretary of State that he might issue another of those returns showing the percentages of meals and milk granted by the various education authorities in Scotland. The last return I have is dated February, 1945, and that is also rather 2258 out of date. The Secretary of State mentioned that milk is now free of charge, hut that the free meals service has not yet been introduced on a universal basis. Of course, that is a complement to the cash allowances paid under the Family Allowances Act, and I trust that there will be no unreasonable delay in bringing that into being.
I attach considerable importance to this question, because, as we all know, we are faced with a very difficult food situation in these islands and if there is to be rationing of bread and other commodities, more severely than we have had in the past, it is very important that we should see that growing children get priority, particularly in milk supply. It would seem from the announcement made yesterday, or the day before, that there is likely to be a considerable cut in milk production in the coming winter, and I trust that the Scottish Education Department will see that milk is forthcoming for school children. At the same time, I hope they will see that there is no waste of milk, because I have heard rumors that it is not always used as wisely as it should be. Although I wish that children should have priority, there are other deserving sections of the community as well.
The last point on which I will speak is one with which the Secretary of State did not have time to deal, but one in which I have always taken considerable interest, and one which is of considerable importance. That is a question of the development of technical education in Scotland. I spoke on this matter in the Second Reading Debate on the 1945 Act, because I thought that the question of technical education had been passed over rather lightly in the framing of that Measure. I was very glad that my words fell on fruit ful soil because Section 2 (7, c) was in fact strengthened as regards provision of classes and colleges for technical education. I hope that in the summary the Secretary of State will issue, or on some other occasion in the very near future, he will make known what headway has been made since the passing of the 1945 Act, in the development of the technical education services.
More especially would I remind him of Command Paper 6786 which is a report on technical education produced by a Special Committee of the Advisory Council on Education and which has been pub- 2259 lished since the passage of the 1945 Act. It is a most valuable report. As it is a fairly voluminous one, I could not this evening attempt to comment on it at any length, but I would direct the Secretary of State's attention to three particular points which I feel ought to have very close attention from the Scottish Education Department. Those are provisions for improved technical education in agriculture, mining and aeronautical engineering. In paragraph 41 there are certain recommendations about farm institutes and technical education for agricultural students. Similarly, mining is dealt with in paragraph 61, which says:Employers should prepare and sponsor schemes of practical training in and about the colliery to supplement and illustrate the instruction given at local technical colleges and central institutions.As the Committee are aware, a Bill dealing with the public ownership of the coal industry is now in another place and therefore soon there will no longer be any private employers. It is therefore up to the State to implement this recommendation. I hope the Secretary of State will pay. particular attention to this point, having regard to the importance of improving education in mining matters. I have mentioned these two subjects, agriculture and mining, for two good reasons. The people of this country must depend in these days to an ever-increasing extent on increased home food production, and the general prosperity of the nation must depend on the production of coal. I have also singled out aeronautical engineering for particular mention. I think it is an industry which we ought to try to develop in Scotland. We are much interested in aviation matters. A recommendation of the Technical Committee's Report is thatA special technical college for aeronautics should be established at or near Prestwick. It should be recognised eventually as a central institution.I commend that recommendation to the Secretary of State. I feel that there should be a future for civil aviation, and the aircraft industry in Scotland some day, though taking the short view, I am a little pessimistic, having regard to the somewhat cramping and restrictive nature of the present Government's Civil Aviation Bill.
We have always had in the past, in Scotland, a reputation for craftsmanship 2260 and quality, whether it be for engineering on the Clyde, Forth or Tay, or whether it be in the cultivation of land. I think it was Ian Hay who remarked in one of his novels that all Cabinet Ministers, journalists, ships' engineers and gardeners were scotsmen—perhaps a rather sweeping generalisation and certainly not correct, so far as the present Government is concerned, in regard to Cabinet Ministers. But there are a great many ships' engineers and gardeners who are Scotsmen. However, we cannot live on past memories. We have to keep up to date, and it is for that reason that I urge the Secretary of State and the Scottish Education Department to pay great attention to the development of technical education throughout the length and breadth of Scotland.
§ 8.53 P.m.
§ Miss Herbison (Lanark, North)
I wish to deal first with an educational point which was raised during the first part of today's Debate. The Secretary of State was wondering how he could get people from the towns to become farm workers,, and an hon. Gentleman on the other side said, "Tell the teachers."I hope we shall never see the day in Scotland when one of the many duties of the teacher will be to condition a boy or girl for the job he or she is to do in the future. It reminds me far too much of that book by H. G. Wells, " Brave New World."
§ Miss Herbison
I thank the hon. Member for the correction, but the point about conditioning still remains. One point in particular with which I agreed wholeheartedly was that dealing with the provision of milk and meals free of charge. When one has had experience of teaching in a school where some children received milk free and others paid for it, where the odd child was considered a necessitous child who should have a free meal and where every child in class knew those children who were getting free milk and those who were paying for milk, one always felt that what those children gained physically from the free meals and free milk, they lost socially. From the very beginning of their lives they were made to feel different from the others in their class.
I wish to know what steps the present Government intend to take in education 2261 to show that there was a real change of Government in July, 1945. The right hon. Gentleman, when he was talking about the plans for organising schools and for the raising of the school-leaving age, said that they were going to take into consideration the ability and aptitude of the children. My right hon. Friend would not have that difficulty at all at 11 plus if he followed what we on this side of the House have always agreed to in conference, that there should be no division, no segregation at the age of 11 plus, but until the school-leaving age of 15 there should be the common school. If the Secretary of State for Scotland would give a directive to those education authorities who have to plan new schools for the raising of the school age and suggest to them that wherever possible there should be the common school, then we would be going a very long way towards giving equality of opportunity to every boy and girl in Scotland. We have felt always that 11 plus was far too young. We have been against conditioning or training for jobs at an early age. The way to avoid that is by introducing the common school into our educational system wherever possible.
University grants have also been dealt with. These grants have to be increased considerably, I should like the Under-Secretary, when he is replying, to assure me that those grants will be given to every Scottish boy and girl who needs one and who obtains a higher leaving certificate and entrance to the university. There has been a suggestion that the additional grants, or these very big grants, are to be given only to the boy or girl of exceptional ability. It seems to me if we set the grade in a higher leaving certificate examination and the certificate of fitness is given to a boy or girl, then they have reached the standard that fits them for a university training and they have every right to the biggest grant which it is possible to give them. If we do not do that we are not going to get something for which we have always pleaded—equality of opportunity. A child, provided he comes from a home where there is money and provided he can get his higher leaving certificate examination and his certificate of fitness, will be able to go to the university. If there is any differentiation in grant between the exceptionally bright boy and the boy gets 2262 a certificate, it will be a very bad thing indeed—
§ Miss Herbison
That may be the hon. Gentleman's point of view but if the question is examined carefully it will be found there is a differentiation. I wish to mention another point which I raised with the Secretary of State previously. There has been published this year the Report of the Advisory Council on the Training of Teachers. A great many people in Scotland are very worried about this Report. In it it is suggested, as the finding of this Council. that non-graduation for women is to be allowed. Not only is non-graduation for women to be allowed, but we are taking a step backward to allow non-graduation for men, which is something that had been cleared out of the Scottish Educational system.
The Educational Institute of Scotland have had for their policy for many years graduation for men and women. They obtained it for men, and they have urged it for women, and yet this Report of the Advisory Council accepts non-graduation for men as well as for women. Where are those people who have the lower qualifications going to be employed? It seems to me that, in many instances, they are going to be employed in the first three years of the post qualifying stage so that those boys and girls who leave school at 15 are going to be taught by people with lesser qualifications than those boys and girls who are going to continue after 15. That is a very bad thing, and it seems to me that the younger boys and girls who are going to leave at 15 should, during the time they are at school, have the benefit of the best trained teachers whom they can have. It has been argued often that it does not necessarily mean that a person is a good teacher because he or she is a graduate, but I insist that this policy is backed up by the non-graduate women in Scotland, and there are many reasons for it. If a non-graduate person is a good teacher, I suggest that she would have been an even better teacher if she had been a graduate.
There is another point that worries me considerably. If we are to have equality of opportunity in education, there must not be any financial worry on the part of the parents. The family allowance of 5s. will help considerably, but, imme- 2263 diately a boy or girl reaches 16 years of age, or on 31st July, after the 16th birthday, that first 5s. is lost. Can the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary give me any information on what maintenance grant might be given to enable boys or girls to stay at school after 16 years of age?
Regarding the emergency training scheme, I know that the teachers in Scotland welcome these men and women who are becoming teachers under this scheme. Teachers in Scotland have always had the welfare of children at heart. They want the school leaving age raised and they want the classes lowered, and because of that, they want a great many more teachers in the profession, but there is another question which I am quite certain they would ask. Has the Secretary of State formulated any plan whatever to see that these men and women who come in under an emergency scheme will, in a certain number of years, either through having extra time off in the summer or by means of correspondence classes, whichever way is the better, be able to secure the academic qualifications that were necessary for teachers in prewar years? I want to know also what salaries these people who are coming into the profession in this way are going to receive. I think that, if they are coming in like this, they must have the same salary as fully trained and fully qualified teachers have today.
I have covered all the points I wanted to make except one We are told that there is to be an increase over the 1945 Estimate of £2 million. We have been told how much of that money is going to be spent on various projects. I could not get different figures for Scotland, though I got them for England and Wales, and it seems to me that there was a very great increase in the English Estimates in the money that was being given to independent schools. Is that happening in Scotland? If it is, I consider it very wrong indeed. Our policy, again, is a policy that will give to every boy and girl the same chances. Are we using this extra £2 million to ensure that equality? In spite of all the points I have made, I am absolutely certain that the present Secretary of State for Scotland and his Under-Secretary will do a very good job of work to ensure that Scottish education attains a very high level. We 2264 on this side are sure of that, and we wish them the very best in the very difficult job that is facing them today.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife. East)
I am very glad that an opportunity, however brief, has been afforded us to discuss education in Scotland. We are concerned here, and we may as well face the fact, with one of the biggest and most important tasks confronting this generation. For Scotland, with its special traditions in this matter, education is, indeed, one of the great and lasting issues, and it would have been a serious dereliction of duty if we had not, during this first Session of peace, directed our minds to this particular problem£the education of the youth of Scotland. Therefore, it is a good thing that the Opposition selected this Vote even though it may have curtailed several of the hon. Members who wished to deal further with agriculture.
For long years before the war, Scotland claimed that it had the best educated citizens in the world. For a long period that claim was justified. We had a better system, and there is no doubt that our results outshone those of other countries. Above all, Scotland's heart was in this business. For our fathers education was almost a religion; there was a spiritual urge behind it which drove them to supreme efforts, sometimes even to sacrifice, in order to achieve the cultured mind. I am not sure that today we can any longer justify that proud claim. Others have come abreast of us and some have even passed us in the race. That is a call for new enthusiasm, even if it is only to keep our place; but, apart altogether from the competitive urge, there is the whole mighty convulsion of the war to arrest attention in this field.
It is true to say that in no direction has the late war worked such havoc as upon men's thoughts. Old conceptions that once seemed sacrosanct have been swept aside; new ideas surge everywhere. There is a yearning after a new philosophy of life throughout the country, a philosophy that will bring peace to the mind and satisfaction to the soul. It is the function of education to serve those great present needs of men. There are other considerations no less stirring. We have learned from the past tumultuous decade that democracy, the liberal way of life that we cherish in this land and to which, I hope, 2265 we shall remain committed for a long time yet, is a blessing not handed to us by Heaven to be enjoyed without effort. The terrible years through which we have lived have taught us that democracy has to be fought for and defended with all the strength we have, and that in that fight every man and woman has his or her individual contribution to make. Without that contribution the whole fabric of freedom might well collapse.
The first requirement of a vigorous democracy is a well educated people, that can distinguish truth from falsehood, a people equipped to penetrate the mirage of propaganda and of sophistry and to reach conclusions by their own well trained judgment. In the period that lies ahead—and it may be a very troubled period—as the Secretary of State said in his concluding remarks, we shall need all the wisdom, judgment and good sense that we can command. For those reasons, it seems to me that a high duty rests upon this Parliament to ensure that youth is provided with the richest, fullest, most generous and most liberal education with which we can provide it. It is in that spirit that I approach these Estimates.
It is a pity there is no time to dwell further in these high altitudes, because sometimes Parliament ought to think of the higher principles involved in education and take its mind away from the little details, important as they are, for, after all, they are only details. We in this House are very often inclined to be cluttered up with so much detail that we altogether lose the great principles which ought. to illuminate all our work.
The Secretary of State made reference to a number of rather important matters, and I would like to take him up on various points. I was very glad to hear that the number of potential teachers coming forward in the emergency training scheme is so good. My information is that the single category in which there is a shortage of entrants is that of women for physical training. It is very odd that that should be so, because before the war that was regarded as a very attractive career for young women, and I would be interested to know from the Under Secretary what the Department is doing to find out the causes of this reluctance. It ought not to be.
§ Mr. Stewart
No doubt, but there are 20 years of very interesting life beforehand. The Secretary of State told us nothing about the quality of the entrants in the emergency training scheme. I submit that that is a very important matter. Am I right in saying that three-quarters of the entrants for primary schools possess the leaving certificate or its equivalent? If so, it means, does it not, that these potential teachers for primary schools under this temporary scheme have reached as high a standard as, if not a higher standard than, that reached by primary school teachers in prewar days.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am asking a question of the Under-Secretary. I am asking if that is so. That is my information, and I would be interested to know whether it is true. I believe the emergency scheme in Scotland has far exceeded the achievements of the scheme in England. We have more people in it. We have a higher quality entrant, and that says a great deal for Scottish education of the past, and for the spirit moving the young men and women at this present time. I do not find myself in such warm agreement with the right hon. Gentleman with regard to accommodation. I think he takes an altogether too optimistic view of this matter.
§ Mr. Rankin
I would like to point out that applicants for the Scottish scheme are being referred to the English scheme on the ground that it is easier to get in there, and actually there are more applicants for the English scheme and more are being accepted than in Scotland.
§ Mr. Stewart
I think the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. Would he like me to give him the figures as they were given to me? I understand the total for applications received for Scotland is about 7,000; in England it is 57,000. That proportion for Scotland is as good as for England. The number of students in training are, 800 in Scotland and 3,000 in England; a much bigger proportion in Scotland than in England. Therefore, I am entitled to claim that the' scheme in Scotland is going much better than the scheme in England. I am sorry to think that the hon. Member opposite should be unwilling to associate himself with that very justifiable claim.
2267 With regard to accommodation, I am bound to say that unless drastic steps are taken quickly to provide additional school buildings, we shall soon find ourselves with more teachers than we can find work for. In fact, that has already happened in one case, in regard to handiwork teachers. I am told there are some handiwork teachers idle at the present moment. Many of them are coming out of the Services, trained and partly trained; and if there are added to those the numbers who are to be trained under this scheme, I am satisfied we shall have more than we can find work for. The difficulty of accommodation is the most acute of all the problems facing us. A mere glance at the facts will prove that.
The Secretary of State reminded us that the school-leaving age is to be raised in April of next year. The full effect of that will not be felt for a few months; he said it would not be felt until the autumn of 1948. Surely that is not correct. I am informed by those who understand these matters in Scotland, that a large part of the effect will be felt noticeably in September of next year. I think that must he obvious if one thinks about it for a moment. In September of next year all those new pupils, who from April onwards would have left school, will come on to the new register. In Fife, the estimated figure for September, 1947, is 1,500. If that is so in Fife, the figure must be a great deal larger throughout the country. To provide for those 1,50o in Fife a year hence, 19 additional huts are wanted as classrooms, and are on first priority. In one school, the Bell Baxter in Cupar, five are needed; in another school, six new huts are needed. In the whole county, 60 additional huts are wanted before the additional requirements imposed by the raising of the school-leaving age are completely met. The Fife County Council Education Authority have provided the Department with all the schedules for the priority huts. Moreover, the Ministry of Works' representative has been to Fife and vetted the various schemes on the spot. Despite all that, though the visit of the Ministry of Works' representative took place so long ago as February of this year, not one brick has been laid anywhere. An hon. Member said earlier that in Ayrshire not one brick has been laid.
2268 September of next year is the zero hour in this matter. I invite the Committee and the country to realise that we are facing a serious situation. I believe that Fife was the first county in Scotland to present the schedules for these new huts. If what I have said of Fife is true and nothing is done, what can be the position in other parts of the country? The delay must be deplorable throughout Scotland. If that is so, we are truly in a difficult situation. The Secretary of State must make up his mind in this matter. He is faced with two alternatives. Either he must satisfy himself and the education authorities that the necessary additional buildings will be erected within the next 12 months, which will mean he will have to take drastic steps in handling the Ministry of Works, who are responsible for this matter, and he must cut away all red tape; or he will have to postpone the raising of the school-leaving age. I hope he will not adopt the further dreadful and escape alternative, of raising the numbers in the classes.
For my part, I would regret, with all my heart, the postponing of the raising of the school-leaving age. I deeply believe the raising of the school-leaving age is necessary. I know to postpone it would cause the greatest unrest and difficulty among the education authorities; it would upset all their present plans. But the Secretary of State must do one b thin,' or the other. And he must do it quickly, because the education authorities now are in a state of complete uncertainty. They do not think the huts are going to be put up in time, so they cannot plan ahead. If they were assured they were not to be put up, and that the raising of the school leaving age were to be postponed, they could, at least, make one set of plans; but at the moment they know nothing. I do urge the Secretary of State to realise that the education authorities do need guidance on this matter, and that a decision cannot be long delayed.
Another matter that is causing people in my part of the country, and in other agricultural parts, a great deal of anxiety, an educational matter with an agricultural aspect, is that of the children and the potato lifting. Last year the Secretary of State urged schoolchildren to undertake potato lifting, and in Fife the school organizations caused 85 per cent. of the total crop to be-lifted in the first fortnight. That was a splendid achievement, made 2269 possible by the fact that some 2,000 children were added to the Fife contingent from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Lanark shire. This year the Secretary of State has again urged that schoolchildren should lend a hand. In his own circular No. 15 of 1946 he says:This year the potato crop cannot be recovered without the help of schoolchildren.Fife education authorities are requested to lend the maximum assistance, but this year the Secretary of State has said, " No billeting." What does that mean? I am speaking on behalf of the education of Fife children. If that means that school children who helped us last year are not going to help us this year, it means that a much bigger and an unfair burden is to fall upon the Fife children, and that the burden on them this year will be greater than it was before.
We were told a few minutes ago that last year there were 41,000 children who helped in potato lifting, and that this year we probably shall have only 23,000. Unless the Secretary of State can give an assurance that the difference is to be made up by additional prisoner of war labour or adult labour, which he says he cannot do, an additional burden will be placed on the children of the agricultural areas. He introduced recently the external leaving certificate examination that requires all children to undertake further study and greater strain, and the fact that Fife brains have got to break their studies for this essentially national work puts them under a disability that is not shared by other children. If this potato lifting is a national service—and I agree that it is vital to the community, why must the exercise of that duty be left only to the rural children? Why does not the Secretary of State take courage in his hands and call upon the children of the schools of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Lanark shire for this national duty, and say that all children should bear an equal part. I regard it as an unfair arrangement at the present time. I protest against its being so. I should have liked to say more on this subject, but time is pressing us hard.
May I refer to one other matter? The Advisory Council on Education, to which reference has been made today, is reaching the end of its term of office. I am a member, as the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State was, of that body, and as was another hon. Member of this 2270 House. I appreciate that it is not, perhaps, very easy, being a member, to speak with detachment about their labours; but, like that of the Under-Secretary when he was a member, my contribution has been somewhat spasmodic, and, therefore, I do feel I can stand apart a little, and say something about the Council. I have never worked with a body of men and women who have laboured more strenuously, more loyally, or in a more public spirited way in the national interest; and I hope that before their term of office ends the Secretary of State will take a proper opportunity to express publicly the great debt of gratitude which the country owes them.
§ Mr. Gilzean (Edinburgh, Central
I am glad to have an opportunity to take part in this Debate, because I have had some little experience of educational administration. One of the last jobs with which I was associated before I came to the House, was the vetting of candidates who wanted to enter the teaching profession through an unusual route. There were a great many of them who were totally unfitted for the course they proposed to take and consequently had to be rejected, but I am sure that in the end there will be many good teachers coming from this source. We have to remember that teaching is not altogether a question of the type of education you' have received, but is largely a question of education plus aptitude. Unfortunately, there are a great many people in the teaching profession who have no flair for teaching. I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to a question which has always perturbed me, to which I think the Government should pay attention. I will read to the Committee an extract from a form of will, which states:We chairge the consciences of the Elect in the Lord that they chuse no Burgos children, if their parents be will and sufficiently able to maintaine thame, since the intention of the Founder is on lie to relieve the pure.In my city there are many educational benefactions, and these benefactions are being entirely misdirected. They do not go to the poor, but to the children of the successful local joiner, baker, grocer or someone of that ilk, and in my opinion the time has come when these benefactions should be redirected.
2271 We hear a great deal about the working class struggling to give their children an educational opportunity, and wanting to send them to the university and all that sort of thing. That seems to me to be a most unfortunate course to take, because in the end, all the jobs which are worth while go to the children who have managed to get the help of the patrimony of the poor. There is undoubtedly a complete misdirection of the money which has been left for the purposes of education for the poor, with the result that the working man and woman, who are ambitious for the well being of their children, are left with the only course of sending them to the university, with the result that very often there are lots of people possessed of degrees and possessed of nothing else. It would appear a good thing for the Secretary of State, and those associated with him, to give attention to this question of how these benefactions can be redirected so that they are used to the best advantage.
I am completely in favour of raising the school-leaving age to 15. There is not the least doubt that this is very necessary, because out of our schools is coming a constant stream of children whose education leaves a great deal to be desired. Consequently, I think that the only way in which we can hope to remedy this is by increasing the age to 15. I agree that it is not going to be easy to do that at this time, because of the fact that we have just finished this terrible war, and everything is upset, but we ought, in spite of that, to direct our attention to that end. Unless we can get people with a reasonable education, then we are going to lose the race for world markets and for the redevelopment of our country. I do not care whether we use huts or how it is done so long as we keep the children at school. I think that we ought to seek to educate them along lines that will make them good tradesmen and craftsmen rather than this constant urge to get something in the way of a university degree.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)
The hon. Gentleman spoke about the poor. What, precisely, does he mean by "The poor "? I always understood, having given a great deal of attention in my younger days to Scottish education, that it stood alone in the education of the mass of the people, as 2272 against any other part of the British Empire. What does he mean by poor? Is not Scottish education available to everybody?
§ Mr. Gilzean
What I inferred was the fact that money was left to a section of the community, and, in the process of time, that money has been misdirected to the interests of a section of the community for whom it was never intended. That has happened all over the place.
§ Sir W. Darling
Will the hon. Gentleman say where that has happened? Will he name one institution where it has happened?
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The hon. Member cannot intervene, unless the hon. Member who is speaking gives way.
§ Mr. Gilzean
I am quite willing to tell the hon. Gentleman, but I would prefer not to; but since the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) has asked me, I have to point out that the benefaction of George Heriot was left to the poor, and, at the present time, the greater part of the interest on that money goes to the children of small tradesmen or professional men—lawyers, doctors and people like that—and so I am justified in saying that. Shall I read to the hon. Member about Fettes—
§ Sir W. Darling
Would the hon. Gentleman care to say when these benefits came into being; and does he seek to compare the educational standards of the fifteenth century, with those of the twentieth century?
§ Mr. Gilzean
I think that is quite outside the question. The broad fact remains that a man left £23,000, and, today, that £23,000 has a capital value of somewhere near £1,000,000.
§ Mr. Gilzean
If the hon. Gentleman. will make stupid remarks, I cannot help. it. I can prove beyond a cavil that the great bulk of the income from that £1,000,000, which amounts to £32,00o a. year, goes to fee-paying scholars and not to foundation scholars. That can be. proved beyond any doubt. What was left of the money was for fatherless. children, and it has been used to set up big schools so that people can come here- 2273 and shine as undoubtedly they are entitled to shine as the result of these benefactions. It is the same old story all over Scotland. Hon. Members can get the details in the Library in the Report of the Endowments Commission. I think the year was 1853 but I am not sure. In that Endowments Commission Report hon. Members will find exactly what happened to all that money.
In any case my one interest is this, that the working class should get a chance of becoming better educated. At the present time there is a bar beyond a certain point. There is difficulty for the average working class boy or girl to get an education, and where they get that education very often it is not much use to them because of a prejudice that is associated with the opportunity of getting something well worth while. That is why I say I do hope now that we have got a Labour administration that it will turn its attention to the way in which education endowments are used, and, that consequently, we will see a better system in the future.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid (Glasgow, Hillhead)
The time is so short, that I do not feel I could spare the necessary time to controvert the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Gilzean), and, therefore, I pass to one or two points which are all I have time to deal with. I think it is trite but none the less to be repeated that, in education as in other things, we are today at the beginning of a new period which will, in the next year or two, have an immense influence on the lives of the next generation. We all agree that public opinion is very strong and very salutary, but public opinion must be founded upon information. It is impossible even if we had a whole day to debate education, to cover all the issues which ought to be ventilated. Therefore, I emphasis what was said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Edinburgh (Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison) that we must this year have a full and comprehensive report about the present position in education.
I know the difficulties that existed during the war in getting out any kind of document, but even at the expense of a few more weeks' delay, I suggest that we ought to have this year a comprehensive and really informative report from 2274 the right hon. Gentleman's Department. It is important that, we should know all about the steps about which we have not yet heard. I cannot complain that during the war reports tended to be merely statistical abstracts, or that anything of an educational character was barred in these reports, except an occasional sentence here and there. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to devote the major part of his report to education proper and not to sidelines which deal only with statistical matters. We do want to know something, far example, about the way in which the curriculum is going to work if the school age is extended to 15. We do want to know how the balance is to be drawn. I know it is not entirely the responsibility of the Department, but we want to know how the balance is going to be drawn between general and technical subjects, because we must remember that education is not merely to enable people to earn a living. Education is not merely to enable them to plan their leisure without getting into trouble; the purpose of Scottish education, primarily, is to develop sturdy, independent thought and character, all the more necessary today because this is an era of mass suggestion. Wherever that mass suggestion operates, I hope it will never operate in Scotland. Therefore, we want to know something about the quality of education. I agree with the hon. Lady the Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison) that quality is of vital importance. We must have information, for instance, about the size of classes. I agree with the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Stewart) that if there is any doubt at all about the possibility of raising the school-leaving age, without increasing the size of classes and decreasing the quality of teachers, it would be far better to postpone it than to sacrifice quality for quantity.
I was a little disturbed at the guarded expressions of the Secretary of State—that the scheme will provide enough teachers if none of the married women leave, and that there is good hope for accommodation becoming available. I suggest that during the coming months, the right hon. Gentleman should apply his mind to this matter, and see whether he can give a guarantee that there will be no sacrifice of quality if he raises the school-leaving age next year. We are all committed to it, and we want to do it next 2275 year if possible. But do not introduce it into an atmosphere where people will be against it, because the immediate result will be a decrease in quality. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman, if it becomes necessary, would do far better in the interests of Scottish education by postponing it, than by sacrificing quality, because it would be very difficult to get that quality back. Many think that a rise in, or even the maintenance of, the present position with regard to the size of classes will do no good to Scottish education. I am inclined to put this high in the list of things to be cured, even higher than the raising of the school-leaving age. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will concentrate all his forces on the ordinary education which applies to everybody throughout the school system, and will not mind if he has to postpone for a considerable time some of the sidelines which we introduced or amplified in the Act of last year. They must come, they ought to come, but their provision should not interfere with the maintenance and improvement of the general trend of education, which is even more important.
One final word, about finance I know it is unusual to discuss finance at all when we are discussing Estimates, such has been the transformation of procedure in this Committee. Since 1937, the Government grant has doubled, all to the good. We do not know what has happened to the rates, but we know that from 1937 to 1944 they went up by £2 million. I suspect that they have gone up a great deal more, and I hope we shall get the figure. The right hon. Gentleman hardly needs to be warned that if he is not careful local education authorities will not be able to achieve proper results, through lack of finance, because there is a limit to what can be raised by rates. Already, that has happened in one respect. The sight hon. Gentleman will have seen the report on technical education which, on page 76, states that where the Ministry of Labour are able to give 100 per cent. Government money to the provision of Government training centers, those centers are very much better, according to this Report, than the institutions which have to be aided out of the rates. That is already beginning, and if he is not very careful it will become worse. We have a yardstick here to measure what can be done when the Government assume fur- 2276 there responsibilities of a financial character. Unless the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to look again at this subject of finance we shall have a very serious slowing down of educational progress in Scotland.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser)
I cannot give the right hon. and learned Gentleman the figures for which he asks, but let me say at the outset that he must be very well aware that this question of finance for education, in so far as it affects the local authorities, is part of a much larger problem. There are many other Measures, which have been passed or are being passed through this. House, which will relieve the local authorities of much of their responsibility. We have said repeatedly that we are looking afresh at the relative responsibilities of the central Government and of the local authorities for finding finance for services for which they are jointly responsible. With regard to the report which has been asked for—my speech must be a series of answers to questions that have been put to me—my right hon. Friend is most sympathetic. He wants to get out the report as soon as conditions permit, and in doing so, he will endeavour to give the fullest information.
§ Mr. Fraser
I appreciate that. What I really meant by hurrying it on was that my right hon. Friend wants to start the production of the report at the earliest possible moment, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows some of the difficulties which are in the way nowadays of producing a report. My right hon. Friend will endeavour to give the fullest information possible.
With regard to the potato lifting to which reference has been made, we were violently criticised for abandoning billeting this year, and it was said that the children from Glasgow, Edinburgh and other cities would not be able to go and help in the countryside this year. Really, the hon. Gentleman got the whole picture out of proportion. I said in an earlier discussion this afternoon that last year some 41,000 children were engaged in potato lifting. The Committee may be 2277 interested to know that some 4,000 of those were billeted. Some 6,000 travelled daily from the towns to the countryside. We expected that transport for the children might be a little more easy this year, and so we made an appeal to the cities, as we have been doing during the war years, to make their contribution. We shall endeavour to transport their children daily to the potato areas, because they complained about the billeting arrangements in the war years. Only 4,000 were billeted, while 6,000 were transported daily, and we believe that transport facilities this year will be such that we shall be able readily to transport all the children who will be made available by the education authorities in the cities. I went to each of the four cities and addressed the education authorities and made my appeal to them, and two of the cities have agreed to assist again this year. No doubt very large numbers of children will be transported from those cities to work in the potato areas.
With regard to the emergency training scheme for teachers, it is a success. My right hon. Friend is well satisfied with the response. He is also well satisfied with the quality of the would-be teachers who are coming forward. I am afraid that, as he said himself earlier this evening, the categories of which we are most short among the would-be teachers is that of women for physical training instructors' courses. I cannot give all the details. There were certain interjections when an hon. Member was speaking on the subject, and it may be that some of the interjectors were not far off the mark in giving a reason for women not coming forward for that job.
An hon. Member made an interesting contribution on the question of training for citizenship. Again there were interjections. I think the Committee generally appreciated some of the things he said about our education in this country. I think the hon. Member knows, as he must as signatory to the report which my right hon. Friend received from the Advisory Council on training for citizenship, that the Advisory Council made a strong recommendation in favour of there being a period of active experiment by schools, to ascertain what might be the most effective methods of training for citizenship. Many schools have carried out experiments. We have sent for reports. Examination of the reports shows 2278 that, in a majority of the schools, praiseworthy efforts are being made to train children to become good citizens. Many experiments are being conducted. Indeed, the experiments range from the relatively humble attempts of individual schools, to the ambitious schemes like that adopted by Glasgow corporation for the production, at a cost of about £10,000, of sets of films, posters and other visual material, designed to interest children in the civic life of the City. There are the more common experiments of the house and prefect, and many monitor systems of delegation of responsibility to pupils. There is the other experiment of educating the children by holding mock town councils or mock Parliaments, and so on. In a large number of schools a measure of self-government by the pupils has been introduced, with varying degrees of success.
The hon. Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison) asked me about grants. She referred to grants to independent schools. We make no grants, of course, to independent schools, in the sense in which that term is used in the Statute, but grants are paid to a limited number of schools which are not, however, under the control of education authorities. The number of such schools is, as the Committee know, very much less in Scotland than in England and Wales.
§ Miss Herbison
Will the Minister tell me whether the grants that are paid to those schools have been increased?
§ Mr. Fraser
Yes, the grant has been increased to all the schools; it has to be increased, along with the grants to the education authorities, if we are to continue to maintain such schools. The question of university accommodation was raised. This is not a matter for my right hon. Friend, but is one for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In discussing the general question of accommodation, it was suggested that we should make use of church halls instead of putting the children into prefabricated huts. I am afraid the position at the moment is that we are being very hard pressed by the Church of Scotland to release church halls which are being used for this and other purposes, and there is no prospect of our getting, for the purpose of education, the very large number of church halls referred to by the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling).
§ Mr. Fraser
Much was said about the programme of prefabricated huts. Let me say straight away that we are not very happy about the progress that has been made in this matter. It is not, however, just a question of the Ministry of Works or some other Government Department holding up progress. It is, in the first place, a fact that the education authorities do not like the prefabricated huts. They do not want them, they would rather not have them; and many of the authorities are very slow in coming forward with their proposals, and we are pressing them. We all know that education authorities and their officials are very busy dealing with other matters. Many have come forward, many are still coming forward, and I have no doubt that many more will be coming forward as a result of what the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) had to say this evening. We want about 2,000 additional rooms for the raising of the school-leaving age. At the moment we have proposals covering the erection of 759 rooms. Those are the submissions made at the present time by the education authorities. The majority of those submissions are being examined by the technical officers of the Ministry of Works, and 100 of them have reached the stage at which tenders may be called for. It is true that in Ayrshire and Fife shire no huts have yet been constructed, but no huts have yet been constructed in any part of the country. They are, however, simple prefabricated huts, and when the work of construction begins, it should not take very long to complete.
I was asked about priority milk for schools in the circumstances of the supply of milk being less in the coining winter. I can give an assurance that everything possible will be done to secure the necessary supply for the schoolchildren. With regard to technical education, the importance of this is fully recognised, but nobody would expect my right hon. Friend to pronounce at this moment on what he will do, when he has received the Report of the Special Committee on Technical Education so very recently. The reduction in the size of classes, of course, is another matter to which my right hon. Friend attaches very much importance. He will strive to get the accommodation 2280 and teachers to reduce the size of classes at the earliest possible moment. He has to concentrate first on the raising of the school-leaving age. I am sure that we will succeed in providing accommodation and teachers for the raising of the school-leaving age without making the classes any bigger than they are at the moment. We would be very sad if we had to contemplate increasing the size of classes in order to raise the school-leaving age. We very much hope, and are very sure, that will not take place. We will strive, therefore, to provide all the accommodation and teachers necessary to raise the school-leaving age on the date on which we said we could do so. Beyond that, we will strive to provide the accommodation and the teachers—
§ It being Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.