§ Motion made, and Question proposed,.
§ " That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. R. J. Taylor.]
§ 12.30 p.m
§ Mr. William Wells (Walsall)
It is now nearly two years since the then Minister of Education, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), appointed the Committee known as the Percy Committee, which took its name from its Chairman, to investigate the question of higher technological education. The questions which I am going to raise go rather beyond the scope of this Report, but I should like to take from its opening paragraphs two statements by way of my text. The first is:The evidence submitted to us concurs in the general view: first, that the position of 2185 Great Britain as a leading industrial nation is being endangered by a failure to secure the fullest possible application of science to industry; and, second, that this failure is partly due to deficiencies in education.The second statement in the third paragraph, says:At present too large a proportion of the best output of the schools goes into non-industrial occupations, and positive steps are necessary to counteract this drift.The questions which I am raising are: What positive steps are being taken to counteract this drift? and: "What positive steps do the Government intend to take? This matter, as I see it, resolves itself into two subsidiary questions. The first arises in connection with secondary technical education. How are we now to raise its status and so ensure an adequate supply of craftsmen and technical assistants? The second is raised directly by the subject matter of the Percy Report. How are we to stimulate and organise higher technological education so as to produce an adequate number of industrial scientists and managers with a good technical background?
In the years immediately before the war, there was a lamentable shortage in quantity and a very considerable failure in quality in the provision of technical education for young men and women. In 1939, there were 25,000 boys and girls receiving education in junior technical schools as compared with 500,000 receiving education in other secondary schools. It would be useful and helpful if my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary could tell the House today what the comparable figures are now. I believe there has been a considerable increase during the war years.
There has been, and is, as the Percy Report says, a failure to direct the best type of boy into this kind of education. I have some figures, taken merely at random, concerning an institution with which I happen to be connected. Out of 47 boys who were selected for secondary and technical education at this institution none was Grade A, 16 were Grade B, 23 were Grade C, 7 were Grade D, and one was Grade E. One must be cautious in examining statistics of this kind because the obvious question is: How many boys out of an average selection will be Grade A? If the answer to that 2186 question was only 2 per cent., it would clearly not be very remarkable if out of 46 or 47 boys none was in the first grade. But if it be the fact, as I believe it is, that the more accurate figure is about 20 per cent., then it is a lamentable thing that no boys should be taken into technical education who are included in the highest grade
We have to examine the reasons for this failure in the past to attract the best kind of boys and girls in sufficient numbers into technical education. One of the reasons, no doubt, is what is regarded quite wrongly as the narrowness of technical syllabuses. The tendency is to take the view that a boy who is good enough to get any benefit out of a literary education must not be given a technical education, because he will not have the opportunity to develop into a citizen who fulfils the ideal of a well-equipped mind in a healthy body. I have here an extract from a letter written by a headmaster in 1939 with reference to the selection of candidates for training in what was then called a junior technical school. He wrote:I think ' X ' is a suitable pupil for admission to the school. He is undeveloped mentally and physically, his arithmetic is very weak, but his handicraft is good. He is a quiet, well behaved boy, very willing and docile.That leaves the idea that those who are subjected to technical education are to be the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, and it is an idea which, I am sure, is absolutely abhorrent and repulsive to all of us who sit on these Benches and, I should imagine, to hon. Gentlemen opposite as well.
The first reason is the ill-founded idea that boys and girls who get a technical education are not looked after in other ways as well, because they spend part of their time learning bricklaying or plumbing or whatever it may be at a building trade school. But, if one is a governor at one of these places, one spends a good deal of time selecting people to teach them English and the normal academic subjects. Then, of course, there is the question, which unfortunately enters into English education at every stage and at every level, of social prestige and background. I have only to look at my own constituency, where there is a grammar school to which my right hon. Friend has very rightly denied the status of a direct 2187 grant school, and a technical college, the grammar school, both the boys, and the girls, part, stands in the better part of the town with playing fields and attractive buildings, while the technical college is housed in an out of date building in a drab and ugly part of the town. There is all the difference between Richmond Park and Shoreditch. The boys and girls who have been through the grammar school feel, with justice, that they are citizens of no mean city, whereas the boys and girls who go through the technical school will have had very valuable training, but they will not have had the background, which in our view every boy and girl is entitled to have, of good amenities and a pleasant environment.
The third reason why the best type of pupil is not drawn into technical education arises from the fact that pupils arc not taken into technical education at the age of 11. There is a process of creaming off, whereby the best go to the grammar schools and the rest go into modern schools. At 13 there is a further process of selection, and we are then brought up against a decision of the Burnham Committee, in its wisdom last year, that the salaries of headmasters were to be partly dependent on the number of children over 15 whom they had in their care. The natural consequence is—one is often told that human nature does not change—that the headmasters do not send to technical schools those whom they regard as promising pupils suitable for education after 15 and so naturally headmasters keep the best pupils for themselves. I submit that that decision was either the most crass idiocy, or deliberate sabotage of technical education. In addition to all these reasons there is the fact that the technical school has, altogether, an inferior academic status.
May I quote from a paper read by Dr. Drakeley, the principal of the Northern Polytechnic, last December. He said:In general, it is true to say that the status of the subsequent training available to the selected pupil leaving a secondary technical school for more advanced technical study is not equal to that offered to the pupil from the secondary grammar school. But the fault does not lie with the secondary technical school; it is due to the completely inadequate recognition of the status of higher technological education.The whole of this subject is connected with the fact that in this country, to the detriment of both normal and commercial life, and of the universities them- 2188 selves, there are too few university graduates in relation to the rest of the population. Taking the years 1932 and 1934, whereas in the United States one out of 125 of the adult population was a university graduate, in Germany one out of 604, and in Spain—before they enjoyed the advantages of their present regime—one out of 655, in this country the comparable figure was one out of 919. Here again that figure should not be over-emphasised, because our academic standards may be, and I believe are, somewhat higher in this country, but it is a tendency which is unfortunate and wrong.
The Percy Report brings in three essential questions. The first is, are we to have a system of regional advisory councils and academic boards, with a national council of technology at the apex? The answer to that question has already been provided by the Minister, and it is "Yes." The second question is, are we to have national colleges of technology, concentrating in one centre the national resources for study in specialised subjects, and, if so, is it the object to bring those national colleges within the framework of the universities, and again, if so, on what terms? Thirdly, if we are to have this national council of technology and national colleges, what qualifications are they to award? Is it to be a diploma or is to be an academic degree? I will not pretend to offer any suggestions about which is better. Opinion is sharply divided amongst experts, and I am not an expert, but at any rate I do urge upon the Minister that it is essential to give some recognition which shall raise the status of technical education sufficiently for it to compare with that in other countries.
I have concentrated on omissions and weaknesses—on the darker side of the picture. One must not over-emphasise that. Good work has been and is being done in technical education. There are many devoted workers and some most promising developments. It would be foolish to waste time in this House saying how good things are, and that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. No great industrial nation can ignore technical education and remain a great industrial Power. I think that the Percy Report was rather badly balanced in its outlook and concentrated too much on the engineering industry, but it pointed to a definite deficiency in training men of graduate or equivalent status before the war. 2189 The annual requirement in that industry was 3,000 and the annual output 2,000. In this respect the engineering" industry does not stand alone. We must not ask too much of the Ministry of Education, and ask them to set right tendencies which are partly academic, partly social and partly economic. Their powers in this matter are limited, but a gap exists which it is vital to fill, and we arc entitled to ask what steps in this direction the Government intend to take.
§ 12.47 P.m.
§ Mr. Durbin (Edmonton)
There are two points which I wish to make, following on the comments in the most interesting speech of the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells). One is the need for a higher output of highly qualified technical experts from the universities. The universities are the sole source, and must remain the sole source, of the highest qualifications in physics, engineering, chemistry and many other subjects of the greatest importance in the development of research and technical efficiency. If, in addition to this, we are to enlarge the basis of technical schools and colleges, we bring forward another stream of the most capable men and women to the universities. This means, in addition to the many reasons which have already been given for an expansion in our university capacity, an increase in the number of our university students. This is not the only claim upon the universities. There is need for an increase in the kind of specialisation provided by the social sciences. Then there is the enormous demand which will be made upon the universities by the growth of the teaching profession to provide the required standards of teaching in the schools. A modest estimate has been made that we should require at least 50 per cent. increase in the number of young men and young women in the universities of this country.
Yet I am informed by those who have looked into this matter that, with one honourable exception, there is no university in this country which is making any plans for a substantial increase in its numbers, and certain universities are proposing to reduce their numbers. My own university, so far as I can discover, is undertaking no programme for any increase in the number of undergraduates, and I understand that some colleges are 2190 actually proposing to reduce their numbers. If there is any substance in this information, which was collected by responsible people and reached me through a responsible source, there is no prospect whatever, unless something is done, for even a 10 per cent. increase in the number of undergraduates in the course of executing the plans now being made by the universities.
The first question I would, therefore, like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education is whether he and his right hon. Friend the Minister are really satisfied that they are communicating to the universities, with sufficient clarity and force, the essential need which the universities are called upon to meet. I should be the last person to wish to curtail, in the slightest degree, the splendid traditions of academic freedom which exist in this country, but it is necessary that there should be some body, or some person, charged with the duty of explaining to the universities what is needed from them. We should go beyond anything that has been provided in this field in the past as a result of the discussions between the university authorities and the Universities Grants Committee. I would urge the Parliamentary Secretary to satisfy himself that the universities are aware of the extent of the need which they alone, among our institutions, can supply.
The second point which I wish to put forward also arises out of what the hon. Member for Walsall had to say about the size of the university population. One of the reasons why the universities are so unwilling to consider an increase in their numbers, and an expansion of the facilities which they provide, is because they are afraid that any further increases would be accompanied by a decline in the intellectual capacity of the young men and women who come within their walls and, therefore, in the standard of the work that could be done.
I would submit to the Parliamentary Secretary and to the universities that the existing statistical evidence does not bear out this conclusion. Unless we are to make the assumption that we are inherently less intelligent than our American friends, there is every reason for believing that 10 per cent., at least, of the male population—statistics are not available for the ladies—would benefit 2191 from university education. That percentage was arrived at as a consequence of the investigations and researches made into the entry into the American Forces. On that basis there could have been, without any lowering of standards, 100,000 male undergraduates in the universities of this country in 1938. In point of fact, there were 50,000. I know of no experienced university teacher who would dispute for one moment that at least 40 per cent of those who were there ought not to have been there on educational and intellectual grounds. They were there merely because of the wealth, and the sacrifices no doubt made by their parents. They were there not because they could benefit from the activities carried on within the universities, but because their parents could afford, or were willing to pay, the fees. That means that of the 100,000 boys who could have maintained the intellectual level of the universities, there were only about 30,000 in them. Roughly speaking, only one in three of the boys who should receive university education actually get it.
One of the most pressing of our social problems is, where do the two out of the three boys go who do not find their way into a university? It does not take a wide experience of the society in which we live to know why these two-thirds of our capable boys are not inside university. It is either because at the break from the primary to the secondary school, or from the secondary school to the university, their parents cannot afford the necessary fees to enable the completion of their education.
So the second and last question which I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary is this: Is he convinced that the need for a more generous provision for children of 11 and also children of 17 and 18 to complete their educational careers will be supplied in time? We must have a marriage between the rate at which universities increase their capacity to receive students and the arrival of a large number of boys and girls capable of benefiting from university education. I, therefore, would like to suggest that it is time we considered once more the relationship between the Treasury, the Ministry of Education, the University Grants Committee and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors in order to see that this increase in supply and the growth in the capacity of the university, are properly 2192 and efficiently married in the years to come.
§ 12.57 P.m.
§ Mr. Palmer (Wimbledon)
I am sure the House is grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells) for raising this matter. Like my hon. Friend, I have had experience of being a member of the governing body of a polytechnic. In addition, I am an engineer, and, therefore, not only have I been able to take some part in operating the system of technical education, but I have also been operated on by it. For too long technical education in this country has been the poor relation of education in general. At one time it was possible to define technical education as education for ordinary use rather than for intellectual or spiritual profit. I feel that that attitude is now out of date. In the broad sense technical education is education relating to any vocation whether in the commercial arts, in medicine or anything else. I am particularly interested in using the definition that technical education is related to engineering and industry.
Broadly, industry requires three classes from technical education. It needs, first, skilled craftsmen, second, technicians—I know that expression is used rather widely these days, but I intend to confine it to the middle grade, to foremen, draughtsmen, testers and people like that—and, third, of course, engineers. I also use that phrase in a limited sense, confining it to the higher positions in industry such as the positions of research and the executive jobs. The Percy Report, to which my hon. Friend has referred, gives a rather more precise definition, and, in any case the recommendations of the Percy Committee are concerned entirely with the third class, professional engineers whose qualifications are governed by the three great engineering institutes—civil, mechanical and electrical. It has been emphasised already in this Debate that the Percy Report estimates that the country needs at least 3,000 civil, mechanical and electrical engineers every year to fulfil the present needs and that the present output of the universities and the technical colleges combined hardly suffices to supply this number,
I want to return to the three classes that I mentioned. The first problem we 2193 have to face is that selection is all important. I think it is true that in the world of engineering and technology there is in the end one supreme test only and that is, can he—or she for that matter these days—deliver the goods. All the lectures on the need of improved technical qualifications cannot add very much to the ability and the skill of the new engineer who will be checked in the hard world of matter where a successful performance is everything. If this is not understood at the beginning, it will certainly be found out in the end. Politicians may cover their mistakes, doctors can bury theirs, lawyers can lodge an appeal, but the engineers are always pursued by the inconvenient, ever pressing query, Does it work? There is no escape from it.
I was glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Durbin) indicate that, turned out of the universities every year, are a great number of men who are unsuitable for any responsible job in engineering and quite a number of other subjects as well. Those who have some practical experience of industry know that there are far too many engineering graduates who are unsuitable to belong to the profession. We may have been able to afford that sort of thing in the past, but today the country cannot afford such a wide margin for trial and error. I want to suggest that all entrants to technology and engineering pursuits should be weighed carefully and certainly intelligently so that the obviously unsuitable should be transferred to more appropriate studies. I suggest that for the higher levels—and I commend this to the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary—the most workable system would be one where an engineering graduate spends a year in industry on practical manual work, between leaving his secondary or other school and embarking on his university course. Such a period would allow for that subtle and temperamental adjustment which is needed. If that was done it would enable many men to decide for themselves whether it might be better to go in for music, or some other career. Others could be weeded out by reports supplied as a result of intelligent co-operation between education institutions and works managers.
When we come to craftsmen, there is usually a closer check, from the beginning, 2194 on their practical performances. None the less, the training of craftsmen is important. Here, there was a most marked failure in our prewar system of technical education. The junior technical schools were, I believe, established about the turn of the century. In a sense they have been fairly successful. But the field of craftsmanship was not filled from these schools. In fact, it is estimated that 80 per cent. of the output of these schools finished up in non-manual occupations. Therefore, we have this problem: How to create a physical and psychological attraction which is equal to the appeal of the non-manual occupation? I do not think it is any good being pompous, and talking about the dignity of labour. The status of the craftsman must be raised, and the best way to do that is to raise pay and improve conditions. I suggest that that probably means that we must have in industry some of those principles in which Members on these benches believe.
The prewar position in technical education was, roughly, this: that the universities, technical colleges—from both part time and full time courses—and junior technical schools all fed into the supervisory and black-coated grades in industry. The result was great duplication, waste, confusion and quite a lot of frustration. I have here the National Certificate figures for the years 1934–1939, and it is astonishing to see what a great leakage there was from the courses, how many started and how few finished. In prewar industry we had quite a lot of young men with qualifications of various kinds, but the industry lacked sufficient men to fill the senior engineering and technical jobs and sufficient craftsmen with a good background of technical knowledge. During the war this difficulty has been overcome by a forced, hothouse, process of specialisation for a particular number of limited jobs. Obviously, that process cannot be continued indefinitely. In the long run, we must face the fact that technical and technological education is not a matter for the Ministry of Education. It depends on the co-operation of every section of the industry, including employers, professional institutions, trade institutions and the trade unions.
In the past there has been a considerable amount of indifference on the part of employers to technical education, and, if we are honest, we must admit that there has been a certain amount of misguided 2195 suspicion from the trade unions towards the implications of technical education. I think, however, that that is now passing. Too much technical education is carried out on a part-time basis. Employers have been, and still are, reluctant to release apprentices and students during normal working hours for attendance at theoretical studies. I could say quite a lot about my own personal experience in this matter. I know something about getting up at dewy dawn, spending a long day in the workshop and then going to the Polytechnic to finish at nine or ten o'clock at night. I do not think it did me much harm. On the whole I enjoyed it, but it is not a good system, although it is fine training for this House. I think I would rather discuss a point of Order at 9.30 p.m. than a differential equation.
I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to bring to the attention of the Minister of Education the need for the introduction, in co-operation with the Ministry of Labour, the trade unions and employers, of a national apprenticeship certificate which would give proof of theoretical knowledge combined with practical training. Various schemes are now operating in certain industries, but there should be a scheme on a national basis. I would like to add my voice to what has been said about higher technological education. I feel that the broad principles of the Percy Report should be adopted. If they were, and there was a proper apprenticeship system for craftsmen, new strength, dignity and effectiveness would be added to British technical and technological education.
§ 1.14 p.m.
§ Mrs. Leah Manning (Epping)
I am sure we are grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells) for raising a matter of such great importance to the future prosperity of our country. We regret that it is only Members on this side who seem to be interested in this question. I would like to reinforce some of the things which have been said and to raise two points which have not so far emerged from the discussion. I would particularly like to refer to the dangers which my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Palmer) referred to, because I believe that most of those dangers arise, in the first place, from the fact that we segregate at too early an age those whom we believe to have 2196 academic ability from those women we believe to have technical ability
I trust that the Minister of Education, in developing her plans, will urge on local authorities to have, at the least, secondary schools which have a double bias. At the present time there is nothing that leads to such ill balanced education, and such unbalanced development of many of our young adolescents as the fact that they are segregated, before they find out what they can do and what they would like to do, into secondary schools which, give only an academic education and prepare them only for examinations. I think it was Sanderson of Oundle who discovered a long time ago what a great fallacy it was to believe that boys and girls who were highly intelligent and who had the finest minds were not interested; in technical education. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to encourage, as far as he can, this very important facet of education, and to see that young people, however fine and academic their minds may be, have the advantage of a technical education as well I am convinced that some of the very finest of our academic minds are also our finest technical experts, and it would be of great adantage, not only to industry but to science and research, if they were given the possibility of these two types of education. That can only be achieved either in a common secondary school or in a double bias school.
With regard to the technical education of girls and women, hon. Members who have spoken so far have referred to this only as an afterthought. They have sometimes said" or she "and" or, in these days, women "; but it is obvious that it has not been in their conscious thought that women and girls have a right to this kind of education. Undoubtedly, the small amount of technical education which has been given for women and girls in the past has been due to the fact that local education authorities have thought that only boys and men were capable of profiting from such education. One has only to look at the prospectuses of some technical schools, and one sees offered to women and girls cookery, laundry, millinery, embroidery—all those arts in which women are supposed to surpass men, but which really are intended to give women the components with which to make men., happy and comfortable.
2197 I suggest that women have the right to technical education for their own development, and in saying that, I think I must receive the agreement of everybody who remembers what women did after Dunkirk. We would never have got the turn round after Dunkirk if it had not been for the competence and willingness of women to take advantage of the Government training which was offered at that time. Women went into the factories in a most amazing way, and showed enormous skill in the most precise kinds of work which hitherto nobody had thought it possible for them to do. Are we now to throw away all that, or does the Minister intend, in the development schemes which come before him, to make sure that girls and women have a chance to receive that kind of technical education which has been a sort of precious sanctified belonging of the male sex in the past?
I do not want to be unbalanced or intolerant. It has always seemed to me to be very unfair that we should not give boys and young men the chance of profiting from those kinds of education which, in the past, have been left exclusively to women. So very little has been done to teach boys to cook, and yet the best, or at any rate, the most highly paid, chefs are men. Why do we not give them these chances in the technical schools? I know of only one attempt to do this in the past, and that was at the school in Vincent Square, where before the war I could get a Ritz meal at Woolworth prices. At that school boys were given a good training in cookery and hotel work. I suggest that, instead of segregating boys and girls and segregating academic and technical types, they should all be allowed to choose from the various things offered in a programme set out by the technical college.
The other day I asked the Minister of Agriculture about his plans for agricultural education. There have been some extremely interesting and important reports on agricultural education, particularly the Loveday Report. It did not seem to me that anything was being done to implement those reports, and I was surprised to hear from the Minister of Agriculture that the development of agricultural education was a matter for the Minister of Education, and that in all schemes for further education it was the business of the Minister of Education to 2198 see that agricultural education was provided. Of course, agricultural education is technical education of a very important type. In the past, industry—textiles, mining, building, engineering—has had the services of the technical schools and colleges, but very little has been done in the way of offering a good agricultural education in the technical colleges. I would like to have from the Parliamentary Secretary a definite pledge that, if he is responsible for further agricultural education, he will see that the technical colleges in the counties which are surrounded by great agricultural areas provide that agricultural education which is necessary for the development of the industry in this country. The time has long passed when we can regard agriculture as being something quite outside the ordinary industry of the country. It has now become almost completely industrialised, it is very largely mechanised; and it is of the greatest importance to see that the technical colleges provide the possibility of doing the research which is necessary.
Therefore, I ask two things of the Minister. Will he see to it, in his development plans, that there is the possibility of girls having the same kind of technical education as boys? Will he see that in the county technical colleges—I do not say that these courses should be given in Manchester and Birmingham—an agricultural course is offered, that the local authorities try to find out what demand there is for agricultural education of this kind, and that the county technical colleges are obliged to offer a course? Incidentally, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon that part time courses occupy too much room in our technical colleges. In these days there are very often many part time pupils filling places which might, with greater advantage, be filled by full time pupils. We should find out what demand there is for agricultural education in the counties, and give every possible opportunity for boys, and girls as well, to come into the technical colleges. This should lead directly on to university education, because we must see that agriculture has the very finest brains, as well as hands, that can be offered to its service.
§ 1.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Benn Levy (Eton and Slough)
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) that this is an extremely important subject, and it 2199 is very well that it should have been brought up in this Debate. I find myself unexpectedly provoked into taking part in the Debate, very briefly, and I expect very raggedly, provoked by the surprisingly obscurantist attitude of many of my colleagues on these benches. There has been during recent years a good deal of argument in favour of the extension of technological education and I view some of these arguments with the greatest alarm because technological education is really vocational training and not education at all. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Palmer) started oft gaily by saying that, although he agreed with the classical thesis that education should be useless, in point of fact technological education should not be condemned out of hand on the ground that it was too useful. He put forward a tentative claim on behalf of the uselessness of technological education. Then he proceeded immediately afterwards to give his whole case away because he went on to quote, for example, the Percy Report which pointed out that industry needed 3,000 electrical engineers annually, and that therefore it was the job of technological education to provide them.
§ Mr. Palmer
If I may correct my hon. Friend, I said 3,000 electrical, mechanical, and civil engineers.
§ Mr. Levy
It is a technical if not technological correction which I accept, but which does not for a moment deflect or invalidate the argument I was pursuing. My hon. Friend the Member for Epping also claimed the advantages of technical education, but, in the very next breath, condemned it for women in the form of cookery, millinery, and embroidery: for, let there be no mistake, these are forms of technical education.
§ Mrs. Manning
May I again correct my hon. Friend? He needs a great deal of correction this morning. I said that I did not wish these to be the prerogatives of women. Of course, I agree that they are a form of technical education, and a very good form, but I do not wish women to be allowed to have only that kind of technical education or men to be excluded from it.
§ Mr. Levy
I do not wish men or women to be condemned to only one kind of so-called education, which is technical education, because I maintain—and I feel 2200 this very sincerely—that the purpose of education is to expand the consciousness of the individual, and to open the windows of the world to him. It is not, let me say most emphatically, to provide competent fodder for the industrial machine which it seems to me has been the tendency of the arguments in this Debate up to now.
§ Mr. Palmer
Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that a person who goes into industry and becomes part of industry is well educated for life? Industry itself cannot be excluded from life.
§ Mr. Levy
This is liable to evolve into one of those rather metaphysical Debates if I follow the hon. Member in that argument, and I am afraid that I am responsible. From the remarks I have already made, I, myself, quite obviously do not think that technical education does have the same effect as education in what used to be called the "humanities." The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Durbin) did make a point which might be a bridge between our two points of view, because I agree that if technical education is carried on to the more stratospheric levels of the university then my hon. Friend's claim might conceivably be admissible. As the hon. Member for Edmonton pointed out, however—and I am grateful to him for doing so—that is precisely the bottleneck and it is in the lower strata of technical education that the product is improved machine hands and not fuller and more perceptive human beings.—[Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."]—That is the view I take, and I feel that it is perhaps useful, even if my hon. Friends now agree with me, that I should have relieved them from the misunderstanding which, quite possibly, they would have left in other minds as well as my own.
§ 1.31 p.m.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, Central)
I am very grateful that this question has been brought before the House today because I consider that technical education is one of the most important aspects of the work which falls to the Minister of Education. I know that I am fortunate to follow the provocative speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) because I feel that he has brought into the Debate a little of that old-fashioned point of view on 2201 training in technical matters, which has been the main impediment to development in the past.
§ Mr. Levy
May I interrupt my hon. Friend for one moment since I did give way several times myself? With regard to this question of the old-fashioned point of view, when I charged my colleagues with obscurantism, which is a much stronger word, it was precisely on these grounds. My objection to education in the past has been that it has stopped at so early an age, 11, 12, or 13, and that, thereafter, boys and girls were thrown out into the world because they were needed in industry, and their education was considered of secondary importance. I maintain that we must not fall into the same error by saying, "Well, from 11 or 13 onwards let them be made more efficient for industry "but equally accept that their education must stop.
§ Mr. Thomas
I am grateful to the hon. Member for interrupting me, because I think he made much clearer the actual aim he had in mind. He expressed a fear that we were making improved machine hands through our technical education. I believe that it is quite true, that we shall be making improved machine workers, but that is incidental. There is nothing wrong in improving a man's efficiency at his work, if, at the same time, you are broadening his education, and I am sure that the old fear in the labour world about technical education can be and is now about to be, overcome by the greater developments which the Percy Report made possible if the Ministry is alive.
In Wales, for instance, technical education has been, for years, the Cinderella of the education system. There has been—and not only in Wales I believe—a sort of inverted snobbery, which has kept people from allowing their children to receive a technical education although their special gifts were obviously in that direction. We know that the junior technical schools have been looked upon, very often, as the schools to which the child could go if he was not lucky enough to get into the secondary grammar type of school. That attitude has to be broken down. In Wales technical education has been constantly neglected, with one or two shining and notable exceptions. In the city of Cardiff there is the second largest technical college in the country, 2202 but in rural Wales the facilities for children to develop along those special lines are almost negligible. In Montgomeryshire at the present time, experiments are taking place and technical education is beginning. We are bound as the hon. Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) has said, to have an agricultural bias in those areas, because technical education can never be divorced from the type of industry which is available in some degree to enable the child or the student to carry out experimental work. That is not to say that they want to train particularly for a special job, as was suggested.
I am anxious that the Minister should make it clear that he will have regional advisory planning. It is the only remedy for the lack of technical education in Wales. The advantages of varied industry, well known in the Midlands and other parts of the country, are denied to large areas in Wales. Today there is greater possibility of expansion in the Principality, because new types of industry have been brought in. The war has proved the adaptability of our people in technical education. I ask the Ministry of Education to carry out the recommendation of the Percy Report that advisory councils should be put into operation in Wales.
The hon. Member for Epping brought forward a constructive suggestion when she asked for double-bias schools. One of the reasons why technical education has suffered in the past is its isolation from other types of education. We must now see that the young people of really high intelligence and of good academic ability take up the technical side of education. The aim of education has been defined admirably by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough. There are many definitions of education. Education fails if it does not give the individual an opportunity to develop latent and potential powers to the full. That is why we have the right to say that it is cruel to try to fit a child into a special mould, academic or technical, and that we must have double training. The link is essential, if we are to get, in common business terminology, our money's worth out of the system which has been set up.
§ 1.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Cobb (Elland)
This Debate is very important, and we are indebted very much 2203 to the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells) for raising it. We depend upon the efficiency of technicians in industry for our future standard of living. The lack of interest in this matter by His Majesty's Governments in the past has meant that British industry has suffered and that the people of this country have suffered in their standard of living. This is a matter in which action is rapidly and urgently needed. Our standard of living will depend upon our industrial efficiency. Industry today is inefficient during the stage of reconversion. In about two years' time, when industry has settled down after the reconversion period, we do not want it to return to the prewar humdrum increase in output per man-year of about 1½or 1¾ per cent. per annum. We want something better than that. Our ability to get something better will depend upon the technicians in industry. Our ability to improve efficiency after reconversion, will depend upon better methods and better machinery. We shall need a better supply of technicians, and also better technicians. Even though we train more people now, they will not be available for industry for some years. There were not sufficient such people before the war; we must see to it now that they are provided as quickly as possible.
I would like to have followed the line taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Durbin) relating to the universities, but I feel that I ought not to do so, as when the Parliamentary Secretary comes to reply, it would give him an easy get out. I have endeavoured in the past to put Questions to the Minister of Education on this matter, because the Minister seemed logically the person who should answer them. For some reason the Questions were always referred to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. It is impossible for me today to deal with this fascinating matter of the universities in relation to technical education. Therefore, I shall confine by remarks to two short points, with which my hon. Friend can deal. The hon. Member who opened the Debate said that the right type of individual was not coming forward from the primary and secondary schools for technical education. I believe the reason to be that many teachers have the wrong bias, and a snobbish outlook. They do not know industry, and will not take steps to find 2204 out about it. They often tell their students, even in the elementary schools, to look for a "white collar job," and not one in a factory. When I have been managing a factory employing 1,500 people or so, I have visited the local school teachers and I have said: '' You are turning out people who will work in my factory. Please come and look at it." They would not do so, because they were not interested. I have found the same attitude in university professors and teachers. They will not go to an industry, and look at it, so they do not know the conditions which obtain there.
§ Mr. George Thomas
Is my hon. Friend aware that in many parts of the country the schools organise visits to factories, in order that such an interest shall be awakened?
§ Mr. Cobb
I am aware of that, and I am glad of it, and would like to see it extended. I would congratulate the Ministry, through the hon. Member who is to reply to the Debate, because I understand they have recently arranged for annual leave up to six months for elementary school teachers to work in industry and get experience. I wish them success in this bold and useful experiment. It deserves very great success.
I would refer to one other matter, namely, the question of equipment. Technicians cannot be trained without equipment. I want to deal with two points—the ability of the technical schools to order and obtain equipment from the manufacturers, and, secondly, the ability of the schools and technical colleges to get their fair share of the war disposal equipment, of which there are vast quantities in this country. Firstly, technical colleges were very badly equipped before the war. Their equipment, by and large, was out of date before the war, and ought to be brought up to date now. In so far as the equipment is having to be obtained from the manufacturers, it has not a sufficiently high priority. I have investigated cases recently in which equipment has been on order for 12 months, and there is still no promise of delivery from the manufacturers, whereas I know there are other customers being supplied in two to three months. I commend this point to the Minister and ask him to see that real drive is put behind it.
On the question of surplus equipment I would say that during the war large 2205 quantities of technical stores have been made, which are very suitable for the use of technical colleges, but there does not seem to be any organised attempt to see that the technical colleges and schools of this country get their fair share. I can give the Minister some idea of what is going on. I was talking to one professor the other day who went to an auction sale of some of this surplus equipment. He had to get in by means of a friend, who had a ticket for the sale, and he managed to buy some equipment which he wanted for his college. When his colleagues saw what he had got, they said, "Can you get us some of this stuff?" but, when he tried, he found it had all gone. They, therefore, had to go to the dealers who bought it, and then they found that the equipment which the dealers had bought for 10s. an item was now being offered for sale to this professor's college for as much as £20. This is a matter which the Minister ought to look into very carefully. There are vast stores of equipment in the country which ought to be sorted, so that universities and colleges could be given a chance to get their fair share before it is put on the market to open tender. In addition, it would save this country a considerable amount of money.
§ 1.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Sidney Marshall (Sutton and Cheam)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. Wells) on bringing this subject forward, but, at the same time, I am very sorry that it should have happened on a Friday, and that my own party on this side of the House should display the amount of interest in the subject shown by the number of Members on these benches. Nevertheless, it is one of the most important subjects which this House could profitably debate. I regret that I was not able to be here when the hon. Member opened the Debate; I had to be elsewhere on a matter of education. I am not, therefore, fully aware of what has gone before, but I am keenly interested in this matter of technological education from two angles.
From what I have heard in the past few minutes, it would appear to me that speakers have been dealing with it from the junior point of view, and I agree that it does require a great deal of attention and encouragement from the Minister. 2206 There is also, however, the far more important aspect of technological education in regard to the higher training services available in this country. As regards the junior technical schools, in many districts they arc very efficient and very well run, and they provide one of the most valuable sources in existing secondary education. I know that it is not customary to refer to junior technical schools as being of a secondary type, but it is to be done now under the new Act. Hitherto, it has not been regarded as secondary education, though, in actual practice, it has been one of the finest forms of secondary education which we have had for years, and its products have gone very far indeed. The only pity has been that they have not had facilities given to them to go even further in regard to obtaining degrees in universities. I hope that, under the 1944 Act, this will, to a large extent, be remedied, and I am also hoping that the Percy Report, and the suggestions made in it, will, in the not too distant future, be implemented by the Minister.
In regard to junior technical education, under the new Act practically every school must have at least a dual bias, and I am certain that the education authorities, in getting ready their development plans upon which one hopes they have been engaged, and which have to be sent to the Minister by the first of next month, are fully alive to the importance of technical education and will, in the development plans which they will put forward, make adequate provision for junior technical education in order that this Act shall be able to bestow the utmost benefit on every child. It is not true to say that teachers, as a whole, have looked down on boys and girls going into factories or workshops. I do not believe that: for a moment, and, therefore, I cannot accept the remarks of the hon. Member for Cardiff Central (Mr. G. Thomas) in that respect. I think the fault lies, and has lain, with the local education authorities themselves, within whose power it was to provide technical education for the juniors, and, now that their eyes are open to the need for more technical education, I feel sure that, in the plans now being-prepared and to be presented to the Minister in due course, we shall find that they are awake and alive to that fact, and will, in their development plans, include a great percentage of a definitely technical 2207 bias. It is not a question of the idea of grammar school education being exploded.
In Surrey, we are having a hectic time because we are producing a plan for a comprehensive school for the whole area to which boys and girls shall go from the ages of 11 to 13 and receive a comprehensive education on a curriculum which has yet to be worked out, but which will provide for the child with a high intelligence quota making rapid progress through the comprehensive school, and also ensure that every child has an opportunity of exhibiting, through its ability and talents, the direction into which it wishes to be guided in the secondary education to be received later. We hope that, under that plan, in our schools in my own county, we shall be able to provide education for a very large percentage of boys and girls of a definitely technical nature, but, until the Minister produces some scheme whereby the universities are able to provide courses and degrees in technical education, more than is the case today, a great deal of the work which we are hoping to do will be thwarted.
In regard to higher technical education, the Home Counties, together with the L.C.C., last autumn had a conference which met on many occasions in order to prepare evidence for the Percy Committee. That conference represented no less than eight million population in the Home Counties surrounding London and, with London, something like 15 million people. It revealed that the provision of higher technological education is, to a very large extent, non-existent in a large area. London University by no means provides a sufficiency of higher technological degrees and study. The most that boys and girls who go to our junior technical schools can get is the diploma. That is not good enough. It does not take them far enough. We want them to be able to go on to university and get a recognised technological degree, to which the ones now offered, with their limited scope, are not comparable. We hope that the Minister will induce universities to enlarge their borders considerably, in order that technological education shall receive the recognition which is overdue to it in this country. We cannot boast of any of our technical institutions in this country. We have some very good ones, but we cannot say that so far as the rest 2208 of the world is concerned they are of outstanding quality. They are nothing like those at Charlottenburg, Berlin, Massachusetts, Leyden, or Stockholm, which are far above anything we have in this country.
In the North of England technical education has naturally advanced more than in the South. One might easily be able to argue the reasons for that. As an industrialist myself, although I live in the South, I have for many years recognised the urgent need there is for numbers of fully trained technicians in industry in our part of the country. There has been a trend since immediately after the 1914–18 war for industries to come South. To some considerable extent, I am glad to say, industry has been brought South. I would have liked to see the Southern counties recognise that fact by attempting to provide a great deal more technical education than they have hitherto done. It has taken another war to wake us up to our needs, not merely in this but other directions, and I am hoping that one of the outcomes of the good we have to take out of evil will be to wake up those who claim to be educationists to the fact that one type of education to which we have given so much in the past is not the only type of education. After all, when Adam and Eve were created, one of the first things they had to do was to provide purely technical education for Cain and Abel. I imagine there was no other education needed in those days. It was not until later centuries that the philosophers and grammarians came into existence and pushed out the technicians, as they appear to have done over the following centuries.
§ Mr. Marshall
Of course, his class exists everywhere. Today the Home Secretary has to deal with them, and in spite of all the technical education we provide, the Home Secretary may, in his particular sphere, have to deal with people who are akin to Cain. The revelation has come to us, not merely to provide an advanced type of education but to reward those who study it sufficiently for them to get the fullest recognition by degrees in the colleges. Manufacturers and industrialists will, in the future, look to employing technicians who have some recognised qualification. We do not want the B.Sc., 2209 Tech., or B.Sc.Eng.; that is not sufficient. I am sure that the Minister can initiate a scheme which may take a time to do, but which will undoubtedly produce a type of highly qualified technician, equal in any respect to any persons who can go through the colleges today and get their high degrees in the arts.
I look forward to the time when I shall see technical trades in this country being classed equally with the arts and sciences, and getting their fullest recognition, not merely in industry but in the Navy, Army and Air Forces. The fighting Services will in future practically consist of technicians. Therefore, we shall be at one with the Armed Forces of this country by providing highly qualified technicians and all the opportunities we can, to see that no longer shall the grammar schools absorb all that is supposed to be best of the brains of the country, but that some of those who possess brains, coupled with a technical bias, and who today go to the grammar schools, might be diverted into the technical colleges and universities, and have adequate and full recognition of their education in that direction.
§ 2.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
It is perhaps not the right moment to make this comment, but having been here for most of the Debate—I have no intention of being discourteous to hon. Members whom I see on the benches opposite, an for whom I have the greatest respect—I would say that it is a fact that throughout the majority of this Debate on a matter of fundamental importance to British industry, there has been only one hon. Member sitting on the benches opposite. Apart from that one Member we have nothing butbare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang,assuming that I can call the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) either sweet or a bird. It is a matter for some pride that the Labour Party have consistently taken a greater interest in scientific and technical progress than any other party in this country. It is again a matter for comment that none of those Independents or Liberals who are so often flaunted before the electors as persons who take a supreme interest in matters of this kind, have attended this Debate today.
2210 I desire to offer only two comments. I hope that my hon. Friend, for whom we on these benches have a great admiration, who is to reply, and who has had great experience in these matters, will take particular note of the first one, because it is a point which is causing a great deal of anxiety to scientists in Britain at the moment. It is this: There is a very serious hold up in technical education and research in the universities, as the result of shortages of certain kinds of equipment which are, in fact, available in the form of surplus Government stores. I am not asking my hon. Friend for a reply now, but I hope that he will make a note of the point and deal with it. There has been an instance in Birmingham University of a shortage of radio and electronic stores which has, in fact, held up Professor Oliphant in relation to important scientific research to which it is not necessary for me to refer to in detail.
I would suggest that an ad hoc organisation should be formed by the Government, first, to prepare a list of surplus Government stores in the form of scientific apparatus which could be utilised; second, to have that properly classified; and third, to have it allocated to the universities in accordance with their needs. If one had gone to the trouble of obtaining the necessary information from scientists from these universities an enormous case could be made out on this subject. I am sure that it is the kind of thing which is bound to occur after a war, but it is something that could very easily be put right. I do hope my hon. Friend will pass on this urgent need for an ad hoc organisation to allocate surplus Government stores in the nature of scientific apparatus for this marked and desperate need of the universities at the moment.
The whole subject of technical education depends very largely upon our having a proper sense of balance as between other forms of education and technical education. It is a matter, of course, upon which Members of the House on all sides, irrespective of party, may have sincere differences of opinion. Being myself a classical scholar, I would like to offer an observation to my hon. Friend whose sympathies I think indicate that he would perhaps be against the point of view I am putting forward. Being a classical scholar, I would say that I do not think my classical education has ever done me 2211 any good whatever. I can well remember an occasion when we had at Rugby School, where I was in the sixth form, a play called "Œpidus Rex," which is now being performed very excellently by the Old Vic Company. I can well remember that after people had attained a great deal of perfection in the ability to translate this play, at the end of the term the master, who was a very distinguished master, still alive, suddenly said to the class, "Now, I want you all to write down what the play is about, what the object of the play is, and what principles the play right has been trying to put across." I can assure my hon. Friend there was not one member of the class who had the slightest understanding of the essential principles which underlay the drama. I am now speaking of the lower sixth form.
Therefore, I think we have got to this fact. If we are to get a proper balance in education we must recognise that there is a vested interest in classical education today, and it is very largely a financial vested interest. If we are to have a proper balance, we must be prepared, His Majesty's Government must be prepared, in various ways, if necessary by endowing scholarships, to make sure that we have that balance which will ensure that the British genius in scientific and technical respects is able to develop even more to the full than it has done in the past. On that point, let us not for a moment despair. We are entitled to be of good courage because our British scientists have achievements to their credit which are quite remarkable, and in the sphere of scientific and technical education I think we can say that from the point of view of the natural genius of our people we are unrivalled and unchallenged among the nations. In order that we may preserve our position, it is essential that my hon. Friend and the right hon. Lady the Minister of Education should do everything in their power to ensure that scientific and technical education of all kinds has an added impetus given to it in accordance with the principles for which we fought so long.
§ 2.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Skinnard (Harrow, East)
I was particularly interested in the speech of the distinguished educational administrator opposite, the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. S. Marshall). On occasions such as this, we all find a deep 2212 and general concern on both sides of the House for the urgent reconsideration of the basic philosophy of our educational system. We have in the past had the traditional form of education setting the pattern for the country. The "vested interest," to which reference has just been made, in fact has held back the progress of the country. We have been trying to take an industralised nation and treat it like mediaeval England. It is a sad thing for any country when its educators are running 20 years behind the bus to catch up, but it is even sadder when they are running 200 years behind. The point has been adequately stressed, I think, that we do not want technical education developed purely as a means to getting a particular kind of job. I have been engaged in education for many years and had to find out what I was really after, whether I was trying to make a full man or a full woman or whether I was out to serve a particular need of one small section of the community in which my pupils and students were growing up.
We have found this difficult. I am sorry to say the attitude of the employers in the South of England has very often deterred the very advances which the hon. Gentleman opposite wants us, quite rightly, to make. So contemptuous the employers of England, nurtured in the tradition of the industrial revolution, have become of our traditional educational system, that they will very often say to a head of a school, "We do not want you to help us in any way. We prefer to take the raw article and train it ourselves." One could sympathise with that attitude, because, quite candidly, while we have done in our schools all that we could to make the children ready for the kind of life they were going to, we felt it was not our job to make technicians in a particular industry. It was our job to condition the minds of the children to use to the full the opportunities of useful work and enjoyable leisure open to them when they left school. Because of that contemptuous attitude on the part of the employer, the attitude of the teacher has very often been "All right, we won't help industry at all. We won't take any interest in it because all they want is a lot of white slaves standing by an endless belt, and we feel the children should be prepared chiefly for leisure so that they can have something to console them for the kind of life these employers want them to have."
2213 The real function of technical education would be the creation of adaptable interest and intelligence, not a mechanical aptitude for any particular process. It has been true in the past that, where employers could get hold of the technical institutes and colleges, they have tried their best to see that this was a cheap form of apprenticeship for their works. Under the new Education Act, we are trying to give a sound, general, full education of a secondary character to every child between the ages of 11 and 16. I am one of those who believe that we shall have failed to eradicate the weaknesses obvious in the present system, unless we do achieve the common secondary school, because that is the only one in which there will be no class bias and in which all the three types of human need will be catered for.
I believe that the real problem of technical education, as the hon. Gentleman opposite said, lies in what is going to happen to technical training after the age of 16. Before that age, we have general education to consider, and part of an all-round good general education is technical ability and adaptability. I would like to see a common examination in the common secondary school. If we cannot have a common secondary school as I envisage it, if we have to have the three separate types, the modern secondary school, the ersatz one, or what is likely to be the ersatz one, the technical school and the grammar school, I say if we are to make the dream of a real secondary education for all come true, then we will have to have a common examination, if you will, an extended and democratised School Certificate with a great variety of choice of subjects and options, as they have in the best American and Canadian high schools.
Today we have been told that the term "technical school" appears to be something less than the best, that it is a consolation prize for those who have failed to get into the grammar school. Anything more ruinous to a country like ours than that attitude I cannot conceive. I did meet with that attitude, curiously enough, in the Far West of America on one occasion when, because of my interest in the handicapped child, I asked the superintendent of schools in a great American city where the mentally retarded children were to be found, and he replied "We have a special technical high school for 2214 them, called after Thomas Jefferson." Mentally retarded children are not so mentally retarded as to be unaware of what that means. We must get out of that habit, both in America and in this country, although it is more usual in Britain.
It is obvious that technical education connotes a second best in our minds, trained as we are in the old conception of the so called liberal education. It should not be so thought of. There is need for the development of the child's manual and technical ability as well as for grounding in the liberal arts. They can only be fully and efficiently trained in the secondary stage up to the age of 16 in an institution which provides for all sides of education, and the tests given in the school should provide for the utmost freedom on the part of the child in choosing the subjects in which he wishes to become proficient. After a really thorough grounding in training of a secondary character between the ages of 11 and 16, surely the pupil's direction should easily be ascertainable. In this country, given an equality of status, I have no doubt that a large majority of the boys and a very considerable proportion of the girls trained in the common secondary school, would opt for further technical education, or else to proceed to jobs where their technical ability could be used to the fullest extent. The proof of that has been in the terrific development of the Air Training Corps during the war.
In the North of England and the Midlands there have been admirable technical institutions. We have at least one institution in this country worthy to rank with the Boston "Tech" which is often referred to as the most marvellous institution of its kind. I am referring to Loughborough College. Loughborough did not try to do everything in technical education at once. It began as the germ of an idea, capable of infinite development as the need arises. It tries to find the growing and changing needs of the community and then to serve them, and there is no higher aim than that. In Southern England, because we have not in the past been a highly industrialised area, we failed to realise the change that was coming over us. If one looks along such highways as the Great West Road and the North Circular Road one sees nothing but a conglomeration of the light industries 2215 of this country. But the only training for most of the boys and girls who wish to enter those industries has been found in the senior schools in this country. The proof that the development of those schools has been on the right lines, despite the handicap that their pupils left at the age of 14, has been demonstrated by the adaptability of the young operatives they poured into the war factories. It is, surely, proof that in the common secondary school lies the key to the future of education in this country.
Equipment is a very sore point. One hon. Member mentioned that there was no contact between the schools and the community which they existed to serve. I entirely deny that, for while the bulk of teachers have rightly been suspicious of the motives of local employers and manufacturers, they have endeavoured, in a very great many cases, to give their pupils a thoroughly good idea of the community in which they would eventually have to work. I would earnestly commend to the Minister a directive to all secondary schools to make a social and economic survey of the neighbourhood obligatory in the last year in any secondary school. In the surveys in which I have had the privilege of taking part, we found two requirements were served. First of all, the child became an interested citizen and, secondly, the not so interested citizens outside became interested in the training of their eventual successors. I had little difficulty in obtaining equipment, although I was not technically knowledgeable.
I, too, have suffered from a classical education, but I did become, willy-nilly, interested in the industries of the neighbourhood in which I worked, because I found that when it was seen that we were trying to give an all round education, we were given tools, machinery, blue prints and machine parts, so that we were thoroughly equipped on the technical side. I am not advocating that for education as a whole we should go cadging from the manufacturers and the shops in the neighbourhood, but it is a sign that if we only go the right way to work and say what we are after—the providing of an intelligent population of keen citizens and technically efficient persons who are able and willing to make great strides in the industries they choose—we need have no fear that industry itself will not come to our assistance and do all it 2216 possibly can to ensure that the technical college and institute, and secondary school is very well equipped with apparatus.
One of the great difficulties in the South of England with regard to higher technical education has been that, although we have had a very large number of technical institutes and junior technical schools doing extraordinarily good work—to name only one, the building schools which have done extremely good work—there is no great inducement to go beyond the age of 16. By the age of 16 the pupils have become interested, but they have not become craftsmen because they are only beginning to make their choice of a future career. Having no inducement to continue further, the student goes straight into industry and usually remains at the level at which he enters. That is a bad thing, because industry has to choose its leaders from the technically ambitious, and the only way to do that is to provide a higher technical education comparable with any universities which will make it worth while for a child of 16 to continue in engineering or any other type of technical subject, knowing that he will come out thoroughly equipped in the job he has chosen and not inferior in status to those who have chosen the more academic path.
§ Notice taken, than 40 Members were not present;
§ House counted, and 40 Members being present—
§ 2.25 p.m.
§ Mr. I. J. Pitman (Bath)
I would like, first, to take up the point raised by the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) and to assure the House that, so far as I am concerned, I am extremely interested in the subject of technical education. It is my great regret that I was not here during the whole Debate. I would suggest that this issue of education is a non-party one, on which we and hon. Members opposite can see eye to eye without the slightest difficulty, and one on which, I hope, we shall be able to evolve some technique, whereby we can consult with them to help them in a good cause, which is what I am seeking to do. It seems to me that the hon. Member for King's Norton was making a very good point on the distinction between academic and "useless" education on the one hand, and technical or purposive 2217 education, as I prefer to call it on the other and that purposive education starts under a very great handicap.
It was suggested that there was a financial vested interest in the academic and so-called "useless education." That, of course, is true, but I think it is a matter more of tradition than of finance. If anybody has any ability at all, the forces which are canalising him in the academic channel, are very great indeed. That is due largely to the fact that the academicians can point to the success of their particular type of education. This success is however due to the quality of the intake rather than to the inherent merit of such education. In other words, if you put all white balls into one bag, and all black balls into another, it is not surprising that when you draw out from one bag you get more white balls than you do out of the other. There is also the factor that the civil servants in the Ministry of Education itself, are brought up on an academic, rather than on a purposive education. Like the hon. Member for King's Norton, I had a classical education and I have heard of "narcissus." I also know the term "narcissism." It seems only right that the Permanent Secretary of a Department and those under him should feel that their prime objective in life is to give to the people of this country precisely what they themselves have received. "Look "they say" what good chaps it has produced "—and they are good chaps, and I want to emphasise that they are. There is not necessarily a connection between the two, and I would like the Parliamentary Secretary of that Ministry to remember that there are educated people abroad who have got a completely different curriculum in every single respect. The curriculum of education, is not education.
I strongly support the plea from the benches opposite that the whole policy of education in this country should be thrown wide open for discussion, amendment and improvement. As I have said, I do not think this is a matter of vested interest; it is rather one of pure honest tradition. In this House we have had those who can quote Horace. In Mr. Gladstone's day the working man, not unnaturally, said: "Mr. Gladstone is a great man, and can quote Horace. There- 2218 fore, if I learn Horace, I shall be a great man." There is a non sequitur in that, and I think we must recognise that the foundation of education is interest. It is true that education is transferable and that if a person is educated in any one kind of human activity, he can transfer his ability and education to another kind. One cannot however necessarily transfer one's interest, and I think that this country has completely demonstrated the fact that there is a wide variety of interests in the people of this nation. If only people are definitely interested in something, then education gallops forward with tremendous success.
I should like to take up a point which was very well made by the hon. Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard). He made the point that technical education—he instanced building—having brought people up to become educated people, leaves them stranded on a beach without any possibility of further progress. To my mind the villains in this piece are the universities. It will be the duty of the hon. Gentleman opposite who is going to reply, to make entry into the universities much wider than it is at present. Just as somebody with a classical education can take up Radar, or any other subject, with complete transferability, so somebody who has taken up Radar or building as his educational background can equally well transfer to the study of history, modern languages or anything else.
§ Mr. Pitman
I am glad the hon. Gentleman has made that point, and I agree with him entirely. The Civil Service Commissioners have made a movement in that direction, which I strongly welcome. But they still have a long way to go, and I hope this House will help to push them along that very desirable path. I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for his very useful and constructive suggestion. I would like the hon. Gentleman opposite to realise that I am not offering these remarks in any carping spirit. I wish to keep a proper balance between academic and useless education, on the one hand, and technical and purposive 2219 education on the other. For the right person, the academic is extraordinarily good, but there are millions of people in this country for whom anything useless, or apparently useless, is dismissed as not worthy of attention. It is for those millions that I am pleading.
I would also like to support the plea that the modern school should not be for the riff raff of the educational community. If the hon. Gentleman accepts our plea, that there are two vehicles for education—the academic and purposive—then, surely, those are the two foundations upon which to organise the interests of human beings. They arouse an interest in two classes of human beings—the person interested in doing something for the sake of what is done, and the person who is interested for the sake of knowledge. They are two different classes, and those two fields ought to appeal to all of us. It seems to me that each of those fields should carry its own fair percentage. In my view it is quite inhuman to segregate those with any apparent intellectual shortcomings, because after all those may not be intellectual shortcomings but the accidents of the vocabulary of the English which they hear at home. It is quite wicked to segregate these people, and mark them as rejects from the social community right from the beginning. I therefore join very wholeheartedly in supporting the hon. Member for East Harrow in his plea in that respect.
I have one minor point which I think is indicative. It is the subject of correspondence between me and the Minister at the moment. I have been carrying on that correspondence in general and not in specific terms, because it seems to me that there is constantly a discrimination against purposive and technical education. The way in which the Ministry of Education is using the words"qualified teacher" is a very grave hardship. They have invented this term "qualified," which does not mean "qualified" in general, but qualified for a particular type of school, the existing secondary or elementary schools. There are literally thousands of qualified technical teachers who have to go about under the denigrating label of '' unqualified "when, in point of fact, they are as qualified as anybody else. I feel that the attitude of the Ministry is to treat these people as dirt, and say they are not qualified, because they have not been through a training college.
§ Mr. Skinnard
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the difficulty he is now presenting to the House would disappear, if the university standard of technical education were introduced, so that the technically qualified people who wished to teach their subjects could attain a status equal to that of a university graduate in the arts or in pure science?
§ Mr. Pitman
Yes, I would agree, and I welcome that interruption. The point I am making, however, is that even then, it would be well for the Ministry of Education to call the black black and the white white, and not to muddle the two. To use a general term like '' qualified '' for a limited number of people is, by inference, a dirty smack at the people who do not fall within that particular category. That, as much as anything, is what these people resent very greatly. I know that from the letters I have had. There is also the use of the word "efficient." The Ministry seems to like to use general terms and apply them to specific cases, and thereby imply that a great number of technical schools, which really are first-class schools, are inefficient because they are not on the list of efficient schools. I ask the House for support in urging the hon. Gentleman to reconsider the wording used in the classifications in his Ministry.
§ 2.39 p.m.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Haire (Wycombe)
I wish to add my support to those hon. Members who today have clearly made a case that in the past in this country we have put too much emphasis on a so called liberal and academic education. I feel that one of the reasons why this is such a good Parliament, particularly on this side of the House is that we have the technical side of education, and the experience of the workshops and of the technicians, so fully represented on our benches, alongside the academic education that has been given to those who have come here through the universities. I also feel that too much of our industrial and commercial personnel is selected on the basis of academic qualification when, in fact, the possessor subsequently does not require that qualification at all.
As a practising educationist myself, I remember that on one occasion I was called to do certain educational research on a number of adolescents in a juvenile instruction centre organised by the Ministry of Labour. In that centre we had a 2221 number of unemployed boys and girls of the age of 16 to 18. It was remarkable how much of their elementary and secondary education had disappeared. So many of those boys and girls who had been in industry and commerce for a year or two had really no hangover of what we might call the liberal elements of their education. They were interested in industry as they had found it, and approach to them was not along the academic level at all, but was through their technical understanding of the world they had experienced. I suggest that that angle introduced much more freely into our secondary schools and grammar schools would indeed be a most useful element. Those of us who were schoolmasters know only too well how often our interest in outside problems, and in encouraging our pupils to take an interest in the world around them, was subordinated to the demand of the qualifying examination and the curriculum, which was almost 1oo per cent. academic. If my hon. Friend on the Front Bench today can say that he will consider the introduction into our secondary and grammar school curriculum, of an increased and increasing amount of technical education, I feel sure he will have the support of the whole House.
There is, I think, a further reason for encouraging technical education. Today our society is integrated; we hope that the old class distinctions are breaking down. We hope that there will not be continued emphasis on the value of the white collar worker, but that he in fact will come to understand the nobility of work in the workshop, while the worker in the workshop will understand the use and purposefulness of the man in the office or in administrative work For that reason, I do not think we ought to encourage in the schools the conception that we must train our pupils for the black coat and white collar jobs, but we can only break down that conception by increasing interest in the workshops in cur schools. I would like to think that no pupil would be given a certificate who had not done a period of work in the wood-work shop or the metal-work shop, or, perhaps, in a rural school, who had not taken full interest in agriculture and horticulture. Girls might be encouraged to take an increasing interest in domestic economy, needlework, and so on. I hope we shall forget 2222 about the liberal education which we stressed so much in the past, and which was a hangover of mediaevalism, and try to achieve that balanced education which is so necessary in the world today. It is an education which not only includes the academic but also the technical side. This technical education, which in the past has been the Cinderella of education, is something which we should bring into our secondary schools and universities, and not leave to some poorly-equipped, old-fashioned building where it proceeds with difficulty and is unattractive to many.
The Ministry is about to set up county colleges. I do not think they have been mentioned so far in this Debate, but surely these colleges must in fact be mainly technical, as they will be for young people who have been in industry. I do hope that that side of education will be stressed when they come into being.
I wish to add a plea for the release of technical students from the Forces who have already done some of their technical education. The Minister will possibly say that that is no concern of his. Surely, a recommendation from his Department to the appropriate Department will carry considerable weight? It is here that we feel that technical education has been neglected. After six years of war, it is essential that we should get our technical education going again. We shall not get it if he places this very restrictive embargo on the release of young students from the Forces who have already done some technical education or wish to begin. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give that matter his consideration.
I agree with the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Palmer), who I thought made an excellent point, in suggesting that before students, at the age of 16, take up a particular job, they should be given an opportunity of experiencing that job in their daily life. I suggest that a student who wants to go into engineering should have, say, one year's experience of that work before continuing his technical education. Too often we find that pupils are directed into a job because of their parents' interest in it, or because a parent thinks that the job is a nicer one than he has been doing and his child will have a better standing. We ought to consider the pupil first and foremost, and some opportunity like that suggested 2223 would be most useful. Let us go forward, therefore, in the future, with technical education standing alongside academic and university education, and let us hope that we shall be able to say that the technicians of this country are second to none in the world and that the quality of our technical education is the reason.
§ 2.47 p.m.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
The subject raised is one in which I have always taken a very deep interest, and it is comforting and refreshing to find speakers on both sides of the House apparently united in putting forward, with great commonsense, matters which, in my opinion, have needed emphasising for a long time. I agree with everything that has been said, on both sides of the House. But to get down to "brass tacks "and supposing we are right in our convictions, what is the real trouble about putting our ideas into effect? To me the real trouble is the fact that our educational system is administered by officials, both of the local authority and more especially of the Ministry of Education, who have a purely academic background, who are academic enthusiasts, knowing little or nothing about the technical side of education, who belittle it and give it a poor priority compared with academic education. They will never, in my opinion, give sufficient sympathy to the point of view so well expressed in this Debate.
My solution of the problem—it may be a wrong one, and I do not put it forward in any sense provocative to hon. Members opposite whose views on this matter as expressed today I much respect—my solution of the problem is to take technical education away from academic administration and make it, as far as possible, the subject of an ad hoc administration of men and women, including a large number of trade unionists and industrialists and thoroughly vocationally trained men, who will administer the technical side of the education of our youth in a far better way than those who have a purely academic mind and a purely academic or bureaucratic approach to this subject. I do not think we shall get real satisfaction until some body of that kind is constituted. I realise that there are prejudice and all other kinds of difficulties to contend with, which I need not 2224 enumerate, as hon. Members can readily guess them for themselves. Cannot we begin in a small way by having ad hoc advisory bodies in our local administration and in our central administration, who can build up the confidence of the country in their advice—a confidence based upon their personalities and activities, making their advice and recommendations available to the public, so that the country may know what their recommendations or criticisms are? I would prefer this ad hoc body to have executive powers, but I realise the difficulties and that we must keep our feet on the ground. We cannot move too fast in these days when bureaucracy is so powerful.
I believe that it would be possible to build up confidence in the country in these technical advisory councils or something of that kind which would ultimately lead to the growth of ad hoc bodies of a similar character with definite executive powers. So far as local administration is concerned, I am convinced that it would be better to give considerably greater power to ad hoc bodies, upon which all the requisite types of people who really understand these things would be represented. Local authorities are overburdened with innumerable activities. They do their best, and I pay the highest tribute to the splendid services which they have rendered in so many directions in public life. But many of them are unqualified to administer, and are not in the least interested in technical education. They are wedded to a few preconceived principles with regard to academic education and they regard technical education as the Cinderella, or poor relation.
It is no use expressing ideals with which we all agree, unless we face the difficulties of putting those ideals into practice. We must be practical. We shall never do this merely by making speeches. We can do it only by setting up a body which will gain the confidence of the country, stop this Cinderella business, and develop priority of opportunity for many hundreds and thousands of people in this country for a sound technical education.
§ 2.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Walkden (Doncaster)
It has occurred to me that during the past two hours we have travelled a long way from the subject as it was introduced by the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells). 2225 His speech was an excellent one. He kept to his case and handled his brief very skilfully. He was concerned with advancing the argument that more opportunities and facilities for technical education are needed. Since his speech, we have travelled all round the public schools, the universities and other academic fields. In fact, we have been almost within the realms of that famous school mentioned on the wireless, "St. Michael's." Heaven knows where we should finish, if this discussion went on for another couple of hours.
I noticed that few hon. Members recognised that, in many parts of Britain, we have had vast experience in the past of technical education, and that there are organisations which could submit an enormous amount of evidence to the Minister of Education. In fact, I would say that in many of the tours we made of industrial areas in Yorkshire during the war we were reminded that whatever we may have thought, during our Debates on the Education Act, of the need for refashioning our education system, there was little wrong with the kind of education which had been given for the last 20 years to the lasses and lads, and to the young men and women who coming from different walks of life and different vocations had adapted themselves to all those jobs which had to be done in the factories for our war effort. Might I suggest to the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) that if he looks into this question of the technical institute he may find there are many parts of the country where there is not a technical school at all and where they have never bothered about one while there are other parts of the country which have gone, not years, but centuries ahead of the others.
I heard the argument of the hon. Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) on what he meant by technical education. He repudiates the idea that we should take the young miners and make them better miners or better engineers if you like, or better grocers or better hairdressers. What does a technical education mean? It means a greater knowledge of the particular technique, a greater grip of the particular subject a person wants to understand. I would remind the Minister of the mining college we have in my part 2226 of the country, which fits in with the argument of the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew. We have had half a century of that technical institute. We do not call it a school, we call it a college, and so give it greater dignity. We have turned out tens of thousands of miners, some with first-class certificates, some with second and third-class certificates, and others with mine engineering certificates. In fact, we have turned them out almost like sausages out of a sausage machine.
§ Mr. Walkden
I am not arguing on the purpose of education, but I am debating the original argument advanced by the hon. Member for Walsall, who spoke of the need for technical education. I look at the position in London, in Lancashire, and in Yorkshire. I have resided in London for nearly 20 years. I understand Lancashire, where I was born, and I am associated with Yorkshire, part of which I represent. As to the situation in London, there are tradesmen doing all kinds of vocations and there are technical schools for them. There is even a school for hairdressers. I remember in 1934 with one or two friends, including employers of labour, going to the London County Council as the first deputation to the education committee to interview them on this question of technical education. We had good fortune, we were well rewarded. We managed to secure, as the result of our representations, a change from the old school in Horseferry Road, to the new technical institute for distributive trades in Charing Cross Road. We are proud of it, and we realise the hard work that was put in to obtain that school. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy), may say that it will only produce better grocers, better distributors or, if you like, better undertakers. But the point is that we who represent organised labour in London felt it was necessary, that we should have technical schools of this kind, just as we have mining institutes in Blackburn or textile institutes in Sheffield. We felt that London, the great centre of distribution, a great metropolis with over one and a half million workers of this class, should have some respectable and decent way of giving education to the distributive workers.
§ Mr. Walkden
I am certainly not disposed to offer these as an alternative. What I am asking is that particular trades and particular industries should weld themselves together in this great educational scheme as the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew suggests. The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Marshall) and I reside in the same town, but we have not got much of a technical education system in it. Although he is vice-chairman of the county education committee, we have a long way to go, because in our town technical education does not mean very much. However, we shall remedy that soon.
§ Mr. Sidney Marshall
The hon. Member is wrong in his description of technical education in our county which is, on the whole, one of the best provided counties.
§ Mr. Walkden
One day I hope to prevail on the hon. Member to go on a tour through Lancashire and Yorkshire and then he will find that Surrey is a long way behind in this respect although well ahead in other aspects of education. I would like to say on my main argument, that when hon. Members on the Opposition Benches lecture us on what we ought to do, they ought to address their remarks to their fellow workers, those people who work behind the scenes, on the matter of taking advantages of the education in technical schools which we have provided for nothing. They do not recognise that this is the way to make better miners, and better textile workers, and so help the wellbeing of industry. We think that is something for the wellbeing of industry, but we do not think it right that employers should exploit those advantages which are provided out of public funds. We think there should be a better understanding and that they should recognise that craftsmen can be trained in this manner. If there are not the technical schools, in many cases this education can probably be taken to the workshops, as is done in London in the distributive trades. Instructors go into many of the 2228 workrooms and warehouses in London, and we get mighty good results. We also weld our scheme with the City and Guilds of London Institute, and it so fits in, that London and Lancashire march together with similar ideas. As I go round the country, I feel that it would be a good thing in our mining and fishing villages also, but if it is to be developed we need more than merely technical schools; we need technical schools with more efficient and up to date equipment.
In the fishing village of Brixham I was reminded that during the war there had been a Belgian technical school for the young fishermen exiled from Belgium during the war. It moved out a few weeks ago. Now that technical school has gone back to Belgium, and there is no technical school for the young fishermen of Brixham. That is a sad thing. It is along those lines I should like to work. I should like to see employers recognise that the assets of any trade are the number of fine young men and women who are trained in the particular vocation, craft or calling which fits into any particular industry. Employers must not go on criticising and "cribbing" at an extra halfpenny or penny rate; they must recognise that their shareholders are benefiting, out of public funds, from the training we are giving to young technicians.
I make an appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary that in putting out his scheme, whatever may be the consequences of today's Debate, he should tell employers, frankly and truthfully, that they have a part to play as well. Let us have a code of behaviour, and a contribution from them. If that is done, I believe we shall be able to make up a lot of leeway, and that Surrey will be able to play a part in catching up with London and other areas, which have not yet started on technical education. They will recognise the urgent need of advancing the cause of the technical education which is very necessary for the wellbeing of Britain.
§ Mr. I. J. Pitman
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are only two ad hoc buildings for technical education for the whole of the enormous area of London?
§ Mr. Walkden
I do not sit on any L.C.C. committees now, but I know that London has technical and trade schools, and other schools which are not called "technical" but are given a better name. There are a catering school in St. Vincent's Square, a trade school in 2229 the Charing Cross Road, one at Bloomsbury, and there are others in addition to 14 Polytechnic schools.
§ 3.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Evans (Lowestoft)
I feel I should be neglecting my duty if I did not direct the Minister's attention to an aspect of this matter which has been neglected during the whole of this discussion, namely, technical education for the handicapped child. I have spent many years of my professional life working among the blind, the deaf, the partially blind and the partially sighted, and I want the Minister to understand that there is scope in the field of technical education to integrate young people suffering from these handicaps into our technical system. We know of the efforts made by blind, deaf and epileptic people during the war in the manufacture of munitions, which helped this country so much. A great deal of the technical training of these people has hitherto been carried on by voluntary societies, which were founded years ago.
If handicapped children are to play their part, and not to be exploited and finish in dead-end jobs in which there is no advancement, they must come into the main body of the educational system which has a vital effect on the development of our economic life. A special advisory committee for this class of people has been set up, and I suggest that that committee might properly explore the possibility of research work in technical processes as they can be carried out by adolescents suffering from these disabilities. In particular, I wish to appeal for those who are neither wholly blind nor wholly deaf, but who are borderline cases. They are apt to fall between two stools. They are unable to take part in the full, normal curriculum of a technical school, and they are debarred from entering the highly specialised training for the blind and deaf. There is, therefore, special need for them to be considered and to be given every opportunity to develop their gifts. It has been proved in recent years that the loss of one faculty is not a vital handicap to the progress of a child. Mental processes are unimpaired, the child desires to get on and the will is there. I hope that every consideration will be given to integrating such children into our technical educational system.
§ 3.12 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles (Down)
I came to this Debate to learn and to listen—and I have done both—but the speech which has been made by the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walkden) prompts me to say a few words. I see that he has gone, like a St. Leger winner, before I can ask him any questions. I heard him sneer at employers who, he said, do not support technical education. Perhaps unfortunately, I received a classical education, because all I learned was how Caesar went in and out of his winter quarters. But, after that, I served my time as an engineer, because the grateful ratepayers of the City of Belfast provided, even in those days, an excellent technical school for teaching boys who were serving their time as engineers. All we paid was about is for six months' evening education. Today, there are cheap sneers at people who go to such schools in order that they will be able to earn an honest living. For my part, I think that is praiseworthy. I paid great attention to my lessons and learned about higher mathematics, steam and applied mechanics. I was interested in those subjects. I knew that it was my profession and that I would be able to earn an honest living afterwards.
§ Mr. Cobb (Elland) rose—
§ Sir W. Smiles
No, the hon. Member for Doncaster did not give way to me, and I cannot give way now. To learn for learning's sake is all right, but the first thing one should do is to learn not to be a burden on the community. There are many employers nowadays who allow their apprentices time off on full pay—and I can give the hon. Member for Doncaster their names—and encourage them to go to the technical schools and give them scholarships if they do well there. I think that the employers of this country as well as the employees have all done their duty to give us that state of technical efficiency which has to a very great extent helped us to win the war.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Captain Baird (Wolverhampton, East)
After listening to the opening remarks of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walkden), I am rather reluctant to take part in the Debate because I am not sure whether what I have to say is altogether relevant. The Debate has been a general 2231 one about technical education, and I desire to discuss for a few minutes one narrow and special branch of technical education, that is dental education. The only reason I introduce this subject is because in the National Health Service Bill which was introduced yesterday the Minister tells us he is setting up a comprehensive dental service, but that it will not be possible to implement that service, because of the shortage of dental surgeons in the country at the present time. I enter the Debate this afternoon to ask the Minister if he will use every opportunity to let scholars in our schools know of the great opportunities for a career offered at the present time by the dental profession. Dentistry is a technical as well as a professional job; the two things run side by side.
The problem before us is this. Before the war we had, I think, an ample number of dentists for the very restricted circle which could afford to buy dental treatment. But during the war, especially as the result of the very fine work of dentists in the righting Services, a large element of the population has come to realise the value of dental treatment. Men and women coming out of the Forces now, have learned its value and will continue to have treatment if their financial circumstances permit. Under the new National Health Service Bill, dentistry will be free to everyone, and we shall need more dentists in the future than we have had in the past. At the same time, the public as a whole, especially parents when thinking of careers for their sons, have a very queer idea of the opportunities which lie before them in the dental profession. It is only 24 years since this job became restricted and the old idea that dentistry is a kind of quackery, still exists in many minds. I know that on more than one occasion during my career in the Army soldiers came and sat in the dental chair in fear and trembling and said, "Who gave you this job, mate?" or, "How did you get this job? "having the idea that dentists could be trained in a week or two, and so on.
The Minister of Education can help us as far as dentistry and medicine are concerned by taking every opportunity of pointing out the very secure job which is open to a child who enters the dental profession. I draw the Minister's attention to the report of the committee on 2232 dentistry published quite recently which, after commenting on the shortage of dentists, goes on to say:No suitable boy or girl wishing to be a dentist should be deterred by lack of means from receiving the necessary training. It is hoped that local authority grants and private benefactions will be increased. State grants should be made available to assist the students to whatever extent may be necessary.I offer these few remarks, without apology, to the House because I am sure we all realise that to implement the National Health Service Bill we shall need to have more dentists, and I appeal to the Minister to take into consideration what I have said.
§ 3.19 p.m.
§ Miss Herbison (Lanark, North)
There are a few points which may have been raised already but which I feel should be stressed. When I studied the Education Act of 1944, I did so very thoroughly because although at one time we in Scotland felt that we led in education, we have found latterly that whatever England and Wales gets in education we must act to follow suit. There was one part of that Act with which I was very much distressed, namely, that which provided that there should be three types of school after the age of 11 plus—a grammar school, a technical school and a modern school. It seems to me to be absolute nonsense that children at the age of 11 plus should be divided and segregated in this way. I feel that in view of this Act giving three types of school we are completely in support of vocational training before the age of 15, and again I object to that very much. How can any child know where his interest lies, or the parent either, from the type of elementary education which is given today? How, indeed, can any teacher know?
The only solution is to have a common school until the recognised leaving age, 15, which is still much too young. I did a great measure of teaching in a common school in Glasgow which has produced some of the most world famous engineers. That school was in every sense a school with no vocational bias. Boys found their interest there and were ready to choose which of the many university courses or technical courses they wished to follow. That seems to me to be the only way possible to give children a chance such as they have not had for a very long time. I cannot sufficiently stress to the Parliamentary 2233 Secretary the importance of seeing that this point is brought to the notice of the Minister and that, instead of those provisions of the 1944 Education Act she should use whatever influence she has to bring about in every district the creation of a common school.
I was very worried by a suggestion made by the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd), who wanted an ad hoc administration to be set up for technical education. I thought that was a very bad suggestion indeed. Even when children have reached the age of 15 and have to leave school, time spent in junior or county colleges should not be given to technical training, but to the development of quite separate interests. That is the only way of giving every boy and girl in Great Britain the wider cultural education which means so much. Some people sneer at the idea of culture. We should not regard the function of the schools as to turn every boy of 15 into a little plumber or a little joiner or a little anything else. I hope that in a very short time we shall be turning out boys and girls who have at least found out where their interest lies, and who will, in the long run, be able to develop every one of their faculties to the full.
If we want the best technicians we shall not get them by segregation at the age of 11-plus. Naturally, the best brains go into the grammar school and the next best into the technical school. We get the rag-tag in the modern school. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will make a note of the points I have raised and particularly that he should not allow education to be a vocational training for particular trades.
§ 3.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Cove (Aberavon)
I join with my hon. Friend in saying that while we appreciate the need for technical education, over-emphasis upon it is very detrimental to children in schools, and indeed to the national needs that lie immediately before us. I am not however going into the theory of education, but I want to put one specific point to the Parliamentary Secretary. Can he announce, or will the Minister announce, in the near future, the withdrawal of pamphlet No. 1—" The Nation's Schools "? That is practical politics. Pamphlet No. 1 is still, as I understand it, the policy of the Ministry 2234 of Education. That pamphlet lays down how the Ministry of Education is to interpret and apply the Act of 1944, and I challenge anyone in this House to deny the fact that pamphlet No. 1, embodying as it does the outlook and policy of the Ministry of Education, is a profoundly reactionary document. There, we have the three tiers, the stratification, of our children laid down as the official policy of the Ministry. I was reading Professor Dewey the other day and he referred to the fact that Plato divided men into three compartments—the statesmen and philosophers, who were to have a special kind of education; the men of courage, who had to be soldiers and defenders of the State; and then the vast mass, whom he described as men with appetites. That is exactly the policy laid down in pamphlet No. 1.
§ Major Lloyd rose—
§ Mr. Cove
Yes, it is there. What does it mean? I do not want to go into the theory, but I want to get rid of pamphlet No. 1. I want the Minister of Education to take it and burn it, and start afresh. What does it say? There must be grammar schools, technical schools, and, for the vast mass of children, the modern school, which is not a secondary school at all. It is still, I understand, the view of the Ministry that there are already too many grammar school places in this country. The Ministry says that this vast mass of children, who have not now the opportunity of grammar school education, are not to get it in the future. It is to be restricted, and there is to be a relatively freer supply of technical education, while the vast mass of the children are to remain in what are called modern secondary schools. The pamphlet says—I am speaking from memory—that the vast mass of the children have not the innate capacity to benefit from the development of their talents. Is that the outlook of a Socialist Ministry? Should that be the outlook of a Socialist Minister, attempting to approach the educational problems of the future? I have been associated for years with the national committee dealing with a policy of education for the Labour Party, along with Professor Tawney and others. For years, we have laid it down that there should be secondary education for all, but pamphlet No. 1 does not embody any such policy at all. It is class-ridden, and it reflects in the educational system, a class outlook 2235 throughout society, and I say, therefore, that a Socialist Minister should get rid of it.
§ Major Lloyd
I did not want to stop the hon. Gentleman giving his own Minister a good dressing-down. What I did want to do, was to interrupt him on an expression that I just could not swallow. The hon. Gentleman talked about, and deplored, the "over-emphasis" of technical education, but I thought that the whole object of this Debate, and of the originator of it, was to suggest that there was an under-emphasis.
§ Mr. Cove
I disagree. As a matter of fact, our educational system has been thwarted and twisted and misdirected by the ephemeral needs of war purposes. There arose in the war a great need for technical ability, technical capacity. One of the criticisms is that there has been, and still is, an over-emphasis, even on the need for what is called technical education. As a matter of fact, if the hon. and gallant Member will look a little closer into it, he will find that it is not the extended technical education which he thinks it is; it is truncated technical education, which is merely fitting boys and girls to do the menial semi-skilled jobs in garages, as it were, up and down the country. The ordinary technical schools, as outlined in pamphlet No. 1, do not provide an outlet to the higher ranges at all. They do not provide access to the universities. I am convinced that one of the great dangers in our educational system at this moment is that we shall neglect what we broadly call the arts, in other words what is called a liberal education, and predestine a mass of children to menial jobs. I say that that is not the outlook with which a Socialist Minister should approach the problem of education.
I do not intend to go into any further detail, but it is clear from other circulars, which I could mention, that this outlook is deeply embedded in the Ministry of Education. There are other circulars which restrict the legitimate opportunities for the ordinary child. Therefore, I hope, that the Minister of Education will review the whole policy. Spurious educational arguments can be used for some of the circulars which have been issued, but there can be no justification for a number of them, from the point of view of a social approach, and a Socialist Minister 2236 should look not merely at the field of education through the narrow eyes of education, but should relate the means and purpose and the organisation of our schools to the social objects in view. I hope that the main social object in view is equality of educational opportunity for the ordinary mass of the common children throughout the length and breadth of the country.
§ 3. 33 p.m.
§ Mr. Mikardo (Reading)
I should not have intervened but for some remarks which fell from the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd). I hate to make a point of disagreement with his speech, which was so cordial and charming and so constructive. But I wish to suggest to him, and I think he will be receptive to the suggestion, that there are good reasons against his idea that we should have some separation of technical education from the remainder of the educational scheme.
My hon. Friend the Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison) has offered one ground of objection to that proposal. I want to put another. It is a point frequently overlooked by educationists, that the mass of technical education in this country is not done in educational establishments, but on factory floors. In spite of the existence of technical schools, trade schools, polytechnics, mining schools, textile schools and the rest, these, in toto, account only for a minor portion of the technical teaching in the country. The major portion is carried out on factory shop floors, by methods which are sometimes extremely antiquated and sometimes totally unsuitable for the purposes which they set out to achieve. Unlike the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew, I would plead for a closer integration of this type of technical education—so called—with the general education scheme. In fact, I should like to see some sort of supervision of this unofficial education carried out in individual factories and some sort of laying down of standards for such education by the Minister of Education—
§ Major Lloyd
My hon. Friend has made an important point. I would agree that closer integration is the ideal, but my argument was that it is very difficult to get closer integration, when the overwhelming predominance of the administration has a definite academic bias.
§ Mr. Mikardo
My answer to that is that whereas the hon. and gallant Gentleman may be right—I do not know—in saying there is an academic bias in administration, there is, definitely, an anti-academic bias, among the people who do the technical teaching on the shop floor. Until we resolve this war between two different types of ideas, we are making the poor little lad who is being taught, a mere shuttlecock between those two different sets of ideas. What is happening is that we are gradually moving into a system in which for a period of several years in the life of every boy and girl, he or she will be partly at school, and partly at work. If he is told at work, and he so often is, that everything that he learns at school is theoretical and "sissy "—that is the usual adjective—and he is told, at school, that everything he learns at work is antiquated and of no value, what is the poor lad to think? It completely negatives all the value of education. I wish many more educationists would get around amongst the factories, particularly engineering factories, and see the type of teaching which is given to 14 year old new entrants into industry.
What actually happens? You get this poor little lad who comes into a great factory for the first time. He comes from a place in which he was the "king pin ";he was the senior boy of the school, he had a row of scout badges down his arm, and everybody looked up to him. He comes into a place in which he is a negligible little cog. His first reaction is that he is frightened. I have watched them very often. They are frightened by the unfamiliarity of everything, by the noise, and they think they will never remember on which side to hold their" clock card" or where they should park their bicycle. They come in a state of absolute terror. They go through the labour office, are taken to the foreman, and the foreman takes them to the operator and says to them, "Look, this is Bill. He is a skilled man at his job. Stand and watch him, and in time you will learn what he is doing." Bill is chosen to teach this lad, not because he is the best teacher in the shop, but because, he is the best fitter. Everybody knows that the best fitter is not necessarily the best teacher of engineering, just as the best historian is not necessarily the best teacher of history. This teaching is done, for the most part, 2238 by people who are chosen, not for any aptitude in teaching at all, but for aptitude in some other type of skill. More-over, though he may be the best fitter in the shop, he can still be using the wrong methods. Very often he is getting excellent results by using inherent ability, manual dexterity, individual accuracy, and so on. The result is that we have a system liable to error in this technical education in the factory. Little Tom comes in, and learns from Bill, in exactly the same way that 15 years before Bill learned from Arthur, and Arthur learned from Jim, and Jim never knew in the first place. This is carried on from generation to generation.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. There are many enlightened firms which have schools for teaching new entrants where they have special apprenticeship schemes, although very often the first two years of the apprenticeship are totally wasted in making tea for the other men, or taking cakes around. But even these enlightened firms are the exception, and in the great majority of cases the teaching is done by the skilled operator on the bench who has no incentive to do the job properly. In fact, this lad who hangs around him is getting in his way. He is working on a bonus, and every time he stops to tell the lad something he loses money. Unless some minimum standard is laid down for employing competent people to teach, which can only be done under the aegis of the Minister of Education, we shall be concentrating on the minor part of technical education and leaving fallow a much larger and potentially more fruitful field.
When we have this "push and pull" set up in a boy's mind—when his teacher at evening classes, or in the two half days a week of continuation day school, tells him certain things about the broader techniques of the industry, and then he goes back into the factory and "old Bill" says, "Never mind about all that algebra stuff, all that is theoretical; this is where you will learn "—educationists are often surprised to find that the lad, instead of listening to the teacher, listens to the man on the bench. That is not surprising, because the teacher represents to the boy a continuation of the state of childhood and dependence, whereas the skilled man on the bench represents everything this lad wants to be. He is a wonderful fellow, and understands every- 2239 thing. He can do wonderful things with tools. He can even, despite the safety notices, clean the machinery when it is in motion—and does. And so he becomes a hero to the boy, and the boy listens to every word this man says. If the man denigrates what the lad is taught in school, that denigration is effective, and whatever he has learned at school is wasted. Therefore I maintain that we need a closer tying down of the efforts of the Ministry with all the unofficial technical education that goes on, in order that we shall not have invalidated many of the improvements which are being set up in our official technical education institutions.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Hardman)
I cannot help striking a personal note to begin with, particularly in view of the speech of the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo). I can vouch that I have experienced the sort of thing to which he referred when he spoke about the boy in the workshop paying more attention to the foreman My foreman in the wagon shop, in the local fitting shop, or in the railway yard has been, in many instances, more of a teacher to me than any teacher or lecturer I have heard later in life in an ancient institution like Cambridge University. Then, again, I want to strike a personal note, in that I have had in my family a long personal connection with technical education, and, although my father did attempt to teach me some of the mysteries of technical education, I am afraid I have to admit also that he failed dismally.
I feel that many of the brickbats which have been hurled at the Ministry this afternoon are brickbats which I can personally feel, having the academic and the workshop backgrounds, and also, in some respects, being now, I suppose, an administrator. I am, however, extremely gratified that this Debate has arisen, largely because we cannot exaggerate the importance of technical education and its status in England during the next 50 years. Many ideas about education in general have been expressed this afternoon. I am afraid that from time to time in my reply I shall disagree profoundly with some of the views expressed, but I hope it will be admitted by both sides of the House when I have finished, 2240 that another philosophical view as regards the status of different kinds of education, different from the somewhat metaphysical view put forward by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Benn Levy), has been expressed this afternoon.
For too long—and we all start with this—we have neglected technological training in England, not only in the late start we gave to first class junior or technical schools—even though they were instigated in the first instance in 1905—but specially in the realm of higher technological research. It is high time that something was done about it. Therefore, when hon. Members on both sides of the House press the Ministry to do everything in its power to raise the status and improve technological education in England they have the sympathy of the right hon. Lady and every person—bureaucrat or not—at 14, Belgrave Square.
It will be remembered that the Percy Committee was appointed in April 1944, to consider the needs of higher technological education in England and Wales. The Act of 1944 had provided the framework, and it was the duty of the Committee to show how the development of that education could be systematically planned. As hon. Members have pointed out we have wanted systematic planning for a very long time, and we need it more than ever if, in the world of tomorrow, we are to remain the great and influential Power in world economy that we have been in the past. In planning technological development the Committee had to study the best way of linking up technical education with industry and with the universities, so that out of the Percy Report we are to have a tripartite Committee, as it were, working nationally and locally to improve technological training. I would like to interpolate a point here about the contribution which industry has made in certain areas of this country to the equipment of technical colleges The other day I had the great pleasure of going round the Derby Technical College, and there is no doubt that there we have a first class example of great industrial firms, like Rolls Royce and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, being intensely interested in what was going on in the College and providing the students and staff with first rate equipment for teaching the highest processes 2241 of technical training. That is not the only example one can give. Local industries, whatever their faults may have been in the past, are at present doing their best to play their part in helping technical training.
The Percy Committee was a strong committee and, reading its Report, we must agree that it has made some very worthwhile recommendations. But we have to ask ourselves—and the opener of this Debate on the Adjournment can rightly ask—how far have we gone in following any of the recommendations made by the Percy Committee? This Report was made public less than six months ago, but hon. Members have a right to ask the Ministry what steps have been taken so far. That is the first salient question that I have to answer this afternoon. Among the recommendations of the Percy Committee, as has been pointed out by various speakers, are two concerned with the regional organisation of further education—the establishment of regional councils for further education and the establishment of regional academic boards for higher technology.
We sent out a circular, No. 87, on 20th February, 1946, which represents the first move towards the establishment of this national system of regional organisation, and as soon as these regional councils are set up—and I myself had the honour of making it known publicly to a body of technical principals and experts that we were to have these bodies set up as quickly as possible—we shall establish the national Council for Technology, for co-ordinating the work of the regions and ensuring that a comprehensive national view is taken and provision made. The chief functions of these bodies will be to link up local education authorities with the universities and, equally important, to link up education with industry. In this way, we shall ensure developments to meet the needs of industrial personnel.
A third important recommendation of the Report is the desirability of improving the status of major technical colleges. Again, a circular has been prepared—we seem to spend a great deal of time preparing circulars—which proposes to encourage local education authorities to establish strong governing bodies representative of industry and of the authorities, and the Minister is proposing to ask local education authorities to give considerable executive 2242 freedom to those governing bodies. In this circular, which is now being prepared, appears the first reference to national colleges, another recommendation of the Percy Committee. At the present time, discussions are taking place with the various industries for the establishment of such national colleges, and one has recently been established for watch and clock making.
A fourth recommendation which again I think is highly important concerns the desirability of encouraging research. We are trying to implement this by sending out another circular, which has already been discussed with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and with the Federation of British Industries. The ideal which is shared by all hon. Members who have spoken in this Debate is to see, as quickly as possible, a considerable extension of research work in technical colleges, particularly research work which will be directed towards, and will help, local industries. The question was raised by the hon. Member who initiated the Debate of the award of a degree or diploma. This question as to what award should be granted raised considerable controversy in the Percy Committee itself. We want the decision as to what the award shall be to be determined by the National Council when it is formed, and I am glad that the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells) raised this question and enabled me to make it known that we hope and expect that the National Council itself will settle the kind of award, whether it is to be a diploma or a degree.
I turn now to another important question raised by the hon. Member for Walsall, about the figures of those who are at present engaged in technical training of any kind. I hope hon. Members will understand that I am paying particular attention to the main points raised by the hon. Member who initiated this Debate, and I think it is important that I should give the figures he asks for. I am afraid, however, that they are not very complete. As every hon. Member knows the Statistical Departments of Ministries have had other work to do during the war, and so the first set of figures I can give relate to 1937. The number of pupils in junior technical schools in 1937 was about 6 per cent. Of those in secondary grammar schools—only 6 per cent. Of the pupils leaving public elementary schools in that 2243 year 14.5 per cent. entered secondary grammar schools and only 3.2 per cent. entered junior technical and similar schools. We know that by Section 8 of the Act of 1944, secondary education of the technical type takes its place side by side with secondary grammar and secondary modern school education in the national system.
In circular 73, we suggest that, under normal conditions, 70 to 75 per cent. of the accommodation should be of the secondary modern school type and 25 to 30 per cent. of the grammar and technical school types according to local circumstances. Personally I do not accept those figures. I do not think that they represent a satisfactory goal at all, because I think that we shall require a higher percentage of technical skill—perhaps a percentage as high as 30 per cent. May I say something about this question of technical skill from the point of view of the educationist, who may have perhaps a different view of it from the views expressed this afternoon? There is in the life of every individual that youthful age which Whitehead calls "The Age of Romance." To 10 or 11 plus the child must learn by every possible way—amusements, pleasures and by the use of every vivid method of training one can obtain There does come, I suggest, in the life of every child at about 11 or 12 years of age a desire for specialisation, precision and achievement. It is that period from 11 to 15, 16 or 17, which we call the period of secondary education, and in the secondary education we have to give to the child during that period there must be something which gives it a sense of achievement, something that it has mastered and something that it has done to its conclusion.
The question of what is a liberal education or a vocational education does not enter into my philosophy. It has been a fundamental mistake of our educational system that we have allowed this cleavage to develop at all. It seems that we shall never get the right outlook on what is called the modern secondary school and the technical secondary school as types distinct from selected grammar school education, until we get out of our minds the suggestion that because one is doing something useful, one is doing something meaner than someone who has had a so-called Platonic, liberal education.
2244 I feel that the problem raised so often this afternoon about technical education ought to be extended to what, up till now, are the three types of secondary education suggested in the pamphlet referred to by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) not so long ago. If we accepted the assumption in this circular that the provision of technical education accommodation for the country is to be about 10 per cent. of the normal age group, we should have to find places for 53,000 pupils and for five years for some 265,000 pupils, approximately eight times the present provision. In my opinion that is not enough. I think that there will come a time when we shall have to develop our technical colleges and institutions to such an extent that we are prepared to provide for a much bigger percentage of the school population. We know particularly during the last 18 months, indeed during the war, that the demand for technological training and technical education has increased out of all knowledge. I cannot give the overall figure this afternoon. As an indication of the kind of increase that has already taken place, I would like to refer to the training courses for those entering the building industry.
§ It being Four o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Captain Michael Stewart.]
§ Mr. Hardman
The training courses for those entering the building industry provide some illuminating figures of the demand for technical training that we have had in the last 18 months. Before the war there were some 500 pupils in the aggregate for this specialised training; now we have 11,000, in the so-called secondary technical school, being trained at the present time. I would suggest to hon. Members opposite that this does show in good earnest the Government's interest in the problem of building houses and building new schools.
The hon. Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) referred quite rightly to the position of women in technical education. Personally I agree with her that there is no question of discrimination at all. We are out to meet demands for technical education whether from men or women. We have not up to now, and do not intend to permit, any discrimination at all. We 2245 have women holders of national certificates both in engineering and in building. It is true, as the hon. Lady suggested, that there are special facilities for women in technical colleges on subjects in connection with housewifery. I agree with her that it is not enough. There are, of course, opportunities for commercial training and there women are on an equality with men. What we envisage in the Ministry is improved facilities for women in the catering industry for instance, and a large increase in training for women for institutional management, for example, school and hospital matrons, canteen supervisors, head manageresses and those particular specialised jobs which I suggest women can do much better than men. These are some of the callings in which we expect women to play a large part, and for them technical courses are provided in technical institutes.
The hon. Lady also raised the question of agricultural education. She rightly pointed out that the whole subject was investigated by a Joint Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Education under the Chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor of Bristol University. The hon. Lady has read that pamphlet, and she knows that the highest type of agricultural training is, in fact, under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture. When it comes to farm institutes and other forms of agricultural training we wish to co-operate, and do, in fact, co-operate with the Ministry of Agriculture.
§ Mrs. Manning
May I interrupt to say I only raised that point in order that it might be made crystal clear, because when I asked a question of the Minister of Agriculture over a fortnight ago he placed all the responsibility on the shoulders of the Minister of Education. Therefore, I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary has made this point absolutely clear.
§ Mr. Hardman
It is true that we are not advocating a vocational course in secondary education, but we are suggesting a bias in an education which is secondary in character. In village colleges in Cambridgeshire three out of four have an agricultural bias. Personally, I believe in biases in education. We want to keep our children on the land, and interested in village life, so, naturally, there is a bias in their education towards agricultural interests. When in Denbighshire 2246 I saw at Llysfasi—and this illustrates what an advanced education authority can do—a magnificent example of a residential secondary school experiment, where the boys in residence at what we now call a secondary school are learning all about the life and care of animals and about crops. In fact, the agricultural bias there is very strong indeed. But there is also an emphasis on the cultural things of life. I want to ask enthusiasts for education not to talk too generally about so-called "riff-raff" going to what have been called modern schools—
§ Mr. Hardman
I do not take that view at all. My view is that we should have three types of education, of equal status.
§ Mr. Hardman
What we intend to do with these three groups is to see that every child has the equality of opportunity it ought to have to develop educationally the whole world of art, culture, music, painting and architecture. If young people are taught in school to appreciate these glorious discoveries in the arts, as well as how to do a technical job, they will use their leisure much better as they grow older. In consequence, they will certainly be better citizens and better breadwinners.
It was unfortunate that so many references were made today about the position of the universities, unfortunate because my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Durbin) ought to have appreciated that the universities are more under the control of the Treasury than under the control of the Ministry of Education. We have no control of the universities at all. If is possible that some may hold very strong views about the part universities are playing in the social development of our country, and those views can be expressed. Even the universities tend to be closed corporations—
§ Mr. Hardman
Cambridge may be a good instance, but it is not the only one. It is not the prerogative of my right hon. 2247 Friend the Minister or myself to tell the universities what they must do. We can advise them, and I know that my right hon. Friend lakes the opportunity to do that, especially when she visits the sister university at Oxford.
§ Mr. Durbin
I merely suggested that the views of the Ministry as to the needs of the country should be put to the universities with all the authority of the Government. I asked whether such communication had been made, and if the views of the Ministry had been placed in a praiseworthy form before the university authorities?
§ Mr. Hardman
The best thing I can do is to draft another circular, and this time send it to the University of Oxford instead of to the local authorities. Our view of technical education in the past has been a mean one, as I have already said, because our educational system has taught us to think of something useful as being inferior to something liberal. I was sorry to hear expressions which denoted an inferiority complex in those who had had a classical education I had a classical education, and although I am not good at classics I claim that it taught me a considerable amount of good. No knowledge is outmoded It is a question as to how that knowledge is focused on the needs of the present. It is not the classics that are wrong; it is the way the classics have been taught. What we can do, even in classical education—which, I hope, will be open to every child who wants it—is to see how it can be focused upon the life which people experience and live
§ Mr. Blackburn
Much as I admire my hon. Friend, may I point out that if 90 per cent of education is focused on things which happened 2,000 years ago, then however brilliant one is it is impossible to extract from that knowledge things which are relevant to the economic and social conditions which have put my hon. Friend into the situation he occupies at the moment.
§ Mr. Hardman
As my hon. Friend is such a devotee of the sciences, I would like to point out that the whole vocabulary of modern science cannot be completely or easily understood without, in the first instance, a fairly concise knowledge of the classics
§ Mr. Hardman
Well, an understanding of the great tragedies of Greece, of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, will at least give a person a background to an understanding of what modern science is trying to do about the stubborn irreducible facts of nature. Technical education, as I see it, fulfils a deep desire in alert, growing, people to translate their ideas into skilled manual work. Mere manual work, mere manual skill, must have a source. That source, I think, is vision, and it is the arts that give that vision. So, in technical education we ask not only for the concreteness of technological training, not only the first hand observation of scientific training, but the way of vision supplied by a cultural side to all technical college work. My experience of technical colleges in the last ten years is that they have developed to a remarkably praiseworthy degree, in many fine instances, the whole cultural side of technical college, activity. I insist that there is no question of rivalry in status between the three, four or ten types of education we have to develop. They are all to be of equal status and I am determined if I have any say in the matter, that technical education tomorrow will be given full honours in the temple of education we are trying to build.
Many hon. Members of the House will remember a famous ending to a great play by George Bernard Shaw. "John Bull's Other Island" ends with the words of a mad priest, describing the ideal state of mankind:In my dreams it is a country where the State is the Church and the Church the people. Three in one, and one in three. It is a commonwealth in which work is play, and play is life. Three in one, and one in three. It is a temple in which the priest is the worshipper, and the worshipper the worshipped. Three in one and one in three. It is a god-head in which all life is human, and all humanity divine. Three in one, and one in three. It is, in short, the dream of a madmanThe important lines here, as Whitehead so profoundly remarks, are those in which the priest says, "It is a commonwealth in which work is play, and play is life." I suggest that in those words there lies the ideal of technical education.
§ Mr. I. J. Pitman
Before the hon. Member concludes may I ask him a question about a modern school in Bath? There are a first-class secondary grammar school and a first-class technical school. 2249 The competition for places in the technical school has gone up enormously. I fear, and I think hon. Members opposite fear, that when a modern school is available, only the "riff raff" will wish to apply for admittance—those who are turned down by the other two schools. I do not think the hon. Gentleman has answered that point.
§ Mr. Hardman
I should not like to answer a question of that kind, without knowing all the facts of the situation. In other words, if the hon. Member will allow me to investigate the matter, I will ascertain the position in his constituency, and write to him on the subject.
§ Mr. Blackburn
While congratulating my hon. Friend on the penultimate part of his speech and also on its ultimate part, may I ask him to consider putting the purely practical point for an ad hoc organisation—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The hon. Member is making a second speech, not asking a question.
§ Mr. Blackburn
With great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I was asking whether the Under-Secretary would be good enough to put to the appropriate Government Department the point about an organisation with relation to scientific apparatus and certain Government surplus stores.
§ Mr. Hardman
I am sorry I have missed so many points that have been raised this afternoon, but in reply to the hon. Member I would say that we are, of course, working in co-ordination with Government Departments selling surplus stocks. We have our own departmental representatives on the appropriate Committees, and. at a lower level we are working with the L.E.A.s. Only this week we have been considering the purchasing or otherwise of certain surplus stocks for use in technical education, and. the matter is not being lost sight of.
§ Question put, and agreed to
§ Adjourned accordingly at Eighteen Minutes past Four o'Clock.