HC Deb 31 May 1951 vol 488 cc375-7
5. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Education what is the estimated number of trainees for teaching in each of the ensuing five years; how many newly-qualified teachers will be available during that period; and to what extent economy in educational expenditure is likely adversely to affect the necessary supply of teachers during the next five years.

Mr. Tomlinson

I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of a report recently submitted to me which gives, in the appendix, the best information available on the first two parts of the Question. The report also shows that arrangements have been made for securing a very considerable increase in the number of teachers over the next few years, and I can assure my hon. Friend that progress has not so far been held up by any restriction in educational expenditure.

Mr. Sorensen

Does my right hon. Friend anticipate that this financial economy may have an effect next year on the number of teachers required?

Mr. Tomlinson

No, I do not think so.

Mr. James Johnson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that perhaps the only new source of potential teachers will be girls leaving our secondary modern schools? If so, what can he do about that?

Mr. Tomlinson

I know that that is one source, but it is not the only source. The more mature person might also be brought in.

7. Mr. Hollis

asked the Minister of Education what steps he proposes to take, in view of the threatened shortage of teachers, revealed by the Report of the Advisory Council, to attract to teaching mature students from other professions.

Mr. Tomlinson

The Report mentioned by the hon. Member does not forecast a general shortage of teachers but draws attention to certain special difficulties which have to be overcome if we are to secure an adequate supply. In accordance with the recommendations of the McNair Committee, specially generous grants have been available for some years for students aged 25 and over taking one-year courses at training colleges. I hope that the publicity given to the Report will make this facility more widely known.

Mr. Hollis

Would the Minister agree that it is necessary not merely to make it more widely known—what he says is perfectly true—but that the Report also calls attention to the fact that there is great anxiety as to whether a sufficient supply of these mature teachers will be forthcoming in future? Is it not possible, not only to make the facilities more widely known, but to extend the facilities?

Mr. Tomlinson

Yes, but anxiety does not mean, of course, that there will be a shortage but that there may be a shortage. We are ready to do anything we can to make these facilities known.

Mr. Chetwynd

Does my right hon. Friend accept the figure of additional teachers required in the next two years to be something like 20,500? In view of the urgent need of primary and infant schools what action is he taking to encourage people to go into that kind of teaching?

Mr. Tomlinson

I cannot accept that figure without going further into it. With the entries at present in training colleges and the numbers coming in in the two years we see the possibility of getting through without reducing present standards of staffing, but we need all we can get.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that classes, especially in primary schools, are far too big and that it is not only a question of not reducing standards but of greatly improving educational accommodation?

Mr. Tomlinson

We realise that to the full, and I think it is gratuitous to point it out to me. I should like to point out to hon. Members generally that we have a million more children to cater for and that those occupy classes as well.

Mr. J. Johnson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that to cut down classes to 30 children, which most teachers would like, we should need an additional 60,000 teachers?

Mr. Tomlinson

Yes, and as the Report points out there is no possibility of doing that within the next five or 10 years. We should recognise that impossibility.

Brigadier Peto

Would the right hon. Gentleman say what his policy is with regard to the closing of primary schools, which is so much against the interest of many, in view of the shortage of teachers?

Mr. Tomlinson

I do not know of any primary school that is being closed.

Mr. Dryden Brook

Has my right hon. Friend any information as to how the size of classes in primary schools compares with pre-war?

Mr. Tomlinson

It is better than it has ever been.