HC Deb 15 December 1955 vol 547 cc1367-9
5. Mr. Albu

asked the Minister of Education what steps he is taking to assist and encourage the local education authorities to develop the teaching of science in schools under their control.

Sir D. Eccles

I can best help these authorities to improve and extend the teaching of science by approving building work needed for this purpose, the cost of which is shared by the Exchequer in the ordinary way; and by doing all I can to increase the number of science teachers.

Mr. Albu

Does the Minister still hold the view, which I think he expressed earlier in the year, that we should do everything we can to close the gap in the educational provision for those able to pay fees for education and those who are not able? In view of the fund recently established by industry to assist schools at which fees are paid, does he not now recognise that we must increase the provision which he makes for local authority schools?

Sir D. Eccles

Every time a local authority puts to me a proposal for another laboratory or some other provision for science, it is looked at most sympathetically. The financial resources are there for making these improvements in the maintained school system.

17. Dr. King

asked the Minister of Education if he will make a grant to local education authorities, earmarked for improving facilities for training young scientists in State secondary schools, of a similar amount to that provided by industrialists for the development of scientific education in independent schools.

Sir D. Eccles

No, Sir. Local education authorities can already make provision of this sort for schools for which they are responsible without a special grant. I have included some information about work already done in replies to my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. G. Longden) on 1st November, and to the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) on 10th November.

Dr. King

Is the Minister aware that direct-grant schools can also make application for extension of their scientific facilities? Is he aware, too, of the remarkable response of the direct-grant schools for assistance from the £1½ million which industrialists have so magnificently provided? Can he not imitate private enterprise and make a similar sum available for the State schools?

Sir D. Eccles

The hon. Member knows that the parallel is not sound. The State maintained schools already have the finance they want when they come with a proposal of this kind. What is happening in the case of the direct grant and independent schools is that they have lagged behind for a long time and are now beginning to catch up.

Mr. W. T. Williams

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that everything is being done by his Department, including giving sufficient money to local authorities, to ensure that there are sufficient teachers of technical and scientific subjects in the State schools?

Sir D. Eccles

The problem of the supply of teachers in technical subjects is a difficult one. I shall be saying something about it in my forthcoming statement.