HC Deb 22 March 1955 vol 538 cc1866-7
19. Mr. Carmichael

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the average class attendance register in elementary, junior secondary, and senior secondary schools, respectively, in Glasgow and Lanarkshire, respectively; and what action he intends, in co-operation with the local authorities, to reduce the size of classes.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Separate figures for the three types of school are not available, but in Glasgow in January, 1955, the average size of classes in primary departments was 39.9; in the first three years of secondary courses of all types 29.6; and in the fourth and subsequent years of secondary courses 22. The comparable figures for classes in Lanarkshire at the end of December, 1954, were 39.3, 29.5 and 21.2. Reductions in the sizes of classes must depend mainly on the success of the efforts which are being made, in cooperation with the education authorities, to recruit more teachers and speed up the provision of new schools.

Mr. Carmichael

What is the Minister doing to try to ease the problem of overcrowding? The figure he gave does not give the true picture. In some of the primary schools classes there are as many as 60 pupils. With the best will in the world, nobody can teach children in such large classes. What is the Minister doing, in association with local authorities, to ease the problem?

Mr. Stewart

I entirely agree that these large classes make it almost impossible to teach properly. We are doing everything we can, in association with the authorities, such as using temporary buildings, trying to get more teachers and, under the latest circular, adding to old school buildings. Of course, it is taking time, but we are in a peculiarly difficult position because of the bulge in the birth rate, a factor which we must face for some years yet.

Mr. Rankin

Can the Minister tell us whether these statistics were taken just before the two leaving dates, in January and August?

Mr. Stewart

I am not able to answer that question, but the figures were given to us by the two local authorities, and they cover the dates which I have mentioned in my answer.