§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Buchan-Hepburn.]
§ 3.46 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
We meet today under the shadow of a great loss to Scotland. Hector McNeil, whose presence we miss on these benches, was one of the most popular Members of the House. He was a hard hitter in debate, but his gift of warm friendliness made him a favourite on all sides. I know of nobody else who was on first-name terms with so many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen. The House has been deprived of one of its most valued and able colleagues. Our greatest loss is that of a friend who always evidenced glowing sympathy for those in distress, and a kindliness to friend and foe alike. I am quite sure that we all mourn his death. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
Today, we are to discuss the question of education in Scotland, which, compared with the heat of the debates of the last two or three days, seems to be a passing into the cool waters of reason. The transition from Budget discussion to education debate will, I hope, bring forth more light and less heat. An electric bulb, I believe, produces light in inverse ratio to the amount of heat it gives out; if the heat is reduced there is more light. Perhaps we may be able to do that in discussing education.
It may be thought that education is much less important than Budgets, but so far as our future prosperity is concerned education is perhaps the most important element in our planning for the next generation. The Government, of course, have always taken the view, politically, that they do not believe in planning. It would be a most extraordinary thing if education was not planned; that what a child was to learn, and what was to be 852 done with the child after it left school, was left just to chance. The Government are, however, proposing very important changes, and I hope that most hon. and right hon. Members have studied the circular of 23rd July, which is closely concerned with the problems arising from the relationship of education to our economic conditions.
In this debate we are considering how the generations coming after us are to be educated so as to fit in with this new electronic and atomic age. As far as I can see, what has been lacking so far is any comprehensive purpose or comprehensive scheme that gives us, and the teachers, a clue to what we are eventually seeking. Scotland, unfortunately, has no raw materials to sell to the world. She has only brains, skill, service, enterprise and the enjoyment of beauty. Complacency in facing our problems will certainly lead to decay. They must be tackled with a purpose. But if the purpose of education and its connection with life is clear, I am satisfied that it can inspire both the pupils and the teachers. Any patchwork arrangement is sure to breed confusion.
There are a great many physical requirements in connection with education, and many of these will be discussed during this debate. Buildings and equipment are, of course, of tremendous importance. The hygienic arrangements for schools may not at first appear to have much to do with education, but when we read in the Press that in one school there is only one wash-hand basin for about 450 children, it does not make it very easy to provide comfort and cleanliness.
These are troubles that we have inherited. With the tremendous problems which have faced us since the war, and still face us, it may not be easy to deal with these troubles promptly, but I hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland is keeping in mind this question of cleanliness and such problems as that of 853 children on a cold frosty day trying to dry their hands on a wet towel. That sort of thing has a disheartening effect generally, and if something could be done to help I am sure that it would promote better relations in the schools. It may be that, as in the nursery schools, parents could supply their children with towels if proper arrangements were made for them to be looked after. These are small things but cumulatively they are of great significance in the general make-up of a school.
For years we have debated the subject of smaller classes. I am especially interested in the use of school feeding for the teaching of good manners. During the Recess I have been watching some of the television programmes, including one which brings the Armed Forces abroad to our firesides, "Requests from the Forces" it is called. What struck me on hearing some of our Scots lads speaking on the television is the great difficulty they have in finding words to express themselves. I think there is in our schools a lack of this kind of intercourse, and an inability to deal with other people and speak with them.
While we may not be deficient in this respect in the Scottish Grand Committee, many of our Scots lads and girls seem to be handicapped in finding words to express themselves. This might have been a great tragedy if it had not been for Robert Burns. Half the Scots would never have been able to make love, because they have only got Robert Burns' words to say what they could not otherwise say themselves. We are lacking in the ability of emotional expression. True, we have managed and we have pushed on. We have succeeded in some way.
I read in "The Bulletin" that when school children go to Turriff and Ardmiddle to do their mothers' shopping, there is a special smile for them from the shopkeepers because evidently the school cleaner and meal server at their school, Mrs. Elizabeth Mitchell, puts the children on their best behaviour and makes them observe and practise good manners in the school. I have always believed that it is a mistake to treat school feeding merely as a matter of stuffing children with more food. It is one of the most important elements in 854 teaching good manners, friendliness and hygiene, and it ought to be so utilised.
I must admit that one of the difficulties of education is its dual purpose. We are trying, on the one hand, to educate and train the children to play their part in the industrial life of the nation. On the other hand, there is the other aspect of education, where we try to develop the cultural capacity and ability of the individual. These things come into conflict, and I think that most parents' first desire is to see that children leave school with the chance of getting the best job. That means that the teachers have to concentrate on preparing children to jump through the hoops of certain examinations because if they fail they will be handicapped in their careers. When teachers are pressed to concentrate on this aspect of education, obviously to some extent the other type of education—the development of good manners, culture and the love of knowledge—will suffer.
We must train people for industry, offices and the technical professions. These branches of training seem to fall into different classes of schools, and at once we find class distinction between one school and another. It is to be regretted that we cannot get rid of these class distinctions in our time, so that children will learn at school that when they go into normal life they will all be part of a great community and that whatever part they play, every person will be giving valuable service to his community, whether as a leader of industry or a worker on the grimy soil of the land.
The individual must try to speak and write correctly. I have tried to impress upon the education authorities the necessity for giving children more opportunity of expression. For years I have insisted that there is far too much suppression in the ordinary schools and too little expression. I think that children learn far better by doing things than by having things thumped at them. The more that education can be combined with activity the more the education becomes interesting and the more will the co-operation of the children be ensured. However, these are questions rather of the higher flights of education.
We are faced today with the fundamental problem of prosperity and the necessity to provide education to make it possible for Britain to enjoy prosperity. 855 The Minister of Education put the matter very clearly recently when he said:We have to shape our education system so that we can meet the call for a very large number of trained men and women who will support the top flight scientists and make possible the application of their discoveries to commercial and useful purposes. We cannot afford to waste a single boy or girl who may by ability and hard work, acquire technical skill, whether of a humble or a high nature."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1955; Vol. 544, c. 600.]Those are the dimensions of the urgency of this problem.
The circular issued by the Secretary of State in July, which I recommend to every hon. Member, may have a similar purpose, but I have a feeling that it is not linked up with that purpose and that the connection between it and the great problem which we have to face is not brought closely enough to the attention of the teachers. I hope that there is some method by which the teachers and education authorities can be persuaded to read that circular and give effect to it.
I hope that the Secretary of State with his great authority, will consider giving a lead to Scotland to step boldly into this new atomic, chemical and electronic age, and show how Scottish education is to be geared to provide our youngsters with the opportunity of playing their part. There are great opportunities in this age not only for working but for leadership. Our population has certain attributes and a love of education which is traditional and which could be drawn upon with great advantage.
The Appleton Committee has reported its concern about the shortage of science and mathematics teachers but in his own report the Secretary of State devotes most of the first 23 pages to what seems to be the weakest rung in our educational ladder, the primary schools. I am very glad that he has arranged for panels of teachers to study the booklet on "The Primary School in Scotland." Some of the work which the Educational Advisory Committee of Scotland did was very fine indeed, and the reports which it has published could take us a long way towards improved education in general. The report on the primary school is of great importance, and I believe that if teachers realised that this is what is wanted of them great progress could be made.
856 It was urged upon me when I was Secretary of State that I should abolish home lessons altogether. From the point of view of the kind of home lessons which have been the custom in the past, there was certainly an argument for abolishing them. Those lessons kept a child to his desk after he went home and kept him doing lessons. I have seen a child weeping over the table because he did not know what the problem was about.
But I emphasised that home lessons need not be of that character at all. The idea of a project in which the child is sent out to do a job, with a sense of adventure, enlists the co-operation of the child. If teachers would use their imagination to give children that kind of task, which has to be educative and interesting, the children would, for instance, investigate their own town or its environs and do work which would automatically provide them with both interest and education and would stimulate their personal initiative and responsibility.
If there is one advantage which the public schools have over the ordinary school in Scotland it is that they train boys and girls to undertake personal responsibility for doing things on their own. If we could do more of that in our ordinary schools, then the standards of the primary school would increase considerably. I recognise that when we come to the Higher School Leaving Certificates pupils must get down to hard study. There is no getting away from that. The Secretary of State's own conclusion is very serious. He says:A more definite break with traditional class teaching is imperative if both the ablest and least able pupils are to have full justice done to them.The word "class" is used in the sense of the classroom. A few moments ago I was talking about the other sort of class.
I wish the Secretary of State every success. If he can get that point of view brought into the educational system he will have done a good deal. It is a pity that circumstances prevent us from developing the nursery schools far more. Anyone who has been in nursery schools and seen the effect on the children when they come under the influence of education at a very early age will regret that this system cannot be extended to more children. It not only educates the children but has a powerful effect on educating the mothers. Some of the results of 857 nursery school teaching have been remarkable. I wish hon. Members could visit some of the schools in Edinburgh, where they have been developed perhaps to a greater extent than almost anywhere else.
Sometimes children learn wrong things before they go to school, and it takes a long time at school before they "unlearn" them. It would be better if they did not learn such things in the first place. It would save time afterwards. Unless we nurse the early roots of education with care we cannot expect to have the glorious blooms we want.
It is obvious that much teaching is wasted because the children's ability to read is insufficiently developed. Research on educability was carried out by Professor MacLellan in the Dundee Research Organisation and his report was published while I was Secretary of State. In the study of arithmetic, for example, it was discovered that many children failed in arithmetic not because they could not count but because they could not understand the terms put to them. They did not grasp the meaning of such terms as "subtract" and "divide." The use of simple and clear terms is essential to understanding other problems. Unless children understand the words, and they are simple, many children may fail to realise to the full their innate capacity.
It is the fact that children do not understand which makes them want to leave education. I have had long experience in adult education. At the beginning it was a problem to persuade adults to accept more education. Their idea of education was what had been stuffed into them at school and wild horses would not drag them back for more. That is an awful reflection on what happened in the schools in the old days. Children leaving school were glad to be rid of it.
Our problem is to make them interested in education, and if we are to succeed and to get the best from our children and to have children wanting the best education, we must capture their enthusiasm and imagination. That is not an easy job. People are paid very high salaries, and others are now to spend millions on commercial television, in order to capture the interest and imagination of the public. That kind of public appeal is no less necessary, in some ways, for the children. 858 We must advertise efficiently to get the children to buy our education.
Of course, we cannot do that unless we get the teachers. If teachers are to be harassed and to work against the collar all the time they will not have the time, the energy or the heart to inspire the children. I have seen great variations in teachers. I visited a potato-lifting area. There, I found, on a wet day, teachers in one hostel standing about smoking while the children miserably tried to pass the time. On the same day I saw another hostel where a teacher—a science teacher, born and bred in Bridgeton—had the children all busy working out scientific experiments and making all sorts of gadgets. He had introduced a spirit of adventure. These children would have been willing to make spacemen's suits, without the slightest difficulty, if he had asked them. His pupils did not want to leave the potato lifting to go back to Glasgow because they were so interested. This teacher had not forgotten his boyhood. He could still think as a boy and get the interest of the children.
That capacity is needed, and not every teacher has it. I think that some of the people who are appointed as psychological advisers—in the case of ladies, so that the children can sob on their bosoms—might do a useful job in seeking out the children who are not interested in education and seeing whether they can discover the reason. Personal interviews of that kind might possibly do more good than allowing children to concentrate on their adolescent emotions. It may be diverting these people a little to something more important.
The great problem among teachers, of course, is in the higher ranks in mathematics and science. I want to ask the Joint Under-Secretary whether he has any report to make on the negotiations which are taking place with the teachers about the problems of the science and mathematics staff. I understand that there is a possibility of discussing higher salaries, which may make some contribution, but in the long run it is not a solution, because more people want graduates today than there are graduates leaving the universities. A mere auction sale which will send them backwards and forwards between industry and the schools will not add one graduate to the number available. As far as we know the reservoir is 859 not equal to the demand. I think that is generally agreed.
There are, perhaps, one or two solutions. One is to get more children to continue at school. The circular which the Secretary of State issued is very accurate in its summing up. I cannot remark on the conclusions it gives but there is one conclusion which I must note. There are still 100 per cent. of the children being trained for the universities, whereas 95 per cent. of them will never go there. I think the time has come when the universities should co-operate with, and not just dictate to, education authorities about the curriculum. The universities must take into account that industry is not run by graduates alone and that unless the other workers are equally intelligent to carry out what the scientists are deciding or planning we shall never succeed as a country.
It ought to be possible to harmonise those educational requirements with the work that has to be done in industry and in the country. I am afraid that there is still a little too much of the Latin-Greek complex preventing full co-operation between industry and university. I am not against "culture," but I am opposed to its domination preventing a proper relationship between university curricula and the curricula of our schools.
There are other proposals, such as those which the Appleton Committee recommend. Are we to stop tightening the test or to slacken the test? So far as we can see standards required of the entrants to universities and for graduates has been getting tighter and tighter. If we accept the fact that people have a certain innate capacity and there are all sorts of levels of that capacity, as the restriction is tightened fewer and fewer will get through. We ourselves are automatically restricting the number of graduates we require by continually tightening the requirements.
Unless it is to be argued that tightening the requirements improves people's brain capacity and that in the next generation we shall get more people of that type of brain, I cannot see any hope in this at all. It is Darwinism turned upside down, because the number of years it takes to improve the species that way is about one million and that will not solve our problem. The Appleton Report says: 860It is our view that, while each profession should attract entrants of the highest ability, many professions should enlarge their lower ranks with persons of less ability than those they seek to recruit at present.A tremendously important part of the problem is that we are not making the right use of the graduates we have. Many graduates are doing jobs which call for less than their capacity. There should be a survey of graduates and of their use. At one time I had requests that probation officers should be made graduates. I suggested that it was probably the graduates' salary they wanted, not the qualification. Naturally, that is the case, but where there is a scarcity of graduates it is wrong when they are capable of doing the higher jobs that they should be doing the lower jobs.
I agree with the Appleton Report. We are losing a fair number of teachers because there is not enough flexibility. Recently, I came across a young lady who took every subject but French for her degree. The professor advised her to go to France and study. She did so and came back, but failed again when she had another go at it. I am satisfied that that girl, with her experiences in France, has probably more facility with French than 70 per cent. of the others who got through the examination merely by swotting, and that she would have made a good teacher because she is qualified in the other subjects. But she has gone into a big department store at a considerable salary.
I wonder whether we are losing many people by being too wide in our demands that they must be expert in so many subjects. Is it possible that some people are good mathematicians and not necessarily good linguists and that people can be good scientists but cannot master German or French? These are matters which should be very carefully analysed. Have the Government examined the problem and come to any conclusion? Are they to enlarge the reservoir and bring in more of those capable of higher learning and going to university? In Scotland, we have complaints from the students that the allowances at university are insufficient. We had one from the university in Glasgow this morning. These allowances are now a deterrent to young men and women carrying out their university course. What are the plans of the Government; what are they doing about it? Are they taking steps to ensure that 861 graduates are properly used and that good use is made of their various abilities?
Our main failure is to use the interests of the pupils. Here, I believe, television has great possibilities. By its use it is easier to understand facts and figures and a month's concentration of study in an intricate problem can be brought to a person's mind by these wonderful visual aids in a matter of a few minutes. Mathematics is a difficult subject, but it can be taught much better by means of television than by wireless. It is easier for people to concentrate with their eyes than with their ears. People grasp things immediately when they see them, whereas it may take a long time to understand by hearing about them. A great deal more use should be made of television.
The Secretary of State should urge on the B.B.C. and I.T.A. not to waste a lot of time on more frivolous stuff during the day, but to use this medium for some hours in getting across some of the more difficult problems. Teachers trying to teach mathematics and science in lonely outposts in Scotland cannot get the necessary apparatus for the kind of teaching which would be possible by T.V. This is a proper use for T.V. and ought to be brought into the problem of spreading an interest in mathematics and science.
Most children are reading spacemen thrillers. It does not matter where one goes one sees them with spacemen uniforms. Why not get some of the spacemen thriller writers to recruit some of the children for science? The easiest way to understand science is to become really interested. Once that is achieved a teacher can encourage children to take up teaching.
The main problem, in the long run, is to interest the children. We are concerned, of course, about the conditions and status of teachers, but the real material of education is children. We are dealing there with the finest of nature's material—the human brain. People who work on that material are privileged. Those who educate a child are doing a greater work than those who work on any other material that exists. Therefore, it is a privilege to be a teacher and those in the profession who love their work enjoy their life. They have seen products which have brought great credit and honour to them.
862 We require teachers to come into teaching not merely for the salary, but also for the honour. We do not want to deprive them of the salary because we give them the honour, but teachers have suffered a loss in prestige in recent times. Too many people want to become doctors. We want to restore the honour which teachers used to have when the teacher was the man who got the "lad of pairts" and that made him a great man who could look hack to his teacher as the man who helped him on his way, put him in the way of knowledge and helped to develop his capacity. I hope that recruiting by the Secretary of State will have success in what he does, but unless there is inspiration and purpose behind it I am afraid that it may fail.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Major Sir Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, East)
We have listened with rapt attention to an admirable and informative speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn), delivered in his very best vein, and with which none of us on this side of the House could, in my judgment, possibly disagree. I am happy to find myself in such general agreement with the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope that the rest of the debate will show this general common agreement between us, which is rather rare in other directions and in other places.
I have no doubt that we shall have the pleasure of hearing my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State reply in due course. It falls to my lot—and I rarely attempt to catch your eye, Sir, in debate—to say a few words on something about which I am particularly keen and to which, in his closing remarks, the right hon. Gentleman opposite paid some attention himself. I ask him to excuse me if, in my rôle as a back bencher, I do not attempt to follow him in some of the other directions in which he informed us so satisfactorily this afternoon.
I want to speak with a deep feeling of sincerity about what I believe, at any rate, is the apparent effect on the morale, as it will certainly be the effect on the recruitment, of male teachers which, I feel, is almost certainly bound to follow the implementation of the recent draft regulations on teachers' salaries. Already, we have seen that there has been formed a Scottish Schoolmasters' Association, 863 which has broken away from the Educational Institute of Scotland, which has been hitherto the spokesman for teachers throughout Scotland, male and female.
The unity of that organisation, which had been respected by all who were interested in education, which had for long been listened to with respect by Governments of all parties, is now quite definitely, and I think seriously, broken, and, from the point of view of the teaching profession being represented by an association which could represent all and speak with one voice, that is, I think we must all agree, unfortunate. It shows that there is a very grave disgruntlement among male teachers in Scotland at the situation which they feel is developing, or which they fear is developing.
They consider, and I think it would be difficult to deny it, that the E.I.S. is at present overwhelmingly dominated by women. Whether that is a good thing or not I would not argue here; I merely state it as a fact. If it is, it is perhaps not unnatural that some of the male teachers, as they look ahead and see the writing on the wall, are somewhat worried by the fact. Indeed, I think it would be difficult to disagree with those who are in close touch with the position, as I claim to be, that male teachers, rightly or wrongly, are disgruntled at the present time.
To some extent, all the teaching profession is rather disgruntled, but by and large this disgruntlement and discontent is concentrated at present among the male teachers and schoolmasters rather than the women, who are very satisfied and pleased—and I would not blame the women for being satisfied and pleased—at the fact that equal pay for equal work is to be implemented, even though they doubtless feel that it could have been implemented quicker than the Government propose to do.
The male teachers and schoolmasters, as I understand the matter, feel that the logical corollary of the principle of the Goschen formula is likely seriously to affect their prospects of increased salaries and advancement and promotion in the future. They feel also that their prospects and living standards are seriously retarded at a time when their average salaries have increased since 1951 by only about 5 per cent., and we all know 864 that the cost of living has increased very substantially. Even though the figure is not 5 per cent., the cost of living has gone up a good deal more than their salaries have gone up, as I understand, while industrial wages, salaries and earnings of those in other categories have gone up very considerably more than theirs.
They now feel that women are to receive all the advantages of increased salaries in future, and that there is little prospect that they will get any at all, especially with regard to the Goschen formula, which limits the amount of money which can be spent on education in any case. They fear that there will be far fewer male teachers recruited into the profession. The women may feel that that is a good thing, but there must be many in Scotland who feel that, on the whole, it would be most unfortunate if, in future, our boys have to be taught almost entirely by women.
There are at least some of us who believe that, while women do a magnificent job of work in very difficult circumstances in the schools, none the less there are many boys, of whom, frankly, I was one, who are better for having been taught by men rather than women. Admittedly, it is a matter of opinion, and we can leave those who prefer it so to be taught by women. I am one of those who think that I would rather have a boy of mine taught by a man.
If there are some here who would agree with me about that, there is something in the schoolmasters' contention that the recruitment of male teachers will fall as a result of the development of the Government's plans, and that, I believe, will not be advantageous for the education of our boys in Scotland. I think that we need more men teachers, not fewer. I am fairly sure that schoolmasters are right in their fears that the plans which are being developed will mean fewer male teachers in Scotland. Indeed, there is not much incentive for male teachers to come forward at present into the profession when much higher salaries are being paid for similarly qualified men and men of similar abilities in other activities, in the Civil Service and especially in industry. I cannot but help feeling that it is unfortunate that we have to look forward to that almost inevitable fact.
865 Perhaps my right hon. Friend, or one of his Joint Under-Secretaries, may be able to assure me that my fears are groundless, and that the schoolmasters have no right to think that the recruiting of male teachers will fall in numbers. If so, I shall be delighted, but I am at present very sceptical on the matter.
The right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire has been referring to the Appleton Report, which we have all studied with deep concern and interest. I do not think there would be any difference of opinion on either side of the House about either the importance or the significance of that Report. Those who framed it, Government spokesmen from time to time, as we recall, many trusted leaders of industry, including, I know, two or three leading trade unionists, have all concurred that there is and is likely to be an increasing shortage in the higher grades throughout industry—throughout the nation for that matter—in skill and in technical and scientific knowledge.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite is perfectly right. It is a matter of grave concern for the whole country, but if we are not to be able to get the necessary skill and technique into the teaching profession, mainly among the men, and if we are still likely to be very short—and we are—and if there is little prospect that we shall increase the numbers in that direction, then I fear that all the misgivings of the Appleton Report about the numbers of skilled and technical men in industry and elsewhere are likely to be justified, for these men have to be taught.
If we are to get men to go into industry with the higher skills and techniques, and with scientific and mathematical knowledge, they will all have to be taught. They cannot all be taught in industry; many of them will, in the first instance, have to be taught in the schools. Most of the brighter boys will make their start there and learn to be fascinated with the subjects which they will develop later. I fear very much that we shall find a great shortage in those directions.
I want to turn for a moment to another development which I fear in relation to the draft regulations, and that is that the most important question of being able to get technical teachers in our technical schools and on technical subjects in the 866 schools is likely to be seriously affected by the regulations. I notice that there is to be a reduction in salary for all new teachers in technical schools and on technical subjects in schools, which seems to me to be rather unfortunate and derogatory to this very important branch of the teaching profession.
We need more technical teachers and more technical students. How are we to get them if one of the first things we do is deliberately to lower the salaries of the technical teachers who are coming into the technical profession from now onwards? It is true that those at present there are not having their salaries altered, but I cannot see any justification for deliberately insulting this branch of the profession by lowering the salaries of those entering it in future.
This is presumably in order to make them equal with the women and to satisfy the women in that respect. I have no doubt that there are many women who do fine work in technical education, but I am sure that there is more scope for men in technical education. It seems to me that our need is more men rather than more women in that direction.
I do not wish to be misinterpreted. I do not decry in any way the value of the work which the women are doing. However, I am told authoritatively that a woman teacher of Gaelic, for instance, will get more pay now than many who will in future be teachers on the technical side of the teaching profession. If that is so, I cannot believe that it is something of which the people of Scotland would approve.
I want for a moment to turn to another matter in which for many years I have been deeply interested.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
As the hon. and gallant Gentleman is turning to another subject, might I put a question to him? In the main, he has deprecated the regulations, and he has referred to the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association, which, I can assure him, was in being many years before the regulations were made.
§ Miss Herbison
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman not in favour of the partial rate for the job which the regulations, 867 which I criticise in other ways, will bring about in Scotland, for that is what the tenor of his speech suggested?
§ Sir G. Lloyd
That is wrong. I thought I had made myself clear. I have nothing whatever against the principle of equal pay for equal work, which has been accepted by both parties in the country and has passed through at least two General Elections without serious dispute. I have always admitted the principle, and in no word that I have had to say have I disputed it. All I was wishing to discuss was its effect as represented by the fears and anxieties of the male teaching profession in Scotland, at any rate a great many of them.
Although it may well be that the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association has existed for a long time, it has succeeded in winning away a great many people from the E.I.S. as a result of their fears about recent developments. I trust that I satisfy the hon. Lady. I am in no way against equal pay, nor do I wish in the slightest degree to put the clock back in that respect. It is only in relation to the consequence upon the male teachers that I am considering it.
To turn to the subject of administration, I am one of those who took part in our proceedings on the last Scottish Education Act, when Mr. Tom Johnston was Secretary of State and chief architect of the Measure which passed with remarkable unanimity among all hon. Members. It is within my recollection, and must be within the recollection of many others who were in the House at the time, that owing to certain circumstances—a General Election was impending, and the war was ending—it was not possible for us to include in the Act many measures relating to the administrative side of education which Mr. Tom Johnston had in mind and which some of us had been discussing as part of the Act.
A long time has elapsed since then, but nothing has been done. It was a lack in the Act. I never doubted that something would be done some day before very long. It was generally admitted at the time that there was no opportunity to go into it then. The subject was a little controversial, and we had a Coalition Government, and it was felt that it would be better to leave it to the future; but 868 surely it was the near future that we had in mind. Now long years have passed, and nobody has said a word.
Are we satisfied with the present administration of our educational system in Scotland? Must it continue as it is for ever when, only a comparatively a few years ago, we were seriously considering its reform and only abandoned the attempt because of the purely exceptional circumstances of the day? If the Government could find time within the next two or three years to grasp that nettle—I do not think it is much of a nettle—they would find a considerable measure of unity between both parties in the House and in Scotland on the matter.
I am sure that the morale of the teaching profession will never be as satisfactory as I should like it to be until we give teachers a greater share and a greater say in education itself on the administrative side. We have the medical profession represented at every stage of the administration in the National Health Service. The teachers are, to all intents and purposes, not represented at all on the administrative side of their profession except for consultative purposes. This is a slur which they have felt for many years. We ought to do something about it and encourage them, for, after all, they are just as expert in their own profession and in their own way as members of other professions are. We should give them an opportunity to share in the administrative side and to be represented by those whom they choose on the administrative side of this great profession.
I hope I have not kept the House too long. I hope that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State will feel able at least to say why nothing has been done or hinted at and why it is not proposed to do anything about the revision of the administrative side of education in Scotland in the near future.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. Henderson Stewart)
Will my hon. and gallant Friend tell me what he means? I do not quite follow him when he talks about changing the administrative system. Does he mean in the detail of the Department's work, or does he mean something more than that?
§ Sir G. Lloyd
My hon. Friend was in the House when we discussed the composition of education committees and 869 whether or not there was to be co-option, and if so, how much and who was to be co-opted, and all that kind of thing. We discussed the composition of the committees which were to administer education and to what extent local authorities were to be given powers to co-opt and so on.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I should like to be included among those for whom the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) spoke when he expressed the general regret of Scottish Members at the very sad death of Mr. Hector McNeil.
The hon. and gallant Member for Renfrew, East (Sir G. Lloyd) has said that he is in favour of equal pay in principle, but he is more doubtful about it in practice. I do not think that having equal pay in principle will satisfy the women. They want to see it at some time put into practice. It is obvious that whenever it is put into practice it will lead to difficulty. The main difficulty that we meet in putting it into practice in education is that women are so much under-paid in various other professions.
I see no reason, merely because men are so much better at doing some things, such as cookery and dress designing, why women should not be granted equal pay for equal work, but I concede that certain safeguards must be introduced. Everyone will agree that women must not become cheap labour, that is to say, an excuse for lowering the pay which either men or women teachers can obtain. If there is any substance in the fears which the hon. and gallant Member expressed, particularly about science and technical teachers, like him I very much hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will be able to tell us that those fears are unjustified.
Secondly, I fully appreciate that there are teachers who have responsibilities for families, and so on, and who are in a peculiarly difficult position today. But women as well as men may have family responsibilities, and if there is a case for making it up to those people who have these special responsibilities it would seem to me to apply to both sexes.
I want to speak chiefly about the content and purpose of education in junior secondary schools, but before doing so I should like to say a few words about school building. The tendency lately has been to spend very large sums on new 870 schools and very little, if any, on old schools. There are in my constituency some old school buildings which will not be replaced for many years. Indeed, many do not need to be replaced.
They are essentially sound buildings and will probably last a good deal longer than some of the new prefabricated buildings which have been put up recently, but they require repair and additions, and playgrounds added to them. Above all, some of the school lavatories are an absolute disgrace. I urge the Government to consider whether it would not be worth spending a few hundreds of pounds on some of these old schools, which will be there for some years, and especially to look at the question of the condition of the lavatories in some of the rural schools.
As to the junior secondary schools, first of all, I do not like the name. I think that the name is condemned by the first and second paragraphs of this excellent Report on Junior Secondary Education. The junior secondary school is not a kind of inferior copy of some senior secondary school and we ought to have a new name. The junior secondary school is the final stage of education for a great many children and, therefore, must give a balanced education for life. That is a rather tall order and the first thing that the House should bear in mind is the burden that is placed on school teachers today.
It must have been bad enough to teach in the old days of the three "Rs," but if teachers have to teach everything that is contained in this Report they are wonderful people. Home craft, science, agriculture, fishing, music—there is nothing almost that the secondary school teacher must not be prepared to take up and know something about—And still they gazed and still the wonder grew,That one small head could carry all he knew.Let us look after these teachers and see that they are reasonably paid. I wonder, too, what chance they have of refreshing themselves and bringing themselves up to date. Suppose a teacher wants to go abroad, which is a perfectly reasonable thing but a very expensive business, or go to a university for six months in a year, has he any means of doing so? I wonder whether the Carnegie Fund foundation might turn its attention to helping teachers 871 in this way as an addition to the other wonderful work it has already done for Scottish education.
Education in the junior secondary schools today differs from the old ideas of Scottish education primarily in two ways. First. it is very much broader: it sets out to be attractive rather than menacing. The right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire has stressed the efforts that are made to interest children and to draw out their abilities rather than to frighten them into doing work. Secondly, modern education, of course, does much more for the stupid child. In the old days the dominie had to concentrate a great deal on the children whom he thought the cleverest. It is absolutely right that we should offer all children a broad education for life, and it is quite right that we should try to interest them and draw the best out of them and not try to frighten them.
But two deficiencies emerge, not so much from anything wrong with the schools themselves as possibly from the whole system of bringing up children today. Throughout the Report the tendency is to stress the importance of not putting too much on the children. I agree that we are talking about fairly young children but, on the other hand, this is the last stage in their education. I suggest that they should be encouraged to stretch their minds and reach out, to use their abilities to the maximum and possibly indeed to grasp at things which are slightly beyond what their capabilities might seem to warrant. I have come to the conclusion that an external examination would be no bad thing. Everybody dislikes examinations and I confess to changing my mind on this point. I do not want examinations to weed out the cleverest children from the less clever. But as Dr. Johnson said of hanging, an examination wonderfully concentrates the mind.
§ Mr. Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
Dr. Johnson said nothing of the sort. He was speaking of "the prospect" of hanging.
§ Mr. Grimond
I agree. I should have said "the prospect" of examination.
I read and learned many things because I knew I had to face an examination, things which I never would have learned 872 otherwise. An external examination and some reward for the successful saying "Well done" is no bad thing. I notice today a reluctance in young people to undertake responsibility. I know that I see very small samples and I may be quite wrong, but I think that there is a reluctance to lead and to be singled out from one's fellows. That may be a defect of their virtues. Many people do not want to push themselves forward. I do not want to exaggerate the advantage of so doing, but in the North this is serious.
Today, we find it difficult to get people to take responsibility, to lead and to put themselves forward in new enterprise or to come forward in local government. Voluntary organisations do something to cure this. There are the Boy Scouts and movements of that kind and schools like the Outward Bound Trust, and a great many schoolmasters out of school work very hard in giving voluntary training and encouragement. This is a general difficulty in bringing up children and I do not necessarily blame the secondary schools, but I should like the junior secondary schools to see whether they can rectify this shortcoming to some extent and encourage their pupils to take more responsibility.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
Can the hon. Member tell us how he reconciles this desire for an external examination with an equally well phrased desire for brighter curricula, new adventure and experiment, because the one thing that damps experiment is the existence of external examinations?
§ Mr. Grimond
I am not convinced that that is necessarily so and many schoolmasters agree with me. I agree that if an examination is hung over children like a guillotine it can have a bad effect, but I do not agree, for example, that all university examinations necessarily cramp university education. I bring the matter forward as something which I think now needs some consideration.
There is another defect in the junior secondary system which I want to mention. The system—I do not say the junior secondary schools but the whole system of which they are a part—has, in my area, failed to instil into young pupils a desire to stay in their own districts. And I am afraid that it does not really fit 873 them to do so. There again, many schoolmasters do their best in a private capacity to encourage them and to teach the sort of things which are needed in country districts and in the islands. But the prevailing wind, so to speak, is inclined to blow young pupils away. The magnet is the office desk in the big town.
I do not want to prevent a child from going who really wants to go; but equally, I do not want to see a child who is prepared to stay unable to carry on with a good sound education in his own district. That, I take it, is the object of the junior secondary school. I would suggest that the clue to this is technical education, but not in the very advanced things taught in the general sense. We all know, and have read the Appleton Report on this, that, in general, we are behind in technical education.
I want to say a word about the sort of education needed in the constituency that I represent. I believe that the junior secondary school when it deals with things such as agriculture and fishing has to deal with them in conjunction with a scheme of further education, and, of course, if possible, with apprenticeship schemes. The Shetland County Council is trying to establish a sea school in the country in Shetland and not in the town of Lerwick. That is most important. I hope that it will receive every encouragement. I hope, also, that every encouragement will be given to teaching knitting and weaving. These must be linked to our local industries, I think it is true to say that weaving is taught in only one junior secondary school in the whole of Shetland. There is only one apprentice-weaver and only two further educational courses in agriculture. That is not nearly good enough in a crofting county.
Our further education, at the moment, is a failure. A great many devoted schoolmasters make a success of a particular course, and many people get amusement and some instruction out of these further educational courses, but it is not really on a professional basis, as, I think, the Report shows. I do not think, for instance, that gardening need be taught in a junior secondary school. What I should like to see is professional agriculture, weaving, knitting—so far as my constituency is concerned—navigation, and so on, taught on a really professional 874 basis by fully qualified travelling teachers, so that people can make a living when they leave school.
§ Mr. Woodburn
In Ross-shire and Aberdeenshire there are agricultural schools which seem to comply with the specifications which the hon. Member is laying down. Is it not a matter for his county council to consider what other people have done?
§ Mr. Grimond
I know the Ross-shire school very well. I am not sure how successful it is and I do not believe that we can leave this entirely to the local authority. My local authorities are very small ones. To get this on a really professional basis requires a great deal of help and money from the central Government. The whole burden of my point is that it must be on a professional basis. We have to give these people the education which will help them to make a good living in the areas in which they have to live. That can only be done by an integrated system of secondary education, further education and apprenticeship up to a high standard.
I believe that the junior secondary school, apart from its name, has the germs in it of a good education, but I am not certain that it is linked up sufficiently with a well-thought-out scheme of technical education, designed to meet local needs. If all these difficulties were met, I think that it could be developed into a most valuable part of the educational system of this country.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) touched on a problem which concerns and worries a large part of Scotland, and I have no doubt that what worries the constituency the hon. Member represents is the roving spirit and the difficulty in persuading young people to continue in contentment the life to which their parents were accustomed. I am not against the spirit of enterprise—far from it. It was the Scots who went abroad and set up industries and enterprises all over the world which have done much good to the progress of the world. At the same time, it is a great problem in the Highlands and Islands, and one which I can understand the hon. Gentleman is very concerned about.
875 In this matter, opinion has changed to a considerable extent. The older generation was content to sit in its islands and find a living there. It thought its home the finest place in the world. That is now tending to change. The older generation's point of view is illustrated by what was said to a friend of mine who went to see an old friend who lived on an island. I think it was the island of Skye. She was the mother of a considerable family and he was asking after the sons. "Where is Angus?" he asked, and the mother replied, "Angus has gone off to some other island, maybe it is Britain." That was the sort of standard she attached to the island of Skye compared with the mainland of Great Britain. I respect that point of view.
It is curious that out of this considerable report so much that has been said already, and so well said by my hon. Friend, should touch on the point, also made by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, of this rather vexed and troubled question of equal pay. My hon. Friend has very adequately developed a case which is worrying a number of people quite a bit and, consequently, it will curtail what I was gong to say to a considerable extent.
I should, however, like to add to what he has said. The Schoolmasters' Association, in the views which they represented to the Educational Institute of Scotland, pleaded, or made a case, for some system of family and dependants' allowances where these were applicable. I do not think that they would object, nor, indeed, would I, to these family and dependants' allowances being paid to either a male or female teacher where it was clearly shown that the female teacher was equally entitled. But the final regulations, as I understand them, make no such provision. As my hon. Friend said, there is a general shortage of teachers throughout Scotland, and as he developed his argument it seemed to me to be clear that, as things stand just now, unless some sort of further provision is made, we shall aggravate that shortage of teachers, certainly of the male sex.
I should like to say a little on this question of equal pay in general. The law of the country, so far as I can see it, still recognises the man to be the breadwinner. It imposes on his shoulders 876 responsibilities for the family such as have not yet reached, at any rate in the majority of cases, the shoulders of women. There is a bias in the direction of saying that in family life the man is the leader and has greater responsibilities. An example of that is the very rare number of cases where a woman is called upon to pay alimony; and who has heard of a man either bringing or succeeding in a breach of promise case? That is an unfortunate and unhappy piece of legislation which many of us would like to see taken away.
There is still inherent in British law that conception of things. If that responsibility, leadership, and "breadwinner-ship," if I may coin a word, is still regarded as being the man's, then surely the salary should take that into account. If the equal salary, with no provision for dependants and family, is in fact to be fixed on a basis for a woman, it will then be too little, if we add in those responsibilities, to attract the men. If, on the other hand, it is fixed for both sexes on the basis of a man, it will be more than need to be paid to a woman who has not got those responsibilities.
I think that this agitation for equal pay is very dangerous to women. I am going a little outside the field of education for a moment, because I would like them to realise where this may lead. In industry, if the demand goes as far as that, I think that ultimately they may work themselves completely out of jobs. Because—and it is no criticism of women; indeed, it is something which one must admire and be proud of—the average woman intends, after she has spent some time in her job or in industry, to get married and have a family.
However, any industrialist will say that both with men and with women the first year or so is really unprofitable. The man and the woman are learning their jobs. He will add, however, that where he employs a man there is a greater probability, once he has lost some money in allowing him to learn his job in the first two years, of getting that value back in the subsequent years, whereas in the case of a woman that employment may well be, and generally is, rather short-lived. So that if this demand for equal pay goes on and spreads to industry, women may easily find themselves, in a time when there is less full employment than there is now, 877 prejudicing their own chances of getting employment.
I wanted to say this because, apart from what I have been saying about industry, these are broadly the views which are held by the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association. They complain bitterly that the views which they wanted to represent have not been taken into account. Rightly or wrongly, they say that this is due to the fact that in the teaching profession only 34 per cent. of the members are men and 66 per cent. are women.
As I close, I do not want it to be thought that I am not an advocate of equal pay, but I am only an advocate of it when all the responsibilities of each sex, and indeed as between the members of each sex, are taken into account, and when the true value of their continuing employment has been calculated, and when the law recognises in all its forms equality before that law.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Scotstoun (Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison) will forgive me if I confess that I did not fully understand his argument, any more than I understood the argument of his predecessor, the hon. and gallant Member for Renfrew, East (Sir G. Lloyd). As far as I could make out, both are enthusiastically in favour of the principle of equal pay and both take the strongest objection to advancing towards it.
§ Mr. Hutchison
May I put the hon. Gentleman right? I said I was in favour of equal pay with a calculation for equal responsibilities; that is to say, something like family or dependants' allowances added to the statutory pay.
§ Mr. James Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
That is the case of the Educational Institute of Scotland.
§ Mr. Thomson
As my hon. Friend points out, this is the case of the Educational Institute of Scotland. I have no doubt that the problems of applying equal pay are many and complicated. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) mentioned some of them, but if we draw differences of responsibility between one sex and another, we must also begin to draw differences of responsibility within the 878 sexes, and we normally take account of those by the Income Tax mechanisms rather than by the suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman.
In any case, surely the point is that the principle of equal pay is important, and therefore it is important to make the best possible progress towards it. The attitude that has been expressed from the benches opposite tonight is not one that is likely to encourage very much progress towards applying the principle of equal pay. However, I think that the speeches made by the hon. Gentleman and his hon. and gallant Friend underline two important aspects of education.
We had from my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) one of his characteristically able and characteristically passionate speeches on the content of education. There is a great deal of educational work and of educational theory which is common ground between parties in this House. We may have our differences about various ideas but they are not differences that coincide with party lines, and that is a good thing.
But of course there are also attitudes towards education in which there are different outlooks on the two sides of this House, and that is also, as it should be, because education is closely linked with the kind of society that we are trying to build, and naturally there should be differences in outlook between the Conservative side of the House and the Socialist side of the House on that question, differences that are bound to reflect themselves in the kind of educational structure that we want in the country.
In the short time at my disposal I want to draw attention to the long way we still have to go in creating real equality of opportunity in this country for our children. We all of us, everywhere in the House, agree with the general principle of equality of opportunity, but we often forget just how long a distance there is to go, even though we have made progress of which we can be rightly proud.
The case for real equality of opportunity rests on two premises, one the individual and the other one the community interest. In the first case we want to give all children an equal opportunity of developing their own personalities and potentialities. We do not believe, of 879 course, that children are all of equal capacity and ability, but we believe profoundly that all children are of equal worth. This sounds a platitude, but when we come to execute it in educational policy, we begin quickly to get differences of approach. As soon as we begin to argue about raising the school leaving age, many people will say, "It is not worth while for so-and-so to be kept at school an extra year," but, by and large, we do not find well-to-do parents in the community discussing whether it is worth while to keep a child at school for a year or two or three years beyond the statutory school leaving age. It is taken as normal that those with a reasonable level of income provide their children with that extended education. That is what I mean when I say that we should not regard it simply as a platitude that children ought to be looked at as being of equal worth.
The other case for equality of opportunity is the case which my right hon. Friend was advancing in his opening speech. It is tremendously important—indeed, it may be vital to our survival as a nation—that we give the community access to the potential ability of all of its children. The greatest wealth in this country today is the potential skill of our children, whether it be skill lying in their brains or in their hands. We must do all we can to develop that skill and to make it available to the community but, as we all know, there is still far too great a degree of wastage of that skill.
It has been calculated by most of the expert committees who have considered this matter that, for instance, we could double the number of children in Scotland who pass the higher leaving certificate each year. We could get a substantial increase in the educated manpower of the community if we could avoid some of this wastage. I submit that some of the wastage is still due to the class barriers remaining in education. They still stultify and strangle the educational opportunity of our children.
Let me give one example. In Scotland we are proud of our educational tradition. We are proud of the fact that our desire for equality of opportunity in Scotland goes back a long time before it began to exist in England in the same way. It goes back to the time of John Knox.
880 In passing, I must confess that I felt that an appropriate title for the speeches of the hon. Gentlemen opposite might be that of John Knox's famous pamphlet "A Trumpet Blast against the Monstrous Regiment of Women." But that is by the way. The point I am making is that our educational tradition is a very old one.
But alas, in some respects, nowadays we are lagging behind England. I do not think it is generally appreciated in Scotland that in the Education Acts of 1944 and 1945, whereas England completely abolished fees for all State education, we in Scotland did not do so. We left this to the discretion of the local authorities. The Secretary of State has argued with me across the Table at Question Time that this is admirable, that this is the kind of discretion that we should leave to the local authorities.
I submit that the question of whether there is an entrance fee into schools, the question of whether entry into a school shall be decided on the income of the parent rather than on the ability of the child, is not a matter that can be left to the discretion of the local authorities. It is a matter of national principle in education, just as much as the setting of the age at which one enters or leaves school. It promotes rather stupid, petty and rather senseless snobberies. So many parents feel that they are buying their children's education. But of course they are not buying it; they are only paying an entrance fee into the school. It is only a small percentage of the cost of the education.
I have looked up the figures for Dundee High School, a school of great distinction, in my constituency. The parents, who make great sacrifices to send their children there, pay only two-fifths of the cost of the education of their children. It would be a notable advance if in Scotland we were to take the step of abolishing fees for State education. I do not expect this proposition to be sympathetically received by the Front Bench opposite, because there is a difference of outlook here between the two sides of the House, but it is important to recognise that if we are to seek real equality of opportunity, we shall not have it until that kind of barrier is removed.
I am not suggesting that its removal by itself would make any great advance towards real equality; it is very easy to 881 overstate its importance. The difficulties that lie in the way are greater and more fundamental than that. The Registrar-General, in his various censuses, provides a social scale by which we can measure the status of people in the community. In 1947 a Scottish mental survey was taken and has been widely quoted in educational circles outside Scotland.
The Scottish mental survey measured the intelligence of children in relation to their place on the Registrar-General's social scale and it discovered that of the most intelligent children, two-thirds came from working-class families. But when looking at the universities today, despite the very great progress we have made in opening their doors and making our universities more accessible to ability, we still find that only about one-fifth of the children come from working class homes. This is a measure of the kind of discrepancy that we must work to correct. It is a long-term aim but it is important to recognise the extent of the gap which still exists.
Much of the discrepancy is due to inherent obstacles in the social conditions of our own community. The problems of society cannot be solved in the schools—the two interact upon each other; but especially when the Government are deciding, as they are at present, economic policy issues it is important to recognise this interaction between the general social conditions and the chance for children to have real equality of opportunity.
I do not think that what is needed today is another Education Act. It would be much more to the point if, for instance, we could provide more equal housing conditions. As we all know, the child from a fairly comfortable home, with books around him and whose family is familiar with habits of learning, finds it much easier to get on in school, especially as the years go by, than the child who comes from a room and kitchen and has to do homework in an overcrowded slum.
Therefore, I warn the Government that their policy of raising council rents, for instance, is an act of educational policy that may well prevent many working class children who have the necessary ability from getting on to the fifth or sixth year at the secondary school. Many parents who live in a room and kitchen may be offered council houses, but when 882 the subsidy is slashed the rent will be too high for them and they must decide that they cannot afford the decent living conditions. Consequently, they remain where they are and the children leave school at the age of 15 or 16 instead of going on. It is important to recognise this close relationship which exists between general social policy and our chances of really making available to the community the potential ability of its children.
In passing, and going from the general to the particular, I hope that one piece of alleviation of the problem of housing conditions in relation to children of ability will be the provision of homework facilities for children by opening the schools and persuading some of the teachers to come back after school hours. This would provide preparation facilities for children whose home conditions do not permit of their doing homework.
I have been speaking mainly of the need to allow working class children of ability to get on to university level. In this connection, I wish to make one point about university facilities in Scotland. Recently, the House dealt with a Bill reorganising St. Andrews University, a matter which interests me because part of the university lies within my constituency. I am very keen indeed to see university education flourish in the city of Dundee, but the problem of St. Andrews University is more than anything else a problem of an adequate supply of students.
Both Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities are crowded, whereas St. Andrews University, in both St. Andrews and Dundee, lacks sufficient students. The lectures in Glasgow University are practically public meetings. One gets the situation where, in the words of the old phrase, the lectures pass from the notebook of the lecturer to the notebooks of the students without going through the mind of either. That is the situation in a mass university like Glasgow or Edinburgh. It would be much more sensible in the Scottish national interest if there was an attempt at planning the distribution of university students. This necessitates enrolling the co-operation of local education authorities and persuading them to give grants to send children to universities other than those on their doorsteps. We all understand the 883 motives of local patriotism which are involved and also the financial considerations, because sometimes more money would be needed to send a child away from home. I think, however, it is worth spending the money to make the fullest use of our university facilities; and it is also a good thing in university education for young people to be away from home a bit and to enjoy the corporate life of a university away from their own homes. I commend that suggestion to the Secretary of State.
I have dealt mainly with the problem of allowing working class children to reach university or professional level when their abilities entitle them to that kind of education. But that is only a small part of the educational problem that faces us and it is only a small part of the problem of allowing children to develop their own potentialities and of allowing the community to use their services.
It is also very important that we should expand the kind of educational work that I was most interested to hear described by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland. It is desirable more and more to link education for the non-academic child with the kind of work that the child will do, in order to afford a real interest and impact between the two. I am keenly interested in the Dundee Trades College and am glad that the Secretary of State recently announced that a new building would be provided.
I remember visiting the college and being told by one of the teachers that what impressed him about teaching was that the boys who came, often after a final year at school, where they had been bored and fed up, were reluctant to come back into a classroom, but that once they got there they found that the kind of work they did was exciting; as they discovered the work of learning was adventurous, they became very keen. With some children, I was told, there are only two occasions in their educational life when they are really happy at school; this was an exaggeration, but it makes my point. The first occasion is when they are in the nursery school, and the second is when they go into the pre-apprentice school. Certainly, there is a tremendous field for experiment in the pre-apprenticeship trade schools, and I hope that we will extend them as fully as we can.
884 If we attempted to establish an educational system in which children could develop their own potentialities, we would be faced acutely with the problem of the framework of that education. If children are to get an education according to their capabilities, there is a real danger of the children becoming segregated according to their capabilities. In place of the problems of class structure which I have been pointing out, there would be the equal dangers of intellectual segregation, intellectual snobbery and that sort of thing. It is for that reason that on this side of the House we are especially interested in experimenting with comprehensive schools.
There are, of course, already a number of comprehensive schools in Scotland. I myself attended one during my own school days. But in the kind of social democratic society which we want to build, and on the basis of which exists Britain's only chance of survival, we have to have a school system which provides a common school life for our children. It will be a system in which according to their different abilities they can mix together and get to know each other and respect different qualities, so that they may no longer feel that someone who works with his jacket off and in his braces is inferior to a person who sits at a desk and answers a telephone. That is the basic problem which we have to face. It is long-term, but it is a problem that will never be worked out except within the terms of Government educational policies.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas L. S. Nairn (Central Ayrshire)
I shall be briefer than I might have been, because a great deal of what I want to say has been said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Renfrew, East (Sir G. Lloyd) and my hon. Friend the Member for Scotstoun (Mr. G. R. H. Hutchison). The problem which faces us is so important that too much emphasis cannot be laid upon it. That problem can be expressed in one sentence: School teaching today is not attracting into its ranks either sufficient men or men with the necessary qualifications and character as it did in the past, and those men of high qualifications and character who entered it in past years today are disturbed and fearful of what the future may hold for them.
885 My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State may be able to produce statistics which would show, or tend to show, that that is not correct. But statistics can give a very false impression, especially when they are drawn from figures which must be a year old and when related to the future. All of us who have gone into this question will know that my statement of the problem which faces us is in no way exaggerated.
As has been said already, this does not apply to women. To them teaching is as attractive a profession as ever and is getting in its ranks women of the highest quality and qualifications. And the implementation of the principle of equal pay has done a great deal to encourage them. But we would be shutting our eyes to the true situation if we failed to note that the implementation of equal pay has greatly disturbed many of the male teachers. That is not because they are jealous of their women partners in education. They fully appreciate the great part that women teachers play. It is because they fear that the implementation of that principle has pushed almost beyond the horizon any possibility of their getting an increase in their salary which would enable them not only to take their rightful place in the community, but would ensure the constant flow of the right men into the profession.
I have said that in present conditions teaching is an attractive proposition for women, but I ask them, if the implementation of equal pay should in the future lead to fewer schoolmasters, or less efficient schoolmasters, would they then like to contemplate the task of keeping order and discipline in a school which had amongst its pupils—as it always must—unruly and sometimes truculent and always high-spirited boys, if beside them they did not have good men to command discipline and respect among the male pupils?
§ Miss Herbison
I wonder from where the hon. Member is getting his information. Is it not well known that many women are teaching in Scotland who would have no more difficulty, indeed sometimes less difficulty, in keeping discipline, even among boys of 17, than have some of the men?
§ Mr. Nairn
That is a question which I should like the hon. Member to put to the parents of Scotland. It is a 886 psychological question. How many fathers or mothers would like to feel that their sons were being brought up entirely under the direction of women? During a boy's life there conies a time when it is bad for him to remain too long under too much feminine influence. There comes a time when his life must be dominated, at least for a period, by men rather than by women.
§ Mr. Bence
Does the hon. Member seriously suggest to family men that if their children go to school and are taught for six hours a day by school teachers that teaching will dominate even over the influence of the parent at home? If that is not being afraid of parenthood and an abnegation of parenthood, I do not know what is. I do not care how many teachers teach my kiddy, they will not influence him.
§ Mr. Nairn
The hon. Member should ask the parents of Scotland whether or not they would mind having their sons taught entirely by women.
I am not prepared tonight to put forward a reasoned solution to the problem, but it is a problem we have to solve. At present a male honours graduate after ten years' service will be getting £800 a year and a non-graduate £665. Had he gone into industry after ten years he could well expect to be getting between £1,000 and £1,800. That has been very forcibly expressed in the Appleton Report. We all know of men whose desire and ambition has been to enter school teaching but who have been unable to resist the attraction of tempting offers in other walks of life. The difference in remuneration between schoolmastering and industry is just too great and the prospects for marriage with all its responsibilities is just to meagre.
I should like to make one suggestion. At present schoolmasters have their teaching certificates withdrawn when they are 60. In this House we realise that, while once upon a time it may have been wise to withdraw certificates at the age of 60, today most men are only at their best at the age of 60. I suggest that the Secretary of State consider whether withdrawal of teaching certificates at the age of 60 could not immediately be revoked. There are also strong arguments—and here I refer to school teachers of both sexes—for allowing school teachers, when 887 re-employed in their own profession, to earn full salaries for the job, without any deduction from pension.
There was a very encouraging announcement in the papers today. It is that various firms have formed a trust and have already got a guarantee of £1,500,000 for technical education. "The Times" today, after congratulating them on initiative, says in its leading article:It is made clear that the fund is for building and equipping science departments.…Later in the article it goes on to say:Good teachers have always been more important than good buildings.…These private firms have given us this great inspiration and encouragement by doing their part in providing buildings. I hope that we in Scotland will now do our part by making sure that we provide the good schoolmasters to carry on the work in these buildings they provide.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. James Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Three hon. Members who have spoken from the Government benches argued about male teachers against women teachers. I do not propose to enter into that controversy. In my view, the question in the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Renfrew, East (Sir G. Lloyd), the idea of getting some administrative alteration, could easily solve this aspect of teaching.
The point I wish to debate is that of children going to school. From the reports I have read, including the one issued by the Scottish Office, apart altogether from the salaries of teachers, there is a crisis among the children. It is admitted in the Report on Education in a paragraph associated with junior elementary schools:In some schools the general level of attainment has been high, in others disappointingly low, in many reasonably satisfactory.Those are very vague words—"in many reasonably satisfactory."On the whole standards may be said to be slowly improving.I come to the most important point, which was dealt with even in the Budget speech:Among material factors which affect progress in varying degrees, accommodation and equipment both suffer from serious deficiencies 888 which call for remedy. Staffing constitutes a still more serious problem.I wish to deal especially with the primary schools and the junior secondary schools. I represent an area where there must be at least twelve schools that are almost a hundred years old—they are slum schools.