HC Deb 03 May 1956 vol 552 cc566-8
4. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Education his latest average figures, for England and Wales, of the pupil-teacher ratios in senior and junior classes, respectively; and the figures for Staffordshire.

Sir D. Eccles

In January, 1955, the numbers of pupils per full-time teacher in Staffordshire were 33.4 for juniors and 22.9 for seniors. The corresponding figures for England and Wales as a whole were 31.5 and 21.0.

Mr. Swingler

Is the Minister aware that those education authorities in whose areas the ratios are higher than the national average want to see, not the direction of teachers, but the Minister putting some control over the areas that have managed considerably to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio, namely, by giving them some quota of staff which they are allowed to appoint, which is very different from the direction of labour?

Sir D. Eccles

I think that if the hon. Gentleman will look into the question of putting on control, as he suggests, he will find that the net result would not be likely to be helpful to what he has in mind. For example, the part-time teachers will teach only near their own homes. If I put on this control, they will not teach at all, and the total number of teachers available for teaching in this country will go down.

Mr. M. Stewart

Does not the right hon. Gentleman's reply suggest that what we ought to be looking at is the general supply of teachers for the country as a whole? Is he satisfied that, with the present facilities for training teachers, that supply will be adequate to meet the requirements of the growing number of children in the secondary schools?

Sir D. Eccles

I am not satisfied, but we have reached a point when it is really too late to increase the size of the training colleges, because of the position of the bulge that is now going through the schools. When it would have been possible to create more training places, when the hon. Gentleman's party were in power and just after we came into power, there were not the candidates. It is no use blaming past Ministers. At the time when they might have increased the size of the training colleges, they were scraping the barrel for applications to fill places. Now we have more applications than places.

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