HC Deb 24 January 1957 vol 563 cc370-2
12. Mr. Shurmer

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education if he is aware that the teacher position in Birmingham still gives cause for some concern and that classes are still overcrowded, especially in the primary schools; and what further steps he is taking to help ease this problem.

18. Mr. Dugdale

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education whether he is aware of the shortage of teachers in schools throughout the Black Country; and whether he will make a statement.

Sir E. Boyle

My noble Friend hopes that, in common with other areas where there is a shortage of teachers, Birmingham and the Black Country will be able to take full advantage of the scheme for improving the distribution of teachers that was announced in Circular 318.

Mr. Shurmer

Is the hon. Member—as a Member for one of the Birmingham constituencies—aware that the position is very serious? Does he know that 59 per cent. of the primary schools are overcrowded; 99 per cent. of the secondary modern school classes and over 46 specialist classes are closed in the city of Birmingham? Something should be done. The former Minister promised to deal with the situation on a number of occasions. The only hope for Birmingham is to make a grant for the teachers. The hon. Member knows the difficult situation which exists in Birmingham.

Sir E. Boyle

Yes, Sir. Both as Parliamentary Secretary and as a Member for a Birmingham constituency, I informed myself about the position as soon as possible. The scheme is designed to bear upon the recruitment of teachers this spring and autumn, and its success cannot be fully measured until we reach the autumn of this year.

Mr. Dugdale

Is the Minister aware that the former Minister of Education failed lamentably to deal with this problem? Will he give his own personal attention—and ask his noble Friend to give his personal attention—to the matter so that something may be done which was not done during the past four years?

Sir E. Boyle

Without agreeing in any way with the right hon. Member's remarks about the former Minister, I can assure him that my noble Friend and I will give very close attention to the matter.

Mr. M. Stewart

Is the Minister yet in a position to say whether the suggestions in Circular No. 318 have resulted in any action?

Sir E. Boyle

I cannot go beyond what I have already said in my Answer.

15. Mr. Moss

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education if he will make a statement on the vertical transfer of teachers, with special reference to the needs of primary schools.

Sir E. Boyle

Local education authorities were advised in Circular 318 that it would be necessary to encourage a number of transfers from primary to secondary schools as one contribution to the great increase in the number of teachers that the secondary schools will need during the next few years. Even so, it should be possible to continue the marked improvement in staffing standards in the primary schools which has already begun.

Mr. Moss

Is the hon. Member aware that conditions in many primary schools are already unsatisfactory, and that where there is an overall shortage of teachers the transfer of teachers from primary to secondary schools will be very much like robbing Peter to pay Paul—leaving the primary schools with continued dissatisfaction, as has been the case over the past few years?

Sir E. Boyle

I know of the hon. Member's great interest in this matter, but it is only fair to point out that the number of pupils per full-time teacher in classes for pupils of eleven years of age has improved from 32.1 in January, 1954, to 31.0 in January, 1956. Some progress has been made.