§ 4.2 p.m.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
In view of the great importance of education, the Opposition have decided to devote one of its Supply Days to a debate on education in Scotland. I have decided, as I am sure most other people interested in this subject will decide, that the greatest problem facing educationists in Scotland today is the shortage of teachers. The Report of the Scottish Education Department on Education in Scotland shows that there were 1,355 oversized classes in the primary schools last year, and of these 119 had more than 50 children each in them. It might appear that 119 is a small figure, but it means that at least 5,950 children are being taught in classes of more than 50. I have used the word "taught" because they are certainly not being educated.
I was once a teacher and when I taught in a primary school I rarely had fewer than 48 pupils. I know from my own experience how impossible it is to give the individual attention that is so necessary to each child if a class is too big. Therefore, in view of this figure of nearly 6,000 children, this is a most serious and almost tragic matter for the whole future of these children, whether they be the bright children or those who are not quite so bright.
The Report states that there are 343 oversized classes in the secondary schools, and no fewer than 241 of these classes are in the first three years of secondary education. It is very important to realise that these oversized classes are in those first three years, and I intend later to deal with the wastage from the senior secondary schools. If there are oversized classes in the first three years children cannot have the individual attention which is so necessary to them.
My experience leads me to believe that even these figures, serious though they are, do not give the complete picture. Because of the shortage of teachers there is a continual reorganisation of classes inside the schools, with children being pushed from one class to another and regarded as numbers and not individual children. Teachers are also trying to educate different age groups in oversized classes. It is difficult enough to 693 teach one age group in a big class, but it is almost impossible to do anything worth while when there is more than one age group in a big class.
The Report of a Special Committee of the Advisory Council on Education in Scotland, "Measures to Improve the Supply of Teachers in Scotland," records the shortage of teachers in 1957 as 2,036. That Committee has tried to find out what the shortage will be in future years. It estimates a peak shortage for 1960 of 3,232. Again, that paints a most alarming picture of the education of our children. In view of that figure of 3,232, is it intended to do nothing between now and 1961–62 to reduce the size of classes, particularly in primary schools? If steps are not taken to deal with this problem the education of our children will continue to suffer.
I have tried to give the picture and now I want to make some suggestions to the Secretary of State and the Government. The Report to which I have referred is an excellent document, prepared by a body of men and women who were very much seized with the importance of an adequate supply of teachers. My first suggestion is that every effort must be made to ensure that many more of the pupils who enter a senior secondary course remain to complete it. In 1956–57, 22,359 left senior secondary schools. Only 31 per cent. of them had completed the course of five years or more. Thirty-eight per cent. left as soon as they had reached the school-leaving age of 15. The remaining 31 per cent. had left between the third and fifth year.
I want to examine more closely the 31 per cent. that continued after the third year, but left before they had completed the full course. It is true that a greater number in that year remained after the three years' course, but the figures I have given still cause us great concern. I know, as almost everybody else knows, that some who enter a senior secondary course may not eventually have the ability to take a full leaving certificate. I accept that, but I am convinced that many who leave are capable of completing the course satisfactorily. I believe that the Secretary of State would agree with that.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
§ Miss Herbison
It is important to consider the 31 per cent. who left between the third year and the fifth year. There may be a number of reasons why, after deciding to continue after the third year, they left, but I believe that the overriding reason is that of the financial circumstances of those pupils and their parents.
These young boys and girls, almost young men and young women, decide to stay on and then they see their friends who left school at the end of the third year at work, with much more money to spend. The friends are able to get many more of what are considered to be the goods things of life to young people than they are able to get. I feel strongly that this is the over-riding reason why so many leave school.
The Special Committee of the Advisory Council on Education in Scotland, which studied what measures could be taken to improve the supply of teachers, made a strong recommendation to improve school bursaries. We find this statement in paragraph 28 of its interim Report:One means of getting a greater number of teachers is to increase the pool of educated manpower from which the professions, including teaching, draw their recruits. To do so it is necessary to encourage a greater proportion of the able pupils to complete school or post-school course by reducing the financial hardships which higher study may entail.The Special Committee felt so strongly about this that a letter was sent to the Secretary of Sate for Scotland, because at that time, last year, the right hon. Gentleman was considering regulations concerning bursaries. The letter requested that the bursaries for those retaining at school should be raised to £78 in the case of the £40 bursary and to £104 in the case of the £50 bursary. After that very strong representation the right hon. Gentleman decided to raise the £40 bursary to £45—a meagre £5—and the £50 bursary to £60.
I understand that in the latest regulations the £45 and £60 figures are still not increased, although steps have been taken where the parent's contribution is concerned. I say to the Secretary of State, as strongly as I can, that if he wants to increase the pool of educated manpower the one way by which he can do so is to ensure that the financial difficulties facing parents in the first 695 instance and pupils in the second instance are made much lighter than they are at present. All the right hon. Gentleman needs to do is to honour to the full the recommendation made by the Special Committee.
In the debate last year the Secretary of State said on this matter:We have tried by exhortation, posters and pamphlets to encourage more of our able pupils to complete a full senior secondary course.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 9th July, 1957, c. 171.]In the report we are told that there has been a distribution of the pamphlet "Give Them Their Chance". I know that it is necessary to educate parents on this point and I am speaking only to the Secretary of State about what the Government can do. If the Government want parents to give their children this very fine chance they will not achieve it merely by exhortation, by leaflets, or by pamphlets. I am convinced that the one way by which they will get more—particularly those who have stayed at school after the third year—to remain to take a full leaving certificate is by raising the bursaries to at least the amount suggested by the special committee.
Now I turn to another important point. Children in a primary school have one teacher who understands them, who strives continually to guide and to help them. From this secure, and often benevolent, atmosphere the children are pitch-forked into a senior secondary school. There, they find they have many new teachers, no longer one. They find that they have a host of completely different studies. The security of the one philosopher and friend has disappeared.
For a number of children the wastage really begins in this first year. They have lost their security, they are faced with additional difficulties, and it seems to me that in trying to lessen the wastage those concerned with our secondary education must find some way of bridging the great gulf between the last year in a primary school and the first year in a senior secondary school. I therefore ask the Secretary of State and his Department to look at that matter carefully, because again I speak from my own experience as a teacher and of what happened to quite a number of what I 696 considered to be really good children in their first year in a secondary school.
I turn to the first recommendation made by the Special Committee, a most important one, namely, the indefinite deferment from National Service of teachers or of student teachers. So far, there is indefinite deferment for those with the Chapter V qualification who have first- or second-class honours in any subject, graduates with third-class honours, and ordinary graduates if they are teaching a science subject. Those with third-class honours or an ordinary degree get indefinite deferment, as far as I understand the position from letters I have received from the Minister of Labour, only if they are teaching in a senior secondary school.
This is very wrong indeed, because still about 70 per cent. of our children in Scotland are taught in junior secondary schools. It seems to me that the differentiation between deferment is again penalising those very children whose full-time education finishes at 15 years of age. I say to the Secretary of State that he and the Minister of Education ought to bring to bear all the force they possess on the Cabinet, on the Minister of Labour and on the Minister of Defence to ensure that we get indefinite deferment for all who are either teaching or who are training for teaching.
The Report backs up the plea I am now making. On page 56 it says:Another encouraging feature of the figures is the increase from 177 to 202 in the number of honours graduates entering Chapter V training, which is probably due in part to the extension to the whole of this group of deferment from national service.When will the Government realise that the future well-being of the nation depends to a considerable extent on our standard of education, which, in turn, primarily depends on an adequate supply of teachers? I urge the right hon. Gentleman to tell us that this matter will not be "kept continually under review", as he said last year and as he has said in this year's Report, but that he will treat it as a matter of seriousness which will drive the Government to the conclusion that indefinite deferment should be given to these people.
Another recommendation of the Special Committee with which I want to 697 deal was that all graduates should receive higher awards during the period of their professional training. This is another most important recommendation which I want to quote, since its points cannot be sufficienly stressed. The Special Committee said, in paragraph 17 of its Report:When a university student completes his degree, it may be open to him either to train as a teacher or to take a post in industry or commerce where he is paid from the start although he is at first virtually a trainee. The immediate financial advantages lie entirely with the latter alternative, since the student who trains as a teacher not only gives up the opportunity of immediate earning but also faces the costs of a further year as a student. This may well deter him from entering the teaching profession and, in fact, we are informed that when groups of teachers visit the universities to interest students in teaching as a career, the students themselves mention this as a deterrent.What have the Government done, or what do they propose to do, to implement that recommendation?
According to the calculations of the Committee, taking into consideration that more graduates would go to training college, it might cost the Government between £70,000 and £80,000 a year. That is a very small amount for encouraging students to have this extra year of training rather than go into industry or commerce where they will be earning during that year.
Another recommendation, and one which has been followed by the Secretary of State, was that the period at training college for students with Chapter V qualifications should be reduced from nine months to seven months. However, I suggest that ordinary graduates, who still have to take the nine months' course at training college, could take a seven months' course. I know that the Committee suggested that this would be only a temporary provision, but I suggest that the seven months' course is sufficient for not only first and second-class honours graduates, but also for third-class honours and ordinary graduates.
I should like the Secretary of State and his Department to examine that matter, since it would not only give us the teachers at Easter rather than after the summer holidays, but it would enable them to earn a full salary for about five months which they would not otherwise get. Adopting the two recommendations, a very much higher grant during the year of training and cutting the period of training to seven 698 months, could result in attracting many students to teaching who might not otherwise be attracted.
It may be said that teaching is a vocation, and to a certain extent I agree, but I have found people who have gone into teaching who in the old days would have preferred to go into industry, but who have found the greatest happiness when they became teachers. The job is, therefore, to attract them first.
The special recruitment scheme has been much more successful than those of us who introduced it thought it would be. It has so far attracted 1,602 recruits which, compared with the teaching population, is a substantial figure. Of those, 1,192 have completed their training and are now teaching. The Committee asked the Secretary of State to examine whether the grants given to those whom we were trying to attract from industry and commerce were adequate.
I have a letter sent to one of my hon. Friends by a student who was attracted by the special recruitment scheme. This student feels rather bitter, since he finds that the amount of money which he gets is not adequate for himself, his wife and his family. If these recruits are bitter, that will not help to recruit others from industry and commerce. I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to tell us quite clearly that he has decided to accept the Committee's recommendation and that he will considerably increase the grants given to recruits under the special recruitment scheme.
On this subject, I want, finally, to deal with another source of wastage, that at university level. I spoke about the great jump from the primary school to the secondary school, but it is also a very great step from the senior secondary school to the university. Many of the classes of some of the faculties in our four Scottish universities are far too large and our students do not get the chance to benefit from the tutorial system which has been developed to a very high degree in some of the English universities. I know that we have no control over the universities, but it is important, in a debate on education in the House of Commons, that we should show up whatever flaws may exist in our education system, so that those responsible can try to do something about them. Remedy 699 of this flaw would help to cut out wast-age at university level.
The Report says, on page 51, that towards the end of the year a circular was sent to local authorities on the subject of school building. We were told that we would not know the results of the circular until the early months of 1958. We want to know now whether any education authority has been told that it has to cut down on plans it has made for building schools. We want to know which local authorities have been affected. Some of us have some knowledge of this subject, but the Secretary of State himself should detail every case.
In last year's debate on building for technical education, the Secretary of State said:It now seems clear that work well up to this value will be started in the five-year period covered by the White Paper, although, because of the time required for planning, very little of it will be started before 1958."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 9th July. 1957; c. 177.]What progress has the right hon. Gentleman to report on this subject of technical school building? If there have been cuts, what is their extent, and what are the reasons for them?
I want now to refer to secondary education. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, at present secondary education in Scotland is divided between senior secondary schools and junior secondary schools. Segregation takes place at the end of primary education. I spoke earlier about children in over-sized classes. What chance has the child in a class of more than 50 to have his ability so developed that we can be certain that, given the ability, he will make the grade for a senior secondary school? That is only one place where great mistakes can be made by segregation at 12 years of age.
The right hon. Gentleman also knows that once a child is allocated to a junior secondary school he has little or no opportunity of later being placed in a senior secondary school. Many parents and children are heart-broken when the results come out and they learn that the children are allocated to junior secondary schools. This is becoming more and more serious. The parents particularly realise that no matter how great the ability of a child may be shown to be 700 in the future, his chances of promotion in later life are often doomed by this very early decision.
The policy of the Labour Party is absolutely clear. We believe in a comprehensive system of education, believing that it would remove this very grave injustice and the heart-break of parents and children. We also believe that it is possible to have a comprehensive system of education with a wide variety of methods. There are many ways of achieving this. I have no doubt that Scottish education authorities have the skill and the ability to achieve a comprehensive system of education which will provide for all our children the very best which education can give.
I know that hon. Members opposite talk about the large size of schools, but some of their own children are educated in public schools which have large numbers of pupils. The important matter is not that every headmaster should know every child intimately, but that the children should be known intimately by the teachers. We have very clear evidence from comprehensive secondary education institutions that the bright child is not hindered in any way, and sometimes the child who, normally, would have been allocated to a junior secondary school, and would have left at 15 years of age, finds its place in the comprehensive school, and is able to develop its abilities, and stays on beyond the age of 15.
I have no time to develop this matter as I should like, but I advise the Secretary of State to read the policy statement issued by the Labour Party. He will find that this type of education is well worth fostering indeed, Scotland was the pioneer in this type of education, and England and Wales are now beginning to follow behind us. We have been proud of our system of Scottish education, and I would ask the Secretary of State not to allow us to fall behind advanced thinking in this field simply because of any doctrinaire political outlook on the part of his party.
Finally, our influence in the comity of nations, our standard of life and our way of life, are all in jeopardy if we do not realise the importance of education and match that realisation with appropriate action. Children are very precious. They are not numbers: they are people for 701 whom we should have the greatest thought and to whom we should show the very greatest care. We shall be failing lamentably in our great responsibilities if we do not give our Scottish boys and girls a chance of a really fine education which will develop them all round, so that life will be made not merely more materially good for them, but they will be allowed to develop physically and spiritually as well. These things are gravely important in Scottish education, and if action is not taken quickly and drastically we shall have failed our Scottish children badly.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
The Committee will agree that it is never easy for a Minister to follow the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) when she has been speaking on the subject of education. She speaks with great personal knowledge and experience and with sympathy and understanding of all the problems involved in the subject, and I approach my task with a certain diffidence because, great as my interest in this subject is, I have not the hon. Lady's personal experience.
However, I hope it will be found at the end of my speech that I have dealt with all the major points the hon. Lady has raised. It would be simpler to debate them in the framework that I was proposing so as to make for a proper debate, but I would add that if I am to cover the ground I will have to speak a little longer than I normally like to do. This subject is of great importance, however, and while no one realises more clearly than I do that grave problems are involved, there are also certain elements in the education situation in Scotland which are hopeful and good and show progress, and it would not be right if I did not use this occasion to refer to them.
The three main elements in education are teachers, buildings and pupils, and in the course of what I have to say I shall be dealing to some extent with all three. On building, it is right to say that the position in 1957 was very satisfactory, as far as it went, and judged on past history. In educational building generally, 1957 beat 1956, which was itself a record year. In terms of the value of work done, which is the best measure of progress, we were, at a figure of £10.6 million, 19 per cent. 702 up on the value of work done in the previous year. The value of projects started and projects completed was also greater than in 1956.
I think I shall be answering one of the hon. Lady's questions when I say that for the current financial year education authorities have been told which projects they can start, and I am glad to be able to say that every necessary job will be allowed to start as soon as it is ready. I repeat the words, "Every necessary job will be allowed to start as soon as it is ready." I am anxious to see our building programme go forward as rapidly as possible, for two main and very obvious reasons; first, so that the children in our schools may be taught in attractive, up-to-date and well-equipped premises—and that need not and must not mean extravagance—and secondly, and no less important, so that we can offer our teachers working conditions worthy of the task they have to do and worthy of the devotion which I know they have brought to their task over so many years.
Turning to the question of school places and conditions—in primary and secondary schools alone, 1957 saw the provision of nearly 53,000 new places; no fewer than 17,000, or nearly 30 per cent., more than the number provided in 1956, which I repeat was itself a record year. I emphasise these figures because it is wise to realise that we are making substantial progress in some of the essentials of good education. It is no mean achievement. Nevertheless, we realise that a great deal of work has to be done to bring all schools up to modern standards, and we will do everything possible to ensure that modernisation and replacement of old schools proceed just as soon as the task of providing new schools permits.
I concede at once that the job of modernising and replacing unsatisfactory schools will be a long and difficult one. For example, in built-up areas such as Glasgow there is the problem of having to build on the same site and of finding accommodation for the pupils while the work is going on. Since most of our one-or two-teacher rural schools were built in the last century, the accommodation often falls short of what we expect today. Their modernisation or replacement will be a formidable task, which will have to be spread over a longish period, but it can have an important influence on the life 703 of our rural communities, and we are very much aware of that.
In the matter of further education, the problem is to build new local technical colleges in which the education authorities can provide the early stages of technical education for apprentices and young workers generally and to expand the facilities at our central institutions for the more advanced stages of technology. When the White Paper outlined the Government's plans for the development of technical education rather more than two years ago—a subject to which the hon. Lady referred—very few education authorities had major schemes either in hand or planned, and we had to start very much from scratch. The position now is that projects to the value of £9.6 million have either been approved in principle or are expected to be approved very soon. Some of this work is at central institutions, but most is for education authority local technical colleges.
We should all want to congratulate education authorities on the response they have made to the call made in the White Paper to provide up-to-date premises and equipment. These are obviously essential if we are to provide adequate and efficient technical education for our young workers, and—I entirely agree with the hon. Lady on this—if we are to hold our own in the modern economy.
Naturally enough, very little work has actually started on the ground; the whole of the last two years was taken up in planning. But we expect projects worth about £2 million to start building by next spring and others to the value of over £6 million to start in the following year. Planning is absolutely essential in this matter. It would be disastrous folly if these matters were not properly planned, and I do not think there can be any criticism of delay in getting on with the plans.
§ Mr. Ross
Surely the right hon. Gentleman realises that we have to balance this against the promises made by the Joint Under-Secretary when dealing with this question over two years ago. If he had 704 told us then that there would not be a thing done after two years we would not have believed it possible, even with this Government.
§ Mr. Maclay
That is a most unfair and improper reflection on the Government. It must be well known that we cannot get a scheme like this going straight away. There must be a planning period, and the figures that I have given show very good progress indeed.
§ Mr. Maclay
It is most important that education authorities should not slacken their efforts. For work already approved they will have to press on with the preparatory stages in order to get the colleges into use at the earliest possible dates, and any remaining projects which are to be fitted into the 1956–61 programme must be approved in principle this year. What is more, we must now be thinking of plans for the period beginning in 1961. There will then still be many areas which should have sufficient facilities but will have none, or will need more than they have. The great need is to plan ahead.
The second aspect that I want to cover in my speech is that of pupils and students. The Report that we have before us shows that Scottish education is clearly alive to the needs of our rapidly changing times, and adapting itself to these needs. It may be doing so slowly, but it is doing so satisfactorily. It is gratifying to learn from the reports of Her Majesty's inspectors of schools, educational journals and reports of meetings of educationists, of the extent to which teachers in Scotland are fully aware of the challenge and the opportunities presented by the time in which we live.
As the Report points out, there are still some teachers who hesitate to abandon well-tried ways for newer and more experimental methods. We hope that they will respond increasingly to the encouragement and guidance offered to them in the memoranda and surveys published by my Department, and in the conferences and discussions at which our inspectors try to thrash out with the teachers the problems that confront them in applying these new ideas.
For example, group teaching is a method that has been urged upon teachers 705 for some years, and it is satisfactory to know that it is being increasingly adopted in our primary schools. Basically, it is new neither in theory nor in practice; our Scottish dominies used it many years ago, in one form at least, in the small rural and village schools. But it is being adapted and extended as a means of taking account of the differing abilities normally found in a class. This method of organisation obviously demands a great deal of both teacher and headmaster, not least when classes are larger than we could wish, but they have the great advantage of enabling the quicker pupils to progress at their own pace and, at the same time, of sparing the slower pupils the necessity of struggling along at a pace that is beyond them.
In the secondary education stage there is also a great deal going on, directed mainly towards ensuring that the courses provided and the system of examinations are such as to encourage mare pupils to remain at school to complete the course for which their abilities fit them. The wastage caused by pupils who leave school prematurely, but would benefit by staying on, remains one of our gravest problems.
No one will disagree with what the hon. Lady said, that we must increase the nation's stock of educated manpower. We can only do so if the schools have full opportunity to develop the talents of every pupil as far as they can. Even among the junior secondary pupils too many who would benefit by staying on leave as soon as they reach the statutory age and before they have completed a three-year course. I am glad to say that the percentage over the whole country of those who completed the course rose from 42 per cent. to 47 per cent. between 1954–55 and 1956–57.
To improve on this figure, more education authorities will have to ensure that as many pupils as possible are transferred to secondary courses not later than twelve years of age so that they have a chance of completing their courses. The courses in junior secondary schools will have to be more and more closely adapted to the needs of their pupils so that these will be encouraged to remain at school even beyond the age of 15.
That leads me to the question of the integration of secondary and further education In this connection, I should like 706 to mention the introduction by Fife and Edinburgh Education Authorities of technical certificates for their junior secondary pupils. The pupils can take these certificates before leaving school at 15. The certificates are designed to provide a natural lead to suitable courses at local technical colleges. I would mention, in passing, that there are conflicting views on the subject of external examinations in junior secondary courses. The ones to which I have referred are not national but local examinations. I know the dangers concerned. We are planning the arrangements with the greatest care, and the experiment will be watched with very close interest.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
Would the Secretary of State remember that 85 per cent. of the youngsters are still leaving school before they reach the age of 16? We welcome the efforts that show that attention is being given to this matter.
§ Mr. Maclay
Of course, this is only one facet of the wider problem of integrating secondary and further education courses. The whole thing ties up together. We want to make sure that young people should be able to move easily from school to further education courses, realising while they are at school that what they learn there is highly relevant to their later life. This is a subject on which I have the strongest personal views. Pupils of practical rather than academic turn of mind would be less anxious to leave school if they felt that what they were doing there led on naturally to further education courses, just as the academic pupil knows that his school course will lead on naturally to a course in a university or central institution, and that the passes he obtains in the Scottish leaving certificate examination may exempt him from the entrance examinations of universities and professional bodies.
In senior secondary courses, the tendency—I am picking up some of the points from the opening speech—for an increasing number of pupils to complete their course is becoming more pronounced. In 1954, there were just over 5,000 seventeen-year olds in our Vth and VIth form, or 6.7 per cent. of the age group. In succeeding years, the figure rose by about 6 per cent. each year until, in 1957, it was just over 6,000, or 8 per cent. of the age group. I am glad to be able 707 to report that, in the session just finished, the figure has made a striking advance of about 12 per cent. It has now reached about 6,750, or more than 9 per cent. of the age group. That is the kind of progress we want to see.
Unfortunately, on the other side of the picture we find that, of the pupils beginning senior secondary courses, nearly two-thirds, or about 15,000 in all, leave before finishing the five years. Although many of these begin industrial and commercial careers offering satisfying work and sound prospects and are not allowing their abilities to go to waste, we are told that a good proportion, perhaps about 3,000, are able pupils who could take a good leaving certificate and in whose interest and also that of the nation it would be to complete their courses and go on to further study.
What are we doing to improve the position? The hon. Lady asked that question. We have increased our practical assistance to parents who would have financial difficulties in keeping their children at school by providing in the 1957 and 1958 Bursaries Regulations for more generous higher-school bursaries. I shall have a word to say about the colleges and will comment on the subject as I go on.
We have intensified our propaganda on the advantages of higher education, to which the hon. Lady referred, by the pamphlet "Give Them Their Chance", which was prepared in association with the E.I.S., and 25,000 copies of it are being distributed annually to parents, through one channel or another. Two more pamphlets have been prepared. I am glad also to acknowledge the assistance of the Federation of British Industries, who this year have issued a pamphlet, "A Message from Industry", to third-year pupils pointing out the advantages of completing secondary courses.
Perhaps, however, what will prove to be the most powerful incentive in the expansion of our secondary schools will be the introduction of a new grade in the Scottish leaving certificate, of which hon. Members have already heard something. It will replace the present lower grade, will be known as the "ordinary" grade, and is intended for pupils in the fourth year of the senior secondary course. We believe that many 708 pupils who now leave school at 15, perhaps because they feel that their chances of success in even the lower grades do not justify their spending two more years at school to prepare themselves for it, would remain longer if they had an opportunity of taking a certificate at 16, in the fourth year instead of the fifth, and that some of these, if successful in obtaining passes in the ordinary grade, might go on to try for higher passes as well.
We also hope that the new certificate may play its part in forging closer links between secondary and further education, which I mentioned a moment ago. For example, it may be possible to arrange that pupils taking certain subjects in the new certificate may obtain exemption from the first stage of these subjects in their further education course. This should encourage pupils to remain at school and not to leave as early as possible in the belief, often mistaken, that they will get more advantage from taking further education courses than from remaining at school. Of course, all this involves very difficult problems of organisation of courses, curricula etc., and the necessary changes require and are receiving, a good deal of thought.
I have therefore set up a working party comprising representatives of headmasters and headmistresses, directors of education and teachers, together with departmental officers, to consider the whole matter in detail. It is at least satisfactory to know that our proposals have the support of the great majority of people interested in education. We hope that after we have the working party's report later this year the necessary preparations can go ahead for the introduction of the new fourth-year certificate, in 1961.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
The right hon. Gentleman will be aware of the complaints that these courses are far too much destined for eventual entry into universities. Would it not be wise to have people from the outside world, like trade unionists and businessmen, at these discussions to bring a practical atmosphere into the academic one?
§ Mr. Maclay
I would like just to check on that and to give it consideration. I referred earlier to the need for education authorities to press ahead with the planning of new technical colleges. 709 I know that education authorities are sometimes concerned lest they should provide colleges and find that they have no students to use them. The greater danger is going to be that there will not be enough places to meet the demand. Even at a time when facilities have been largely make-shift, the number of day students, full-time, sandwich and day-release, has risen by 40 per cent. in five years, or from 30,000 in 1951 to 42,000 last session.
Not only have we had an increase each year, but the rate of progress is also increasing. New facilities being brought into use—for example, the first completely new college built since the war, the Reid Kerr Technical College, Paisley, to be opened in the autumn—will undoubtedly stimulate demand still further. I am quite convinced that there is little risk that facilities now being planned will not be fully utilised, but much more work has still to be done in securing support for day-release arrangements.
It is by no means fully accepted yet that the industry and commerce of this country stand to gain by sending their young workers to a college of further education on one day a week. The figure of about 31,000 day-release students in 1956–57 is pretty good, but it is obviously not good enough. Similarly, we need to improve on the number of 11,000 full-time and sandwich students. We have to try to have more facilities and more students to make use of them. I mentioned a figure of 31,000 day release students for 1956–57, which compares with 25,000 in round figures in 1954–55 and 28,000 in 1955–56, so that progress is going on, although I agree that it should be faster.
I come now to the question of assistance to students. Of course, what we want to ensure as far as is reasonable and practicable is that no obstacles are planed in the way of young people getting further education. I myself would not suggest that finance is by any means the sole answer to the problem, but, of course, the Government recognise the importance of ensuring as far as they can that at all stages of the educational system students are not prevented by financial considerations from taking courses for which they are fitted.
710 Just a year ago, as I have already said, we brought into operation new Education Authority Bursaries Regulations, which not only made substantial improvements in allowances, but also reduced, in some cases very substantially, the contribution which many parents were required to make towards the cost of their children's education. As I think the hon. Lady said, only this week further regulations have come into force which improve yet further the allowances given to those taking courses of higher education and at the same time reduce for all bursaries, including school bursaries, the contribution the parents have to make. To give only one figure to illustrate what is involved, expenditure on awards by education authorities will have doubled, from £2 million to £4 million, in two years.
I would just say, in relation to what the hon. Lady said, that it is not by any means certain, and we have examined this very carefully, that hardship is one of the really major factors in prematurely leaving school. It obviously can be an element, and there is some room for argument on that, but we are very much alive to the problem, and I think that the hon. Lady will agree that we have at least done something in the improvements we have made. I personally consider that it is a fair and reasonable step which we have taken in this matter.
Obviously, some problems remain. We know that in certain quarters the view is held that the cost of higher education, including that of students' maintenance, should be met entirely from public funds and that parents should not have to make any contribution. There have also been suggestions that the responsibility for awarding bursaries should be transferred, in whole or in part, from the education authorities to the State. It is just that kind of matter that will be considered by the Committee which has been set up by the Minister of Education and myself, under the chairmanship of Sir Colin Anderson, to consider the whole question of bursary awards from public funds to students taking courses of higher education. We have, as the Committee will know, three very good Scots on that Committee, and I should add that Sir Colin Anderson is a very good Scot in origin, sentiment and everything else.
§ Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)
Will it be within the competence of the 711 Committee to deal with the anomalies which have existed in the comparison between the grants awarded to Scottish students at Scottish universities and those awarded to English students at English universities, which has been for a long time a matter of argument? I hope that the Committee will try to clear it up.
§ Mr. Maclay
I think that will be one of the matters to be studied. It is obviously a worrying and difficult problem.
§ Sir James Henderson-Stewart (Fife, East)
Will one or two members of the Committee come up to Scotland to take some of the evidence?
§ Mr. Maclay
I am sure that if the Chairman has anything to do with it he will be only too pleased to do so, but I will see that this point is drawn to his attention.
On teachers, the record is really one of contrast—rather surprising contrast—steady growth in numbers, but urgent need for still more. I have not been complacent in reviewing other aspects of education, although I have been claiming that we are progressing very successfully. On the question of teacher supply on the whole, the outlook must be one of concern. At the same time, it is essential to see the problem in its true perspective. It is rather too easy, for oneself as well as other people, amid the stream of statements on present difficulties and future crises, to get the impression that our supply of teachers is actually running down, and, of course, nothing is further from the case.
I know that impression has been created, but it is right to get it straight, and, so far from declining, the number of certificated teachers has grown, is growing and will, I am certain, continue to grow. The number of certificated teachers before the war was 29,000; in October, 1956, it was 35,700; in October, 1957, it was 36,100, an increase of 400 in the year. The number of students entering on training for teaching is also growing. No fewer than 2,017 began training last session, which is an increase of 77 over the previous year, and the first time that the intake exceeded 2,000, except for the very abnormal numbers of the immediate post-war years. The Special Recruitment Scheme, to which the hon. Lady referred, continues to 712 attract to teaching increasing numbers of well-qualified men and women from other walks of life, and I believe that this scheme has been a real success.
Despite these encouraging figures—and I am certain that it is right to get the matter in perspective—staffing is the crux of all our educational problems.
§ Mr. Ross
Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that in these encouraging figures there is a very temporary element—the fact that the right hon. Gentleman permitted teachers to stay on longer, possibly up to the age of 70? This will be wearing off within a few years, and down will come the figures again.
§ Mr. Maclay
I am not quite certain that that is strictly relevant to what I have said. I am not in any way complacent, but have described the problem as it stands at the moment.
My information is that 2,800 additional teachers would be required if all the uncertificated teachers and teachers over 70 were to be replaced and all over-size classes got rid of. Further, as the large birth-groups pass from the primary to the secondary school—and that will happen during the next three years—the secondary staffing position will grow worse; in short, the growth in the number of our teachers, though considerable, is not enough to meet growing demands.
As an outstanding example of this growth, the number of specialist teachers in the more practical subjects, such as art, music, handwork, homecraft, commercial subjects and physical education, was only 3,250 before the war. It is over 6,800 today, and we will need about 9,000 in 1961 and the years that follow. These groups have expanded by as much as 110 per cent. since the war, and if shortage in some of them is serious and threatens to be greater still by 1961, it is not because we failed to recruit a lot of additional teachers—we have doubled the number—but because we are, of course, giving much more attention to the subjects concerned and teaching them to far more pupils.
In view of these difficulties, we asked the Advisory Council to consider the whole question of the supply of secondary teachers. It has submitted an interim report, to which the hon. Lady has 713 referred and which she has been quoting, and I understand that it will give us its final report later in the year. As a result of its recommendations, there has been a substantial deferment of honours and science graduates from National Service. The hon. Lady said that it was up to myself and the Minister of Education to go on pressing this. Of course, we have done so, and we should like to see it extended, but it must be realised that there is a considerable demand, and there will be, for teachers in the Services themselves, and there is a question of priority. I assure the hon. Lady and the Committee that we are very much alive to this, and that the matter has been discussed with the Minister of Labour fairly constantly.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
Surely, while we recognise that teachers are necessary in the Services, conscription is not a means whereby we are going to get teachers into the Services? I take it that is what the right hon. Gentleman is implying?
§ Mr. Maclay
That is not the same question at all, and I do not think I should be drawn aside into what I think are rather separate arguments.
On the question, to which the hon. Lady also referred, of the training course for honours graduates, that has been compressed, and the point is now being considered by the Advisory Committee, which is having a look at it. Publicity for recruitment under the special scheme has been intensified, and I have already dealt with bursaries. On another point which the hon. Lady raised, the grants under the special recruitment scheme are to be increased next session by about 15 per cent., which I think is very useful in what we are all so anxious to achieve.
I think I have covered most of the ground about which the hon. Lady asked questions. I hope my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary will be able to answer any questions that have been left unanswered. Everyone of us is concerned with this matter, Ministers, education authorities and teachers along with all hon. Members, we recognise the immense importance of the education of our young people for the whole future of our country. We shall go on working to the best of our ability to achieve the best we can for our children. I repeat that I think we have solid ground for satisfaction in 714 a great deal which we have managed to get done in the last few years, but I think we all realise that there is still a great deal more to do.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
I have listened with very great care to the two opening speeches which, between them, have covered a great deal of ground in this debate. I shall not attempt to do anything of the sort myself, because I think that there is some advantage in a back bencher being brief and there has been a certain amount of "bush telegraphing" going on about the need to be a little briefer still tonight.
I shall try to make three points very shortly. All of them seem to be important, although they are not necessarily the most important of our educational problems just now. I should have liked to take up the question of the shortage of teachers, but I resist that temptation. The first point I want to make is with reference to senior secondary and university education. We are trying as hard as we can, and with the support of the whole country, to increase the numbers of people continuing to the end of a senior secondary course. Both Front Bench speakers have referred to that.
The problem arises of what happens to people when they complete their senior secondary course. They can go in different directions. One thing which is relevant here and needs a little more attention paid to it than it gets is that those who go straight from their leaving certificate stage into industry do so under 'difficulties, because that is a different age for entry to industry. The age of 16 is a good age, and the age of 22, after graduation, is a good age, but the age of 17 or 18 is difficult. There are a number of problems connected with that age which need a little more study.
What worries me is the problem of those who want to go on to university and technical college degree courses. Earlier this Session I raised the question with the Minister of Education of what happens to students in England. I had assumed that the real problem they are meeting is one from which we in Scotland are insulated, but I have begun to wonder about that. The situation in 715 England is that students can take higher education and reach university matriculation standard yet, in literally thousands of cases when they apply for admission to university they are refused. I thought we were free from that problem, but I begin to see one or two signs that perhaps we are not free from it. A letter in one of Lord Beaverbrook's publications the other day, coming from my constituency, said that even science specialists have been rejected, although they have the appropriate qualifications, when they applied for university courses. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, What is the situation? Are we turning away from the universities people who are properly qualified to enter?
I want to ask one or two questions connected with that. The Scottish universities have a long democratic tradition of serving the people. In the long years of their history they have always taken without question people who were qualified. We have always had room, and our university system had that characteristic. Are we to lose that and to find that our universities provide rather fewer places than we need? If that happens, are we to find students are chosen for qualities other than intellectual qualities? The old system was that the applicant passed examinations on paper, the university never saw him, but if he had the proper qualifications he went into the university course and that was that.
Now we have the report of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors dealing with everything but the essential question and endorsing the business of selecting students from among those qualified. How are they selected? Do they turn back a chap because he had a broad Aberdonian accent, or does not dress properly? Or is an attempt made in a kind of country house interview to find what his underlying qualities of character are? Anything like that would seem to me to be quite alien to our Scottish tradition. I should like a situation in which we made sure that our universities offered enough places to students who are qualified and took those students without making inquiry beyond their intellectual attainments. Very often a chap who gives a bad impression at the beginning turns out to be the most useful after going through the course.
§ Mr. Lawson
I wonder if my hon. Friend would also ask who does the selecting and what are the qualifications of the selectors?
§ Mr. MacPherson
My hon. Friend is opening other tempting paths, but I have set myself the object of making a short speech and I shall not try to follow that.
I should like some sort of Scottish statement about the expansion programme of the universities. What is our part in the programme which the Chancellor has recently announced? Are we to increase the numbers of students pari passu with England and Wales, or is our proportion of students to population already so high that we cannot do that? Probably that is the case. What is our share of the expansion to be? Are we to make sure that our share of the expansion is done not simply in order to meet a sort of mystic number, chosen one does not know how, of 124,000 or 136,000 at some date in future? Or is it to be geared and fitted year by year to the numbers of students who become applicants for university places year by year? That seems enormously important. But I have not so far been able to get the Chancellor or his junior Ministers even to recognise that that problem exists.
I would like, secondly, to say a little about scientific and technical education. I ask the Secretary of State to give us a little more information about the effects of the shortage of science teachers. The Report says that theshortage of teachers of mathematics and science is causing increasing difficulties.I should jolly well think it is. A shortage running to 15 or 20 per cent. year after year is a serious matter. I put this to the right hon. Gentleman strongly. It is time that we were told something in detail about the effects of this continuing situation. It has been going on since just after the war.
Can we not know what the results are? Is the standard dropping and, if so, where and what numbers are affected? Is the curriculum being changed and the quality of teaching dropping? A colleague in the journalistic world used to explain how he earned a good living in the offices of an illustrated newspaper working out captions for the illustrations. His skill was in producing neat captions which just fitted the pictures. There seems to be someone in the Scottish Office who has the same skill in producing these sentences 717 in the Reports which neatly cover the situation without giving anything away. We want more than that.
I want also to say something about a very interesting and important activity which is taking place and originated from the business world, the activity of the Industrial Fund for the Advancement of Scientific Education in Schools. It is important that we should realise what has been happening. In November, 1955, less than three years ago, a number of business people got together and decided that they must do something to increase the prospect of improving science teaching in the schools. They decided what they needed to do and went ahead. They found how and where to do it, and did it. Between then and now they have allocated for schools in the United Kingdom, including Scotland, £3¼ million. They have assisted schools, not publicly maintained, all over the country and all schools assisted were under agreement to start building in the spring of this year.
This seems to me to be a very remarkable operation. These people, who are non-educationists and non-educational administrators, have picked out a very important nail and have hit it squarely on the head. They have used for the project money part of which would have come to the Chancellor by way of taxation, but part of which is a clear gift to education. That operation is the kind of thing one would hope that the two Departments of Education could do; but what the right hon. Gentleman said about building plans and progress in the last three years is a quite striking contrast to this kind of thing.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman, because this concerns him—it is not a matter entirely for the private schools, because most of the schools concerned are helped in some way from public funds—whether there is any possibility of his doing something of the same sort for the publicly-owned secondary schools. The fund has enabled the building of new science laboratories, and, where such laboratories were not needed, grants have been made from the fund for new science equipment, and this has been done in no half-hearted way.
The largest grant given to one school, not in Scotland, was £40,000. Eton, I think, received £30,000. The largest grant given to a school in Scotland was 718 for £21,000. About £1,000 or £1,500 have been granted for the provision of equipment. That is not half-hearted provision, and it is something which we hope the public administrators will be able to do for schools under public control. The schools here concerned are, of course, those not maintained in the public system.
I wish to ask one specific question about the immediate future. As I understand, the follow-up which these people are likely to undertake will be local. They are not likely to continue a national effort of this sort. Rather are they likely to encourage local industry to help local schools. Most of the local schools will probably be schools receiving public money, schools in which the right hon. Gentleman is interested.
Will the right hon. Gentleman try to make sure, since this is a clear benefit to any school concerned, that there will be no obstacles or difficulties in the way of receiving any such money? It is money that should be spent and which will save the taxpayers, if, indeed, the nation's Executive representatives would ever get round to spending it on their behalf.
I want very shortly to touch on a third question which, I am afraid, I shall not have the time to go into in detail. It is the new proposed training regulations for teachers. I am very sorry that the administrative plan is being produced before the policy, because it seems to me that when the policy is produced there may be difficulty in fitting it into the administrative plan. Indeed, I wonder whether there is a policy to be produced. If there is, where will it come from? It will probably be the sort of thing thought up in the Department, because one has not seen any signs of discussion of this sort in the Scottish education world at all.
It is unfortunate, although it is characteristic of Scottish education, that new advances and ideas seem to develop without there being much public interest in them beforehand. The essence of the problem is, I think, the question of prestige. As Professor Pilley said a little while ago, the existing collegesfail to command the respect of graduates.Mr. Hamilton, of the same department in the University of Edinburgh, talks about the "spiritual and intelligent myopia" which he recalls from his 719 student days at Moray House. He says that there has been no change since in that respect. That is a very difficult thing for policy to overcome, but it is the central factor in the training of graduates for teaching; and it is graduates I am talking about just now. I hope that when the policy is produced it will deal with that problem.
It seems to me that in view of a difficulty of that sort which has gone on for, perhaps, a couple of generations—and there is no sign that we can clear it up in the immediate future—there is a good case for not only reducing the training period of all graduates to seven months but for deciding to give all graduates no continuous period at all in the training college. There exists a probation period of two years during which, it is presumed, a teacher is not fully qualified. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he might use that probation period in connection with the training of graduates. He could extend the period to three or four years if necessary.
It seems to me that during those probationary years a graduate could obtain for himself the essential academic knowledge, that is to say, knowledge up to degree standard in the two necessary subjects, one education and the other psychology, without having to attend lectures. The graduate has attended university lectures and he does not need to listen to someone expounding a subject in order to be able to learn about it. Teaching methods, and that kind of thing, could be put to him, with more efficiency perhaps than at present, in summer courses taking up, say, four weeks of the normal eight weeks' vacation. There would be extraordinary advantages in that. For one thing, the courses could be given by practising teachers, headmasters and others.
One of the great basic difficulties from which so many surface difficulties grow in the training of teachers is that there is a divorce, such as does not exist in other professions, between practice and instruction. The professor of engineering can lecture to his students in the morning and can act as consultant for a big engineering project in the afternoon. The instructor or professor of education cannot do that. That is one of the things that is persistently there 720 under the present arrangement. It causes all sorts of difficulties including, it seems to me, this lack of prestige.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I am very interested in what my hon. Friend says, but is he not aware that there has always been a sort of professional rivalry between Moray House and the universities, that somewhere there has to be a systematic teaching method and that at the moment it would be a mistake to deprive the graduate of that technical knowledge?
§ Mr. MacPherson
My right hon. Friend has put the opposite point of view. I am not saying that, as a full-time permanent policy, we should not allow graduates to attend training colleges. I am saying that the situation now seems to be such that we cannot offer graduates a course of training which they will respect. That being so, I suggest that we should offer them a different kind of course altogether. I would remind my right hon. Friend that the staff in schools like Eton are untrained. We would not employ those people in the publicly-owned schools in Scotland. Yet their standard of teaching by all the evidence available is as good as that in probably any school in the country. That seems to me to be a basic factor that we must remember.
I suggested summer courses, say, two or three summer courses, during the middle of the school vacations, where the instruction would be much better than that available just now because it could be given by people who during the school terms are actually engaged in the business of teaching. The people at present instructing in university or training college, are not so engaged.
One further point on this question. One of the most depressing things about the whole Scottish education picture is the sheer lack of ideas, the lack of currents of thought, lack of argument, lack of gusts and breezes and even storms of debate on educational matters. This is a time when educational matters are in the middle of a lot of discussion elsewhere. It is a time when people are putting them into a new setting. But one could never tell that by looking at the Scottish educational scene.
For that reason, whatever disadvantages it has, and I think that there are practical disadvantages, I should like 721 to suggest that the new training arrangements concerning graduates should be very closely associated with the universities. After all, the universities are centres of ideas. They are centres where the one thing that really matters is the brain and what the brain can do. That is the one thing which seems to me to be desperately needed just now in Scottish educational life, and I am sorry that the present proposals for changes in training should appear to push the universities aside, instead of, as I think they should, clasing the universities far more closely in their embrace.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Sir David Robertson (Caithness and Sutherland)
In his most interesting speech the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) referred to the shortage of science teachers and also to the universities. I wish to talk about the shortage of buildings for the training of science students in Scotland and of a threat which overhangs Scotland at present, regarding the erection of a new science building that it was hoped would be built at St. Andrews, and which may not be built there because of a dispute which has been going on for some time between the Town Council of St. Andrews and St. Andrews University.
Of course, the university wants the building. The town council wants it. But it may not come about, because of the insistence of the university that it must be built on a site adjacent to the present building which occupies a commanding position in the historic old town. The town council and the majority of the people of St. Andrews are equally anxious that the new science building should be erected. But they say that it should be built on one of three sites which the university already owns, and which are larger and capable, not only of housing the new science building, but further developments which they believe are bound to ensue because of the increasing population, the gradual development of scientific and technical education and the progress which we all hope will be made by our country.
One of these three sites is known as the Cannongate-Cockshaugh site, another as the Buchanan Gardens site and the third as the St. Nicholas site. They are all undeveloped, and they are all owned by 722 the university. But the university does not want to use any of them. It wants a site which belongs to other people who have equal rights to own it and to live on it and occupy property as has the university or anyone else in the City of St. Andrews.
The dispute has been going on for quite a long time. The owners and occupiers of houses in Westburn Lane have refused to sell to the university, and the university is seeking compulsory purchase powers. Already two public inquiries have been held—these odd, funny public inquiries which we have in Scotland, where one man acts as judge and jury; a man who is selected by and paid by the Secretary of State; an advocate, the Scottish equivalent to a barrister, who is always out to do his best for his client.
In the beginning, the university had it all its own way. At that time the town council was agreeable that the wishes of the university should come about. Apparently, the town council had not the same regard for compulsory purchase orders that most of us have. I am all in favour of compulsory purchase orders when they benefit all the people. But not when there are alternatives; not when there are three alternatives, as there are in this case, when there are three large areas with the Cannongate-Cockshaugh site only seven to eight minutes' walk from the Bute Medical Hall, the centre of the university, and all of them within one mile. But that is not such a tidy job as going next door and dispossessing people and interfering with their liberty and their way of life. These people have to get out.
The University Court, supported by the University Grants Committee—and the Secretary of State—says, "This is the only place for the science building. This is the only place where these students can be taught. They must not walk to a site seven or eight minutes away. They must go just round the corner." In this day and age, when distance is being annihilated, can there possibly be any justification for that, in the knowledge that the university already owns undeveloped land? How much longer is the university proposing to leave that land undeveloped while it wishes to seize, with the aid of the law, land belonging to private persons? If the Secretary of State wishes to intervene, I will give way.
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member had passed on from the point he was making. I was merely going to point out that he said that I have made a decision, but I have not come to a decision. There has been a series of public inquiries in the past, and another one is due. I have not formed any judgment on the matter which will be the subject of that public inquiry, and it would be wrong of me to do so.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I shall have something more to say about that in a few minutes.
In the meantime, let me develop the situation, because the people, the unorganised, ordinary people of St. Andrews who did not count at all in the beginning, have become very important. It takes some time for the unorganised people to get to that state. But, having endured two of these strange public inquiries, their indignation was roused; and when the May elections came along they seized their opportunity and threw out the councillors who were supporting this interference with the liberty of the people—those councillors who, without any justification, were so willing to have a compulsory purchase order.
The people of St. Andrews returned their candidates at the top of the poll—all of them—with over 4,700 votes against 700. So the acquiescent councillors who had so misrepresented the people and acted as lackeys of bureaucracy by supporting the university—and I think the Scottish Office—were thrown out. A fine, fresh virile, democratic body took control in St. Andrews and immediately undid all the work done by the previous council.
The old council was defeated solely on this issue. It is an interesting point, when one realises that these councillors who were defeated had been worthy councillors in every other respect except this one. I am told that one of them was a highly respected ex-Lady Provost. But she was among the "fallen", simply because of her attitude—her undemocratic attitude—on this matter.
There was a meeting not many days ago between the Secretary of State and the representatives of the town council. 724 I had been in correspondence with the right hon. Gentleman, and on 15th July he wrote me a letter in which he said:As you will have seen from the Press, along with the chairman of the University Grants Committee, I met representatives of the Town Council last week, and put to them the fact that the new science buildings will not be provided in St. Andrews at all if the University cannot get the Westburn Lane site. I asked the Town Council whether in these circumstances, they would not facilitate further consideration of the matter at a fresh public inquiry by resubmitting a compulsory purchase order for the site This they have refused to do.After that the Secretary of State, using Section 96 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act, announced a decision in a Written Answer in this House that another public inquiry is to be held; another advocate is to be employed by him to hold a one-man committee and to decide whether or not a compulsory purchase order should be made in that case—
§ Sir D. Robertson
I cannot give way just now. I am just going to deal with the right hon. Gentleman.
After I wrote to the Secretary of State at the beginning of the month, he came to me and told me something about this case. He left no doubt at all in my mind that he is wholly in favour of the Westburn Lane site. That is the one round the corner, the one the university wants. The town council and the people of St. Andrews have been in no doubt about that for a long time. They say that the Secretary of State is wholly in favour of the Westburn Lane site. I think the right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong in deciding, some days after that, that he should appoint an advocate to hold a public inquiry to decide where this extension should be. Now I will give way.
§ Mr. Maclay
I think it only right that I should make two points at this stage. If the hon. Gentleman considers what he has said, he will realise he has cast very grave reflections on people of the very highest integrity, members of the Bar, and so on. It would be quite wrong if I allowed that to pass. I cannot for one moment accept reflections on the integrity of some of the finest people in Scotland.
The hon. Gentleman will probably realise that the reason why I will not 725 make any comment on what he is saying is that there have been previous inquiries, the results of which he knows, and there is another one to be held. When I talked to him, I explained some of the points of view of the university and some of the objections. He completely misunderstood what I said. I was extremely careful, and even in my own mind have not decided the merits of the views on this problem.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I will leave the right hon. Gentleman to his conscience. I made no reflection on the Scottish Bar or Bench. I have the highest possible regard for its members. But I am making a reflection on the right hon. Gentleman for appointing someone to rule on a decision which he already has arrived at and which he can never challenge in my mind, because I heard all he said with the utmost clarity.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I am not going to put on an act and say that I misunderstood it when I clearly understood it.
Regarding the suitability of an advocate to take on this job, I have given reasons why that should not be. If an inquiry has to be held, why not appoint a judge? Surely, a judge is the one man above all possible doubt who could hold an inquiry of this kind. But is an inquiry necessary? The town council is sick of such inquiries, and the expense which is necessarily incurred. What independent body could possibly deny the people who are in the majority in St. Andrews—nearly 5,000 of them out of a total population of over 9,000? They are all in favour of the science building and in favour of helping the university, which has a fine and long record—but not to build this building on a site which is occupied and owned by people who do not want to go.
The simple issue is one of convenience. That is the only case which the university has, that it is convenient. Of course it is always convenient to go round the corner. But the world does not stand still and the right to go round the corner cannot be vested in one organisation, however important it may be.
§ Sir Colin Thornton-Kemsley (North Angus and Mearns)
Will my hon. Friend answer two quite straightforward and, I think, relevant questions? First, is it a fact that the St. Andrews Town Council is one of two town councils in Scotland—the other being in the hon. Member's own constituency—which are planning authorities? Secondly, is not the West-burn Lane site, to which he has referred, designated on the St. Andrews Town Council's own town plan as land which is to be acquired for the university extensions?
§ Sir D. Robertson
I have not the full details of this case. I came into it only at a very late hour, and with very great reluctance, after my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) had made a very long and determined effort to keep this matter from the Floor of the House of Commons. However, he knows that that day is long past.
As to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley), it is the case that the town of Thurso in my constituency and St. Andrews, in Fife, are the only two burghs in Scotland that are planning authorities, and it is a fact that the former town council was composed of members who were so agreeable, in the beginning, to act—I know I have used this expression already, but I repeat it—as lackeys to this very wretched scheme of compulsory purchase.
In other words, there is still the town council, but, because of the will of the people, its personnel is different. And it is to the will of the people that we pay so much lip-service in this country. It is the same kind of thing that returns us, and, at this time, makes this party the Government of the day and which, in 1945, made the party opposite the Government of the day, bringing about a revolution in this country that probably could not have occurred anywhere else in the world.
The ordinary people do these things, and I am speaking for the ordinary people in St. Andrews, who are in the majority today, who become articulate and who are demanding a decision. I am wholly on their side, and it is high time that they had someone on their side. But they are not alone. Even 727 science professors, and chemistry professors and the university are on their side, while the National Trust for Scotland, the body that is so honoured, and which carries out its responsible duties so well, has recently reaffirmed the protest it made about this thing coming about.
I quote, briefly, from the Scotsman of 18th July:The town had a special place in national history, and the preservation of its atmosphere and character should be a condition in future developments. The balance, in the central area, the trust felt, was delicately poised between the Royal Burgh and the University and should not be upset.There is commanding evidence there for the Committee to consider. The National Trust for Scotland has spoken in those terms.
There is another body in this, and that is the University Grants Committee. It has wielded the big stick, too. It is against the people. It is a highly privileged body. It is supplied with many millions of the taxpayers' money, passed to it from this House of Commons, and it is relieved from criticism in this House. Both parties have agreed to that, and I have no doubt that they are perfectly right. I am perfectly certain that the Grants Committee carries out its duties in an admirable manner, but it has taken sides in this controversy.
The University Grants Committee, supported by the Secretary of State, has said to the town council, "If you don't put this building on the round-the-corner site in Westburn Lane, if you dare to exercise your right to object, this building will not be built in St. Andrews at all. It will go to Dundee—or, it may not be built in Scotland at all." Could there be a more intolerable situation? What right has this Committee to ally itself with the university on such an issue? Are science students to be educated any the worse because they are seven or eight minutes' walk from the main centre of the university than if they are just round the corner?
Dr. King, you have been a long time in education, and you know what happens at Cambridge or Oxford. There, very few students ever attend a lecture in their own college. They have always to go outside. The university towns are full of students on bicycles hurrying to 728 and from their classes—and classes not seven or eight minutes away, but much further. That is the daily routine at the two major universities in England, but, apparently, it is not good enough for St. Andrews. The hardy people of Fife must not be exposed to rain and sun and wind, but must be put just round the corner. What nonsense. Was there ever such a predatory attempt to interfere with the liberty of the people? That is the wretched story, and I hope that I will have the support of hon. Members present, and of the Press, in bringing this situation to an end.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
Those of us who have been in this House over many years have learned that when the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) makes the type of speech to which we have just listened there is more in it than normally meets the onlooker's eye. I have listened with some attention to his argument, and I should think that the reply, if any, that will be made to him will have to be an extremely good one to satisfy some of us that he has not made out a very good case indeed.
I do not know the local details, but I must say that it is not the first time that we on this side have had fun poked at us for apparent splits and all the rest. But I shall have to leave the matter there, and get on with my own remarks.
Reference has already been made to the need for comprehensive schools, and I want to stress the fact that this is the traditional type of school in Scotland. Most of us went to the omnibus type of school, and all we are trying to press on the Secretary of State in this debate is the need for greater emphasis to be placed on that type in the future.
I turn, now, to wastage. On page 9 of the Report, "Education in Scotland", for 1957, reference is made to the wastage of pupils going through senior secondary schools, and the Secretary of State has, of course, agreed that this is a problem to which increasing attention is being paid. I am not sure whether he knows that a special inquiry was recently carried out in Glasgow as to what happened to 500 of the best pupils leaving a primary school and going to the senior secondary school. These were children who were 729 highest in the intelligence quotient examination, and in performance. The inquiry covered two or three years, and it was found that 50 per cent. of the puplis left before the course was finished.
That is very serious, and it is at the root of the problem of the supply of potential teachers—I put it no higher than that. If the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) about allowances—though I, too, do not think that that is the whole answer—he must go rather further than the announcement that was made about the respective increases from £40 to £45 and from £50 to £65.
From that I go on to what I, at least, am convinced is the problem that dwarfs all others in education, and that is the supply of teachers. The Secretary of State today met some of the criticisms by the usual Departmental attitude of saying "Of course, things are progressing. We are better than we were in relation to the need, but we have so much to achieve." My whole point is that the Department is not really tackling this problem aggressively; or using some initiative of its own, instead of being pinpricked and pushed along by others.
This problem has been known to the Department since 1950, and one of the charges that I make is that, despite the right hon. Gentleman's rebuttal of the accusation of complacency, there has, in fact, been a great deal of complacency for the last seven or eight years—and since the immensity of the problem has become known. For instance, I believe that the right hon. Gentleman said today that the number of teachers necessary to reduce oversized classes, to fill the vacancies and to replace the certificated teachers over 70 years of age, would be about 2,800. Indeed, that is the figure I have got out of the Report. But the estimated shortage in 1961 will be 3,175.
The Report says that part of the reason for the increase in oversized classes in the past year has been the reassessment of the position in Glasgow. It says:The particular change which is responsible for the major part of the rest of this increase is that Glasgow Education Authority have assessed their needs on a more exacting basis than hitherto having for the first time calculated what these would be on a formula based on average primary classes of under 40 …730 The Secretary of State's figures of 2,800, and the figure of about 3,000 in 1961, would be far greater if this higher standard were achieved, and that is the real essence of the problem with which we have to contend. We do not remind ourselves often enough that the level of overcrowding in Scotland compares very badly with that in England and Wales. In primary schools in Scotland, classes of 45 are accepted, in junior secondary schools, 40, and in senior secondary schools, 30. The figure in England and Wales is only 40 in primary schools, and only 30 in the junior and senior secondary schools.
That is something that has to be remembered when talking about the shortage of teachers. With minimum classes of 45 pupils, education becomes a travesty. Using the English figures as a yardstick, it means that 27 per cent. of our primary classes—over a quarter—are overcrowded, and 41 per cent. of our junior secondary classes. Even by the lower Scottish standard, there are, at present 2,602 oversized classes.
I know that the Report makes it clear, and, indeed, in reply to me only last week, the right hon. Gentleman said, of course, that it was due to the reduction in the average at three- and four-teacher schools, but there is no need for any complacency whatsoever over the size of classes and the supply of teachers.
I turn to a further matter. I had a great deal of sympathy today for my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) when, as was most unusual for him, he became quite heated about the position of science and mathematics teachers. As he said, this problem has been with us for many years but, apparently, no conscious planning is being made to meet it. In last year's Report it was stated:The shortage"—of science and mathematics teachers in the schools—is so acute that the time allotted to science in some schools has had to be reduced, and, indeed, there are schools where science has had to be omitted altogether from the curriculum of some pupils—in this day and age when Great Britain has to compete with other countries which are advancing more quickly in this field.
731 Another problem which causes us to sympathise with the Scottish Office is this. Scope for recruitment of teachers in Scotland is rather more restricted than it is in England and Wales. For example, Scotland will not accept men for teaching without a university degree, whereas they are so accepted in England and Wales. In the training colleges in Scotland the minimum standard necessary for entry for girls is two highers and three lowers, but in England the minimum is only five ordinaries in the General Certificate of Education. In this respect we have higher standards, and I hope the Secretary of State will not seek to solve our problem of the lack of teachers by lowering the standards.
I do not intend to deal in detail with the lowering of the standards by the present Government not so long ago. The shortage of teachers has been recognised since 1951. In 1951, 1953 and 1957 the Secretary of State was presented with Reports by his own Departmental Committee. He has had the Appleton Report. He has had the Advisory Council's Report. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland has reminded us of another important matter which has been referred to a committee.
The Secretary of State was not so slow in accepting the recommendations on which our debate last night was based. If he would show the same alacrity in accepting reports on the shortage of teachers, and similar problems, as he displayed in accepting the recommendations which were dealt with last night, we would be able to say with some justification that the Government were taking action. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman accept the Reports which were made in 1951 and 1953 containing proposals which would solve the problem?
The 1953 Report pointed out that many of these teachers were fulfilling National Service duties in the forces, and that if conscription were abolished at some time in the future 2,100 teachers would become available for duty in the teaching service. It is not the right hon. Gentlemans fault. He is not responsible for National Service, but he is not pushing this matter hard enough. Education has not been given its priority for the supply of educated manpower.
The hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart), in the Education 732 Estimates debate in 1950, was highly critical of the shortage of teachers. Addressing the Labour Government, he said:It is a very serious strain"—on teachers—and it is here that one experiences the first strong pang of dissatisfaction with the actions of His Majesty's Government. … I am glad that the Secretary of State has appointed a working party to advise him on the facts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1950; Vol. 477, c. 2489–90.]Nobody would dispute those words. But having had the Report, what is the use if no action is taken upon it? It is a waste of time, money and energy.
My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North has mentioned other matters in connection with teacher recruitment. I should like to refer to the special recruitment scheme which was a contribution by the Labour Government towards solving this problem for which my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North deserves a great deal of credit. It has been a fruitful source of supply and, as we learned from the Report, because of the increased publicity 3,400 inquiries have been made and 245 of the applicants have been accepted.
I should like to ask the Joint Under-Secretary of State this question. The Advisory Council made two recommendations, and in answer to me the other day the Secretary of State said that they were still being considered. I wonder whether I heard him correctly today when I believe he said that one of the recommendations has now been accepted. Those two proposals were, first, that awards made to graduates undergoing teacher-training should be increased, and, secondly, that awards under the special recruitment scheme should be reviewed. I believe he said that the second one had, in fact, been accomplished. If so, I think it will help.
I now come to a point which I have raised before with the Under-Secretary and with the Minister of Labour and National Service. It is on the question of the deferment from National Service of third-class honours graduates. I ask all hon. Members to try to see the complete illogicality of this situation. Third-class honours graduates in chemistry or biological science teaching are exempt, but those with the same degree in mathematics and physics are 733 not exempt. The ordinary graduate in science subjects who enters teaching is exempt, but the graduate with the higher standard—the third-class honours degree—in mathematics or physics is not exempt. I fail to see the logic in saying that those of the higher standard should not be exempt while ordinary graduates are exempt if they enter teaching.
This illogicality goes even further. These third-class honours graduates in mathematics and physics are exempt if they go into industry, but if they want to teach they are not exempt. The Ministry of Labour and National Service and the Education Department have said that our educated manpower is to be allocated to every other industry except that industry which is producing the educated men and women. The Minister of Labour agreed on 19th February that there was an illogicality. I understand from a reply in an Adjournment debate, about a week ago, that this matter comes up for review every year, and I urge the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Department to ensure that representations are made at the proper time.
I want to add this further suggestion. It has been mooted in education circles in connection with this problem of the supply of science and mathematics teachers that those who have the qualifications should be brought in from industry for two or three years to buttress the teaching staff in the schools. At one time, I thought that might be feasible because many of these men are in supervisory posts, making overall decisions and leaving their departments to get on with the job. If that proposal is to be considered, however, it would be much better, if those in industry are going anywhere, that they should go into the Army units in their districts so that the teachers may be allowed to return to the schools.
That would be very much better and it would certainly help to solve the problem. The Government must look at the question of the deferment of teachers and not hide behind the teachers' dislike of deferment. If the Government say that men and women are qualified to go into the schools they will go, and we shall be very glad to receive them.
I want now to refer to a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs. We have 734 wastage in the senior secondary schools and in the universities. A very interesting article appeared in the School Science Review of June, 1956, which reported speeches made at a conference of celebrated and eminent scientists of this country on the subject of the shortage of science and mathematics teachers. Some information was provided but, it was said, this was given in confidence.
One of the problems is that we cannot have access to the information, for example, about the percentage of students who fail in the first year at university. We cannot make comparisons between one university and another or between one country and another. The Rector of the Imperial College, in October, 1955, said that out of 500 students who entered his institution 100 would not go forward. This is 20 per cent. Various figures were mentioned, and the general opinion was that the rate of failure of first year students in universities was about 10 per cent.
On page 376 of the journal to which I have referred it is said:In Scotland, the average was slightly higher".For the veracity of that statement, I cannot answer, but Appleton, in his Report, stressed the need for tutorial assistance for young students in their first year. In that year, they go from a senior secondary school, where they are taught, into an atmosphere in which they have to fend for themselves and teach themselves. The Institute of Physics reported that, out of 378 students at 11 universities in 1951, 257 completed the course. This suggests that one-third fell by the wayside.
The point that my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs made, therefore, is valid. The learned gentleman to whom I have referred went on to say that there were many students who failed in their first year, who went outside, took another course, came back to repeat the course, and turned out to be brilliant men. Our duty is to reduce the number, consistent, of course, with an adequate standard.
Students do not adjust easily from school, where they are taught, to university, where they have to teach themselves. Their adjustment is sometimes delayed. They get behind to such an extent that they are unable to catch up. Here is a problem. Once we have our students, 735 once we have our qualified technicians and scientists, how are we to hold them?
I doubt whether the Government have given any consideration to this problem, but I can say, as the hon. Member for Fife, East remarked earlier, that our university quadrangles are being turned into feeing fairs. In the old days, farmer and farm worker would meet at the feeing fair and strike a bargain with the humble penny. First-year university students are being approached and bribed with fabulous salaries, even in the first year, and told that, if they make the grade, there are those salaries and jobs awaiting them.
I can see no cure for this at the moment, but it is a problem. The British taxpayer's money is being spent in grants to educate and equip our young people. None of us would deny that we must do all we can so that our young people will make the best of the changing world in which we live, but when they go abroad and deprive us of their skill and knowledge, we are left at a distinct disadvantage. I would not, of course, go so far as to say that the liberty of the subject should in any way be interfered with. I merely pose the question. I do not know whether the Government have considered it.
A joke was made the other day that if a football club can get £80,000 in transfer fees for John Charles, is it not quite reasonable for Great Britain to ask a transfer fee for its science graduates when they go to America and Canada? It is the reverse of an invisible export to our advantage at the moment.
The Youth Employment Service has three functions to perform. I have in mind a case which suggests to me that the Service is not as comprehensive as one would wish. A girl went from a primary school, through promotion, into further education, but qualified only to go to a junior secondary school. She was only two or three marks short of the possible. To my surprise, three years later that girl was presented with a first prize for mathematics and science. Today, she is working in a hairdresser's establishment. This seems to be a great waste of good talent, especially in times when we are short of radiographers and people qualified in the sciences. Much more must be done to ensure that the best use is made of the Youth Employment Service.
736 Those are some of the problems which have appeared to me to be important. I hope that, in the year which is to come, the Secretary of State for Scotland will pay close attention to them.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Sir James Henderson-Stewart (Fife, East)
I should have liked very much to follow the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan), who has dealt with a number of important matters, but I wish to concentrate upon something to which the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) referred. Before I come to that, however, I think that I am under some obligation to comment upon the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), who gave the Committee an account of a problem affecting my constituency. My hon. Friend went so far as to say—I have his words—"I am speaking for the ordinary people of St. Andrews". So far as I know, I am still the elected representative of that area, and I am not aware that my hon. Friend has any justification for that claim.
I regret the speech which my hon. Friend made, not because there is any objection to any hon. Member raising any subject on the Floor of this Chamber, but because the matter is not as simple as he made it out to be, as he would realise if he knew a little more about the situation. He said that he was not aware of the details and, indeed, he had not heard of the matter until quite recently. There are, in fact, two sides to the case. The difficulty is that the case on each side is very strong: and St. Andrews, a highly intelligent city, has been divided upon the matter, in all ranks of society and in all sections of the town, from top to bottom, for nearly two years.
I have thought it my duty, and still believe it to be my duty, as the local Member of Parliament not to exacerbate feelings but, on the contrary, to try to bring all the parties together and reach an amicable, reasonable settlement. It is in the long-term interests of St. Andrews that we get such an amicable settlement. I hope very much that my hon. Friend will not persist in making more difficult a situation which in all conscience is already difficult enough.
I want now to refer to an interesting passage in the speech of the hon. Lady 737 the Member for Lanarkshire, North, a speech which was wholly interesting and constructive, dealing with the problem of promotion examinations and the comprehensive schools. This is a matter to which we must all give a great deal of thought. I have no prejudices whatever about the comprehensive school. As the hon. Lady said, we have these schools in Scotland. They have established themselves. Indeed, I was the product of Morrison's Academy, a kind of comprehensive school. If anything, my prejudice is in favour of them.
A year or two ago, I had the great pleasure and privilege of opening what is, I think, the biggest comprehensive school that the Glasgow Education Authority has built since the war. I was proud to do that and I remember saying that in certain circumstances—as in that case—it was the right kind of school. Therefore, I am not prejudiced against it.
I would, however, be much concerned for Scottish education if I thought that the Labour Party, if it obtained power, would make the introduction of comprehensive schools, as it were, universal and compulsory. The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North did not say that. She was exceedingly wise. She was much wiser than the authors of the recent book produced by the Labour Party in England. I gather that the Scottish Labour Party's policy for education in Scotland will not necessarily be the same as that for England but will be something different.
What I liked about the hon. Lady's approach to this matter was that she recognised that there is an infinite variety of comprehensive schools and that they are a very wide conception. If that is so, and if that were the intention of herself and her colleagues, I would not be as anxious—
§ Mr. Woodburn
Is it not made quite clear in the document that this would be done in conjunction with local authorities and that there might be many forms in which this development could take place?
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart
That is true. Therefore, I am less anxious, especially having heard that intervention by the right hon. Gentleman and the speeech of the hon. Lady.
738 I want to be sure that we all understand what the proposition is. The problem of the comprehensive school is linked with the problem of the promotion examination. The hon. Lady said, and I agree with her, that the promotion examination causes many parents a great deal of anxiety. On the other hand, there must be some kind of method by which a selection is made. It is laid down in the 1946 Act, for which Mr. Tom Johnston had a great responsibility, that education must be provided which is suitable to the aptitude of the child. Therefore, even in Glasgow, where, it is said, the so-called 11-plus examination has been abolished, there is to be another kind of examination. A selection has to be made. It is to be made by teachers' examinations, teachers' certificates and my watching the child's progress over a period, all of which is quite proper. A selection of some kind must, however, be made somehow.
We find from the Report, Education in Scotland, 1957, that a new kind of selection method is to be introduced in Glasgow because Glasgow has decided to make the change. We are told:This will require an amending scheme providing that pupils will be allocated to the secondary courses which seem best suited to them by the head teachers of the primary and secondary schools concerned in the light of the wishes of the parents and the evidence of attainments and aptitudes shown by the pupils in normal class tests.However one arranges this form of education, there must, therefore, be a selection at some point. The hon. Lady used the word "segregation". I would prefer "selection". Quite clearly, one has to select if one is not to bring down the whole tempo of education.
§ Mr. Rankin
Would the hon. Member not agree that in that selection, if one chooses that word, there must not be the element of finality?
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart
Yes, entirely. All the time that I was at the Scottish Office, as the records will show, I expressed anxiety about the lack of a bridge from the one school to the other. I was assured that there was a bridge and I believe that there is a bridge. My feeling is that there are not enough bridges and that it is not easy enough yet for a pupil who develops late to move from the junior secondary to the senior secondary school.
739 I say that there must be a selection somewhere, somehow. As The Times put it in a very interesting leading article yesterday,The unpopular but necessary fact of selection remains. However much disguised, choices about children's futures are being made. Unless such choices are made early, we slip into the academically lowering practice of moving all children along at the same pace …I am sure that none of us wants to do that. We all want to give children with a real aptitude and ability an opportunity to move forward. Therefore, I ask hon. Members, on both sides, to consider carefully before making any final decision about this problem of the comprehensive school.
On the matter of the test, I have thought for a long time that it is the kind of problem which should be put to the Scottish Advisory Council on Education. It is a long time since our Scottish system of tests was established. It was established after a very great deal of thought and study by a lot of able men. The time has, however, come to have it all re-examined by the Advisory Council, if necessary bringing in specialists or experts. It would be to the value of Scottish education to review this matter and the questions of whether the tests are of the right kind, what other tests can be applied and whether the Glasgow system is the better one. As a nation, we ought to be advised upon this extremely important matter.
I hope, too—the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North did not suggest this, and I am glad that she did not—that we shall not, as one gathers from the English Labour Party document, set out to abolish any of our present types of schools. It would seem that the Labour Party is out to abolish the grammar school in England; although the hon. Lady did not say that. She did not say that the junior secondary school would be abolished. I am glad of that, because the hon. Lady knows probably better than I that in recent yeas our junior secondary schools, or some of them, have developed a remarkable personality of their own. There is no doubt whatever that for many types of boys and, I suppose, girls, the junior secondary school offers opportunities for developing character and leadership that 740 would not be made available in larger schools.
I see the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) on the Opposition Front Bench. I should like to say how greatly impressed I was when I visited the Dudhope annexe of the Logie Junior Secondary School in Dundee a year or two ago. That is a school giving a modified course to children who are not quite up to standard. It is run by a superb, exceptionally qualified headmistress, Miss McGregor. Miss McGregor has brought out character, leadership and outstanding personalities that I am sure would have been drowned had they been in a wider environment.
I think that all the evidence shows that if the junior secondary school is properly handled and given the proper encouragement from the authorities it can perform a function in the life of our Scottish youth that would not be performed in a great comprehensive school. Therefore, I come to the conclusion that this is not a matter upon which we should be dogmatic. I certainly agree that there is a place for the comprehensive school. I would be the last to say that there is not room for others in certain areas of Scotland, but in the county of Fife, which is not a badly run county in any sense of the word, the education authorities have resolved against the comprehensive school. They have decided on the present system of junior secondary and senior secondary education after prolonged thought.
It would not be possible in my view for any Government, however they felt about this matter, to force a county like Fife to do something which it felt was educationally wrong; at any rate, it would take a long time to force it. A better plan, in which perhaps all parties could co-operate, would be to observe the present movements with even greater care than we have already shown. I would, therefore, hand over the problem of the comprehensive school to the Scottish Advisory Council. I would ask that body, perhaps specially strengthened, to go into the problem of the promotion tests and the comprehensive school and advise us of its findings.
It would be an awful pity if this were to become a political matter. It ought not to be a political matter. I recognise 741 that there is a social side to it and that it is argued that some children are sent to certain schools which are thought to be a little higher socially, and I know that parents sometimes feel hurt on that account. But we have to think of the children as well as the parents. I am sure that many a time it would be doing an ill service to a boy or girl to take him or her out of a first-class junior secondary school and put him or her into a comprehensive one.
I ask in the interests of the children that we should not be rash in reaching decisions on the matter. I hope the Committee will forgive me for dwelling upon this subject, but I feel deeply about it. I repeat that I invite my right hon. Friend and hon. Friends in the Scottish Office to consider passing these matters for the anxious and prompt examination of the Advisory Council. After all, this problem is fundamental to our Scottish educational prospects, and we should be properly advised upon it.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart). I was very sorry when he went from the Government Front Bench as the spokesman on Scottish education. Perhaps he was one of the fol-de-rols on the Government Front Bench and, therefore, had to be dispensed with.
He has dealt with a topic which is bound to become increasingly important as an election and change of Government draws near. We on this side profoundly believe in the principle of the comprehensive school. That is not to say that we would seek to compel any education authority to introduce it. This is a Tory "plug" which will be increasingly heard between now and the General Election. Nevertheless, it is untrue.
Local authorities must be left to decide for themselves in the light of local circumstances and problems how best to arrange their educational affairs. We do not believe that selection is wrong, but that the segregation that results from that selection is wrong. That is our basic objection to the 11-plus examination in England and to the equivalent examination in Scotland. There can be no doubt that that decision made in a child's life creates, not only in the child, but in the 742 parents, a superiority complex, on the one hand, and an inferiority complex on the other. This complex is emphasised and underlined by the segregation of the children who fail into one school and the children who pass into another. However much we may talk about parity of esteem in these schools, we all know that it simply does not work and that it is not true. The junior secondary school, generally speaking, has not the same equipment and same quality of teaching as the senior secondary school.
The hon. Member for Fife, East referred in his final remarks to the social aspect. I was sorry that he left it to the last minute of his remarks because I regard this as an extremely important matter. We ought to be training children in our schools, from the very dullest to the very brightest, to take their place in the adult community, where they will meet with all kinds of difficulties, and they ought to have training in a school building. The very purpose of the comprehensive school is to ensure that all children of varying abilities shall mix together, shall take certain subjects together and meet on the playing field and in the morning assembly together. In other words, when they leave school they will go into the wider community outside and not feel that they are inadequately trained to meet it.
We have heard all the arguments against the comprehensive school before—the size of the school, the lowering of standards, and so on. I have in my brief case a book which was published recently under the auspices of the National Union of Teachers. I was the first to get it out of the Library. It consists of a series of essays by headmasters and headmistresses of comprehensive schools in London, Birmingham, Coventry, Staffordshire and Anglesey. It is written by people who have no political axe to grind. I commend the Joint Under-Secretary of State to put his name down in the Library for that book, and I hope that he can persuade the E.I.S. to get out a similar book in Scotland, based on much longer experience. If we can educate the public in Scotland, the public in Britain as a whole, in the fundamental soundness of the comprehensive principle we shall have done a good job.
743 I refer to happenings which may not on the surface appear to be linked with this debate. We are having trouble in the Middle East. We have had one or two acrimonious debates here on that subject. I think that the gulf between those debates and this debate on education is not as deep and wide as we might imagine.
I recall a paper given by Professor Blackett, who was President of the British Association. He delivered it in Dublin on 4th September last year. He recalled that towards the end of the last century 100 million Europeans were ruling about 700 million in Asia, Africa and America. He described how while European scientists, technologists and craftsmen had been conquering nature, their soldiers, their missionaries, their traders and their administrators had been conquering the world. As that process went on there developed internationally a feeling of superiority, on the one hand, and of inferiority on the other, superiority among the Europeans and inferiority among the other people.
The same kind of process has been going on in our country largely as a result of the present set-up of our education system. Internationally there has been great unevenness in the distribution of wealth and power, wide differences in health and comfort and standards of living. That is one of the fundamental reasons for the discords in the world today, and it is one of the fundamental reasons for the difficulties we are facing in the Middle East. It presents a major challenge to us in this country. That is why I attach immense importance to our education system. We have a great deal to give to the world if we develop our education system and give to those peoples the help of technicians, technologists, craftsmen, administrators and so on.
Of course, it would be idle to deny that we have not made advances in education since the 'twenties and 'thirties. I was reading—I like to read—the debates which took place on Scottish education in the 'twenties and 'thirties. I have had occasion to quote the hon. Member for Fife, East before, and I hope he will not mind if I quote him again. He regards himself as highly honoured if that happens.
§ Mr. Hamilton
And I find it useful to quote him because he adds strength to my case.
I found that in February, 1926, in Glasgow elementary schools there were nearly 1,500 classes with more than 55 pupils per class. In 1926, indeed, there were in Glasgow more classes with more than 55 pupils each than there were classes with under 55. In 1938, in the halcyon days before the war when the Conservative Party had been in power virtually all the time since 1921, there were unemployed teachers in Scotland. Now I quote the hon. Member for Fife, East speaking in July, 1938, just twenty years ago, almost to the day. He said that there were manychildren who are today not able physically to absorb the education that is given them, not on account of sloping shoulders and stiff joints, but just because, I am sorry to say, they are not sufficiently or properly fed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1938; Vol. 338, c. 2489.]That was in 1938, just before the war.
As I said, nobody can deny that we have made advances since then, and, of course, the Secretary of State was quite right to make the point that we have made tremendous advances, but more important than that is that, relatively, in a world in which we have to compete we are falling behind. That is the point. No matter how fast we are going, if our competitors are advancing at a faster rate, then relatively we are being left behind.
That was the main point of the Labour Party's pamphlet on education, a brilliant, balanced and blunt assessment of the present situation and of future needs. It begins with the statement, quite simply, that the main thing wrong with education is that we have not enough of it. That is the simple, brutal fact about it. Most people in this Committee concede that. The Government concede it in words, but what they do at this juncture, when everybody concedes that, is to introduce the system of block grants, which has been condemned by Lord Hailsham and other more respectable spokesmen in other parts of the education World.
I myself do not believe that buildings are the most important part of this problem. I recall two or three years ago asking teachers in Nigeria, where they were having education problems—they are very education-conscious in 745 Africa—whether they thought it was more important to have good schools and buildings or good teachers. Almost invariably the African replied, "We much prefer to have a good building". That may be the danger we are running into at the moment. We are so anxious to get something on the ground that can be seen that we are sacrificing the interests of the status and the quality of the teachers who are to go into the buildings.
This question of the shortage of teachers has been developed over the years. It has not grown up suddenly, not appeared overnight. We have all kinds of committees sitting on it; we have all kinds of schemes. We have had dilution of the profession. We have had deferment from National Service. We have brought back into the profession doddering old men who had retired from it. All kinds of schemes have been tried. With what result?
The result is that in October, 1951, the deficiency was less, so far as teaching shortage is concerned, than it is now. By 1961, we shall still be about 3,000 teachers short of what we ought to have. That is about 8 per cent. of the total. Let us try to compare that with the position which would prevail in the coal industry if we had a similar shortage. If we had 8 per cent. shortage of the necessary manpower in the coal industry—this should appeal to the hon. Member for Pollok (Mr. George)—we should have 17 million or 18 million fewer tons of coal than we have now. That would be felt up and down the country and steps would very soon be taken to remedy the deficiency. But because the shortage of teachers is not immediately and obviously apparent we tend to neglect it.
I believe that the shortage of teachers is every bit as serious, indeed more serious, than the shortage of manpower in any other direction, however basic an industry may be. I think that it is more serious because the biggest shortage, as has been said many times, is the shortage of teachers of mathematics, science and technical subjects. I do not believe that the palliatives which we talk about, the dilution of the profession, going into the highways and byways and bringing into the profession anyone we can get hold of, teachers of 65, 70 and 80 if we can get them, provide the solution. I 746 am materialistic enough to believe that the only effective solution is £ s. d. for the teachers.
We talk about over-sized classes, deferment of National Service and the rest, but the teacher is like anyone else; he wants a decent standard of living for himself and his wife and family, and he cannot get it on the present salary scales. We say that that may attract the wrong people into the profession. We have this argument in many fields. We have it in this Committee. We have it in the nursing profession, and wherever standards are low we excuse ourselves by saying that the conditions are so awful that only those with a sense of vocation will come into the profession. We can carry that too far, and I believe that it has been carried too far in the teaching profession.
Why should not we have a Royal Commission on teachers' salaries. We have it on doctors' salaries. Why the distinction between the doctor and the teacher? I know why. It is because the doctors have a very effective pressure group here, a very effective closed shop in their organisations, and they are united. I wish to heaven that the teachers were united, that they would be a little more militant about these things and would prevent the dilution of their profession, which is undermining their bargaining position. We do not dilute the medical profession or the legal profession or the dental profession. Why should the teachers allow it as a solution of this problem?
I confess at once that this is not an election winner. Education is not an election winner at all. Nevertheless, I believe that it is a hall-mark of responsibility of a political party to say to the people, quite bluntly and frankly, that it intends when it gets power to spend a much larger proportion of the national income on education than we have hitherto thought feasible or desirable. I think that nothing less than double the 3 per cent. which we are spending now will be adequate to meet the situation. I say quite frankly that we have to face the reality of the situation. I do not believe that we are doing so now.
At the end of the debate the Government spokesman will no doubt say what a good debate we have had—very evenly balanced, no party politics, nothing to upset the smoothness of the feeling that 747 has been engendered in the House since Mr. Khrushchev said "Yes". I do not believe that we shall get very far like that. Whether we like it or not, education and the educational system that we build up in this country reflect the economic and social system that we have in the country.
We believe in a society where there is a measure of equality, a measure of dignity for everyone of us, and that that has to be provided for within our educational system. I do not believe that the educational system produces that to any great degree now. I still believe that there are differences, inequalities and injustices in our present educational system which we have to eliminate. I believe that we can only do that by spending an awful lot more of our resources on our educational system than we have done in the past.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, South)
I listened to the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) with very great interest, and I have much sympathy with what he said.
§ Mr. Rankin
On a point of order, Sir Gordon. This is an important debate, at least for the Opposition. Is it not fitting that at least one Minister of the Government should be present on the Front Bench?
§ Mr. Lawson
On a point of order, Sir Gordon. Would it not be in order for you to advise the Whip on the Government Front Bench to see that there are Ministers sitting there to listen to what we have to say?
§ Mr. Clark Hutchison
We have a Minister here now, so everyone will be happy.
In my view, the whole problem of education boils down to two things. One is to have small classes and the other is to have an adequate supply of teachers 748 who are content and happy with their conditions of service. It seems to me that some of our troubles spring from our being too rigid, and this lack of flexibility is the theme behind some of the remarks which I want to make.
The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) has spoken about the supply of teachers, and I want to turn to that subject for a moment. I do not advocate dilution. We must obviously have proper standards, but I think that I am right in saying that first and second-class honours teachers are paid more than those with a third-class honours degree. I doubt the wisdom of that. A man who gets a second-class honours degree may be academically better qualified than a man who gets a third-class honours degree, but that does not mean that he will be a better teacher. We ought to make a clear distinction between purely academic qualifications and professional prowess.
I do not have this touching faith in examinations which some people seem to have. By paying more to those who have first and second-class honours degrees we penalise the man with third-class honours for many years to come. He may find it difficult to become a headmaster or a senior teacher even if he has the ability. As far as I am aware, this is the only profession in which this happens.
If somebody takes the Bar examination and is placed in the third class nobody worries later on. He starts level with the man who was placed first and it is up to him to exercise his skill thereafter. The same applies to medicine. This matters needs careful examination in the teaching profession. It is one of the things which leads to some teachers going to the independent schools, where they do not place such stress on academic qualifications or on the possession of teacher-training certificates.
Apart from this, there are other examples of rigidity showing why people are scared of entering the profession. I know of a girl who is attending Glasgow University. She is a very clever girl who is reading modern languages. The honours course takes five years, and it requires a further year's training to become a teacher. That was too long a time for her and, therefore, she took the ordinary three-year course. If she 749 goes to a teacher-training college afterwards she will have the Article 39 endorsement, but she will be able to teach only in the lower forms of the secondary schools. Why should that be so? If she is good at the job, why should she not teach anybody in the secondary school? It seems to me ridiculous to have these strict rules.
The Appleton Committee recommended that retired teachers should be taken on again and paid full salary and receive their pensions, but the Treasury rules that that cannot be done and that these people must not receive more pay than their final emolument on retirement. This is a ludicrous ruling. I hope my right hon. Friend will look into this and have this idiotic idea of the Treasury changed. While we are so short of teachers, I do not see why we should be bound by these stupid Treasury rules. Surely, it is not beyond our wit to overcome them, temporarily if need be.
I believe I am right in saying that in secondary school a child cannot take the final examination until the five-year course has been completed. Since all the children come in at the same age this makes no allowance for the clever boy. The result is that some of these clever boys leave early. If there were scope for the clever boy to take his examination when he was ready for it, boys of this kind would show far more interest in continuing with their education.
§ Mr. Ross
I do not want the hon. Member to develop his argument on a false basis. I know of a girl in Kilmarnock who graduated at the age of 19. If she completed the course at school and three years at the university, it is obvious that she has been able to obtain at Kilmarnock proper training in relation to her age and ability.
§ Mr. Clark Hutchison
I am grateful to the hon. Member, and I am glad to hear that. I was a seeker after information on this point. I had a notion that clever pupils are held back and have to complete five years, but my right hon. Friend may be able to give me the facts.
I welcome the appointment of the Anderson Committee, which is to look into the system of awarding grants to students entering the universities. The anomalies in the present arrangements are legion. It seems to me that it is very much easier for an English boy or 750 girl to be financially aided and to obtain a place at a Scottish university than it is for our people to go to Oxford or Cambridge or any other English university. I believe that almost any headmaster in Scotland will confirm that.
A strange case was brought to my notice not long ago of an Englishman who had served in the Colonial Service and is now a medical officer at one of the hospitals in Edinburgh. His young son is at school in England, and as he is a clever boy he would probably win a State scholarship, but he cannot compete for one and get financial aid because his father is living in Edinburgh. The regulations do not allow it. All that is complete nonsense. Again, in England if a boy wins a State scholarship his parents receive an honorarium of £50, irrespective of income. That is not the case in Scotland. It seems to me that we in Scotland have been done out of something. I do not like it. I want the system changed. I hope that the Anderson Committee will look into this and will see that justice is done both ways.
Not long ago I had a look round several schools in my own constituency. I am impressed by the new schools and the building that is proceeding. There is no doubt that under my right hon. Friend's reign, education is going forward in Scotland. There are record numbers of new places, and good buildings, and all the masters and mistresses to whom I have spoken seem reasonably well satisfied, particularly with the Edinburgh authorities. I visited a large primary school in my area of 980 pupils and of these only 13 were receiving free meals. That figure speaks volumes for the high standards that we have reached. I very much welcome that evidence.
Many suggestions have been put forward in the course of the debate. I hope that my right hon. Friend will examine them, because he is in a very strong position. He can think and plan a long time ahead, because not only is he Secretary of State now but he will also be the Secretary of State after the next General Election.
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
We are voting today a gross sum of over £57 million for public education in Scotland, and that, we are told, is an increase 751 of £4 million on last year's sum. It is a welcome sign. We are spending more on education, even though some of the increase may merely reflect higher costs and not necessarily an expansion in the services.
In addition to this sum there is the expenditure by local authorities, and when we take that into account I imagine that the total will reach nearly £100 million. There are further grants for science and the arts given to learned and cultural bodies and these amount to the almost frivolous sum of £40,000. I would have liked to make a little diversion into that point, but time is limited now and I shall await another opportunity. There is also the £5,300,000 which we are voting to our universities and colleges in Scotland, and this represents an increase of £544,000.
Those are the sums we are told about in two of the Votes that we are discussing today. These are fairly large sums, yet in my view they are still not large enough. Education needs more. There are, of course, people who question the value we are getting for the money which is being spent. We hear much today of juvenile delinquency, excessive gambling and drinking amongst the young, and various other peccadilloes. We hear this despite all that is being done by the educationists to direct the ways of our young people along proper paths. It is important that we should pause for a moment to look at these accusations, because they are fairly widespread. Many people substantiate them by Government reports, and they derive from those reports, in some cases, the conclusion that our efforts are not always producing happy results.
I am sorry that I cannot divide the statistics I shall quote on a national basis and, therefore, I must give them on a United Kingdom basis. From this point of view, there are just over 3 million youths and girls between the ages of 16 and 21, 250,000 of whom are doing National Service. About 300,000 in those years are still at school, or have gone on to university. The remainder, 2½ million, are at work. Of these, 1,850,000 left school at 15 or 16 years of age and did not rush into dead end jobs with the highest pay. About two out of every five started an apprenticeship on leaving school at the age of 15. Most of the 752 courses on which they are engaged last for five year. They usually entail one, two and, as I know from experience, sometimes three evenings at school, and probably one whole day at a technical institution.
I agree that the proportion varies widely from trade to trade, depending partly on the willingness of the employer to allow time off, and on the need for skilled workers. In engineering and in shipbuilding, nine out of every 10 boys are released for training. In agriculture and the distributive trades the number is only one in 20. Even if we look at the unskilled trades the stories of irresponsible job flitting and rootless juveniles are simply not borne out by the facts. Nearly half the boys who start at 15 are still there at 18, and another third change their jobs only once during that time.
Girls, of course, do less training. Many look at a job merely as an interlude between school and marriage, so a well paid blind-alley job suits many of them. All the same, we must remember that girls and women form a much more stable part of the labour force than many men seem to think. Nearly 3½ million women today, out of the 7 million who are employed in industry, are married, and many of them are not only running a job but are also running a home.
If we look at the other aspect of this problem we find that in 1956 one in 50 boys between 16 and 21 years of age broke the law in one way or another. One in 100 of them was brought to court and found guilty of an indictable offence. By comparison, convictions for drunkenness are relatively few: about 5,000 out of 3 million of our young people, one in 600 per year, are labelled with that offence.
I agree that while these figures are low in my estimation and that of many other people, they are perhaps higher than we would like to see them. Yet I feel that this is a proud record, and it confirms the view of many people that as a result of the efforts of educationists and many others we are rearing in Scotland a race of young people of whom we ought to be proud. They are strong, healthy, clean, helpful, humane, and many of the things we often hear said against them are based on very shallow evidence.
I submit, therefore, that every penny we have spent on education has been repaid to us a thousandfold by the young 753 people of our time, in spite of the fact that they are living in days when the distractions provided by their elders, in foreign affairs and other realms, might reasonably tempt these young people to try to match the irresponsibility of the old.
Having looked at that aspect, let us consider what other things might suitably be tackled; things which lie to hand. Among these I would put, first, the one which has been fairly well canvassed already, the abolition of what is called the 11-plus examination or the promotion test, whichever name we choose to apply to it. This nation strongly opposes a class structure. It opposes the idea of rule by inheritance. As a matter of fact, this party of ours to a large extent, grew and flourished in opposing that idea.
§ Mr. Lawson
A large part of the nation does oppose a class society, but a considerable part does its best to uphold it.
§ Mr. Rankin
Perhaps I was a little comprehensive or over-generous. However, I have made a strange discovery—perhaps it is not a discovery. I have found in private discussions that people who oppose me politically will not defend the idea of rule by inheritance They may support it in public, and they may vote for it, but it is fairly true to say that the majority of the nation opposes the idea. It also opposes the idea of rule by those who merely hold economic power. We therefore have to get rid of those forms of rule, but we should not replace them by an oligarchy which is largely derived from an education system drawing its pupils from a very narrow section of the community.
The 11-plus examination is a class qualification. It is a means of fitting children into a divided society and because of that the children themselves are divided. They grow up accepting the idea of division and believing that they will go into different worlds when they leave school. That idea is wrong. Educational methods must vary, like aptitudes and abilities, but educational purpose must not vary.
I do not deny that some will be harder to educate than others. We have heard much about the late developer. As a matter of fact, the Tory Party has discovered one—the Prime Minister. The newspapers have been full of the surprise 754 in the Tory Party that he turned out to be such a good Prime Minister. They have called him a late developer. He did not develop until he was nearly 60. Hon. Members opposite condemn a child who has not developed at 12 years of age while following a man who is publicly acknowledged not to have developed until he was nearly 60 years of age. I am sure that hon. Members opposite, on reflection, will agree that there is no reason for flinging aside the late developer. If they had flung aside their late developer, goodness knows where they would have been today.
We must appreciate that our standards of life depend as much on the men who work in the mines, the engineering shops and the shipyards as on the honours graduates. If we are to bring this to educational fruition, it means creating a social cohesion which has not yet become apparent in Great Britain. In seeking to create that social cohesion, the Labour Party still has a great job to do, and it will not be fostered by promoting at 11-plus a sense of separateness among our children. They must feel that as they leave primary school they move not into different worlds, but into the same world.
What are we doing towards that? Ideas are beginning to take shape and I cannot spend time examining our own. The idea that we must examine a child at 11 or 12 years of age is astonishing. Why is there this desire to examine a child? How many parents go about examining their children every week, every month or every year? Parents know their children outside in, and perhaps the children know the parents even better.
A teacher with a child every school day of most weeks of every year for two or three years, as may well be the case in a primary school, gets to know a child just as clearly as the parent. It is wrong to disturb that natural development by saying that at a certain time in the child's life there will be an examination which will decide his future for a long time. It may not be expressed in those words, but that is the feeling which is created in the mind of a child.
If we are to deal with this problem, we should have two groups, one secondary school or comprehensive school for children of 11 to 15 and another group of 15 to 18 years of age. 755 The expression "high school" or "secondary school", or whatever it is we agree, should be the only one used. The conception of a junior secondary school and a senior secondary school should disappear from our educational jargon.
In Sweden the authorities are now developing a nine-year common school in three three-year stages from 7 to 16, followed by sixth form colleges for pupils from 16 to 19. In India, there are basic secondary schools for pupils from 11 to 14 years of age leading to high schools for pupils from 14 to 18 years of age. While there is no national system of education in America, there is a common conception of two groups of 12 to 15 and 15 to 18 years of age. Without pursuing the subject, because much has been said about it in other circumstances, similar developments are taking place in. Russia, and by 1960 every boy and girl in Russia will be educated up to the age of 17.
We here are not yet progressing towards that ideal and I want to take two examples from two villages in Scotland, both of which I know very well. One is Strathaven, which has 8,000 inhabitants. As a result of examinations which have been held in the last few weeks in the primary school, one pupil from Strathaven will have the privilege of going to Hamilton Academy for a full secondary education. That is a measure of our advance in Scotland—one pupil from a little town with a population of 8,000 has the opportunity of a secondary education. There is something wrong with that and nobody will defend it. Only one pupil from the town of Kilbirnie will have the chance of getting a full secondary education in Speirs School. That is our system and I am certain that no one can defend that. This is something which we have to alter and we have to alter it on the lines I have suggested.
What must we do next to continue our advance? I would try to deal with the teacher shortage in a way which has not so far been properly tried. I found my cue in the pages of the Observer, a very reputable newspaper of 20th July last. Looking through the advertisements for appointments at home and abroad, I noticed that the Commonwealth of 756 Australia was advertising for a scientific officer, grade III, and have asked for a first or second class honours graduate from this country. The starting salary offered was £1,731—I agree that that means Australian pounds, but I should prefer £A1,731 to the salary I got as a teacher. It rises to £A1,951.
The Industrial Group of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority wants an officer and is offering £1,460 rising to £2,000, and, again, it is seeking an honours graduate. A graduate with first or second-class honours who becomes a teacher, after spending a long time in the profession, will finish with a salary of £1,250. He has an opportunity of starting in industry at a salary equal to if not higher than the salary with which he would finish in teaching. The pressure is for men and women to go away from teaching into the wider world where the opportunities are greater.
If we are to deal with the shortage in the teaching profession, we have to increase the amount of money which we are prepared to pay to bring men and women into the profession. We must give parity of esteem in the public eye with comparable jobs demanding the same qualifications, if we are to get the men and women we need. Otherwise, perhaps we will get those we deserve and we will prove true the forecast in the Report, that the teacher shortage will persist even in 1975.
I have tried to pinpoint what I think are the clamant problems of the teaching profession, the need to try to do away with the class structure which divides our society today and on which teaching is built, the need to bring in men and women who in the public esteem will have a standard matching that of those with equal qualification in industry.
There is one other factor which I want to mention. When, eleven years ago, I raised this matter, Sir John Barlow—
§ Mr. Rankin
The hon. Member is not au fait with the background of this problem. I am talking about the chairman of the Scientific Manpower Committee, who told us then that we needed to accumulate 90,000 science graduates by 1955. We did not get them, because we did not have the instruments for procuring 757 them and that shortage persists today. It follows us into every phase of life, industrial, professional or commercial. One reason is that we did not take the step of providing the means for securing those numbers.
One way of getting those numbers was to build a fifth university in Scotland. That has now become a need more pressing than ever, because we want more technologists. It is felt that a technological university should be able to award its own degrees, as happens almost all over the world, except in Great Britain.
There is a feeling that there is too much emphasis on the training of arts students. That was denied by a former Financial Secretary when I raised the point in December, 1957. It is proved from the report that the number of arts graduates has risen since last year, and that the rise in the number of science graduates has not kept pace with it. If we are going to deal with the problem as fully as we should a fifth university is essential for Scotland, and I hope that the Secretary of State will have something to say on that point when he replies to the debate.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. George (Glasgow, Pollok)
I listened to the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) and followed with interest his discourse upon many aspects of education. He emphasised the desire to end the class structure in education. I agree with him in that, but I would ask him to look into the causes of the maintenance of that class structure. If he did so, he might find that it is the people whom he represents who are causing the continuance of this class difference by not taking advantage of what is provided for them.
I also agree with him about the necessity for central institutions to have the right to award degrees. On many occasions in this House pressure has been put upon the Government to take that step. We know that there is not the same prestige in a Dip. Tech. as there is in a degree, and prestige counts for a good deal in small or, indeed, in large towns. Prestige is an important thing, and the universities have had a monopoly of it, in that they have been awarding degrees for 1,000 years. Why should they not lift their hands and give this privilege to central institutions? It would do a great deal further to swell the numbers attending 758 those institutions in Scotland and elsewhere.
It is now twelve years since the Act which set the pattern of our post-war education was passed, and I want to look briefly at what has been happening and what success we have achieved in carrying out the ideas and ideals of that Act. The idea behind it was that we should educate our children according to age, aptitude and ability and that a secondary education should be provided for all.
In this connection, if we want to judge what progress we are making and what degree of success or failure we have had, we must look at the question of wastage very closely. We start with the 11-plus examination, which the hon. Member for Govan does not like, and which I do not like either, which forms the two final streams of education—the junior secondary and senior secondary streams. That has been achieved. The whole idea was that every child should have a secondary education according to age, aptitude and ability, and it was then considered that the 11-plus examination was the proper method. I am certain it is the best expert educationists can devise. I am sure it is well conducted. But it has upset many homes in Scotland.
I want to ask the Joint Under-Secretary one or two questions about this. We now find that about 30 per cent. of the school population goes into senior secondary schools. Is that a proper proportion? To my mind it must be almost correct, because according to the English figures 20 per cent. go to the grammar schools, 75 per cent. to the secondary modern schools, and 5 per cent. to the senior technical schools. Nevertheless, there is a belief in the minds of many people in Scotland that children are being turned down in the 11-plus examination who ought not to be turned down. It is difficult to convince parents that their children are not just as clever as the ones next door.
The examination papers are not the same in each district, and I wonder whether there is a possibility that a child could fail his examination in Glasgow whereas he might pass it if he sat for it in Edinburgh. There is an impression that because the papers are not standardised there are more failures than there should be. I realise that the provision of standard papers would increase the 759 difficulties still more, but I think that there ought to be some kind of standardisation of papers for this vital examination. Another belief is that some children are held back because of insufficient accommodation in senior secondary schools. It is felt that the number of passes is regulated according to the space available. I should like that suggestion to be denied tonight, if possible.
Much will continue to be said about the 11-plus examination. I have here an extract from a letter which appeared in The Observer which says:The Fairy Tale of Education runs as follows: 'Once upon a time God made three types of children. The Norwood Report discovered what they were. The Ministry put them neatly into three groups—and they all lived unhappily ever after.'
§ Mr. George
That is the lighter side of the question. But we all know that the 11-plus examination creates tension among the teachers in the schools, and among the children and the parents in the homes. There is, unhappily and wrongly, a feeling that a public reflection is cast upon the child who fails. That may emanate from the anxiety of the parents, but that feeling is there. There is no doubt that the examination has been upsetting life in Scotland.
If this examination is quite a good test, but we are going the wrong about it, what is the answer? I have been reading the Labour Party's pamphlet, and I have also been reading the new book to which the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) referred—the symposium by teachers of comprehensive schools in England. I am very attracted to what is happening there. The question of comprehensive schools is not a new one to Scotland; the Scottish Education Department nailed its colours to the mast a long time ago. In its report on Scottish secondary education in 1947 it said:This is the natural way for a democracy to order the post-primary schooling of a given area; that it escapes many of the disadvantages attaching to other forms of organisation; that it mitigates though it does not wholly solve, the vexatious problem of selection and grading, and that, better than any other plan, it promotes the success of the school as a community.760 So it is not new. We know that it is attractive, but we also know that it is contentious. It is a pity that the whole question has assumed a political aspect, because there is no room for politics in education. I am sure that hon. Members opposite are just as keen to see that the best is done for the largest number in Scotland as we are, and that if they were in office they would be turning their thoughts, as we are, to utilising their resources to the limit for the children of Scotland.
We must study the comprehensive school system very closely. We must see what is happening in England, where the vast new experiment is continuing. I cannot believe that we are following exactly the same pattern. I do not think that we have discarded the 11-plus examination for comprehensive schools in Scotland. In those schools in England the 11-plus examination has been discarded, and the children are taken in on the recommendations of the teachers—as Glasgow is now proposing to do.
There is a continuous process of selection all the time, but it is not obvious. The children are not segregated; they are under one roof. According to the headmasters who have contributed to the book to which I have referred, because of the large staff, possessing many and varying qualities and qualifications, it is possible quickly to divide the children into sets and to encourage what is best in each child. A child may be good at English and stupid at arithmetic. That might have held him back in his 11-plus examination, but in the comprehensive school he can hurry forward with what he does best and take more slowly the subjects in which he is backward. These headmasters think that they are producing a far better-educated child, and are doing so in far greater numbers than could be achieved by any other method.
The hon. Member for Fife, West also suggested that for our system of comprehensive schools in Scotland we should produce a similar symposium. It would be valuable for us and for the parents. There is a lot to learn about the matter, and we want to get rid of the 11-plus examination if we can, while being assured that the method of education which we adopt is one which attracts the child and makes it want to stay longer 761 at school than it does now. That is the main success that these schools are having. On page 57 the symposium says:There is ample evidence to show that the able pupils are intending to complete seven years of secondary school study, that the majority will complete five years and that many of the far less able group will be wishing to complete five years also.In another part of the book, it is said that 80 per cent. of the children are staying on to complete the course because of the atmosphere in the new comprehensive schools. That is an astounding figure.
They have not hesitated to switch over to vocational training. They found that young boys who had formerly intended to leave when they reached the age of 15 stayed on to complete the course and became skilled and useful people because they had become interested in vocational work. I have nothing against the comprehensive school, but I would be against a quick start to create them all over the place, if that were the idea. We want more information, however, about what is going on in our own schools.
Whatever we say about the comprehensive school, the present type of school must continue for a long time, and I want to look at what is happening there to see whether it is carrying out the ideals of the 1945 Act. There is no cause for alarm. Things are improving. More children are taking secondary courses and more are going to universities and to central institutions. There is sufficient advance to enable us to be modestly well satisfied. But when we know that in 1957 76 per cent. of the schoolchildren are leaving at 15 years of age, that 86 per cent. have gone at 16 and that 90 per cent. have gone at the age of 17, we know that there is a great deal yet to be done and that we must look at the problem very seriously.
Far too many of our people are being deprived by somebody of the greatest social service that this country has to offer. This position must be investigated closely. The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) said that the main reason was hardship, but I do not believe that at all. There was a day when that was true. The late hon. Member for South Ayrshire told me that he had his biggest letter bag when the 762 school-leaving age was raised to 15 because many of his constituents did not want their children to be left at school for another year. That attitude has to be faced and cured. It is no use shirking it; there is an attitude among the working people of wanting their children to start work as quickly as possible.
There are two traditions in this country which affect the number of children in the secondary schools. One is the tradition in the professional and managerial home, "Our children must go to the university or at least get a leaving certificate." That tradition is not strong enough in the working-class home and we have to make it stronger. We must change the idea that because their fathers and grandfathers were workers, they must be workers. That has to be altered, and it will take a great deal of effort to make the alteration.
It may be that other things play a part in modern developments. Differential between skilled and unskilled too low. Modern attractions and diversions. It may be even that the schools are unattractive and the curricula not interesting. Here is material for research, even expensive research, to find an answer to the question why so many children are leaving the schools and so few finish the courses. We can take it as a certainty that the vast majority of children who leave before they can take the secondary school course are in the lower-income group. That is why I said to the hon. Member for Govan that if he wanted to break down the class structure he should get people to take advantage of the education structure. He should use every moment he has in public to point out that we have a first-class educational system. Thus the hon. Member will go a long way towards breaking down the class system which he abhors.
I admire what the Department has done for publicity. It has done much by poster, pamphlet and guidance. I admire what industry has done to assist the present educational system, but when I see what is done by way of advertisement by the National Coal Board, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force and the vast amount of money they spend in order to publicise the fact that they want recruits I suggest that in publicising education we are not nearly imaginative enough. We must have not only a campaign but an 763 expensive campaign to tell the people, through the medium of the newspapers and in other ways, the advantage which will be derived by their children from our educational system which is there for them to use. Why could we not ask the B.B.C. to play a grand part in such a publicity campaign. Why could they not say on television, "Here is the education system. The future of this country will give scope for educated people. The right way to have a prosperous future is to have an educated population"? Let us do that as quickly as possible.
Let us look at the new challenge to education which did not exist in 1945, I mean the challenge of technology, and let us see how we are doing in that direction. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) once said that the future was to the highly educated nations who alone could handle the scientific apparatus for pre-eminence in peace and survival in war. That was very true. If our nation is to maintain its position in the world and be capable of utilising the magic of scientific advance, it must have more scientists, technicians and technologists.
How are we doing in that respect in recent years? First of all, let us look at the leaving certificates issued, which are the end result of the primary and juvenile stages of education in Scotland. Only 7,000 leaving certificates were awarded in 1955 and about 7,700, a considerable improvement, last year. The one great snag now is that 50 per cent. of that number had only two or fewer highers and were therefore not qualified to go to unnversity. The net result was 3,000 who had leaving certificates of such quality as to give them the entrance qualification for university. There is great room for more work to be done. I welcome the new certificates and the experiments in Fife and Edinburgh, as well as anything which is being don, to get better results out of our system.
What happens after the children go to the university? Are we turning out more degrees and diplomas from our universities and the central institutions, remember, diplomas are equal to university degrees? Here is the position, pressed down to the greatest extent possible. The number of degrees and diplomas issued by Scottish 764 universities and central institutions in 1955 was 3,296. In 1957, that number had risen, not very much, to 3,412. A breakdown of those figures answers the questions of the hon. Member for Govan who mentioned the increase in the number of arts degrees. The number of these degrees issued in Scotland in 1955 was 1,435. In 1957, the number had fallen slightly to 1,400. The degrees and diplomas for pure science and technology combined awarded in Scotland in 1955 numbered 1,079 and last year 1,169; so progress is being made, but not very quickly.
We are moving slowly towards creating more scientists. I have taken the trouble to examine the choice of the new entrants. I find a decided tendency to prefer pure science and technology to the arts and professions. We see the whole scientific and technological population of universities rising slowly, and it is will rise faster as new entrants in the last four years work their way through. Undoubtedly there is in Scotland a trend towards answering the challenge in the universities. Youth is keen on taking its place in this scientific age, and I believe that our universities can equip them. But we never have had enough people in our universities from the lower-income group, from which I come. That is why I would like to see that income group changing its outlook and wishing to see its standard of living changed. There is no indication at the moment that many do. Here is an opportunity not to be missed.
Let me again quote from that remarkable book "The Cost of Education", in which we are warned strongly about being content with statistics. We may say that last year we spent £x on education and this year £x plus £y, therefore our education is better. That can be vastly misleading. The writer tried to find out by a long process of elimination who got the money spent on education, the higher, the middle, or the lower income group. He concludes that the benefit per child from the public education system is two-thirds greater for the child in the middle income group than for the working-class child. The abolition of fees has meant an increase in the subsidies already received by the middle class. Then he makes this striking comment:The home background of aided undergraduates at the university now is, for 765 example, about eighteen times more likely to be professional and managerial than unskilled manual work.That would emphasise that we are leaving a vast reservoir untapped, and we should try with all the force at our command to startle that section of the public into taking action. This is not the fault of the Government. The Government are not failing to provide the education. The people are failing to take advantage of it.
§ Mr. George
They relate to British universities. The author did not divide them up. He had a terrific job to calculate for Britain, but it is very valuable.
I do not want to take up much more time, but I want to say that our educational system is challenged, not only by the technological advance of the age, but by the Russian advance. Yet I would give a warning against being startled, scared or stampeded by numerical comparisons. The hon. Member for Govan has said that by 1960 every child in Russia would be educated up to the age of 17. I have been reading the latest American book, and the author suggests that there is a great gap in the Russian system where there is practically no education at all. Do not let us, therefore, be startled or stampeded by figures.
Let us pursue our own Scottish way, which has been proved throughout the years to be an excellent way to educate our children, but let us do it better than we have ever done before. I believe that we shall get the results, because the spirit is there, if we can only stir it up. The problems of education in Scotland today are manifold, and we have heard them talked about in this debate. There are not enough new schools, the junior secondary school is awaiting a clear definition, and there is the problem of the comprehensive school, all of which must be carefully studied and watched. There are many things waiting to be done.
Therefore, and finally, I suggest to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that he should look into the organisation of his own office in that respect. I 766 suggest that education is now far more important than agriculture, and in the Scottish Office, as I understand the organisation there, one of the Joint Under-Secretaries is solely responsible for agriculture. I suggest a change in that organisation so as to make one of the Joint Under-Secretaries solely responsible for education. We have a Minister of Education in England, and I believe that he has a difficult and heavy task.
I also believe that there is plenty of work in Scotland for the energies of one Joint Under-Secretary. I believe that education, under the present arrangements, is one of many responsibilities of a Joint Under-Secretary. It should not be so. It is too important, and I therefore ask my right hon. Friend to look into his own organisation, and perhaps to make the change which I have suggested, if he considers that it is practicable and advisable.
§ 8.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Hubbard (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I have been hoping to have the pleasure of fallowing the hon. Member for Pollok (Mr. George), but the boot is usually on the other foot. Let me say at once that I could not agree with him more in the great and powerful speech which he has delivered tonight, a speech which many people will do well to read and to study.
§ Mr. Hubbard
I do not want to enter into the political aspects of the matter, because in my view education is not a political matter. It is a matter of interest and concern to the whole country. It is true that in the past education has been a matter of politics, but not a political matter, and I think there is a fine distinction to be drawn between the two. I think that the hon. Member for Pollok has said many things tonight which I shall have pleasure in reading in the future, and perhaps his hon. and right hon. Friends at the Scottish Office would do well to study his speech very closely.
It is significant that nobody who has spoken in this debate tonight has been satisfied, and that is an encouraging and healthy sign. If we ever reach a stage when we are satisfied with education, we shall start to march backwards. One can 767 be hungry for food and be satisfied by a good meal, and no doubt many of my hon. Friends at this moment are satisfying their hunger with a good meal, but hunger for education is never satisfied. If, in fact, we reach that stage, there will not be much that we can do about it. Therefore, it is indeed healthy that all of us today have felt dissatisfied.
We have made progress in education. [...] did not go to school very long myself, but, in the very early part of my political life, one of the most horrible tasks I had to perform, as a member of a school management committee, was to consider whether children should be allowed to leave school at 13, and perhaps sometimes at 12, not because they did not want education, not because their parents did not desire them to be educated, but because the parents were so poor that they had to send them to work to supplement the family income.
The County of Fife, indeed, has always been very progressive in education, and it may be that because the hon. Member for Pollok had his upbringing in Fife it has come out in his speech tonight. Fife is a very progressive county in regard to school buildings and education generally. Indeed, the county education authority of Fife is a living evidence of the advance of education in that part of Scotland. We have travelled a long way from the days when it was difficult to get children to continue their education until 14 years of age.
The reason for my leaving school at an early age had nothing to do with education. Somebody in the neighbourhood had smallpox, and it was considered dangerous for me to go to school. I was allowed to go to work, and so I was employed in delivering foodstuffs. That is one illustration of the reasons for the lack of education at that time. It is true that there was educational opportunity, but there were restrictions on using those opportunities, such as the reason I have just given.
I have never been satisfied that merely because someone has been to a university he is to be regarded as an educated man. In fact, at the end of the day, some of these people sometimes prove themselves to be very lacking in education. I have always believed that the main value of education is the capacity which it gives a 768 scholar to think for himself. That is what education should develop, and not the mere assimilation of facts. Indeed, if that were the end of education, we should be going backwards and never forward. Therefore, I believe that the true end of education is to teach people to think for themselves so that the whole nation may make progress.
If I may now turn to another aspect of this subject, I know that we cannot discuss legislation in a debate like this, but I think we must have some regard to certain legislation in considering what are the opportunities and the chances for the development of education generally. It is in that context that I remind myself of certain legislation which is in course of being passed through Parliament—it has not yet gone through, I understand, but it was recently before this Chamber—and which, in my opinion, and in spite of all that was said about the desire to make progress in education, may put a little brake upon it. I do not think it will be altogether out of keeping with the character of this debate if I refer to the block grant.
The Secretary of State has told us that in order to provide education, we require buildings, teachers and pupils, but to get buildings and teachers we require money. If there is anything at all that is likely to put a brake on educational development in the future, it may well be the difficulty that we are going to have in finding the money for it. I do not believe that the Secretary of State is intending to put any brake on it, but he has indicated to the local authorities the need for greater care in the expenditure of money in view of our present financial position. He has put that into the minds of local authorities which are responsible for education.
In considering this and in considering new legislation local authorities may not be so willing to run risks in regard to expenditure in the future. As a result of legislation which includes the block grant there may be a tendency for those on education committees of local authorities, who have to take greater care of expenditure, to be a little more tight-fisted. We cannot think of development and progress in education and have the idea of being tight-fisted and afraid to spend the necessary money. That is a difficulty I fear may come upon us in 769 the very near future, and it is one to which the Secretary of State should apply his mind.
How would this tendency to restrict expenditure affect education? If local authorities have to be more careful, how can they think in terms of paying salaries which would attract young people to the teaching profession as against going into industry? They will be unable to pay sufficiently high salaries. At the moment, everyone agrees that teachers are paid too small salaries commensurate with the tasks they have to carry out. No one would suggest for a moment that we ought to reduce those salaries. It is not open to local authorities to set salary scales, but this consideration must be in the mind of everyone who is anxious to see further development of education. This tendency may strain the possibilities of local authorities of building new schools and advancing education.
In this debate everyone has spoken about more educational opportunities. Whatever may be the indication at the beginning, it does not always follow that youngsters have those opportunities throughout their educational lives. The hon. Member for Pollok said that he disagreed with the 11-plus examination; so did my hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin). I disagree with it for a variety of reasons. Who can say that every child's mind has developed to a certain point by 11 years of age? All the circumstances are different. The home circumstances may be different and that may be through no fault of the child. It may be that the child developed a sickness just prior to the time he took the examination. He may have been a reasonably clever scholar up to that time, but had become sick on the eve of the examination. He may have become sick through worrying about the pending examination.
There may have been sickness in the child's home or there may have been a removal of his home. A thousand and one things may happen which prevent the child passing the 11-plus examination That does not give the opportunity of getting the best out of our children. In this competitive world that does not provide an opportunity to develop the best brains. Therefore, the 11-plus examination must not be the end of all things at which we aim. The comprehensive school is the most desirable thing.
770 My hon. Friend had something to say about the late development of our present Prime Minister. It may be true that it has been a late development, but it may also be true that my hon. Friend the Member for Govan was a late developer and has just recognised that. We are all ready to sit in judgment on one another, but the fact that we are ready to do so does not mean that we find the truth. Not every child can go on to enjoy the educational opportunities which are provided. The hon. Member for Pollok said that the circumstances in a child's home had a great deal to do with the matter.
The child who passes the 11-plus examination and goes on to further education is not always able to take full advantage of it when there are financial difficulties in the home. Parents have to be conditioned to make sacrifices, if they are necessary, so that the child shall have a proper education. I hope that the Secretary of State will see that whatever else goes by the board in any financial difficulties which arise, education will not. The strongest possible pressure will have to be brought to bear on the Chancellor of the Exchequer so that he will not curb further expenditure for education in the country as a whole and in Scotland in particular.
There was a little skirmish on the other side of this Committee earlier in the debate on the question of St. Andrews University. There has been no skirmish on this side of the Committee on that question. The university has had a great past. Perhaps, in spite of hon. Members opposite, St. Andrews will have a good future. This problem will sort itself out. What I am concerned about is not where the university is, but whether it is sufficiently large to take in all who are capable of going to it wherever it may be. There may be divisions in the minds of people in Fife and St. Andrews as to the locus of the university. There may be disturbance in the town councils, but true educationists will not measure the success of the university by considering where it is, but by whether there are to be restrictions on university extensions.
I join with all who have spoken in appealing to the Secretary of State and the Scottish Office on this question of education. There are none more anxious for education than those of us who have not been able to take full advantage of 771 it and have not had our appetite for education satisfied. In this country no greater investment could be made than in education and educational opportunities
I welcome the educational opportunities which have been given by the National Coal Board and organisations of that type. I hope that attention will be paid to the fact that for those not going in for further full-time education in colleges and universities when they leave school there will be an even change-over from day school to night school and that other facilities will be made available, which will be continued and improved. Then apprentices can be released in order that they may obtain more education and become the best tradesmen in whatever their task may be. We cannot get the best from them if they have left school early unless their education is continued in night schools and by other educational facilities provided for the miner, the engineer, the railwayman, the painter or whatever he may be. Then, even if we cannot say that we have the best in the world, we shall at least provide the best opportunities.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
This has been a pleasant debate. We have had speeches of considerable value; some of which have been surprising from the quarter from which they have come. Perhaps however, it was not really so surprising, for the one man who made a good speech from the benches opposite was the only one on that side who went to an ordinary Scottish school. He certainly speaks with the genuine accent of Scotland.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
I would not like the record to be inaccurate in any way. Of the hon. Members opposite who represent Scottish constituencies, I think that five of them can claim that they went to anything which can be described as an ordinary Scottish school.
§ Mr. Ross
That is not quite so bad.
If I have any complaint to make about the speech of the Secretary of State, it is that it was related far too much to education in Scotland in 1957 when we in this Committee should be concerned with education in Scotland in the coming years. In the Secretary of States's speech there was 772 a justifiable measure of pride that we had done quite well in improvements, in the amount of money we have spent and in the number of places we have provided, and the right hon. Gentleman referred also to technical education and to his hopes for technical colleges.
As I listened, I could not help relating all that to the conditions which we find in, for example, my own constituency. I remember the glowing hopes which were held out over two years ago about the sudden realisation by the Government that something must be done about technical education and that Britain was falling behind. We had reports and programmes, and we in Ayrshire were to have two new projects. Not one of them has been started.
Remembering what we have been told by those who lecture us about the importance of technical education, when it all comes down to the actual building of the place in Kilmarnock, we find that the man who owns the ground in the town, the Lord Howard de Walden, preferred another purpose for the piece of ground on which the education authority would like to build the college. He is, I am sure, interested in the progress of Kilmarnock, which is a great engineering and industrial centre of high promise which so much needs the college, but he is prepared to hold up, and has held up, the progress of the technical school.
The inquiry, however, is now over. The education authority has been upheld. I hope that there will be no further delays concerning this much-needed technical college in the town of Kilmarnock. We are looking ahead to ensure that Kilmarnock plays its full part. When we consider its great industries, built around engineering, it is a regrettable fact that we have no such college in the whole of Ayrshire.
We are told, however, that an interval of three years must elapse from the moment of announcement before anything starts. It will be the spring of next year before anything starts. We cannot congratulate the Government on their sense of urgency and the need for all this delay. We already have technical colleges built. The Secretary of State spoke about one opening in Paisley. Surely, from the experience there, information concerning what is required is already available.
773 In the past fortnight, I have received four or five letters from parents, one of whom offered to send a petition, in connection with a new school which is due shortly to open in Kilmarnock. We have been building many houses there. People have been waiting in these new houses for five years with their young children having to cross to the other end of Kilmarnock, through its busiest streets, sometimes using not merely one bus but perhaps two buses to get to school. A new school has now been built. During its building, somebody in St. Andrew's House had a brainwave that it was not necessary to build the whole school straight-away and that only part of it needed to be built, the other departments being added later. What we discover now, however, is that parents who live in the same street in which the school is built will not be able to get their five-year-olds into the school because there is not enough room for them. I cannot congratulate the Secretary of State on this kind of phased hold-up in education leading to this farcical and frustrating situation. Anybody who has been concerned with the expanding area should have appreciated the kind of situation which was likely to arise.
One parent tells me that her eight-year-old daughter who is being taught in the old grammar school of Kilmarnock, which is miles away through the centre of the town, can now be shifted to the new school, but that another child aged five, who will be starting school, must go over to grammar school or to some other school in some other part of Kilmarnock. This is a fantastic situation and not one for pride.
I remind the Secretary of State and all the education authorities in Scotland of this. We have heard a lot about the responsibilities of parents, but parents still have their rights concerning education. They have the right, which was written into the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, for their children to be educated in accordance with their wishes. However, there is sometimes a forgetfulness of the need to consult parents about what they want and what meets their needs.
The Joint Under-Secretary will remember that last year I raised a point concerning the promotion test and its weaknesses. I was concerned about five children who were turned down by the 774 promotion board for a five-year course. It has been interesting to find out exactly what happened to those children. A new examination was set because there was an overlap of three months and the children had to wait at one school before they began the term at the senior secondary school. One child was regraded and allowed into the senior secondary school. I raised the question of a child who was ill on the day in question and did not have the opportunity to sit the examination. In that and in two other cases, their right being written into the Statute, the parents appealed to the Secretary of State.
It is a shocking state of affairs that when parents accept their responsibilities and exercise their rights and seek to get the full five-year course to which they consider their children are entitled, one of the parents should be deliberately singled out and, in the columns of a local paper with all the inevitable publicity that involves, be pilloried and have his action in appealing to the Secretary of State likened to something which was happening at that time in Little Rock That was not a very high standard of journalism. It did not denote a very great knowledge of what the Education, (Scotland) Act means, and it was not a very good invitation to parents to seek to exercise their rights in the way of education for their children.
There were three children concerning whom an appeal was made to the Secretary of State, but no mention was made in the paper of the other two. One of the appeals was upheld by the Secretary of State. In one case the Secretary of State suggested that the child should go for a trial period to the senior secondary school, but the education authority, having already taken a decision, did not like this suggestion and turned it down. The other child was rejected. The child who was turned down, went to the junior secondary school and did so well that she was transferred to the senior secondary school. I congratulate the Joint Under-Secretary on what he did in respect of these children and for his suggestion to me that it would be possible for children to transfer from one school to the other if they could make the grade.
I feel that we should recognise the weaknesses and unfairness of the promotion system. Even the Secretary of State's actions prove the possibility of 775 injustice. Last year, in thirty-six cases in which appeal was made, in one in every three the Secretary of State allowed the child to go to the senior secondary school.
Let us fully appreciate the importance of this matter. I am worried about what will happen in the next few years, when greater and greater pressure will be put on the secondary schools as the "bulge" passes from primary to secondary school. I have a daughter aged 9. In about two years' time she with others will sit for her promotion test. All children sitting for that examination should be given the opportunity, according to their ability, to benefit from the course, and we should ensure that there will be no limitation on children passing because of lack of senior secondary school accommodation.
We should have an assurance from the Joint Under-Secretary that the position is being watched and that there will be sufficient places for all Scottish children who can benefit from a full senior secondary school education.
I appeal to him to take the advice which has been given to him from all sides of the Committee and set the local education authorities to work now to see how we can make a start on real comprehensive education for the children of Scotland.
In the old days in Scotland everyone in the district went to the same school. That is what gave us the feeling of community sense and equality. One man was as good as the other and each knew the other, for he was educated with him. There has been a break away from that tradition in the past fifty years. It has not been to the good of the nation. We must return to comprehensive education of the highest standard. Only in that way will we reap the social and national benefits from what we are spending on education.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
A few minutes ago I listened to one of the most interesting and remarkable speeches on education that I have heard from the Government benches. I listened to it with such interest and, indeed, with such agreement that I almost felt that it was unnecessary for the Opposition to have a winding-up speaker. The hon. 776 Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. George) made an excellent speech that would have served the purpose.
This has been a most useful debate, and for someone who has sat through it, like myself, it has been a debate that has contributed greatly to our own education. It might be thought rather odd that the House of Commons, in the middle of a great international crisis and on the eve of the Summer Recess, when business is normally congested, should spend two separate nights discussing education. Last night, we were discussing the financing of Scottish education. It might be pointed out that today's debate is part of the agreed share of Parliamentary business that goes to Scotland. No matter what the international situation, if there had been any attempt to deprive us of today, the Government would have found themselves with a revolution north of the Tweed as well as across the Jordan.
Apart from that, I think that it is probably not so silly as it perhaps seems to be spending this amount of time on education. The human race may be foolish enough, in the short run, to blow itself to smithereens, but I am optimistic enough to believe that the cold war is more likely to be resolved in the long run by what might be called a battle of blackboards rather than by a battle of H-bombs. What will matter in the future will be the way that our country competes with other countries in the sphere of increased production and living standards and how it can compete with other advanced countries in helping those who are less advanced both by giving equipment and, above all perhaps, "know-how"; and, thirdly, and perhaps most important, how far a country like ours can inspire other countries of the world who are as yet uncommitted in the cold war with the belief that our democratic way of life is the one that best meets their aspirations.
All these things involve expenditure on education. I use the word "education" firstly, in its narrow vocational sense—in training engineers, craftsmen, doctors, administrators and lawyers. There is a rather snobbish idea that, somehow or other, academic education is non-vocational. Of course, it is nothing of the sort. Academic education is merely an education related to a certain kind of job. It is as vocational as the education of engineers and technicians.
777 But we shall need not only vocational education in its wider sense, but also a genuine liberal education that will teach people the art of living and which will show them how to make use of the greater production that we are all seeking. For these reasons, I think that the more the House of Commons discusses education in the midst of international crises the more far-sighted it is being.
What emerges from the speeches that have been made today? What, for instance, could hon. Members opposite say was the attitude of the Labour Party towards education as a result of the many able and informed speeches made by my hon. Friends? I am reminded of a story about a famous pioneer of American trade unionism, a man called Mr. Sam Gompers, a somewhat salty character. On one occasion a rather pompous university economist said to him, "What, in the field of economics, does the American trade union movement stand for?" Sam looked at him and said, "More". I think that the Labour Party's attitude on education can best be summed up with the one word "more". Indeed, it is not without significance that the first sentence of our educational policy statement, the first chapter of which, I am glad to hear, has been studied with great success by the hon. Member for Pollok and which, I hope, will be read closely by the Ministers responsible for Scottish education, reads:The biggest single fact about our education today is that there is not enough of it.It was interesting to hear from the Secretary of State the figures of expenditure on Scottish education. I think it is fair to say that there is much in them for which the Secretary of State can take credit. There has been a very remarkable increase in expenditure on education in the United Kingdom as the years have gone by since the war, but it is very important to register the point which the hon. Member for Pollok made, that we simply cannot measure whether we are spending adequately on education simply by taking what we spent in 1955 and what we spent in 1957 and doing a subtraction sum.
What staggered me on looking into these things was the discovery that, today, we are spending a smaller proportion of our national income on education—on schooling—than we did in the darkest 778 days of mass unemployment in the 'thirties. We are spending today approximately 6d. in the £ of our national income on education. We were spending a bit more in the 'thirties. I should explain that I am talking about schooling—about teaching people things—not about feeding them in schools, and the other necessary social services which accompany schooling.
I was extremely glad that the hon. Member for Pollok referred to this new book, "The Costs of Education," by Mr. John Vaizey, from whom I have purloined the figures I have just been giving the Committee. Mr. Vaizey has given us a very interesting and, indeed, the first serious account of national expenditure on education in relation to the nation's resources. He says some very flattering, but, I think, well-merited things about the Scottish education system. He notes, for instance, not only that Scotland spends relatively more money on education than is spent in England and Wales, but that Scotland is given a much better account of the money we spend. The Secretary of State and his Department who are so often blamed for things are entitled to the credit from this highly expert source.
Mr. Vaizey notes with warm approval that the annual reports and the accounts of the finances of education in Scotland contain a great deal more information, well laid out in one comprehensive, accurate document, than is contained in similar documents from the English Ministry of Education. Mr. Vaizey even commends the Reports of the Scottish Education Department for their clarity, eloquence and wit. I am not sure that I personally would go quite as far as that, but no doubt all things are relative, and if I studied the Reports of the Ministry of Education as much I would find myself falling off my chair with laughter as I read the comparative wit of the Scottish Education Department's Reports. This is the Scottish tradition of considering education important. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) was speaking of this eloquently just a few minutes ago.
But Mr. Vaizey's findings make it clear that although we can be proud of our Scottish tradition in education we have absolutely nothing to be complacent about. The fact is—and he works this out very carefully—that during the next 779 ten years to 1968 it is likely that the national income of this country may go up by about 30 per cent. Mr. Vaizey concludes that even if we raise the school-leaving age to 16—and it is by no means certain that it will happen in the next ten years—the education exenditure of the whole United Kingdom, which, I think, is clearly reflected in Scotland, is likely, on present trends, to go up by about only 10 per cent.
I have no doubt that whoever is Secretary of State in 1968 may be tempted to say, in the annual debate on Scottish education, "We are spending today 10 per cent. more than we did ten years ago." The fact is that in 1968 we shall be spending on education a considerably smaller proportion of our national income than we are now, unless we take the decision now, or very soon, that we will commit ourselves as a nation to push up this expenditure on the ground that it is one of the finest national investments we could have.
This, I think, is the reply to some hon. Members opposite who are constantly grumbling about the way the expenditure on education goes up. We all recollect the speech made by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley) in the earlier part of the proceedings on the Local Government and Miscellaneous Financial Provisions (Scotland) Bill, when he made it quite clear that his hope was that that Bill would cut what he regarded as the extravagant education expenditure.
I notice that to many hon. Members opposite the proposals in the Labour Party's education policy seem to be more than the nation can afford. The real question, of course, is whether the nation can afford to do without that increased expenditure on education. While we gladly pay tribute to the Government for their announcement, for instance, that many more school places have been provided this year as compared with the number provided last year—it is a record number—we do want to issue this warning: we are dealing with the 1957 Report, but we are looking forward to the future and to what the expenditure will be in 1958, 1959 and 1960. We are not at all confident about the future. We have had these long proceedings on the Local Government and Miscellaneous Financial Provisions (Scotland) Bill and they have 780 not removed our fears that the result of this may be to slow down the rate of increase of educational expenditure in Scotland.
The Secretary of State's own Report, on page 51, does make some reference to the future and it is disturbing. It says that:Towards the end of the year it was found necessary to stabilise capital investment in 1958–59 and 1959–60 at the level of 1957–58.It goes on to make the point thatImprovements to and replacements of existing schools were restricted to projects which were urgent and essential.When the Secretary of State himself came to deal with this he said to the Committee, as if he were really making a very precise and concrete pledge, that he would guarantee that so far as school building went every necessary job would be started as soon as it was ready.
If we examine these words carefully, they are neither precise or concrete, and they would give a great deal of scope to any administration which wished to hold up school building. I hope that this is not so, but it would be very helpful if the Minister who is to reply to the debate would give us a more firm assurance than we have had from the Secretary of State.
I have said that the basic approach on this side of the Committee to the question of Scottish education is that we ought to have more of it. That, by itself, is not nearly enough—although it is not a bad start for any Government. It is necessary, however, to say what we want more of and in what order. I think that the consensus of opinion on both sides of the Committee during the debate has shown that the thing people want more of most quickly is teachers. I am sure that this is right. In their own way the teachers are more important than new buildings, although I am not for one moment deprecating the new building side of things. There are many famous schools, which hon. Members opposite have attended, which have been famous schools for a very long time in somewhat infamous buildings. Good teachers with small classes in our schools are better than bad teachers with large classes in nice, new, shining schools.
Teachers are, therefore, the first priority. I hope that the Government will pay close attention to the many important points made by my hon. 781 Friends on this side of the Committee, and, in particular, to the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), in her opening speech. They have pointed out that we ought to be able to increase the supply of teachers by better grants at the school level, by more deferments from National Service for candidates for the teaching profession, and so on. I am sure that these are the major matters in approaching this problem, but I want to say a brief word about another line of approach.
I think that it is also important to try to convince the members of the teaching profession that they are being given an opportunity to acquire a higher degree of self-confidence and self-respect than some of them seem to have been enjoying during recent years. The reasons for this are complicated and the solutions, I know, are not easy. Certainly, the first responsibility is with the teachers themselves. Teachers are by far the best recruiting agents for the teaching profession and they can also be the worst recruiting agents for the teaching profession. I know many devoted teachers whose example would encourage young men or young women to go into the teaching profession, but, like everyone else, I have met other kinds of teachers as well.
This brings me to the draft regulations for teachers' training colleges, which shortly will be before the House of Commons and which have been mentioned by a number of speakers. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) that it is a great pity that these regulations deal only with administrative and financial changes and not the actual substance of teachers' training. The two things should go together. But the regulations by themselves are related to the problem which I am discussing. They raise the question, for instance, of teachers' participation in their own training arrangements. I am glad that the new arrangements increase that participation but, speaking personally, I doubt whether they go far enough.
I am sorry to see that one of the changes is to drop any teaching representative from the central institutions, at a time when technical education is so important. This seems to me a retrograde step. I hope that attention will be paid to it and that at least the Secretary of 782 State, in the appointments made under his direct patronage, will put that matter right. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs was also perfectly right in saying that there was a tremendous lack of fermentation of new ideas in the teaching profession in Scotland. That is one of the reasons why it is less attractive than otherwise it might be to new candidates. The training colleges have an important responsibility for this and the comments which my hon. Friend quoted from the Professor of Education at Edinburgh University must have the closest attention.
I gather from teachers who have come into the profession recently through the special recruitment scheme, and, therefore, as adults, that their impressions of the training colleges are not very happy. They say that they are treated there as senior schoolchildren. They say that it is like going back to the upper classes of senior secondary schools. I know several who now make excellent teachers, full of enthusiasm, who have said that they went into the course of full-time study at training colleges with a great deal of intellectual zest which was very quickly extinguished by the narrow intellectual atmosphere that exists in Scottish training colleges. If something can be done to improve that situation, Ministers will do a notable service.
We have had an interesting discussion of the problem of wastage in our schools. The contributions made to the debate have revealed to us, certainly to me, that the problem is a great deal broader than we generally conceive it to be. Normally, it is thought of in terms of senior secondary school children. The type of wastage that takes place in the five-year course is important but equally, if not more important, is the fact that large numbers of children leave school about 15 years of age, mainly from the junior but also from the senior secondary courses, and are not given the opportunity or encouraged to carry on some sort of part-time further education. There is very considerable wastage amongst our young people in that direction.
I know that the Scottish Education Department does a great deal more now than it did in the past in terms of publicity. Could not something more be done? The Scottish Office had a spectacular success in recent years in combating the tuberculosis scourge in 783 Scotland by means of national campaigns in different localities in which the support of the Press, of the radio and television, of the local authorities and medical authorities was secured. Could not something be done, area by area, to get at the parents of school-leavers and at the school-leavers themselves to try to persuade them to make the best possible use of their aptitudes and abilities? If something could be done to dramatise the whole business of making the best use of the talents and skills of our young people it would be immensely useful.
I believe, also, that the comprehensive type of school, which has been much discussed during our debate, makes a valuable contribution towards reducing wastage in our schools. One of the reasons why children leave school earlier than they would otherwise do is that they get into the wrong course at the 12-plus examination. They go to a junior school and develop abilities which do not get a proper outlet there. Similarly, children go to a senior secondary school and find that the course does not suit them. There is a great deal of educational evidence that the comprehensive school greatly reduces the wastage caused by children leaving school earlier than they should.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pollok in his astonishment that the comprehensive school should still be a matter of such controversy in Scotland. I listened with great interest to the speech made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) on the comprehensive school. He told us that it was a sympathetic speech, but he had a great many critical things to say about the comprehensive approach to education. I was becoming more and more puzzled, because in my recollection the hon. Baronet was one of the signatories of the 1947 Advisory Council Report, which was quoted by the hon. Member far Pollok and which stated, with the great authority that the Council commands, that the comprehensive type of education was the most suitable for secondary schooling.
I do not understand why hon. Gentlemen opposite feel in any doubt about this. Most of them—the hon. Member for Pollok is a notable exception—do not know a great deal personally about 784 Scottish education, because they did not themselves attend Scottish schools. But all are experts on comprehensive education, because almost all attended the great public schools of this country which are comprehensive schools.
I hardly expected that the Report of the Advisory Council on Secondary Education would carry a great deal of conviction with some hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I cannot resist telling them that I have here a more authoritative, and perhaps a more persuasive voice, from their point of view. It is a recent issue of the Taller & Bystander, which contains an article on Scottish schools. There are photographs of Mr. Speaker and of the Lord Chancellor, who are both distinguished former pupils of Watson's College, in Edinburgh. The article states:To an Englishman, however, the most astonishing thing about these Scottish schools is that most of them are comprehensive. In many of the Scottish schools boys enter at as early as five or six and go through the various forms in the same school until their schooldays end. There is no Eleven-Plus thumbscrew. Courses are provided for each according to his capacity; the scientists and the Latin versifiers benefit from the company of the athletes and vice versa. In the result the schoolboys' talents are developed in a singularly harmonious way.I could not put the case for the comprehensive school more persuasively to hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Mr. Thomson
I was going on to say, in the moment or two left to me, that although hon. Gentlemen opposite believe in comprehensive schooling for themselves and for their own families, and although they believe in comprehensive schooling for those who can afford to pay for a private education, many of them rather inconsistently seem to advocate segregated schooling for the great mass of the people. They seem to forget that the old school tie is, in fact, the old comprehensive school tie.
The Scottish tradition of education is an egalitarian tradition of which we are legitimately proud, but it has its citadels of privilege still, and one of the things that disturbs us at this time, with the tremendous need for increased scientific education, is that the differences between one type of education and another in 785 Scotland seem to be widening rather than narrowing. I hope that this may turn out not to be so, but there is a real danger of it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs mentioned private enterprise funds that are now pouring into some of the independent and grant-aided schools in Scotland. We are very glad to see industry helping the educational system in this way, but if this happens by itself at a time when there is any risk at all of a slowing down of Government expenditure on State-aided schools, in terms of scientific provision, it will be very serious.
We are moving into a period when more and more children are leaving our schools. I am told that there are to be about 1 million more children in the next few years leaving our schools than in the few years which have just gone by. They are a tremendous challenge to us, but they are also a tremendous problem and obstacle within our school system as it stands today. They are our real national wealth. Their potential brains and talents are an increment in our national wealth which will never come again.
In addition, we have a personal responsibility to each of them, because these young people will come out of the schools to go into the institutes of further education in greater numbers and at a time when there is not the capacity for them. Unless we take drastic and energetic action, these young people, during a previous period of their lives which can never be repeated for them, will lose the opportunity of the education which should be their birthright. If we can rise to this opportunity, it will give us great national rewards. If we fail to rise to it, it will be a national disaster.
What we need above all, not merely from the present Government, but from a whole series of Governments, one after the other, is a commitment to spend an increasing proportion of our national resources on education as our most essential form of national investment in this modern age.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Niall Macpherson)
It would not be possible to begin a winding-up speech with more sincerity than I have on this occasion in saying that this 786 has been an inspiring debate. Hon. Members from all sides of the Committee have made notable contributions. The debate has shown two noteworthy Scottish characteristics, first, a deep interest in education, and, secondly, in the words of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Hubbard), that nobody has been satisfied.
That is a very good thing and a typical Scottish characteristic. We are never satisfied with anything but the best. It has been said with truth that we have made progress, but there are certainly things which need to be put right. I am certain that when the hon. Member said that nobody was more anxious for education than those who had never had their appetites satisfied, he was speaking from his own point of view, because I am sure that everybody on this side of the Committee is equally anxious for education.
The point has several times been made that if we are to get the best out of our educational system, we must make it known. My hon. Friend the Member for Pollok (Mr. George) made that point very strongly. We are doing quite a lot to make what we are doing known. Among other things, we have started an exhibition, called "Schools Today", which is designed to bring the teacher and parent together, to bring them to co-operate in the interests of the education of the child. Its purpose is to bring home to the parent the opportunities in education, so that the parent may be able to co-operate with the school in doing the best it possibly can for the child.
Before going further, I want to refer to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson). Together with my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart), I regret the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland. He is quite entitled to state one side of the case, so long as he realises that it is one side of the case. I think that he will give credit to my right hon. Friend for setting up the proposed inquiry with the object of eliciting all the facts. I shall resist the temptation to try to balance the matter by stating the other side of the case, because the inquiry itself will bring out the facts. A representative of 787 the University Grants Committee will no doubt be there and be able to state the point of view of that Committee on this matter.
I particularly regret my hon. Friend's suggestion that an advocate should not be appointed because he would do his best for his client, his client being my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland—that was the implication. My hon. Friend suggested that it should be a judge. Most judges have been advocates not so very long ago and are not very different persons from what they were when they were advocates.
§ Sir D. Robertson
There is all the difference in the world between a barrister who is fulfilling his proper function of doing the best he can for his client, and thus earning his livelihood, and a judge who is above that and who has been especially selected for his impartiality. There is all the difference in the world, and no mouthing of words will convince me otherwise.
§ Mr. Macpherson
Under our practice, the Secretary of State sets up an impartial inquiry and appoints an impartial person to carry out the inquiry. Naturally, that impartial person has to be paid for his services. I think that I had better leave it there, but I hope that my hon. Friend will accept the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East and not aggravate the situation in the meantime, since this impartial inquiry is to be carried out.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
Will the Joint Under-Secretary bear in mind amidst all these difficulties the need to make haste with a decision to get the extra university accommodation which is urgently required?
§ Mr. Macpherson
We shall certainly make all the haste we can, but there are steps laid down by Statute and time is required for each step laid down.
I would like to pass from that to two matters which have been raised at considerable length. The first is the question of the proportion of pupils allocated to senior secondary courses. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have raised this matter. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) asked for an assurance that there would be enough places for those who wished to get into 788 the senior secondary schools. As the Committee knows, in Scotland over 30 per cent. of the pupils are allocated to senior secondary courses, the proportion varying from 20 per cent. in some areas to 45 per cent. in others. I think it can be said that very few, if any, children who have any chance of succeeding in a senior secondary course are debarred from it. In no area is there any restriction on entry to senior secondary courses because of the shortage of accommodation.
§ Mr. Macpherson
As the hon. Member knows, the emphasis in our building programme at present is upon the building of secondary schools, in order to absorb the bulge.
The controversy about the 11-plus examination is really an English one. In Scotland transfer takes place from the primary to the secondary school or department a year later than in England, and there are sufficient places in all areas for all children who can profit from a senior secondary education.
Comprehensive schools have been common in Scotland for many generations, as hon. Members have said. They are mostly in country districts, but there are some in towns. On the question of promotion a great deal of thought and experiment is going on. As long ago as 1952, Midlothian started to make experiments of this sort and it has stuck to them. It has been followed by Stirling and also Edinburgh, where attainment tests do not form part of the selection test but are among the factors taken into account in the teachers' estimates. Perhaps I should add that in Scotland it is never a question only of passing a test; the primary teachers' scaled estimates of the ability of each pupil are also taken into account and intelligence tests are taken in two successive years. The common attainment test in English and arithmetic forms part of the test except in the areas that I have mentioned and in Glasgow.
789 In Glasgow, which is far and away our biggest area, under a new scheme approved in March, 1958, pupils will in future take no standardised attainments tests, but will be allocated to the appropriate secondary course by panels of the headmasters concerned, on the basis of the ability of the pupils and their aptitudes as revealed in normal class work, plus the result of the intelligence tests and the expressed wishes of the parents. That is a very interesting development which has arisen out of an experiment carried out in one part of Glasgow, and it is now being extended to the whole of the City.
§ Miss Herbison
I am afraid that the hon. Member does not quite understand our point of view. Our complaint is not against the 12-plus examination, or about the form of selection done by the various methods he has described. Our complaint is against the segregation that takes place, upon whatever basis.
§ Mr. Macpherson
I was coming to that point. The point that I was dealing with has been made by several of my hon. Friends, and I was coming to the whole question of the comprehensive school.
Our attitude is well known. It has always been that, while we endorse the general preference for the comprehensive school expressed in the Advisory Council's Report on Secondary Education, we consider that each case must be treated in the light of local circumstances. I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) say that local authorities must have the decision in this matter. That is also our view.
In some places the comprehensive school is already established as the only economical method of providing for the secondary education pupils in the community, but in other areas secondary education is organised in terms of long-established and successful senior secondary and junior secondary schools. In our view there are no grounds for seeking to alter either system, if the education authority concerned is satisfied that it meets its needs, and if it wishes to continue with it.
Many points have been raised in favour of the comprehensive school, but it is worth while mentioning one or two on the other side.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The hon. Member said that the Government were renouncing 790 leadership in this matter and were leaving it to every authority, even those which are not really enterprising—I will not call them stupid. They can carry on, whatever the effect on the children, and leadership is being taken away from the Advisory Council and the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Macpherson
I was saying that the needs of each particular case had to be considered. Undoubtedly it is for the local authority to consider that in the first place. I did not say it had only to be considered by the local authority. Of course, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Department is in the closest touch with local authorities all the time and they are working together in this matter.
There are certainly things to be, said for the junior secondary school, and this in particular. It is possible in a comprehensive school for the less able pupils to sit back and not take the full part, whereas if they were in a junior secondary school they could be encouraged, no doubt, to take a very much greater part in the activities of the school. That is one of the possibilities.
There is also the fact that so much depends upon the headmaster concerned. If we have an academically-minded headmaster in a comprehensive school his interest will almost certainly be concentrated on the academic side of the school and the other side may not be developed to the full extent possible. On the other hand we may have a headmaster in a junior secondary school concentrating entirely on new ideas for education in junior secondary schools and on the placing of these pupils in jobs after they reach the school-leaving age. All I would say is that this is not a matter on which I think it right to be dogmatic. All cases should be treated entirely on their merit.
I was asked by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) about the building programme. He was concerned about what was to happen in the future. Let me expand what my right hon. Friend said, as the hon. Member asked me to do. The economic measures that were taken in the autumn of last year made it necessary to postpone projects which were designed solely to replace and improve existing schools unless they were 791 urgent and essential, for example, to safeguard the health of pupils or staff. Replacements and improvements were approved where there was clear evidence that they were necessary and where the replacement of old buildings would be more economical than reconstruction. Where reconstruction and extension of buildings were necessary, opportunity was taken to bring all the accommodation up to a proper standard.
I repeat that the economic measures have not entailed any cuts or rephasing of the building programme, apart from the postponement of desirable but not essential replacement and improvements. All projects brought forward by education authorities as necessary have been allowed to go forward. Building programmes approved are almost invariably smaller than they were when submitted because education authorities, not unnaturally, are apt to be a little optimistic as regards timing. The authorities have been told that if they can start more projects than have been approved, it is open to them to come back for additional authorisation. Some have already done so and been given the additional authorisation.
§ Mr. Macpherson
That is a point on which I should be glad to write to the hon. Gentleman. I am afraid that I have not the answer now, but I thank him for bringing it to my attention.
I would pass from that subject to the point raised by the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) who asked a number of questions about universities. I should say right away that the curricula and the method of entry are entirely matters for the universities themselves.
The hon. Member asked about the expansion programme in universities and whether we were to increase our proportion alongside the rest of the Kingdom. Our proportion of students at the present time is 16½ per cent. of the total. It is expected that that proportion will remain. 792 Whether or not that necessarily means that we shall have the same proportion of the total expenditure is a different matter and involves a relativity which it is difficult for me to go into.
It would be very well worth while if I were to give the Committee the figures of expenditure on education. The recurrent expenditure on universities in the quinquennium 1947–52 was £9,890,000. In the period 1952–57 it was £18,770,000 and in 1957–62 it is calculated that it will be of the order of £26 million, plus alterations that have since been made because of improvements in the salary scale.
The non-recurrent expenditure in Scotland was £2,820,000 in the quinquennium 1947–52, and is £1 million in this year alone, so that we can say that the expenditure on the universities is doing all that we can expect to match up to the need to give all who are capable of profiting by university education the chance of receiving it. We are more fortunate in this respect than in England, for a number of reasons, and a much higher proportion of people go to universities in Scotland than is able to go to universities in England.
I was asked about a fifth university by the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin). In a sense, we have five universities, because we have the Royal College of Science and Technology, which ranks very nearly as a university. Indeed, arrangements have been made with Glasgow University so that many students of the College can receive degrees of Glasgow University under the affiliation arrangements.
§ Mr. Macpherson
No, I have no time left to give way, and I want to give the Committee these figures.
The proportion of students in Scotland who take science at these five institutions has risen from 11.4 per cent. in 1938–39 to 19.1 per cent. in 1957–58. In technology, the proportion has risen from 8.9 to 17.2 per cent.
§ Mr. Rankin
Surely the hon. Gentleman will agree that he is not stating the case quite fairly—I will not say more than that—when he seeks to create the 793 impression that the Royal College of Science and Technology in Glasgow ranks as a technological university?
§ Mr. Macpherson
Certainly it does in its prestige, which has risen very high indeed, and these arrangements which have recently been made will help in that direction.
The question of the teacher shortage is a very formidable one. It is one that has been with us for a very long time, and I feel that I must remind the Committee that this is not peculiar to the teaching profession. There was a time when graduates went out to look for jobs, but now the jobs go and look for the graduates. It is by no means easy to meet the shortage of teachers at the present time. Undoubtedly, there are troubles, and no one would seek to disguise them, in the teaching of mathematics and science, but we are doing all we can to reduce them.
In answer to the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan), I would say that the figures regarding the shortage of teachers which are given in the Report include the reassessment of Glasgow's shortage, so that the position is no worse than he thought it was. Another question he asked me was about grants to students in training under the special recruitment scheme, and we are now making arrangements to increase the grant under the special recruitment scheme by 15 per cent.
I have been asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East and other hon. Members whether we would be prepared to put the whole question of comprehensive schools and promotion to the Advisory Committee. That is something we have very much in mind. As hon. Members know, the Advisory Committee is still engaged on other matters concerning the recruitment of teachers, but it will shortly be available for a further remit.
While I have not been able to cover anything like all the questions that have been raised, I hope that what I have said will assure hon. Members that, what- ever the shortcomings of Scottish education may be, it cannot be charged with apathy or inertia. Several hon. Members have talked about lack of ideas, but we should think of what is going on just now. We have the whole development of junior secondary schools, the junior 794 leaving certificate and the development of the fourth year leaving certificate. We have new arrangements for teacher training colleges and consideration of the principles of bursary awards. We shall have an opportunity of considering that later. The whole principle of bursaries is being reviewed at the moment and the other Anderson Committee is looking into the recruitment of teachers for technical education.
All concerned with education are inspired, I am convinced, with a questing spirit at present. Established practices and institutions are being, and will be, examined to see what changes are needed to ensure that they will serve the generations now in our schools and colleges, or about to enter them, as well or better than they served their predecessors. Ministers, education authorities and teachers alike—we shall all have many problems with which to contend, but we have solid ground for satisfaction in recent achievement and for confidence in the prospect that lies ahead.
My right hon. Friend spoke of the progress in actual building done and said it was 19 per cent. up on last year. For the financial year 1957–58 the work done exceeded that done in 1955–56 by over one-third and the projects completed were more than double as much in value. The cost limit per square foot in new schools provided, fixed at £3 6s. five years ago, is still being generally achieved despite the need to exceed it in remote places. Indeed, the average cost worked out at £3 4s. 5¼d. in 1956–57. This is not due to parsimony or reduction in standards. It is because authorities are growing more skilful, contractors are more competitive in their tenders, and all concerned are playing their part.
Progress in education is not to be measured solely nor mainly in terms of bricks and mortar, but in rising standards of human achievement in the schools. It is difficult to measure such progress in terms of statistics, but figures can at least give some confirmation of trends which we would all welcome. We have all been anxious to see more pupils at junior secondary schools completing the three year course; 2,500 more completed it in 1956–57 than two years before, an increase of 12 per cent. We have all been anxious to see more pupils going on and completing the five year course; 680 795 more completed it than two years ago, an increase of 11 per cent. We have all been anxious to see more pupils staying on to 17; The proportion of 17-year-olds at school to the total age group has risen from 6.7 per cent. in 1954 to 9.1 per cent. in 1958. We have all been anxious to see more pupils sitting the Scottish Leaving Certificate. In round figures, the numbers have increased from 8,000 to 9,000 in two years.
We have been anxious to see more teachers. The more pupils that stay on at school and the more we can remove financial impediments preventing individuals from going on to complete their education at universities, the more teachers we shall recruit. We have removed some of the impediments in the bursary regulations last year. We are now making further adjustments. The number of teachers entering teaching from school and university is higher today than it has ever been in normal times.
§ Mr. Macpherson
It is not high enough, but the Special Recruitment Scheme is also succeeding in providing a valuable addition. All this is evidence of real and steady progress. Our object in education must be nothing less than to enable each boy and each girl to develop their talents and character to the highest level they are capable of attaining, so that all may live good and happy lives in tune with their surroundings and to the benefit of the community, of the nation and of mankind.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That a sum, not exceeding £58,952,008, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1959, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in the following Civil Estimates, viz.:—