HC Deb 19 June 1958 vol 589 cc1287-8
8. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Education what estimate he makes, in planning the recruitment of teachers and the size of the school building programme, of the period in which he aims to reduce the sizes of primary and secondary classes to maxima of 40 and 30, respectively.

Sir E. Boyle

My right hon. Friend cannot add anything to the Answer he gave the hon. Member a week ago.

Mr. Swingler

Surely the Minister must take into account some estimate when he makes his plans for the number of teachers to be trained and the size of the school building programme. Does he not take into account any idea at all of the period when he is aiming to reduce the size of classes? Otherwise, how does he calculate the number of teachers required year by year?

Sir E. Boyle

One cannot plan the supply of teachers as though we were living in wartime and dealing with scarce raw materials. If we are to achieve, as we hope we shall, classes no greater than 40 in primary schools and no greater than 30 in secondary schools by the second half of the next decade—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—even then we shall still need an increase in the teaching force of between 25 per cent. and 30 per cent. If we are to achieve classes not greater than 30, the all-round increase needed would be 40 per cent. It behoves all hon. Members on the other side of the House to be realistic about these figures and not to give unwise promises.

Mr. Stewart

The calculation of a possible date was made a little while ago by the National Advisory Council. Since then, the Minister has taken certain steps about the supply of teachers. Can the hon. Gentleman tell us to what extent he thinks that the steps taken will bring the target date nearer than the Advisory Council calculated?

Sir E. Boyle

My right hon. Friend made it clear that the expansion which he has already put in hand represents only a first instalment, but I remind the hon. Member, as he knows very well, that all the time we must reconsider our calculations in the light of new figures and trends that reveal themselves. It is no good adhering to a plan which statistics make out of date. I should have thought that hon. Members opposite would have learned that from their own plans in 1947.