HC Deb 15 May 1959 vol 605 cc1632-49

2.19 p.m.

Mr. J. Idwal Jones (Wrexham)

I should like to draw the attention of the Minister of Education to the inadequacy of his proposals for the expansion of teacher training colleges in Wales, and to try to persuade him to adopt a more flexible attitude towards this most important question at this critical period in the history of training colleges in the Principality. I can assure the Minister that his policy at present is causing no little disquiet and a considerable amount of perplexity and dissatisfaction among the leaders of educational thought in Wales, and among people responsible for educational expansion in the Principality who know the problem from within and whose opinions deserve the fullest consideration.

We are all very familiar with the general background. The Minister was advised that 16,000 extra places in the teacher training colleges of England and Wales were necessary. He decided upon 12,000 extra places. I am not concerned with that decision this afternoon. The general policy decision falls outside the scope of this debate. I am concerned with the application of that general policy as it affects the teacher training colleges of Wales.

Having decided upon a 50 per cent. increase in training college places in England and Wales, it must have appeared reasonable to the Minister to regard Wales as a convenient administrative region and so apply the 50 per cent. principle to the Principality. That, I believe, is where the Minister has gone wrong. On the face of it, I admit that it appears to be a reasonable line of approach. Indeed, the Minister may claim that he has erred, if anything, on the side of liberality, because he has given us between 51 and 52 per cent. extra places. That, however, is neither here nor there.

It is because I do not accept that the Minister's approach is correct that I sought this debate today. I do not want to make extravagent claims about Wales, but it is only right that one should make claims which are true. I wish to state most strongly that our educational expansion is in the best traditions of the Principality. In education, Wales has shown the way on more than one occasion and we hope that she will do so again. Indeed, the story of education in Wales is one of the most romantic chapters in our national history. It has a significance of its own.

We have never had patronage from above and I am proud to say that we do not believe in patronage from above. That is why we do not have many public schools in Wales and the public schools in Wales are really foreign bodies. Educational achievements in Wales have resulted from an urge from below. For 300 years. this urge has been expressing itself in different ways and forms, eventually culminating in the secondary school system in 1889 and the training colleges and University of Wales.

The ordinary people of Wales believed in education. Down to the present day, parents have been, and are, prepared to endure untold sacrifices so that their children might have higher education. It is one of the grandest and most challenging epics of modern times. Only too often, generation after generation of the youth of Wales have had to sharpen the swords of their intellects on the memorial stones of their fathers. I am not exaggerating in making that statement. That is why young men and women flocked to the university colleges and the training colleges of Wales when only two professions were open to them. teaching and preaching.

I have heard Wales described in different ways at different times in this House. Last year, we had a debate on harp strings and Wales was described as the land of song. Recently, we had a debate on Welsh affairs and Wales was described as the land of sheep and cattle. I hope we are not quite as bad as that. Culturally and professionally, up to the Second World War, it would be appropriate to call Wales the land of teachers and preachers. Since the Second World War, the bias is towards teaching.

No one can deny the distinctive contribution which Wales has made both in quality and in quantity to the teaching staffs of England and Wales. The facts are well known. Wales has a population of only 5.5 per cent. of that of England and Wales. Wales supplies 11 per cent. of the teaching staffs of England and Wales. Eleven per cent. of the students of the training colleges of England and Wales come from Wales. This fact suggests at least that the Principality, I am very proud to say, has the gift of teaching. The Minister would be well advised to pay special attention to this fact and give to it the weight which it deserves when making his allocations.

It is against that background that I suggest that the Minister should reconsider his allocation of extra places. We have in Wales a fund of potential teachers. The tradition is there, the keenness is there and the interest is there. Are we to be deprived of the training? The conditions are unusually favourable, yet although we supply 11 per cent. of the teaching staff of England and Wales, we arc offered only 7 per cent, of the extra places.

I should like to make one proposition. It would be reasonable to expect that there should be sufficient training college places in Wales to supply the needs of Wales. That is a very fair proposition to begin with. I believe the corollary to be true also, that pupils in the secondary-grammar schools of Wales should have a reasonable chance of entering a Welsh training college if they so desire. I do not for one moment suggest that all Welsh students should be taught in Welsh training colleges or that Welsh training colleges should be closed to students from England. We do not seek to set up a pedagogic curtain between the two countries. Education of all things should break down the middle wall of partition between countries and peoples. We want a free movement across the border. The principle of interchange of training facilities is understood and conceded. At the same time, I want the Minister to concede that there should be a balance. It is that balance which does not exist at the present time. It could be improved, but the Minister's proposals worsen it. That is what makes the situation not only serious, but irritating.

As I have stated. Wales supplies England and Wales with 11 per cent. of the teachers. In 1957, which is quite a good year from which to take our figures, approximately 730 students from Wales entered English training colleges. If it were our policy to train all these students in Wales, 2,100 extra places would be required in Wales. We are offered 880 extra places. We are not asking for anything approaching 2,100 extra places. What we do say is that the margin between 880 and 2,100 is much too wide and needs reconsideration. We shall not be satisfied until it is narrowed appreciably.

I should like to present the argument from another angle. When the three-year course has been implemented, there will be enough Welsh students in English training colleges to fill the equivalent of five training colleges. Wales is offered the equivalent of two training colleges. That is the extent of the lack of balance. The recommendations of responsible authorities in Wales would be met if these figures could be amended, for example, to the equivalent of 3 ½colleges in England and 3½in Wales.

There is another factor which should be stressed in this context. While it may appear equitable on the part of the Minister to apply the 50 per cent. increase in extra places all round, in fact this is not equitable. Since the war, the number of training colleges in England has been approximately doubled. In Wales, the number has been virtually stationary. If I am wrong about that, I am open to correction.

England is having a 50 per cent. increase on an already 100 per cent. expansion since the war, and Wales is having a 50 per cent. increase on a stationary position. Not that Wales did not seek more training colleges since the war. For over twelve years we have waited for a training college at Cardiff. We welcome the decision at last to establish this college in Cardiff, which is long overdue. It will mean 320 extra places. We do not see why this number should be calculated in the present allocation of extra places in Wales. This is a longstanding debt which the Ministry—not the present Minister—owes to Wales, and we are pleased that it is to be redeemed. Its redemption is long overdue.

I do not see why a bonus should be used to pay off that debt. If it was to be a general bonus all round of 50 per cent., this ought to be over and above the debt which the Ministry owes to Wales. If this were done, and if the 880 places proposed were over and above the building of a new college at Cardiff, it would bring the number of extra places nearer to the recommendations of the W.J.E.C. and the University School of Education.

How do these proposals apply? Having decided to build a new college at Cardiff to provide 320 extra places, the Minister then proceeded to allocate the remaining 560 places throughout the other colleges in Wales. It is a simple and elementary sort of procedure, but a most unsatisfactory one. There appears to be no pattern in the whole thing, and I think that the time has arrived to have a pattern in our national system of education. It would be accepted, for example, that where colleges are situated near the university colleges, there is a good and strong case for the development and expansion of those training colleges, but let us turn to the case of Swansea.

Here is a university town with a training college near the university, the technical college and the Swansea College of Art. Here is a many-sided seat of learning. Nor can the Swansea area be regarded as an area which finds difficulty in recruiting teachers. It is one to be regarded as an exporting area, producing more teachers than it can absorb. Swansea is to have no extra places at all, and it is a university centre. The local education authority has proposed a scheme, which I believe has the blessing of the Minister, though it needs more than the blessing, surely. It should not be held against this town that it is in arrears with its building programme, in view of the fact that it was almost devastated by air attacks during the war. A great deal of building of the highest architectural quality has been accomplished, and it gives no encouragement either to the people of Swansea or of the surrounding areas to be told that the training college is to have no extra places.

I come to my final point. Let us examine the application of this 50 per cent. principle in North Wales, which can be, in one sense, typical of the whole country. Let us see what is to happen in the university city of Bangor in North Wales. There are two training colleges, St. Mary's College and the Normal College. St. Mary's College is to have no extra places at all, while the Normal College is to have 100 extra places. This is a most unsatisfactory decision, which completely fails to measure up to the requirements of the six North Wales counties.

The Normal College has 400 students at present, and, on a two-year course basis, an intake of 200 students a year. The college is to have 100 extra places, which will mean 500 places altogether. Soon, there will be a three-year course, and the college will then have an intake of 166 students, and will yield approximately 166 teachers each year. Therefore, the position is abundantly clear. In this programme of expansion, the college will be able to admit fewer students and to turn out fewer teachers. At best, this is a very strange form of expansion.

In the six North Wales counties, we have two permanent training colleges, the Normal College and St. Mary's College, and one temporary college, the Cartrefle Training College, Wrexham. St. Mary's College is to remain as it is. Cartrefle has, after much endeavour and appeal, been reprieved for a few years, and the Normal College is to have 100 extra places.

What does this mean? At present, the capacity of these three colleges is 770. On a two-year course basis, these three colleges have an intake of 385 students. At present, from all the grammar schools of the six North Wales counties, there are 385 pupils who have a reasonable chance of admission to one of the North Wales training colleges.

Let us look at the new proposals. There are to he 100 extra places provided, so that there will he room for 870 students at the three colleges. On a three-year course bask, this will mean an intake up to 190 pupils, and at present these colleges can take 385. When the Minister's proposals are put into operation, they will he able to take only 290, a decrease of 95 in the six North Wales counties. This is a queer form of expansion, and it is obvious that many excellent candidates will be denied admission in the years that lie ahead.

The local authorities themselves are not satisfied, the University Board is not satisfied, the college authorities are not satisfied, and the parents of the children going to the schools are not satisfied. If it is the attitude of the Minister that many of the teachers will be employed in English schools, and in consequence should he trained in English training colleges, and if he is bold enough to say so, then I must warn him that he is playing with a situation which is very dangerous. We shall not accept that attitude, and shall resist it to the last ditch.

I now come to my final word, and I am sorry to have detained the House so long. Wales has her own peculiar educational problems. We have our own educational techniques, which must add to the treasure of British educational experience and progress. I shall give one example only, that of bilingualism, which is at once a most fascinating and most intriguing educational feature, of which I can say I have quite a number of years' experience. We have in Wales today two training colleges— the Normal College, Bangor, and the Training College, Carmarthen, where excellent pioneering work in this field is being done at present. I am sure that the Minister is aware of that work. It is a feature of training college work which does not exist in England, and I am sorry to say does not exist in Scotland either, but which does exist in Wales, and which of itself makes nonsense of the universal application of the 50 per cent. increase principle.

This experience alone demands special consideration, for success in bilingual techniques will open the door to success beyond Wales, because I can see a change in educational policy in the Colonies taking place, where we must teach people in the Colonies through the medium of their own tongue, rather than impose upon them a foreign tongue, such as English. The experiment in Wales today can help to solve that problem in the future, even as far afield as the Colonies. That is a great and very important consideration and reason why we should have more than the 50 per cent. I can assure the Minister that educationists throughout Wales are watching this debate this afternoon. They will read the Minister's reply with critical interest, and I trust that they will not be disappointed.

2.40 p.m.

Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)

My hon. Friend and neighbour the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Idwal Jones) has dealt so thoroughly and eloquently with this problem that there is, perhaps, not very much more for me to say, but I should like to intervene for a short while to express to the Parliamentary Secretary the very strong feeling indeed which exists, in North Wales especially —it exists throughout the Principality, but I can speak more directly for North Wales—about this situation in the training colleges.

We in North Wales have been shocked to be told that the net result of the Minister's proposals, as my hon. Friend has explained, appears to be that when we reach the implementation of the three-year training course in 1960, far from having more accommodation for teachers in North Wales, we shall have less. The information which is given us, as my hon. Friend has said, is that with the three colleges taken together there will be approximately 95 fewer instead of an increase. At Bangor Normal there will be about 50 fewer. This situation is one which cannot be contemplated with equanimity by the teachers in the schools or by the parents whose children hope to train to make teaching their career.

I do not want to say too much about the general background because today we are concerned primarily with the position in Wales. I think, however, that it would be fair just to remind the Parliamentary Secretary that his own record in this matter of teacher training is not entirely unblemished, for he is reported in HANSARD as having said on 6th June, 1957, that the three-year course will not, of itself, he accompanied by a significant expansion of the colleges."— [FOR OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th June. 1957; Vol. 571, 1471] He seems to have forgotten those words, but I copied them out only last night in the Library.

They make me a little suspicious of any complacent remarks he may, perhaps, be inclined to make today, because the Ministry's record in this question of teacher training colleges is not by any means a satisfactory one, and everyone in the profession —I am not a teacher myself but I have studied this with the staffs of some of the training colleges and they have told me —is seriously disturbed at the slow change of heart in the Ministry on this question of the need for expansion in general.

In Wales there appears to me to be no room for complacency at all when one looks at the picture of the number of children in the schools and of the teacher-pupil ratio. It is true that it is somewhat better than that in England, but it is by no means satisfactory as yet. I notice that in the last Report on Developments and Government Action in Wales there was a rather complacent paragraph on this matter. It is true that if we take the overall statistics for primary schools, for example, the Welsh figure is a good deal better than the English figure. When, however, we consider the proportion of sparsely populated areas in Wales we realise that there must be a good many Welsh schools in which the number of pupils per class is small, which would help to reduce the average, and the situation appears to be that the number of pupils in Welsh schools has been somewhat increased, owing to the birth rate. I looked at the figures for teachers in the latest Welsh Digest of Statistics published yesterday. It appears that between 1957 and 1958 the number of teachers in Wales actually declined although the school population increased.

I would in passing say to the Parliamentary Secretary that the education statistics provided in the Welsh Digest of Statistics are peculiarly unsatisfactory in that they are published this month, in May, but refer to the year 1958. The education statistics appear to refer to 1st January, 1958, and, therefore, they are eighteen months out of date, as presented in this form. The teacher statistics refer to 31st March. I would ask the hon. Gentleman to look at this to see if he could provide in the statistical digest published for Wales figures a little later in the year, which would be more useful to people who wish to refer to them.

However, my main point is that we still have in Wales, although not quite so seriously by comparison with England, as in England, far too many classes with far too many pupils. We cannot possibly regard that as other than serious if we are to have what seems to us this inadequate increase in the number of teachers provided.

I looked up the figures for the number of primary classes with more than 50 pupils. The last report shows that there arc 18; not a very large number, perhaps, but far too many, since with 50 pupils in a class it is quite impossible to teach the children. We still have about 650 classes in the primary schools in Wales with between 40 and 50 pupils. In the secondary schools we have only four —which is far too many—with more than 50; 130 with between 40 and 50; and 2,411, according to the latest published figure, with between 30 and 40. That is in the secondary schools.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman must agree, when one looks at those figures, whether as a teacher, as a parent, or as someone like myself who is neither but who has a public responsibility in this matter, that one cannot possibly he happy about a programme of teacher training which is going to do far too little to remedy this situation.

I should like to stress very much some of the general points which have been made by my hon. Friend. I do not, I hope, need to stress that teaching has been a favourite profession of pupils of Welsh schools for many years. I think that that is due to two reasons, both of which, it seems to me, still obtain. One is that in many parts of Wales there are not very many alternative opportunities. There are still many areas in Wales, including some of those with the very best traditions of cultural life, in which there are far fewer alternative opportunities in commerce or in industry than there are in many other parts of the country, and in North Wales in particular —if I may stress this to the Minister—there is a strong feeling that it should have special consideration for teacher training.

It is quite natural that we should have a large proportion of young men and women going into teaching in Wales for this reason, but there is another reason which, I feel, is an even stronger one, and that is that by and large the Welsh make good teachers. They are naturally sympathetic. I think that they are often much better psychologists than the AngloSaxons.

I would stress also what my hon. Friend has said about the great need for more teachers not only in the United Kingdom but also in the overseas territories. The hon. Gentleman may know that I take a very close interest in colonial affairs. I know the acute difficulty which many of the Governments, in East Africa, for example, have in obtaining from this country good quality teachers. I think I can say from experience that, on the whole, Welsh teachers find it more easy to adapt themselves to the social conditions which obtain in some of those countries than do some of our colleagues from England.

In other words, it is a very good thing that we should encourage pupils from Welsh schools to look overseas. I try to do so on occasion. They make particularly good recruits for the overseas service. In addition, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham has mentioned, they may have extra, valuable experience in bilingual teaching which the ordinary English teacher does not have. This is another reason why the Minister, far from regarding this as just one segment of the general problem of teacher training in the United Kingdom, should look at it with a little more imagination and recognise that we in Wales feel very strongly about it.

I shall not go into the statistics at length. I know that there have been discussions with the W.J.E.C. and that papers have passed between the Committee and the Ministry, but the net result of the proposals now made by the Ministry is that on the three-year basis there will be only forty more teachers coming out of the training colleges in Wales than come out at present on the two-year basis. I know that the Minister considers, quite rightly, that one has to take into account the university training departments, but I cannot believe that all the additional teachers we ought to have in Wales will come out of those departments, although I know that this is part of the Ministers' argument.

I had hoped to obtain more information before this debate, because in the debate on education on 22nd January, when my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) was speaking, the Parliamentary Secretary intervened and told my hon. Friend that he was taking a number of notes of the points being made and that he would write to him. When I asked my hon. Friend whether he had received the letter and whether he would furnish me with the information, which no doubt had been provided by the Parliamentary Secretary, my hon. Friend said that he could not recall receiving such a letter. The Parliamentary Secretary's secretary cannot recall seeing the letter either. I am afraid that there has been an error of omission. No doubt the information has been sent to the authorities concerned, but it does not appear to be available to us at this moment.

Later in that debate I thought that the hon. Baronet rather brushed aside the Welsh problem by saying that, of course, everybody wants more teachers and that requests were being received from English colleges, Welsh colleges, Church of England colleges, Roman Catholic colleges and so on and that the Government could not please everybody. I appreciate that that may be the Parliamentary Secretary's feeling, but it is not in itself an excuse for not looking again at the particular Welsh problem. For the reasons which I have given, investment in teacher training in Wales is a good investment from the point of view of the Ministry, and a very essential investment from the point of view of the pupils of the grammar schools in Wales.

I know from experience in my own constituency that we have a number of pupils who appear to be of adequate standard but who find great difficulty in obtaining places in training colleges. They ask me to inquire from the central pool in London. One does that as a matter of courtesy, but frankly it does not get one very far.

There is an extremely strong feeling in North Wales that what we are told about there being under the three-year course fewer places available than previously in Wales cannot be accepted. I was glad to note that the Minister of Education in the debate on 22nd January said that he was keeping an open mind on the matter. We are always rather suspicious of open minds in Ministerial circles, but if this means that the representations made on behalf of Wales can be reconsidered we shall be glad to hear today from the Parliamentary Secretary that some addition may yet be made to the provision that has been proposed.

2.55 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Sir Edward Boyle)

I should like first of all to convey to the House the apologies of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Welsh Affairs that he is not able to be present at the debate because he has to keep an engagement in Liverpool. He particularly asked me to say how sorry he was not to be present. This is the first time that we have had a debate in the House specifically on the question of teacher training expansion anywhere and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Idwal Jones) and the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) for raising the matter because, as they rightly say, it is not a point on which we can feel at all complacent.

As I said the other night in a debate on schools regulations, we must always regard the figures of overlarge classes in schools with a great deal of concern, and the reduction of the size of classes remains the prime object of Government educational policy. As I think the House is well aware, the present expansion programme of 12,000 places for England and Wales was intended to maintain the existing output of teachers from the training colleges after the three-year course was brought into force. The hon. Lady fairly quoted my supplementary answer when I first made a statement on the three-year course in June, 1957. Since that date we have had the rather discouraging figures of the wastage from the teaching profession during that year and we have had the subsequent reports of the National Advisory Council. The figures for 1958 were rather more encouraging. But it was the somewhat discouraging figures of 1957 and the advice which we received from the National Advisory Council that, more than anything else, decided us to undertake this large programme of teacher training.

We had to approach the problem by dividing the total extra number of teacher training places into blocks, such as for the local authorities in England, and the local authorities in Wales, for the Church of England colleges, including the Church in Wales, and also for the Roman Catholic colleges. I think that was the only fair way to do it. We have not divided the extra places exactly in proportion to the number of places which people had before, for that would have been a wrong thing to do. In the days when we argued in the House about controls we used to say sometimes that it was the danger of a rigid system of control that allocations were based on what one had received the previous time.

I make this point because, deliberately and intentionally, we gave Wales a rather larger number of places than she would have received had we allocated them in strict proportion to the existing places. On the basis of 50 per cent. of the existing places Wales could have expected an increase of 750 but she has actually been allocated 880. I know that if one divides 130 by three one gets very little more than 40, as the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East has said. It may not seem much of an expansion programme if, after the three-year course comes into force, we shall have only an extra 40 people a year from the training colleges. But at least Wales can feel that she has had a bigger percentage increase than some other blocks of training colleges. That is absolutely true and it means that when the three-year training course comes into force there will not be a diminution in the number of teachers coming from the training colleges but rather some slight increase.

There is one other point which it is relevant to mention here. The extra 880 places are what, in the jargon of the Ministry, are called standard places. Even before we embarked on this large expansion programme we were trying to secure a measure of crowding-up in existing training colleges, and I am told that one can nearly always admit something like 20 per cent. more students than there are standard places for. So the total of extra students who can be admitted when the programme of expansion is completed should therefore be rather larger than 880 and may be about 1,050.

There is one other feature of the programme I want to emphasise here and now, because it loomed large in our minds. We did not intend this necessarily to be, as it were, a once-for-all, final programme with no programme to follow it. On that point I can say what my right hon. Friend said in the debate on 22nd January: On the question of the number of teachers ultimately required, I assure the House that I will keep an open mind. His next sentence was more definitely encouraging If, as we get further forecasts, it is clear that a 50 per cent. expansion is not enough, we will look at the matter again.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1959, Vol. 598, c. 425.] I will not go beyond repeating that today.

Mrs. White

I was aware of what the Minister said, but the point is that it was unwise, if there is to be further expansion, to start off on a small scale. Here I am thinking more particularly of the Bangor Normal College in which we are naturally specially interested. There, I understand, arrangements for new buildings to meet the proposed degree of expansion are already proceeding, whereas our contention is that instead of 100 extra places there should be 175 extra places. It will be extremely discouraging if, this time next year, whoever is in charge at the Ministry of Education says that we should have had 175 places.

Sir E. Boyle

In a minute I will deal with Bangor, which raises a serious and important point. I want to emphasise first that in view of our total of 12,000 places it would have been difficult to allocate a larger figure than 880 to Wales. May I say also that what we were keen to do was to embark on a programme that would be completed by the end of 1962. There is always the danger that, if we embark on too large a programme at any one time, the programme may be only partly completed by the original planned date, and that was one of the reasons why we did not undertake a more ambitious programme last year. We wanted to tackle only projects which we were sure we could complete by the end of 1962.

Now I come to the question of the breakdown of the programme to the exact colleges we chose for expansion. The figures are well known to hon. Members. Cardiff will get 320 more places, Barry 200, Carmarthen 160, Bangor Normal College 100 and Carleon 100. I think the hon. Lady will agree that this is a good thing, since it will enable four of the five colleges to achieve at least 400 places, while Carleon has been advised to plan for further expansion at a later date. We were very keen that the colleges chosen for expansion should be able to reach a size which would enable them to be really efficient educational units.

I will gladly now speak about the cases of those areas which feel they have, on the whole, been treated less than fairly. The facts about Swansea are well known. We may have been wrong, but quite genuinely we have not been confident that Swansea would be able to complete a programme of training college building by the end of 1962. I am not attributing any praise or blame. I have seen the hon. Gentlemen the Members for Swansea, West (Mr. P. Morris) and Swansea, East (Mr. Mort) and we had an extremely friendly and fair discussion. I do not want to utter any words of recrimination and I will only say that we did not have confidence, in view of Swansea's building record, that the job would be done in the time. That was one important reason why Swansea was not included in the programme. As regards Bangor, I know that many hon. Members on both sides of the House feel that North Wales has not had its fair share of the programme. I know that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), who has written to me, also shares our anxiety about this, and a number of other hon. Members have written to me as well.

It is true that the output of teachers from North Wales will be lower as the result of the expansion programme, but we have always taken the view—and in taking it we have been in agreement with the School of Education—that the Principality must be treated as a whole if the needs of the area are to be met satisfactorily, and we have never had separate figures for North Wales and South Wales. In planning this expansion we have recognised that individual colleges may not be expanded equally, but our prime aim has been to bring as many colleges as possible up to an economic size rather than to spread the increase over a very large number of colleges.

I am glad to be able to tell the House that the two Bangor colleges have already agreed to work in close cooperation. I think this should help St. Mary's, Bangor, to organise a three-year course satisfactorily despite its very small size. I recognise that St. Mary's College, in particular has come off unluckily in the expansion programme. There are one or two colleges in particular in England and Wales where I think it is fair to say, without being invidious, that they have been unlucky in not being included in the expansion programme. St. Mary's, Bangor, is certainly one of these, and we have given assurances to the governors that their case will receive very sympathetic consideration in the event of further expansion.

I know that it is easy to say that and as the hon. Lady pointed out, people are legitimately a little suspicious when Government Departments talk about keeping a case under review. However, St. Mary's, Bangor, is one of the very few colleges of which I would say in this House that I think it has been unlucky not to be in the present expansion programme, and we regard it as having a high degree of priority for sympathetic consideration in the event of any further expansion.

I want to say a final word about teachers in Wales in general. I know that teaching has been a long tradition in Wales. As the hon. Member for Wrexham fairly said, Wales has always specialised in teachers and preachers, and sometimes the two combined—as perhaps one sometimes finds when listening to debates in the House. In planning the Welsh programme, we have regard to a number of factors. First of all, there is the need for replacements, then there is the importance of special facilities for bilingual teaching, and there is the fact of the strong appeal teaching makes to the pupils of Welsh secondary schools, so that a number of Welsh men and Welsh women want to teach in Britain and, perhaps, as the hon. Lady suggested, in rather more far-flung parts of the world as well.

At the present time, on the basis of a total teaching force in Wales of about 20,000, we can assume an annual wastage of about 900, and annual replacements and some provision for expansion would make it seem likely that Welsh local education authorities will have to appoint about 1,000 teachers a year. That is, roughly speaking, the demand in Wales for Welsh teachers.

If we aggregate the annual output of the Welsh training colleges with that of the graduates from the University of Wales who want to enter teaching, the total is about 1,200, of whom about 350 are the output of university departments of education. But I think that, on the present figures one can say that, allowing for improvements in the education service, such as the reduction in the size of classes, it is unlikely that Wales will need more than an extra 1,000 teachers a year.

On the other hand, the training colleges, particularly if they crowd up a little, and the departments of education, are likely to produce together at least 1,200 teachers a year. There should, therefore, be a surplus of about 200 Welsh teachers a year for teaching in Britain and perhaps also for showing their Celtic skill in spreading knowledge in other parts of the world, as well. One can say that the Welsh training plant—if I may be forgiven that phrase—is providing already and will continue to provide a good deal more than the estimated maximum requirements of Wales.

I am sorry about my failure to write to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas). What happened was that after that debate I received a deputation from Wales on the subject of training colleges—a deputation rather larger than the audience one sometimes has the pleasure of addressing in the House of Commons. We argued this question for several hours one morning, which I enjoyed considerably, and having had the subject out so thoroughly with representatives of North and South Wales, and of the many interests concerned, I overlooked my promise to write to the hon. Member.

In the Ministry we do, of course, recognise that Wales has special needs and special problems and it was for that reason that we allocated Wales a larger share of the training college expansion programme than could have been expected strictly on the basis of the numbers in the present colleges. I cannot go further than I have done this afternoon on the question of any future expansion programme and I can only repeat what my right hon. Friend said in the debate in January.

However, I recognise that, while we have always maintained a policy of planning for Wales as a whole, particular anxiety is felt in parts of North Wales today, and I hope that I may have given some assurance that Bangor St. Mary's College has not been forgotten and that we recognise that the college has been unlucky in not being included in this programme.

Next week I shall be going not to North Wales but to West Wales. I am looking forward to it. Having been in the Ministry of Education for more than two years now, I have no doubt about the extent of Wales' contribution to our national educational life.