HC Deb 26 November 1959 vol 614 cc707-27

10.12 p.m.

Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Training of Teachers (Scotland) (Amendment No. 8) Regulations, 1959, (S.I., 1959, No. 1472), dated 20th August, 1959, a copy of which was laid before this House on 27th August, in the last Parliament, be annulled. We are very perturbed about the Regulations which the Government have seen fit to introduce regarding the upgrading of third-class honours degree graduates. There is not only perturbation and dismay in Scotland, but also resentment among teachers and the public about this deterioration in teaching standards.

We are moving this Motion for two main reasons. First, as we see it, this is a deterioration in the quality of teaching in our secondary schools at the very time when an advance in that sphere has become vitally necessary. We believe that the children in the senior secondary schools, particularly those in the higher classes in the third, fourth, and fifth year, will suffer in their educational advancement. Secondly, we believe that these Regulations will not add a single teacher to the existing pool of qualified teachers. We go so far as to say that this acerbates the already aggravated position—indeed one might almost say it is an explosive situation—in the teaching profession. One need only cite the evidence of letters which hon. Members are receiving, perhaps not on this particular point, but in other connections; though we cannot enter into that now without the risk of being out of order.

The first of these Regulations, we believe, lowers the qualifications which hitherto have prevailed and have been necessary for entry into training in order to become a specialist in particular subjects. So far that has been open only to first- and second-class graduates of a university, but under Regulation 1 it will now be possible for a third-class honours graduate to have the same facility extended to him. At the moment third-class graduates are trained, as are ordinary graduates, for work in primary schools. Here we are concerned with senior secondary schools in which senior pupils are prepared for further study in universities, and third-class honours graduates are to receive only supplementary training as sub-specialists in their particular subjects.

Regulation 2, we believe, also gives to third-class honours graduates who are already teaching—indeed some are in the schools, contrary in some cases to existing regulations—the right to receive an endorsement of special qualification to teach their subject, which is afforded under Article 43 of the principal Regulations to first- and second-class graduates. Quite clearly, this is a deterioration in the standards to which Scottish education, so long the pride of the nation, is now to be subjected. If one looks for further evidence of this lowering of standards, I refer hon. Members to the actual wording of the Explanatory Note, which reads: Regulation 3 lowers the standard of general education required for admission to training for the Teacher's Technical Certificate where the candidate has attained the age of twenty-four years. I do not think that at this stage the Joint Under-Secretary of State would challenge or deny any of the statements I have made. This admission lowers the standard of general education. Regulation 4, which amends Article 51 of the principal Regulations, which at the moment give special qualification to a woman teacher with a general certificate, gives her the right to become an infant mistress or principal teacher in a nursery school. Until now such a teacher has worked principally in a primary school, but according to these Regulations, she, too, is to be eligible to teach backward children in a secondary school.

I should be pleased if the Joint Under-Secretary would allay all or some of the apprehensions and fears I have expressed; but, to whatever degree I may be wrong, at least there is no doubt in the mind of anyone who reads the Regulations that the principal purpose is to depreciate the standard of quality of teaching in Scotland. It is a sign that the Government are now faced with a situation in which they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for qualified people to teach in secondary schools, despite all the warnings in Reports which have been issued in the past.

The Knox Committee, in its final Report, indicates that it is dealing with the shortage in secondary schools. So far, it points out, the shortage has been in primary schools, but because of the increased birthrate after the war, these children are now entering the secondary schools, and this bulge has found the Government unprepared to deal with the situation. What is the size of the problem? I ask the Under-Secretary of State, how many third-class honours graduates are covered by these Regulations? What are the numbers? How many are in the primary schools at the moment, how many in the junior secondary schools and how many in the senior secondary schools? I should be obliged if he could give that information.

The Knox Committee went on to point out that in 1956 the shortage of Chapter V teachers, which covers first-class and second-class honours teachers, and Chapter VI teachers was 946. By 1961, that shortage will be 2,350. That is an alarming state of affairs. "Alarming" is the only word that could be used.

The Under-Secretary of State may answer, "We have more teachers than before the war". We also have a larger school population, due to the post-war bulge. Moreover, the Government have been warned in expert reports ever since 1951. While the figures for the output of honours graduates in the arts and pure sciences have risen from 385 pre-war to 610 now, the percentage of those graduates turning to teaching has fallen from 60 to 32 per cent. This is the hub and kernel of the problem. It is to that problem that the Government have failed to direct their attention. They have resorted to tuppence-ha'penny, undignified methods of scraping the barrel in order to try to remedy the situation. It is deplorable how they have dithered and procrastinated over the years over a problem which has now reached a crisis. In Glasgow today there is a need of 800 teachers. In the year 1957–58, 160 teachers left Glasgow to go to better-paid posts, such as those with responsibility allowances.

In moving the Motion, I do not want to give the impression that we are concerned only with the predicament of teachers. Fundamentally it is the children whose interests we want to safe- guard. It is precisely in that critical stage in their scholastic careers that they will not have the skilled help which they had in pre-war years and which ought to be the birthright of every Scottish child. By ability and aptitude they have proved themselves in the 12-plus examination. For the benefit of some of our English colleagues—and I hope that I do not say that in a patronising way—I should explain that in Scotland we have the 12-plus examination whereas in this country they have the 11-plus examination. These children have proved themselves. They are now entering into a new world of languages, trigonometry, geometry and algebra, and it is precisely at this stage that so many of them fall by the wayside, and it is at this stage, too, that they are not to have the skilled help and advice which they ought to have.

Much has been said in recent years of the number of young people who leave the secondary schools before they complete their school term. It was said that this was due to financial reasons, such as the attraction of wages. I am not certain that that was the whole reason. Many of these young people have found the going just too tough. At that stage, with encouragement and help from a skilled teacher, they can surmount their sensitiveness and comparison with their fellow scholars and go on. It is an interesting speculation to wonder how many young people have left school for those reasons. It is reckoned that from one-third to one-half of those who left secondary schools when aged 15 were capable of going on.

We have turned the corner. A recent report gave the encouraging indication that more young people would stay on at school, probably because of publicity and of encouragement from their parents. But the Government and hon. Members, generally speaking, are not paying sufficient attention to this, because it is not only the children but the nation's progress and future which are at stake.

I am glad to learn that the trend has been reversed, but that is all the more reason why these Regulations should be withdrawn and why the Government should bend their energies to other purposes. It is not true that the Regulations will have an effect on teachers. I do not believe that they will add one teacher to the pool. The Under-Secretary may quote what the Knox Report says in paragraph 62. The Government will probably depend on that for their argument. It says: Our recommendation would not only enable teachers with third-class honours degrees to give fuller service to the schools but would also have the advantage, from the point of view of recruitment, of attracting more third-class honours graduates into teaching. I am especially interested in the following phrase: their present status as teachers makes their career in the schools less attractive than a career in other professions or in industry". It is not only third-class honours graduates in that situation. The status of teachers as a whole is making it less attractive to all graduates, whether they be first-, second- or third-class or ordinary. Because it is in the Knox Report I hope that the Government will not now adopt this as their bible, as they have done in so many instances in the past. Because we think that the Report is at fault, we are taking advantage of saying so.

I do not believe that making the gesture of giving an increased status to third-class honours degrees graduates will increase recruitment. Even if it does, what effect will it have on the existing dissatisfaction amongst first- and second-class honours graduates when those with lower qualifications are to be upgraded and will ultimately receive the same salary as they receive? It is the corollary of the acceptance of the recommendation that, while the same committee does not actually recommend, it suggests that, while third-class honours graduates might start at a lower level of salary than first- or second-class graduates, they should reach the same final salary two years later than first- or second-class graduates. Instead of the question of salary being decided first, it has been referred to the National Joint Council. It is now in the cockpit of the other Regulations dealing with salaries, and that will aggravate the situation even more.

The effect of the Regulations will not be to increase recruitment. It may very well have the effect, first, of deciding first- and second-class honours graduates against teaching. Secondly, it might disaffect those who have not long since entered the profession and cause them to leave the profession. Thirdly, it will perhaps induce and influence some of them to leave places like Glasgow, where this quality of teacher is absolutely necessary, and cause them to seek positions in other fields in which to earn salaries. It could also cause disaffection among ordinary graduates, because they can now argue that third-class honours graduates have succeeded to that post only by a simple mark or two at an examination lower down.

Moreover, they can claim that only two or three marks separate them from second-class graduates. Without being facetious, I think they should be the last people to complain, because that is what happens in the 12-plus examination. Only a mark or two decide whether a child will go to a junior or senior secondary school, and decide whether graduates shall gain or lose the opportunity of entering the teaching profession.

One can see the sort of anomaly that will be created. I have a feeling of suppressed anger and resentment in moving this Prayer. It is unjust to the children, and it marks a sliding away from the high standards to which we have become accustomed. The Report itself is not so sure about the position. Paragraph 60 states …the universities…take the view that the student concerned is worthy of an honours degree, different in kind and depth from the ordinary degree. That may be so. That is an argument used by the Committee to justify the distinction between the ordinary graduate and the third-class honours graduate, but they provide in the Report no positive argument for the other extreme of upgrading a third-class honours graduate to first or second class.

Indeed, it is significant that in the Interim Report the same Committee made no mention whatsoever of third-class honours graduates. It is only in the Final Report that they are mentioned. But the Appleton Committee of 1955 discussed this matter. Why did not the Government, if they thought so highly of this proposal, act on it four years ago? The Appleton Committee came to a different conclusion. If the Government must have a Report before they act, one is not led to think that they are very fertile in ideas on how to overcome the problem.

The Secretary of State hinted to the Committee that if and where they were agreed on proposals, they should furnish an Interim Report. That suggests that either the Committee did not at that stage discuss this point at all, or that subsequently, because of the pressure and the increasingly alarming situation, they then allowed themselves to discuss this proposal.

Some of my hon. Friends wish to participate in this debate on this extremely important matter, and I will only say that the Appleton Report, quoting university people who appeared before the Committee, contrary to what the Knox Committee said, stated that third-class honours graduates do not show the qualities of mind, as distinct from competence in the subject, that are essential for good teaching. It is precisely that fear which is behind this Prayer. We all know of people, even without academic distinctions, who would be excellent teachers. There are some with all the academic distinctions but who will not be good teachers. But those who are dealing with the graduates and deciding whether they should be first-, second- or third-class graduates, are making the distinction between those who have academic qualities and those who have, in addition, this almost indefinable quality of being a teacher. None of us wishes to depreciate the high quality of study and hard work done by third-class honours graduates. I hope my remarks will not be misinterpreted as an attack on them. But we are anxious that the two qualities combined should be present in those who are to be entrusted with the task of teaching our children.

I remind the Government that they have had the Departmental Committee's Report on the supply of teachers since as far back as January, 1951. That gave the facts and figures. Indeed, the Knox Committee complimented that Departmental Committee on the accuracy of its forecasts. The Government had another Report in January, 1953—no action. They had a third Report in June, 1957—no action. They had the Appleton Report in March, 1955—no action. Yet the Appleton Report made two of the same recommendations as were contained in the Knox Report, one of which has not been implemented even now.

Therefore, when the Under-Secretary tells us what the Government have done we will find that they have been relatively small administrative changes—costing relatively little—but not fundamental changes. That is our charge against the Government. It was only when the Interim Report was published, buttressed by an urgent letter and a visit from the chairman of the Knox Committee, that the Secretary of State acted in such small things as a telescoping of the training course and increased bursaries. Even then the Committee said that it was not enough. Deferment of National Service was recommended for teachers but was not taken up at the time.

I believe that our present-day society has its priorities all wrong. The education of our children should rank very much higher than it does. Only 3 per cent. of our national income is allocated to it, and its long-term interest is being sacrificed for the more attractive but ephemeral and transient joys of the times, whether they be in profit making or football pools. More of the resources that are presently being dribbled away to useless purposes must be directed to essential social uses, among which educational needs should rank high. Unless that is done, we shall see the Government continuing with miserable measures like this to meat what is now a crisis in our Scottish secondary education.

10.38 p.m.

Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)

I beg to second the Motion.

Like my hon. Friend, I feel that what is proposed is probably the most pathetic contribution we have so far had from the Government to try to solve the appalling shortage of teachers in Scotland. The Government seek to solve that problem by a lowering of qualifications. There is no denying that that is the purpose of these Regulations.

In order to see the Regulations in proper perspective we have to look at the scale of the shortage in Scotland. The Regulations deal particularly with specialist teachers in secondary schools, where the shortage has risen from 270 in 1956 to an estimated 824 for 1961. Further, we have to look at that in relation to the number of uncertificated teachers. In 1953 there were 336 un- certificated teachers who were seriously below standard—and here I do not talk of the total figure—and according to the Secretary of State's report that figure had risen to 570 in 1958.

That is the scale of the shortage of teachers, particularly in our secondary schools, and the Government are attempting to deal with a problem of that size by these Regulations. It is the old, old story of trying to tackle the shortage by reducing standards. The Government are once again trying to attract more teachers into our secondary schools by making the profession more attractive, as they say, but all it amounts to is this method of lowering standards instead of getting to the real root of the thing. They are exchanging for a short-term advantage a serious long-term disadvantage.

The Minister will tell us, of course, that these Regulations are a result of the recommendations of the Knox Committee on the supply of teachers. I must say that I would not dissent from these recommendations if they were part of a general pattern of a major effort to tackle the teacher shortage such as was outlined by that Committee. But these Regulations show that the Government have got their priorities all upside down.

What has been happening since the Knox Committee published its Final Report early this year? The Government have been going ahead and implementing the easy—and, on the whole, the cheaper—recommendations, and leaving aside the more serious ones. Indeed, I believe that the situation is even graver than that. Here are the Government proposing this niggling solution to the shortage of teachers in our secondary schools and yet as far back as 1957 the Knox Committee made two major recommendations which the Government have not begun to carry out.

The Knox Committee proposed that those seeking the award of a special certificate should get grants on the scale of those given by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Perhaps even more controversial in Scottish education, the Knox Committee proposed that the teacher who retires and who goes back into the profession should be paid the full salary for the job in relation to his pension. But the Govern- ment have not done anything about that. These things would have cost too much.

Let us look at the other recommendations in the Final Report. Those which I have mentioned were not new recommendations. They were made in 1957, more than two years ago. In the Final Report the Knox Committee proposed that there should be widows and orphans pension arrangements on a scale comparable with that operating in the Civil Service. That is the kind of major approach that we must make to the problem.

The Government have refused to do anything about it. As I understand it, they are treating the teachers in a very shabby manner indeed over this recommendation by the Knox Committee. In due course we are to have the new salary proposals. They do not come into the debate tonight, but the Minister is more than aware of the fact that these salary proposals, which originated from the Committee, fall a great deal short of what the Committee proposed.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member himself says that they do not come into this debate, and that is a fact.

Mr. Thomson

I was about to pass from that, but I wanted to emphasise how poor are the proposals in these Regulations in relation to the kind of recommendations for tackling the problem that have been made by the Committee. Not only have the Government been trying to do it on the cheap and been implementing proposals such as these which do not cost a great deal, but they have not adopted the recommendation for the representation of teachers on education authorities, the proposals for an examination of proved ability, and all that sort of thing.

The Government should show imagination in tackling the problem. It is for these reasons that I very enthusiastically join with my hon. Friend in opposing these Regulations. They seem to me to show how utterly the Government are failing to rise to the magnitude of the problem of the shortage of teachers in Scotland today.

10.44 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Niall Macpherson)

The purpose of the Prayer tonight is to annul a set of Regulations, and it is to that matter, I trust, that the House will direct its attention. I do not think that we can properly argue that these Regulations should not be made, or should not be confirmed, merely because something else might be done, or because some people think something else should be done. I think that we must treat these Regulations on their merits. Perhaps I may be allowed to tell the House what they do. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) has not given me very much time yet to deal with the question.

The effect of the Regulations is as follows. First, they raise the status of teachers with third class honours. Secondly, they relax slightly the requirements for those who enter teaching from other professions and callings, normally described as "mature persons." Thirdly, they offer a new qualification for teachers wishing to specialise in teaching backward secondary pupils. I will deal with the last point at once, because the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) raised it. What the Regulations do in this case is to introduce a new special endorsement or special qualification to enable teachers, if they undertake the appropriate training, to qualify as teachers of backward children in secondary schools. This is a new form of training which is similar to that covered by other forms of endorsement which can be given for special qualifications, for example, for infant mistresses, principal teachers in nursery schools, teachers of the mentally and physically handicapped, and so on.

The main debate has developed on the subject of third-class honours graduates. The Regulations make it possible for graduates with third-class honours degrees of Scottish universities or other approved degrees to enter teacher training so as to become specialist teachers of the subject in which they hold honours. That is the effect of the first Regulation. As a corollary to allowing third-class honours graduates to train as specialist teachers, the Regulations provide that teachers already in service who hold these academic qualifications may be upgraded in status, if they wish, and may be awarded the Teacher's Special Certificate.

Until these changes were made, only graduates with first or second class honours could become specialist teachers of academic subjects and obtain the Teacher's Special Certificate, commonly called the Chapter V Certificate. That certificate qualified them to teach up to the top classes in senior secondary schools and made open to them the possibility of promotion to principal teacher or head teacher in these schools. Graduates with third-class honours degrees have not, so far, been treated as if they had honours degrees at all. They have specialised, but they have not been treated as specialists. They have been trained like graduates with ordinary degrees and have been permitted to qualify only to teach either in primary schools or in the lower classes of secondary schools.

The hon. Member for Maryhill asked me how many third-class honours graduates there were at present in primary schools. I understand that there are about 175, and there are about 400 third-class honours graduates in secondary schools. It is not possible to say how many are in junior and how many are in senior secondary schools. Many of the 175 teachers with third-class honours will be head teachers of primary schools and, for that reason, may not wish to apply for specialist qualifications at present.

We ought, I think, to look at the history of the matter. The hon. Gentleman referred to it, but I am not quite certain that I should put it exactly as he put it. In 1955, as he said, the Appleton Committee reported on the supply of teachers of mathematics and science. The Committee noted that, because of the shortage of first and second-class honours teachers, graduates with third-class honours in mathematics and science were, in fact, being employed at all levels of secondary teaching, but they had little or no chance of acquiring specialist teaching status and so of promotion in secondary work.

The Committee thought that this might well deter such graduates from entering teaching, and it was to remove this deterrent and make as full use as possible of their capabilities that the Committee recommended that the graduates should be trained as specialist teachers and, as the hon. Member said, after a few years should be eligible for upgrading if their work was sufficiently good. There was one body, at any rate, urging a higher status for teachers of mathematics and science. In passing, I might add that we must all accept that, in putting people into grades at the universities, the universities are not examining them on their qualifications to teach.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) asked why no action was taken on that recommendation and why we have suddenly sprung into action now. The reason why action on the Appleton recommendation was suspended was that the Special Committee of the Advisory Council was asked to consider the whole problem of measures to ensure the supply of teachers in Scotland. The Special Committee was quite straightforward about the matter. The hon. Member quoted the actual recommendation, but he did not go on to quote from paragraph 60, which said: We have been advised that the universities allow only students of promise to proceed to honours courses; that all honours students are thus a selected group; and that, in conferring a third class honours degree, the universities definitely take the view that the student concerned is worthy of an honours degree, different in kind and depth from the ordinary degree. The Report went on: We therefore recommend that third class honours graduates be trained henceforth as specialist teachers, and that teachers already in service with third class honours be recognised as specialists without further training. …

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

Would the hon. Gentleman quote what the Report says about salaries for these people?

Mr. Macpherson

I think that I should be ruled out of order if I dealt with the salary aspect, but, as the hon. Lady knows, the recommendation was that they should start two years behind and reach the same level in the end.

This was a second, equally distinguished body, which included teachers, directors of education, representatives of universities and of teacher-training colleges, and it went even further than the Appleton Committee had gone. This recommendation of the Advisory Council obviously affected training and, therefore, it fell to be referred to the recently constituted Scottish Council for the Training of Teachers, and it was approved by that Council.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East may say that he is gravely perturbed and he may shake with indignation about this, but surely he cannot disregard the fact that we have three responsible bodies, two of them set up specially to consider this kind of problem, and all of them recommending that this should be done.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

Due to the shortage of teachers.

Mr. Macpherson

Of course. That is a world-wide phenomenon. There is a shortage in all the countries of Western Europe and in America, too, and this is just one of the steps that it is recommended should be taken in Scotland.

The question was when it should be taken. If we were to get the benefit of third-class honours teachers entering specialist training it was necessary for us to lay the regulations straight away. As a result, the first batch of third-class honours teachers have already entered teacher training for specialist courses. I believe that there were 18.

Miss Herbison

How many this year?

Mr. Macpherson

I am wrong in saying 18. I should have said that there was an increase of 18 over last year. There were, last session, 25 men and seven women holding third-class honours degrees who entered training for the Teacher's General Certificate, and in the current session 45 men and five women with these qualifications entered training under the new regulations for the Teacher's Special Certificate.

That is the case for the upgrading of third-class honours teachers. It may be of interest to the House—

Miss Herbison


Mr. Macpherson

I will give way in a moment.

It may be of interest to the House to know what were the reactions—this may be what the hon. Lady was going to ask about—of the various bodies representing the teachers to these recommendations, and this one in particular. The Educational Institute of Scotland had no observations to make on the regrading of third-class honours graduates. The Scottish Schoolmasters' Association considered that the continuing shortage of specialist teachers justified the expedient of awarding specialist recognition to third-class honours graduates, several of whom were already doing specialist work in schools. The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association was opposed to the regrading of third-class honours teachers.

It is rare enough to get unanimity in these matters, but I think that it is clear that there was a fair measure of support, and, indeed, considering that the Educational Institute of Scotland represents the great body of teachers in the country, I think it reasonable to say that this has broad support.

Mr. Dempsey

What about the local authority associations?

Mr. Macpherson

If I may refer to this, in passing, all I can say is that the local authority associations are represented on the National Joint Council which has been dealing with this matter, and education authorities are represented on the Advisory Council on Education. Therefore, I think one can say that, broadly speaking, this has support.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

We have always prided ourselves that by the high standards that we set we got the best possible teachers in Scotland. Undoubtedly, from the point of view of academic standards, our senior secondary schools, with their insistence upon first-and second-class honours, really made that standard. What will the result of this raising of the status, as the hon. Gentleman calls it, of third-class honours teachers have upon the first- and second-class honours, because if one raises the status of one one reduces the status of the other? Will he tell us why the senior secondary teachers were opposed to what the Government are proposing?

Mr. Macpherson

Surely this must be the case. An examination takes place on a certain date. It classifies people into three classes.

Mr. Ross


Mr. Macpherson

It is on the long-term work which they do afterwards, on the character they show, the ability to keep their minds alert, and so forth, that their ultimate value to the teaching profession depends. Surely it must be the case that as between those who just get a second-class honours degree and those who just get a third-class degree, for example, there must be many in the third-class degree category who will develop subsequently very well indeed.

Let us remember, in dealing with this problem, that it is not just the classification by salaries and all the rest of it that counts. What counts is the desire to serve as well as possible, and, indeed, the desire to get the best possible promotion. In the long run what will count is the way these teachers develop so as to deserve promotion. That will be the main urge for them—to get posts as principal teachers, head teachers, and so forth. In the long run, that must surely be the greatest incentive. It is the plums of the profession which offer the greatest incentive to the profession.

Mr. Ross

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the argument which he is now putting forward is the basis of all that the Government are doing to all teaching qualifications in Scotland. What he has said can be applied to every qualification. That is why we have a reduction of standards for the school leaving certificate for people going to training college. It is that which concerns us. This is an all-round reduction of the standards of Scottish teaching, and Scottish children will suffer from it.

Mr. Macpherson

It must be understood that this is something which has been recommended to the Government by three bodies, all with the very highest qualifications. They are surely in a position to judge as well as anybody in the House. They have recommended that this should be done and I think that the House would be unwise to insist on the withdrawal of these Regulations.

The House might like me to refer to to the point dealt with in Regulation 3, that dealing with mature entrants to technical training. This provides for a change in the general education—and I emphasise for the benefit of the hon. Member for Maryhill, that it is the general education—required of "mature persons" who wish to train as teachers of technical subjects. We all know what that covers and I need not go into it.

Up to now, the entrance qualifications required for training have varied considerably. They have been based on those required for entrance to the shorter non-graduate course which is confined to women teachers. Broadly, they have been two higher passes, including higher English, and three lower passes. Qualifications lower than those, however, are already accepted and have long been accepted in three cases: first, where candidates proposed to train as teachers of physical education or music; secondly, where, after they have completed an approved apprenticeship, candidates wish to become teachers of needlework or dressmaking; and, thirdly where, having completed an approved apprenticeship and gained a Higher National Diploma, candidates wish to become teachers of educational handwork—woodwork, metalwork, mechanics and technical drawing.

The effect of Regulation 3 is quite simple. It provides for amendment and consolidation. The only one of its provisions which provide for changes is paragraph (3). The rest are consolidation provisions. They provide two things: first, that entrants to teacher training who are over 24 years of age, that is "mature persons", may count a technical diploma, which they must hold—it may be a diploma in art, music, commerce, or some other subject—as a higher pass to be reckoned towards the number of passes necessary for entry; and, secondly, that such entrants need now possess only four passes, one of which may be the diploma, compared with the normal five.

As I have said, these changes apply only to entrants who are over 24 years of age. The normal requirement of a pass in higher English must still be satisfied. The Advisory Committee said: … we think that experience and training in other walks of life may in certain cases be so valuable that the qualifications of all potential recruits to the profession who are over 24 years of age should be examined in order to determine whether they should be asked to fulfil all the requirements normally demanded from pupils who embark on teacher training straight from school. It recommended: … that the Committee of the Scottish Council for the Training of Teachers which is required under the Teachers (Training Authorities) Regulations, 1958, to deal with exceptional recognition cases deal also with cases involving these exceptional qualifications. I think that I have said enough to show that the Regulations were based on the strong recommendations received from three very distinguished bodies. I commend them to the House and hope that the Prayer will be withdrawn.

11.5 p.m.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

I want, first, to say how grateful we all are to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) for the excellent way in which he moved the annulment of these Regulations. I also feel that all my hon. Friends will be very perturbed at the reply we received from the Joint Under-Secretary. He has put forward a most dangerous philosophy about the qualifications for teachers in Scottish schools. I was most interested in his impassioned words about the circumstances in which a person might just fail to get second-class honours and get only third-class. It interested me particularly in connection with a matter I had taken up with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

In Lanarkshire, the county from which I come, over 300 children of 12 years of age failed to obtain a senior secondary course this year—and they had only two marks or less than the number which, it was decided, could take them to a senior secondary course. We cannot have the Joint Under-Secretary putting forward a philosophy such as he has given us tonight—which is to back up something that we feel will be very detrimental to the best interests of Scottish education—and have his right hon. Friend backing up a system that denies children the chance of having a senior secondary education and perhaps increasing the pool of educated manpower that the very Committee to which we have been referring advocated both in its Interim and Final Reports.

The figures he gave us are pathetic. At present, taking every Scottish school, we have about 600 third-class honours students. The hon. Gentleman tells us that there has been an increase of 18, but how does he know that that increase of 18 going to the training college was due to the decision of the Secretary of State to raise their status? The Joint Under-Secretary said that the Regulations were to raise the status of third-class honours students.

Mr. N. Macpherson

No. The hon. Lady asked me a direct question and I gave her the answer. I did not attach any argument to it. The increase of 18 is only the increase in third-class honours graduates. It is not the total increase.

Miss Herbison

I was dealing with the increase of 18 in the third-class honours category. But when the hon. Member began his reply, almost his first sentence was to the effect that the purpose of the Regulations was to raise the status of the teachers who have third-class honours, and he told us that 18 more than last year entered training college—those with third-class honours. Is he so certain that it was as a result of this decision of the Government? There is a great deal of unemployment in Scotland. There is a great depression in Scottish industry. Might it not be that these men, at this stage—as did the young men in the 1920s and 1930s—decided that because industry was in the doldrums it would be better to go into the teaching profession? I hope that the Minister can give some thought to that matter.

The hon. Gentleman has said that the Government have the full backing of three committees for this step, and has suggested that those committees felt that the man with third-class honours was the type of man who could do this senior secondary work. I have here the report of the Appleton Committee. In paragraph 55 it refers to the divided opinion on the subject, and says Others suggest that, in some cases at least, third class honours graduates do not show the qualities of mind—as distinct from competence in the subject—that are essential to good teaching. That is a very different picture from that which the Joint Under-Secretary of State tried to draw, and it is because I feel that there is a great deal of truth in this statement from the Appleton Report that I am seriously worried about the future of education in Scotland. For the sake of perhaps a few extra teachers with third-class honours, we are to lower the status of all honours graduate teachers in Scotland. Does not the Minister fear that by lowering the status he will keep first-class honours graduates from entering the profession? We do not get many of them, but there are a few.

Is the hon. Gentleman not afraid that those with second-class honours will decide not to enter the teaching profession and that, instead of there being an increase in honours graduates, which he says is the purpose of the Regulations, there will be a decrease—a decrease in the number of those men and women whom we have been proud to have in Scottish schools and who have caused our education to be admired throughout the world?

The Joint Under-Secretary of State tried to back up his case by saying that the reaction of the Educational Institute of Scotland had been, "No comment". I can understand that. Although it does much in education, the Institute is a salary-negotiating body. The Secondary Teachers' Association objected to this step. Why? It objected for the very reason that we on this side of the House are objecting to it. I hold no brief for this Association, but I agree with it in its objections. It feels that the status of people in its category in the schools will be lowered.

The actions which have been taken by the Government in this aspect of education have all tended to lower qualifications for school teachers. This step, again, is a lowering of the qualifications. I know that people with third-class honours are teaching in senior secondary schools. I am an ordinary graduate and my last five years of teaching were in a senior secondary school in Glasgow. In spite of that, I feel strongly that immediately we put them into the same category as first—and second-class honours graduates, we shall lower the status of that category, and there is a grave danger that we shall have fewer and fewer of these people entering the profession.

There are one or two other matters on which I want to touch, although the Joint Under-Secretary of State felt that perhaps we ought not to touch on them. They are reasons for our objection to the Regulations. The amount of emphasis which the Minister placed on the recommendations of the Knox Committee was interesting. That Committee made far-reaching recommendations, and I am certain that if they had been accepted by the Government with the alacrity with which they have accepted this recommendation, we should be on our way to solving the teaching needs of our country. I want hurriedly to touch on two of them. On the first one, to give to the teachers a proper and adequate provision for their widows and dependants—

Mr. Speaker

I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. Lady, but it is very difficult to contend that that is within the scope of the debate.

Miss Herbison

I accept your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. It certainly is not in the Regulations. We shall seek an early opportunity of bringing that matter before the House.

I want to say, finally, to the Government that in presenting these Regulations and in doing very little about the other major recommendations, they are trying to solve our teacher shortage on the cheap. We think very highly in Scotland of our education. We are jealous of the standards of Scottish schools. We want our children to have the best education they can possibly get. These Regulations, far from helping them to get that, have every chance of hindering them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mary-hill said we have our values all wrong. How right he was. What is more important than ensuring that every child gets the greatest opportunity to develop all the talents with which that child was born? Unless this Government really comes forward with other proposals, then it is a bad day indeed for Scottish education.

Question put and negatived.