§ 3.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
Some of the more cynical among us may question the effect and purpose of these debates when the result is predetermined by the cold efficiency of the Whips, but some of us were encouraged last week, when we debated shipping and shipbuilding, because when we saw the Division lists we found that only one of those who spoke in the debate voted with the Minister of Transport and his Parliamentary Secretary at the end of the day. This was a clear verdict that the speeches from the Government Front Bench did not match the arguments.
I propose this afternoon to follow the same course and to endeavour to isolate the broad issues which, I believe, face the Minister of Education. I am not particularly anxious to score any party points, though I will accept any, of course, as bonus, I am not especially anxious to attack the right hon. Gentleman personally, though, as we have him with us. I would say that I feel that I am of a more generous cast of mind than the Home Secretary and would concede that the right hon. Gentleman is the best Minister of Education the Conservatives have had. But I doubt whether 890 the right hon. Gentleman will accept that as very commendatory if he thinks of his predecessors; he would hardly feel that such a comparison would elevate him.
At any rate, let us start with the proposition that there is no question about the priority of education. Surely we can accept that as common ground. Indeed, our pre-war inefficiency of education is the basic reason why we are now losing the battle for exports. How far have we learned the lesson? Today, this country has a lower proportion of its population in universities than any other highly developed country. Worse still, by comparison with the United States or Germany, our education is definitely inferior. The right hon. Gentleman will not quarrel with any of those statements, because he will recognise that they are quotations from a speech which he made earlier this year. We would not deny the priority of education and, like him, we would be ashamed of the pre-war Tory neglect of education.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Willey
Perhaps the hon. Member dissociates himself from his own Front Bench. If he cares to do so, that is his own affair.
My first complaint is that, under the Tories, education has obtained its priority at the expense of the other social services, largely at the expense of housing and health. The difference between the two sides of the Committee is that we believe that the social services generally should maintain their priority.
My second complaint is that as soon as a priority is recognised, it is sabotaged by the Government and their supporters. The right hon. Gentleman has said that, without undertaking any new commitments, the cost of education will rise to £1,400 million a year by 1970. Is that necessary increase of £600 million a year made any the more attainable by Tory back benchers' constant denigration of public expenditure? It is far more than denigration. The Government themselves have made it more difficult to support an expanding education service.
My argument against the block grants is not that they were designed to reduce educational expenditure—which would 891 have been madness in present circumstances—but that they cannot serve to accelerate expenditure on education but only as a brake. They are a built-in moderator of educational expenditure. That is why, as we all know, the right hon. Gentleman's Department resisted their introduction at the time.
The Government accept minimal targets, unavoidable targets, and then shrink from paying the bill, deliberately making it more difficult to meet the account. With the present pattern of general grants, not discounting the possibility that they may have started on a more open scale than that on which they will continue, and accepting the present objectives as defined by the night hon. Gentleman, there will have to be an increase in rates of between 6d. and 8d. in the £ every year. The night hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that that is not practical politics. Finance through rates is wholly unsuited to and undesigned for supporting an expanding service, as I remember telling the Parliamentary Secretary some time ago. The Government are fully aware of that and know that it is an excuse far not doing enough to expand our educational service.
It is now quite clear that unless we are prepared to devise a new means of financing education, educational growth will inexorably slow down. Having accepted, as I believe we should, the common purpose of expanding our education service, the first test of the Government's sincerity is whether they are prepared to expand and to provide the money for that expansion. This is clearly something which has worried many Tory policy makers. It was that reason that we had the Bow Group's proposal to introduce school fees. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has twice denied any such intention on behalf of the present Government and that this debate will give him an opportunity to deny it thrice.
§ Mr. Willey
The hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) did a singular disservice to education by enjoying junior office as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry.
I remind the Parliamentary Secretary that when the Bow Group's proposal was 892 made, he did not take an opportunity to deny that that was the purpose of the Government. In any case, whatever the right hon. Gentleman says, we know well enough that those proposals were not made without the cognisance of the Conservative Central Office, and, for that matter, the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman looks surprised. We were surprised when the Home Secretary repeatedly denied that it was his intention to cut food subsidies and then did so without any shame or embarrassment.
It is important to know and appreciate what the Bow Group's proposals were. The Bow Group said that within the education services there were some which were not educational, but welfare —provision of school meals and school milk, and so on. It concluded that those services could obviously be cut, if not removed. When the right hon. Gentleman made his party political broadcast before the local government elections, he denied that it was the Government's intention to cut those services. I invite him to take the opportunity of today's debate to deny that the Government still have any such intention, and to give us an assurance that during the lifetime of the present Government those services will not be touched.
The Bow Group's second proposal was that grammar school education was something different from, and something additional to, the ordinary provision of education, and, for that reason, might well be supported by fees. It said:Now there is a demand for the grammar school, people may be expected to pay something for it.That is orthodox conventional Tory philosophy.
On that ground, the Tories have sounded a retreat. When the Minister intervened in the Small Heath by-election; he appeared to be equivocal, but the retreat was sounded later, not on the merits of the case, but because such a proposal would be electorally disastrous. It has been only a tactical retreat. In the spring issue of Crossbow, we find the proposal put forward in an alternative form. The proposal is to extend direct grant schools and in that way to provide for fees. I quote again:Clearly, it would be perfectly possible to multiply the number of these schools if you could persuade local education authorities to allow some of the best"—893 I emphasise "best"—grammar schools to become direct grant schools.I challenge the right hon. Gentleman and offer him the opportunity of this debate to deny that any such steps will be taken during the lifetime of the present Government.
It was after those two proposals that the Tory intellectuals suggested that we should provide for fees in our secondary and primary schools. They made the interesting reservation that it would be important not to create too direct a disincentive to having children, which would weigh closely on the birthrate. Having seen what the Tories have done to the National Health Service, we are at risk with the education service when hon. Gentlemen opposite are confronted with the unavoidable necessity of finding finance for an expanding service.
If we seek to test the sincerity of the Government in pursuing what are common objectives, we have to pay attention not only to finance, but to the supply of teachers. We can have as many White Papers as the right hon. Gentleman cares to produce, or as many committees as he cares to appoint, but we will not get a sufficient expansion of education unless we get a sufficient number of teachers. Behind all the right hon. Gentleman's flamboyancy, there is a crisis of teacher supply. I shall not press the right hon. Gentleman about the present deadlock in the Burnham Committee, but generalities about the improving status of teachers will not succeed in attracting sufficient teachers. We have substantially to increase their pay if we are to get the numbers we want. That will cost money and that money will have to be provided by the Exchequer.
That is one of the difficulties that the right hon. Gentleman faces, when his back benchers are moaning the whole time about public expenditure. Another difficulty which faces the right hon. Gentleman is that obviously, when one is to tackle a problem such as teacher supply, one has to resort to some measure of long-term planning. Again, I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's difficulty. These are dirty words in the Tory vocabulary. It is for these reasons that very little has been done, certainly nothing done in time, and nothing, in fact. clone for the right reasons.
894 In November last, when we debated education on the Address, the right hon. Gentleman asked himself why nothing had been done earlier. He graciously said to himself, "That is a fair question to ask." Then he gave what I thought was a rather stupid reply. He said that the reason was that more candidates of the right quality were not to be found. That was not only stupid; it was untrue. The right hon. Gentleman should apologise to himself for the reply that he gave to himself.
The right hon. Gentleman had every right to ask himself that question, because he had been in office twice and he was in office at the critical time. There was a time when there were large numbers of students knocking on the doors of the training colleges. So clamant was the demand to get into the training colleges that this was raised in the House of Commons and with the Prime Minister.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) begged the right hon. Gentleman to increase training college accommodation, and the right hon. Gentleman refused, for all the usual Departmental reasons. As late as July, 1956, the right hon. Gentleman told the House thatIt is now too late to build any more training colleges. They would come into service only in 1958 and their first students to enter the schools would pass out of those colleges only in 1960, by which date the school population will he declining. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th July, 1956; Vol. 557, c. 445.]So, in a very particular sense, the right hon. Gentleman cannot escape responsibility for the position with which we are now faced.
I know that he will be briefed to again ask himself and us questions. I know that he will ask: how was he possibly to forecast the increase in the birthrate? How was he to forecast the increase in the wastage rate of teachers? I know that he will say this, because he has said it before, but I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that these are rather dangerous things to say.
If the right hon. Gentleman had been right and not wrong in his calculations, and if we had trained more teachers, those teachers would have contributed and done no more than contribute to reducing the oversize classes in our schools. I regard the confession of the right hon. Gentleman as another mark 895 of absence of sincerity, because if the Government had really been sincere in their endeavours to reduce the size of the classes, that was their opportunity. I would certainly concede to the right hon. Gentleman—I have some sympathy with him—the difficulty of forecasting that position, indeed of forecasting anything. Many of us have just received from the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee a paper on Research in Education. At a time of a national expenditure of £800 million we are told that the decisions taken on the spending of this money, and the decisions taken on estimates of future need are no more than "informed guesswork".
On this occasion, the right hon. Gentleman, so advised, guessed wrong. We are told that against the background of expenditure of £800 million a year that the expenditure by Great Britain on empirical research into education is £125,000 a year. It is quite fantastic that we should have such an unscientific and unscholarly approach to the problems of education itself.
To return to the cardinal question of teacher supply, I would say that, quite apart from these massive miscalculations, when the Minister was previously in office he worked on an estimate of the rate of growth of the teaching establishment. It was an estimate which went until 1960. We reach 1960 several thousand short of the estimate. On top of that we are facing a year of intermission. We have, very properly—this was first recommended as long ago as 1919—extended the course of the training colleges from two to three years. This means that in 1962, next year, we shall have a loss in the intake of teachers of 10,000. Even if we disregard the miscalculations, which I will come to in a moment, the right hon. Gentleman will be facing further real difficulties. But, in reality, the position is worse than this.
I have been trying hard during the past few weeks to discover what is the position. I gather that the right hon. Gentleman's figure of recruitment for the latest available twelve months' period is 27,000 teachers. I have been trying to examine that figure, and the more details I get, the more misleading the position. I have now the breakdown of the figures. I find that within the figure of 27,000 there are 3,000 who are described as tem- 896 porary teachers, that is unqualified, untrained people, who have been recruited into our schools over the past twelve months. Presumably these consist largely of pupils who failed to get into training colleges and have been allowed to stay on and teach.
This is a sorry reflection upon the state to which education has been reduced. To estimate the question of teacher supply properly we must take this 3,000 from the strength of the teaching establishment. The alarming fact is that within the figure of 27,000 no fewer than 8,000 untrained teachers are coming into the profession each year. I am trying to go beyond the figures, and to check them against the figures relating to teachers' superannuation. I realise that this is an operation which must be carried out with the greatest reserve, and I am greatly obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for writing to me before the debate and explaining some of the difficulties.
In his letter he says:We do not normally attempt to keep figures of the teachers who join the teachers' superannuation scheme: teaching is such an 'in and out' profession.I can think of no more serious reflection. The right hon. Gentleman now recognises that teaching is an in and out profession. That is a sorry commentary on what has happened to teaching.
In his letter the Minister further states—and this is a qualification in respect of the figures he has given—that the figures which I had obtained about teachers joining superannuationtake no account of teachers employed for very short periods …In other words, we cannot make a comparison because the figure of 27,000 includes teachers who are engaged for a very short period.
§ Mr. Willey
The in and out figure is an explanation by the right hon. Gentleman of the difficulty of marrying the figures for teacher supply which I obtained the other day and those which have been obtained under the umbrella of the teachers' superannuation scheme.
§ Mr. Jennings
If we were to break these figures down into the categories of 897 men and women it would probably be found that the in and out figures would relate predominantly to women who married and left the profession and presumably, at some future date, may come back to it.
§ Mr. Willey
Obviously, that is one explanation for this being an in and out profession. But what concerns me is that the right hon. Gentleman should describe it as such.
Even if we approach this matter without paying attention to the miscalculations we can see that we are confronted with a difficult position in getting sufficient teachers for our education services. But we know that the position is a thousand times worse. There have been two massive miscalculations. The first concerns the wastage of teachers. That is an inelegant term, largely meant to refer to marriage and maternity.
I recently obtained from the Minister the figure for wastage in the last twelve months, and I was told that we lost no less than 22,000 teachers in that period. That is serious enough, but I am sure that the Minister will agree that more serious even than that is the fact that the wastage of teachers has increased by 4,000 in the last few years.
This is a serious aggravation of a serious problem, and as far as I can see the position will become worse. In the near future not only shall we have these losses among the new entrants, but we shall also have substantially heavier losses among the teachers who retire, because many of those who joined the profession during what the Crowther Report describes as the golden years are now reaching the age of retirement.
This is an aggravation of a serious problem which now confronts the right hon. Gentleman. It is made worse by the fact that whereas the right hon. Gentleman has anticipated a decline in the birthrate—and I have said that he has been unnecessarily complacent in his anticipation—we have the second bulge, to use another inelegant term, coming into the schools. Last year, the right hon. Gentleman estimated that there would be an increase of 351,000 children in our schools by 1970. I do not know the right hon. Gentleman's latest estimate; all I know is that he has revised his estimate and that his new one is appreciably greater. Some 898 authorities put the increase as high as 600,000.
Against this enormous problem, and these massive miscalculations, no one in the Committee can accept the present steps which the right hon. Gentleman is taking as adequate. Against these demands, the eventual increase of 4,000 coming from the training colleges will be quite inadequate. Against these new factors what the right hon. Gentleman hopes to glean from graduates will be quite inadequate. If he is serious about attracting graduates to the teaching profession, when will he make his statement about teacher-training?
Taking into account the fact that married women do return to the profession, and appreciating the steps that have been taken, the numbers involved are quite out of phase with immediate demands. Unless this overriding problem is tackled the education of the new generation coming into the schools will be irrevocably impaired.
What chance have we, against this background, of carrying out the improvements which are desperately needed? The other day I asked the right hon. Gentleman about the number of teachers required if primary classes were to be reduced below 40 pupils per class by 1970. He told me that 25,000 would be required. The Ministry also estimates that to eliminate oversized secondary classes will require an extra 48,000 teachers. For those reasons alone we require 73,000 additional teachers.
The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to add a qualification. He said that new calculations are now in progress, and that these suggest that the provisional total will need to be revised upwards by between 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. According to the Crowther Report, if we are to implement its recommendation to increase the school-leaving age we shall need between 15,600 and 21,300 additional teachers. More alarming still, if we disregard the Crowther recommendations and adhere to the present plan, whereby children stay on at school regardless of the school-leaving age, we shall still need 14,000 additional teachers by 1970.
On top of this we have the right hon. Gentleman's immediate objectives concerning technical education, further education and special schools. All these proposals demand teachers; in fact, all 899 these proposals will be so much waste paper unless the Government are prepared to revise their present plans and take the necessary steps to obtain additional teachers.
The shortage of the supply of teachers is aggravated by geographical differences. Some parts of the country are far worse off than others. Many directors of education are seriously perturbed and worried, and are taking emergency steps to try to attract sufficient teachers merely to make do. This will disturb the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) as much as it does me. There is an additional distinction between the North and the South. From the right hon. Gentleman's statistics it is plain that we can draw a line across Britain, with the position in the South and in Wales being far better than that in the Midlands and the North.
A child has a far better chance of getting a good education in the South and in Wales than in the Midlands or the North. I am certain that this is occasioned largely by teacher supply. It is not only a question of numbers. It is also a question of quality. As long as there is a shortage of supply, teachers will not be prevented from seeking employment in London and what are regarded as the more attractive parts of Britain. It is not only aggravated in the geographical sense to the prejudice of the North and the Midlands. It is aggravated in the sense that there are particular shortages in the profession as a whole. These shortages are very much to the detriment of those now being educated.
All the shortages were highlighted by the Crowther Report. They still persist. Hundreds of workshops, some of them new, are still empty for the want of teachers. The right hon. Gentleman has forborne our persistence on the shortage of mathematics and science teachers, but at the end of the day he has admitted that the position is not specifically better than it was three years ago. That means in plain English that it is no better than it was three years ago. What does he mean to do about it now? A conference is to be held in September, but these years have been wasted. We cannot go on wasting precious time and material. By "material" I mean the children in the schools.
900 I was horrified at the complacency the right hon. Gentleman displayed in last week's debate on science. I was horrified by the almost flippant way in which he referred to Dr. Crank. He did not reveal that it was Dr. Crank who said:We are faced with a crisis, which, if not resolved, could have catastrophic consequences for the nation.Professor Thwaites said that in mathematics teaching we may already have passed the point of no return. Against a background like this the right hon. Gentleman comes to the House of Commons and airs his complacency.
What is lacking more than anything else in education is a sense of urgency. No one would accuse the right hon. Gentleman of being guilty of leadership, but we want drive and vigour here. We want more than an eloquent soporific. I am not complaining that nothing is being done. I am complaining that not sufficient is being done to meet the demands of the times in which we live. We cannot help but be prejudiced in education, as we have been prejudiced in every other field, by the myth that we have never had it so good.
The right hon. Gentleman has gone up and down the country creating the impression that in education we have never had it so good. A close study of the problems reveals that all that has happened is that the weight of the school population has forced the Government to take action. When it has relaxed, Government action has relaxed also. No attention has been paid to the urgent overriding needs of the individual child and, through the child, of the nation.
I will conclude with a few illustrations. The Government have a programme to expand our universities by the early 1970s. This will provide for only 4 per cent. of those now going to school to go to universities. This is less than the percentage of young people attending university today. The Minister himself told us that we had the lowest proportion of young people attending universities of any highly developed country in the world. After we have expanded our universities in this way, the proportion of people attending universities in this country will be only one-fifth of the proportion attending universities in the United States and less than one-half those attending universities in France and Russia.
901 I advise the Minister not to be flamboyant, but to pay heed to what Sir Geoffrey Crowther said. Speaking of the programme for university expansion, he said this:Looking forward as best we can to the society of the twenty-first century, to its economy, and, above all, to its technology, can we conceive that it will be adequately run by a generation of whom only 1 in 25 will have reached even a first degree? Is not this in fact a formula for national decline?Turning from our universities to technical education, we have another White Paper before we have met the targets of the first White Paper. I do not complain of that, because today we have to run very hard to stand still. I appreciate the Minister's difficulties, but we cannot afford to be complacent about this, as the right hon. Gentleman was last week when we debated science. The United States has two to three times as many highly trained technologists as we have. Russia has more than five times as many. I am not dealing with absolute comparisons. This is per head of the population. It is not only Russia and America, but France. Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and other of our competitors.
I was rather complacent when I spoke about standing still. We are not even standing still, because the pace of advance over the past few years and the steps being taken to meet the needs of the next few years mean that we are being further jeopardised in comparison with the United States and Russia. Again, it is not only these two great countries. We are being jeopardised also by our other competitors—France, Sweden and other industrial countries. I emphasise that this is not only a matter of technology and technicians. This applies to the professions.
People are entering our professions much less mature and well educated than many other comparable countries. It applies also to commerce and to management. In last week's debate on shipping and ship-building I mentioned that one of the disturbing things was the D.S.I.R. Report's revelations about lack of research into management in the shipbuilding industry. In none of these fields are we doing enough.
I found perhaps the most revealing figures when I recently asked the right hon. Gentleman a couple of Questions about grammar schools. I had always 902 understood that the Minister was the champion of our grammar schools. This is what I found. In 1959, 5,000 fewer children were admitted to grammar schools than in the previous year. Last year, 17,000 fewer children were admitted. It is estimated that this year 22,000 fewer children will have gone to grammar schools. The Minister estimates that next year it will be 27,000.
§ Mr. R. P. Hornby (Tonbridge)
Can the hon. Gentleman state that in percentages of the number of people becoming of secondary school age?
§ Mr. Willey
The total figures were given in the Answer. The figure for 1958 was 147,000. These are substantial proportions. The hon. Gentleman can work out for himself what 27,000 is as a proportion of 147,000. It is an appreciable reduction in the number of children attending grammar schools. It means that over this four-year period 70,000 fewer children will have gone to grammar schools. It is fantastic.
I know the explanation. I was so amazed by the figures that I followed it up with another Question. The Minister pointed out that, by and large, the authorities are taking the same proportion of the age groups. As the number in the age groups has fallen, the numbers going to grammar schools have fallen, also. He asked me, a little nettled, was I not aware that there were 11,000 oversized classes last January in grammar schools? I was aware of it. I regard that as a cardinal indictment of our present educational policy. We cannot afford to permit it to continue.
But I am aware that there were also 11,000 oversized classes in our grammar schools the year before. I am aware, too, that if we are in earnest in tackling our educational problems we cannot say that we are satisfied if we achieve a better teacher-pupil ration in our grammar schools by reducing the number of boys and girls going there. We must get more teachers into the grammar schools. Unless we do that, the years are wasted.
I have been talking about teacher supply. How many of these 70,000 children might have been potential teachers? This is the vicious circle which we must break in education. This is the heart of the problem.
903 We are back where I began—that the essential problem in education is that of providing the money which is necessary to expand the educational service and of spending that money in seeing that we have a sufficient number of teachers to ensure that our children are educated as well as children are being educated in other countries.
I know that the Minister will entertain us with some of the achievements in education. He will speak with justifiable pride of some of the skirmishes which he is winning. I do not blame him for that. But we are concerned with the course of the battle, whether we shall emerge as a sufficiently well-educated country and whether we shall make sufficient use of the wealth of our people—this is the overriding problem,—or whether, as Sir Geoffrey Crowther said, through failure we shall slide into a national decline. I believe that we have to underwrite bold educational programmes with a sufficiency of teachers and a sufficiency of resources to back the supply of teachers. The right hon. Gentleman some time ago, speaking of technical education, said—as though it were an adequate excuse—that it was a pity that we awoke very late. I am afraid that if we do not take immediate action we may awake too late.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Sir David Eccles)
I want to begin with an apology. I am very sorry that the Ministry's Annual Report is not in the hands of hon. Members. All my efforts to bring it out before next week were unavailing. That is all the more regrettable because it contains a major section on teacher training and supply which I am sure, having listened to the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), would have been of great value to the debate.
These education debates always present Front Bench speakers with a difficult choice. The subject is too wide to cover in one speech. Today, the Parliamentary Secretary, who will answer points raised in the debate, hopes to deal in some detail with teacher supply, the building programme and special schools. I have selected the Youth Service and three points dealing with the secondary schools he structure of secondary edu- 904 cation, the Beloe Report, and discipline and behaviour in these schools. However, in his interesting speech the hon. Member referred to teacher supply and to the finance of education in such a way that I should say one or two words on those subjects before I come to what I had in mind.
The hon. Member observed, quite rightly, that we are again in the process of modifying our estimates of teacher requirements. It cannot be otherwise. I know of no way in which, by educational research, we can forecast the birthrate. I know of no way in which, by research and surveys, we can forecast haw many young women will get married and will wish to leave the schools. In 1955, when I was in this office before, we were given the estimate, from the right quarters, that ten years later, in 1965, there would be 6 million children in school. We know now that there will be 7 million. It may be said that we ought to have forecast the upsurge in the population more accurately, but I do not know how it could be done.
At the moment, it is true, I am provisionally advised to increase that estimate of 73,000 teachers, required to get rid of all oversized classes, to a figure nearer 80,000. I expect that the hon. Gentleman will be only too pleased to hear me say this. But I expect that this estimate, in its turn, will prove wrong. The birthrate can surprise us again. The rate of wastage can change. The campaign to persuade women to return to teaching will continue, with what results I cannot tell. It is safe to say that, in any case, we are likely to need more rather than fewer teachers, and, therefore, it is certainly right to have another look at the prospects of supply.
Quite apart from the economic difficulties which face the nation, I cannot see how, in the immediate future, we can go faster in the programme of expanding the training colleges than we are going today. It must be well known to many hon. Members, from their constituencies, that this programme, particularly the planning part of it, is putting great strain an local authorities and perhaps even more on the Churches. We shall press on, and in the meantime we shall get the Robbins Report. Hon. Members will see how important it is 905 to look at the total provision of training places for teachers. Let us see the universities and training colleges together. On the basis of the recommendations of the Robbins Report I am certain that some big fresh decisions will have to be taken.
I fully accept that we are short of certain specialist teachers. The Parliamentary Secretary will give the Committee some very interesting figures showing how the supply of those teachers from the training colleges has been improving and will further improve. Our great difficulty is the supply of graduates. We are doing all that we can to impress on universities the need for more graduates in mathematics and science, but nothing spectacular can happen until the number of university places has been substantially increased, and for that we shall have to wait a little while.
The hon. Member also raised the question of educational finance. As he said, the present policies will cost more—a great deal more—year by year. Is the country willing to pay the bill? I think that it is, provided that we can always show that we are getting value for money and that we are choosing our priorities wisely. In one way or another we are all rate-payers and taxpayers, so the argument is about the means and not the end—from which pocket should the money come?
The hon. Member for Sunderland, North forecast that the rates could not support this burden. I do not know. The finances of local government are outside my Department, but it is of great importance to us whether or not local authorities continue to administer the service with as great a sense of responsibility as they do today. Most hon. Members will agree that they should, and that for this good reason the rates must continue to bear a substantial proportion of the cost. That proportion today is about 45 per cent., which may be thought too much or too little. That can be argued about, and as expenditure rises we shall hear more of that argument. But let us hope that no changes will be advocated which could have the effect of weakening the electorate's support for education in general.
The hon. Member for Sunderland, North, mentioned the Bow Group. I asked the members of that Group to 906 invite me to talk about education after I had read their views. At a well-attended meeting I took them to task and told them, on the subject of milk, meals and fees, that I thought they were wrong.
Having spent a few minutes on these points which the hon. Member for Sunderland, North raised, I will refer briefly to the Youth Service. It took some time to change the atmosphere and to get expansion going after the publication of the Albemarle Report. At first, I was disappointed at how slowly new projects came forward, but now there is a big increase in activity. The Youth Service Development Council very much hope that soon every area in the country will have, in good working order, machinery for consultation and joint action between the local education authorities and the voluntary bodies. We hope, too, that the number of part-time workers—both paid and voluntary—will increase to match the growing demands for their services. There is now a great fund of good will towards the Youth Service and I take this opportunity of thanking the many hon. Members who are helping us to make progress in this work, especially my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers).
Now I come to secondary schools. The organisation of secondary education has often been a subject of debate in Parliament. The Committee may think it right to ask whether the policy the Government have been pursuing for ten years now needs to be changed in any fundamental way. I happened to be thinking about this a couple of Sundays ago, when I heard a snatch of the weekly B.B.C. programme on gardening. The questioner was very worried about a lilac tree that had grown in most unexpected ways.
What was he to do about it? There was quite a pause and then a countryman's voice said, "I should leave it alone." I hope to show that this is the right answer to give about the structure of secondary schools, now growing in many unexpected ways. This growth has had to be much greater than could be foreseen in 1944. One of the major reforms envisaged in the Education Act was the transfer of pupils over 11 in all-age schools to separate secondary schools.
There were, at that time, nearly 400,000 pupils in unreorganised primary schools 907 and 1,300,000 pupils in secondary schools. Now the 400,000 has been brought down to 100,000—but the 1,300,000 has grown to 2,800,000. To accommodate the additional 1½ million we have built 2,000 new secondary schools, and when the present five-year reorganisation programme is completed, all children in England and Wales over 11 will have a place in a secondary school.
Fifteen years ago no one supposed that it would take so long to reorganise the all-age schools, because no one realised how great the expansion in total numbers would have to be. There has been time for second thoughts about the tripartite system. Often Ministers have been pressed to intervene and insist that the local education authorities should build a uniform structure according to this or that theory. But the gist of their reply has been, "I should leave it alone".
The policy has been to allow local education authorities freedom to experiment, subject to the Minister being satisfied that the educational needs of the children come first. For instance, many comprehensive and bilateral schools have been authorised, but we have airways insisted that no good grammar school should be destroyed for the sake of establishing a new school of another kind. We have also insisted that where a child is qualified for a grammar school place he should not be compelled to go to a comprehensive school merely to suit an educational or social doctrine.
This is still our policy and we shall adhere to these conditions. Nevertheless, the comprehensive experiment is having a good run. Some of these schools are doing well, but we have enough experience now to know that the large comprehensive school puts an exceptional strain on the teachers. The more time that teachers have to give to organisation the less they have for teaching. This is an extra burden with unwelcome consequences.
While these schools are few in number and the apple of the eye of the local education authority concerned, naturally they are given the best possible staff, and help. I have no quarrel with that. But I doubt whether enough head teachers and senor staff with the capacity and 908 resilience to stand up to the strain of very large schools could be found if such schools were the rule and not the exception. It would certainly be an uneconomic way of using our teachers and one wonders whether the tradition of leaving the head teacher to make the school in his or her image would not have to give way to an imposed pattern of organisation. A proposal to reorganise the whole maintained system on comprehensive lines raises much wider problems and nobody has yet explained what this would involve for the existing schools.
If parents then had a choice at all it would have to be between comprehensive schools. What would have become of the denominational schools? What would have happened to all the grammar schools, whose tradition of service brings such intangible benefits to pupil and teacher alike? I should be surprised, knowing as we do the strength of feeling on this issue, if any House of Commons in our generation would accept the restrictions on parents' choice which would follow the destruction of the grammar schools. Surely we ought rather to look forward to the time when, all the unsatisfactory secondary school buildings having been replaced, we can make parents' choice even wider than today. This is the objective for which we on this side of the Committee are working.
We can claim that real progress towards this goal is being made. As the years pass since the Act came into force the secondary modern schools are developing their own personalities. Probably every hon. Member can think of at least one secondary modern school in his constituency which is doing really well and winning the affection and respect of the neighbourhood. I can tell the Committee that the number of such schools grows all the time in England and Wales. Every modern school that achieves this distinction is one more proof that there is no need to sacrifice education to a doctrinaire social policy.
We have still got a long way to go in the secondary schools. Some of them are still struggling with severe teething troubles, and there is a good deal yet to learn about what to teach children of such varying ability. The Central Advisory Council for Education in England, under its new chairman, Mr. John Newson—who has taken the place of Lord Amory, who I regret very 909 much has had to resign—is now studying this very problem and, with its help, we can confidently look forward to a good deal more variety and advance in the tops of our secondary modern schools.
Anyway, if one judges by two severe tests: first, the feeling about the 11-plus, which is strikingly less than it was say five years ago—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and, secondly, the number of children over 15 staying on in secondary modern schools, it is impossible to deny that the secondary modern schools are coming into their own. "Coming into their own" is the central problem for most of those children who are not on the route to the university or equivalent higher education. This is the challenge of the 1960s: how are we to make all secondary schools such lively and vigorous places that the average child looks forward to further education as eagerly as boys and girls who have their eyes on the university?
That leads me to the practical question of haw to strengthen the links between the secondary schools and the technical schools so that they will be as strong as the links which have persisted for so long between grammar school sixth forms and universities. Her Majesty's inspectors are now making a very wide survey of this problem. They are collecting information from the whole country and they are making intensive studies in eleven areas in England and Wales. We can already see that many schools and colleges are working well together and that in most areas some sensible measures have been put in hand which it will pay us to make known to all local education authorities.
Her Majesty's inspectors are also finding that the grammar schools have not normally as good connections with the technical colleges as the secondary moderns. This is a gap which must be filled, because in the 1960s it is most important that many more grammar school children should go to a technical college just as a few—I hope increasing in number—secondary modern children will find their way to a university.
In the context of the secondary moderns, I must say something about examinations below G.C.E. level. The Committee will know that strong and deep feelings are aroused on this subject, on which the public discussion 910 has been unusually intense and widespread. I have now to make a decision which will leave its mark on the education of millions of boys and girls who will not be up to the G.C.E. I will try to put the arguments as concisely as I can for both sides.
The Secondary School Examinations Council, in its Fourth Report, published on the 7th of this month, put to me its considered proposals. It wants a new school-leaving certificate below the G.C.E. level.which it would call the C.S.E.—the Certificate of Secondary Education. It would be designed for pupils who completed at least five years secondary education, but were not able to tackle "O" level G.C.E. The Council proposes that the examinations for C.S.E. should be "subject" examinations, organised on a regional basis largely under the control of teachers, but centrally supervised, and that they should be run by examining bodies recognised by me on the advice of the Council; and, lastly, the Council wants special provision for research into examination techniques.
The Council's main arguments for this scheme are as follows. It says that the demand for these examinations from teachers and parents, from technical colleges and from employers, is very widespread indeed; that the great majority of the teachers' and local authority associations also support these examinations, believing that they provide a stimulus to the schools and an encouragement to the abler pupils to stay on a fifth year. At present, it is said, the demand for an examination of this kind is largely being met by independent bodies some of whose examinations are of indifferent quality and are doing harm to the teaching in the schools.
In the other cases the Council says that children are being put in for the G.C.E. when they are not really up to it. The Council concludes that what is going on now is unsatisfactory and that if I leave it alone it is bound to get worse. The Council wants me to step in and, with its help, to see that the examinations for this very large group of children are rationalised and centrally supervised.
These are cogent arguments, but there is another side. Some of our best teachers do not believe that new examinations will help their work. They see 911 the danger of an examination-ridden country, with all the children labelled. They fear that they will become less free to teach children below the G.C.E. standard in the ways they think best. They are confident that their pupils will work well without the carrot of an external examination, and they are afraid that the less able children who cannot tackle a certificate of the G.C.E. type would have a sense of double failure.
Further, they doubt whether their pupils' most important qualities can be effectively measured by examinations. They ask, "How can you examine common sense, kindness, perseverance and industry?"—qualities they seek to develop in all children. They conclude that the proposed new examination will put too great a premium on too small a proof of ability.
I have been much moved by the ideas and the faith behind these criticisms, but, however valid they are, they must apply to all external examinations. The worse the examinations, the more strongly they apply, and we cannot escape the situation that exists. As the Council point out, we already have examination at this level in a large and growing number. This, then, is the choice: either I must veto the lot, which would be exceedingly controversial and difficult to explain, or I must try to improve what is going on now. I have reluctantly decided to do the latter.
This will not be easy. For one thing, very little is known about examining at a level below G.C.E. Experts in this field are very few and far between. So, acting on the advice of the Council, I shall set up inside my Department a research and development group to go into the problem in the fullest detail. I shall ask the Council itself to work out how the general principles of such examinations can be applied. On this aspect, I have some reservations about the recommendations so far put to me. I doubt the wisdom of setting up at once a network of regional bodies to cover the whole country.
I think that we should reconsider the advantages of making a pass in one or two basic subjects, say, English or mathematics, a condition of obtaining a certificate. I hone that particular attention will be paid to the views of those teachers and local authorities who fear 912 that the scheme will cramp their freedom. There is, I am sure, more room for internal examinations externally assessed. I shall have to insist on flexibility and experiment.
Dr. Lockwood and I will have to discuss how to strengthen the Council to take on this big new task. I pay a warm tribute to him, to the Council, and to the Committee presided over by Mr. Beloe. They have investigated this very difficult problem with much care and insight. As I said earlier, what we shall now do will leave its mark on the schools for years to come.
Hon. Members will agree that examinations cannot measure all we want our children to learn in school. Many people—an increasing number, I believe—are anxious about the conduct and behaviour of boys and girls of school age. This I can say: the great majority of British school children are behaving well, and Her Majesty's inspectors tell me that never in their experience has discipline in the primary schools been better than it is today. The same cannot be said of a small minority of teenagers attending the secondary schools.
The figures for juvenile delinquency grow every year. The peak is reached among the 14-year-olds, that is to say, in the last year of compulsory school attendance. These are very distressing facts. We cannot ignore them. Searching questions are now being asked with greater frequency about what is done or left undone in the schools to combat this wave of juvenile crime. Am I sure that slack discipline is not a contributory factor? Would firmer handling produce better behaviour in and out of school?
The old tradition was to leave the head teacher a free hand in the choice of methods of discipline. For many years now, local education authorities and the governors of some schools have set limits to punishment, especially corporal punishment. In my view limitations of this kind should leave the teachers wide discretion. It is quite another thing to order a teacher to use a form of punishment in which he or she does not believe. That would never work. I could not recommend such instructions to local authorities.
I hope it is common ground between us that the teacher who deals reasonably but firmly with a pupil ought to be supported by the general public. We all 913 have an interest in discipline, and we should remember the difficulties under which the head teachers in the maintained schools are now working. They cannot expel, or threaten to expel, pupils who may be doing harm to the whole school. They have to deal with boys and girls staying on in greater numbers after 15 who are more mature than their parents were at their age, who have much more pocket money, and who have, in consequence, more temptations.
What makes discipline today particularly difficult is that the teachers themselves are subject to the standards of the age in which we live, an age in which it is widely believed that a decline in Christian morality is a fact and is a main cause of the growth of irresponsible behaviour, especially among the young. So it is not surprising that I am frequently asked what, if anything, the teachers are doing to remedy the uncertainly of moral issues and the absence of faith in many homes.
For example, what are the values that the teachers are trying to hand on, and how seriously is religious instruction taken in the schools? These are questions often asked and seldom answered. But they go to the root of our present discontents. If we concern ourselves solely with vocational education, then, vital as science, technology and foreign languages are to the economy of the nation, we shall be like men who build a great ship and forget the compass and the steering gear.
Is there any comfort to be given to those who are anxious about discipline and behaviour in the schools? The Committee can be sure of one all-important fact. Every head teacher in the country wants the pupils in his or her school to behave well, to prefer honesty to dishonesty, truth to lies; and, what is more, they know that the great object of education is to teach children not to be neutral on moral issues, but to take sides, to distinguish beauty from ugliness and good from evil.
But we ought to recognise that in the schools today there are reasons why it is difficult to do this. The past twenty or thirty years have been years of disillusion, of war, of dishonest propaganda, and we all share, every one of us, in the responsibility for the uncertainties and the relaxed standards we see around us.
914 This is why thoughtful men and women are turning to the schools, feeling that the schools ought to come to the rescue of the child in whose home there is no religion and much downright bad behaviour. These people know very well that the home is the foundation of character, and yet they are now asking, indeed expecting, the schools to do more than ever before for the children in their care.
I wish that it was better appreciated just how tough this demand is on the schools, and how remarkable it is to be able to tell the Committee with some confidence that many—a growing number—of the maintained schools are quietly leading children back to the belief that the riches of nature and the benefits of science are not theirs by right, but things for which they should thank someone else.
If, as I believe, hon. Members want the teachers to make good conduct the centre of education, they will then wish to know how seriously religious and moral instruction is given in the schools. The denominational schools are committed in this respect, and much fine work is done by their teachers. In the undenominational schools, where a head teacher is sympathetic and there is a good specialist teacher in divinity on the staff, these two, between them, can usually organise a team of colleagues who will make religious instruction a living subject. An atmosphere is then created in which it becomes easier to have serious discussion of moral issues.
In the teacher training colleges, the great majority of students take courses which include religious instruction, though not necessarily at the specialist level. All students take a course in the principles of education, which by their nature are concerned with questions of morals and discipline. All students therefore have a chance to hear about and discuss the relationship of psychology to discipline and of both to ethics and religion.
This is, by definition, true of the colleges provided by the Churches, but I believe that the Committee will be interested to hear that it is also true of local authority colleges, to which the students themselves may come committed to a Church, or indifferent or hostile to religion. None the less, these local authority colleges are not shirking 915 their responsibilities, and, with possibly a few exceptions, one can say that moral and religious issues are arousing greater interest among students in training than for many years past.
The position is different for a graduate who goes direct to teaching from a university. The universities have no formal responsibility to teach him anything about discipline, morals or religion. He may or may not be interested in those subjects. If he takes a year's course in a university department of education, his study of the principles of education will confront him with moral issues, but, unless divinity is his special subject, he may well not choose to take any course in religious instruction. How serious that problem is and what should be done about it is outside my responsibility. It is a matter for the universities themselves, and I will leave it there.
It is often asked what good can come out of religious instruction if it is given undenominationally, and I very well understand the force of that question. But let us consider the background of a large number of the children in the schools today. Their parents may be decent people, who behave well to each other, keep their promises and help their nighbours, and they do all this because their own parents handed on to them the tradition of Christian morality. But they may not be members of any Church. They are simply living on the capital of those who were. These children see the parents behaving well, but no one tolls them why, and it seems to me that religious instruction can make explicit to these children why such good behaviour is right and why the contrary would be wrong.
Of course, when a child comes from a home where selfishness. dishonesty and unkindness are every day in evidence, moral and religious instruction in school is much harder to make effective. We must accent that, but go on trying. We can only make the journey back to sound morals by small steps, taken with faith and resolution.
The Committee has been good enough to listen to an unfamiliar aspect of education, but it is one which should command more of our attention. Indeed, precisely because, in the national interest, we must now use the educational 916 system to entice and cajole young people to acquire more money-making skills and to undergo vocational training, a corresponding effort is needed to strengthen their moral purpose. I believe that many people outside this House would be glad to see Parliament give a stronger lead in this direction. I do not think that our constituents sent us here to be neutral on issues of public morality. It is often difficult, but surely our real purpose is to identify the great issues of the day. Too frequently we seem to think that it is the first task of the educators today to reconcile the sciences and the arts.
It is not so. Our chief duty is to reconcile both the sciences and the arts with that great fund of wisdom which we have inherited from the Jewish and Christian religions. We are much better informed than our fathers, we make much more powerful machines, we travel faster and we communicate with each other more easily and more quickly, but all that will turn into disaster if we have not learned to use these new powers aright.
I can but repeat my conviction that in this generation, when we have somewhat lost our faith, we must turn to the schools and ask them to accept the challenge, and, enjoying the fullest support of this House, to become the instruments for recovery and renewal.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
We have listened to a remarkable speech from each of the Front Benches. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) on the devastating analysis he made of that part of the education service to which he directed his main attention.
The Minister, certainly in the closing passages of his speech, put before us a series of observations on matters of the highest importance in language which was a challenge to the Committee, to the religious bodies of the country and to all who are interested in the development of thought among the younger generation on the great issues with which he dealt.
Do not let us think that there was ever a time in this country, during the last 200 or 300 years, when the mass of the people went regularly to church. After all, one has the example of the description of John Wesley of the country in 917 the time in which he lived and of the state of mind and morals of the ordinary working people in his day. His great achievement was to be able to make these people, who were living lives that were almost entirely pagan, believe that there was something in the Christian religion which would make life better and sweeter for them and safer for the community as a whole.
In fact, some of the real history of the country which was written by people who were living in close touch with the great mass of humanity proves that the matters about which we hear today have been pretty constant in the history of the country. After all, there was a time when we thought that education would lead young working-class people into ways of depravity. Let me read to the Committee the following extract from the history of the Borough of Reigate:The first Sunday school to be established in Reigate was started in the Congregational Chapel by a Miss Apted and two other enterprising ladies about the year 1803. This unorthodox attempt to educate the children of the working class so alarmed the magistrates that they caused their clerk to write to the ladies 'telling them that the magistrates had discussed the fact that they were teaching reading and writing as well as religious knowledge and the clerk begged to inform these ladies that such proceedings were most dangerous and that the magistrates would not be answerable for the peace of the town if they continued in these ways'.This egregious epistle, said the local historian, failed to daunt the ladies and the school grew and flourished under their management.
I suppose that a development of that deplorable enterprise was once when the return of two Members to this House of Parliament was contested in a petition. The Tory agent said, "We are not very corrupt. There are forty Whigs and forty Tories out of the ninety electors. You only have to worry about the other ten." I mention that because we want to be quite certain that we must not regard our present age as being the most deplorably wicked in the history of manners in this country. There has always been room for improvement. The House has to accept this.
For the first time under the Act of 1944 we made it compulsory for every school to open with a collective act of worship and to have religious instruction. When the Act of 1870 was passed, Joseph Chamberlain was then, as a Radi- 918 cal and Nonconformist, leading civic affairs in Birmingham. Birmingham adopted the secular system, and it was not until several years afterwards when he had become both less Radical and less Nonconformist that a religious syllabus was introduced into the board schools in Birmingham. But, by and large, those were the exceptions. There were a few Welsh authorities, who took the American view with regard to the relation of religion to the State, who thought that the State ought not to interfere in religion, and they also for a few years had a purely secular system.
I am bound to say that I regret that some of the agreed syllabuses being taught do not seem to me to take a very enlightened and modern view of the place of formal religion in the life of the community. I could wish that some of them were rather more liberal in their outlook in that respect.
It was impossible prior to 1944 for a minister of any denomination to be a teacher in an elementary school. In fact, when I was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board I once had to deal with this amazing problem. There was a teacher who was a lay leader of some obscure Nonconformist denomination in a particular town. When he was called up for military service he said that he was the minister of a church and so claimed exemption. But when it came to wanting to earn his living as a teacher he protested that he was not the minister of an organised denomination.
I know that a number of people who have actually taken orders, not merely Church of England orders but orders of other denominations, are actually on the staffs of grammar schools and other secondary schools, and I can only hope that they will bring to the teaching of this subject the kind of reinforcement that the right hon. Gentleman said had been needed in the past. I see no objection to that. But I implore the House not to believe that either discipline or religious instruction in the schools is such as to merit some of the condemnation that we sometimes hear.
After all, I imagine that most of us in our early youth had to listen to wonderful speeches from our elders which began with the words "When I was a boy." What paragons of virtue they all were. I have lived long enough to hear 919 some of my contemporaries repeating those speeches almost verbatim to their grandchildren. I do not believe that there has been such a deterioration in either manners or morals in the seventy years that have elapsed since I first heard and comprehended that speech to justify its repetition at the present time.
I hope, however, that the Minister's speech, by bringing in the subject, has made us give some attention to the problem of the relationship of the child to the school, which is the first community outside the home into which he enters. It will be mainly his reaction to that community and the influence which it has on him that will determine his attitude to the issues which the Minister has raised.
I believe that every normal child—and in that description I would include a great many children who are now too readily labelled educationally sub-normal—has a desire for two things. The first is recognition of himself or herself as an individual when he or she is in company with other people. A child is not many weeks old when it first asserts that desire, because, when the mother is showing her first offspring to a number of her lady friends and they congratulate her upon the fact that he looks so little like his father that there is some hope that he belongs to the intelligent side of the family and they then, in the same room, have a few cups of tea and forget the child for only a few minutes, it generally immediately makes its presence felt by making such a noise that they are compelled to give it attention. That may be a very primitive form of the desire for individual recognition, but it is there. I believe that the second thing that every normal child has is a desire for a sense of achievement out of its own actions.
I go back to the bad old days in the elementary schools when we had the Scripture lesson first every morning and then arithmetic. During the greater part of my life in an elementary school for the second lesson I had to do four sums. We always knew that the first would be addition, the second subtraction, the third multiplication and the fourth division. In a town which has to be as mathematically alert as Epsom, there were some boys who never got a sum right. They always had a haunting 920 dread that one day they would get one right by mistake. When I think of the punishment which they received every morning far having got four wrong, I can well understand their added dread of the far more terrible punishment which would fall on them if they were accused of the moral turpitude of having cheated in order to get a sum right. Those boys never got a sense of achievement out of their school life except when the school was in a somewhat riotous state and they managed to hurl an inkwell at the teacher and hit him.
The Minister drew attention to the fact that the curious thing about juvenile delinquency was that as the school-leaving age was raised it went up a year each time. When I went to school the leaving age was 10. Now it is 15 and there is a general desire among people, I think, that it should be raised to 16 very shortly. The more we raise the school-leaving age, the more human we have to make the school so that every child can get a sense of achievement out of his work there.
That was one reason why under the Education Act, 1944, we put a new duty on the parent that he should cause his child to receive full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude. I have always believed the last of the three to be the most important. The school must be related to the individual needs of the child. No matter how one might expect to find children very similar in aptitude coming from the same family in which heredity and environment are exactly the same, it is astonishing to discover the differences of aptitude which can be revealed in any one family. The school's duty to the individual child is to watch for such talents as he may possess and to have some arrangement in the school to cater for him, subject to the necessary limitations which there are on the range of knowledge within the staff in any particular school.
I am convinced that it would be quite wrong to add to the sense of failure which now comes from being a few marks short in the 11-plus examination by having too rigid a system of subsequent education in the schools whereby children continue to register a sense of failure in formal education That would be quite disastrous. At the same time, I believe that children in secondary non-grammar schools should be given the opportunity, 921 subject to the opinion of the staff and the wishes of the parent, to be regarded as suitable to take such examinations as those under the Royal Society of Arts and others which are prepared with a more local knowledge of the school so that they can get some sense of achievement.
I congratulate the Minister on having the courage to avoid answering my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North by bringing forward a very pleasant red herring in order to divert attention from the failures to which my hon. Friend pointed. I wish the right hon. Gentleman every success in any effort that he may make to get for the children a more individual approach to their needs in schools. Although it is denied by some psychologists, I am sure that confidence obtained in a certain subject which appeals to a child can give that child confidence in tackling other subjects which present difficulties to him. I hope that greater opportunities will be afforded to teachers, parents and children to spot the particular gift with which the Lord re-endows the earth in the birth of every child who comes into the education system.
I was interested in one thing which the Minister said. Like myself, he deplores what he described as the gap between the grammar school and the technical branches of education. I deplore that anyone should think that any useful education given to a child needs an adjective in front of it to describe a particular social group or category into which a child falls. The right hon. Gentleman does not like the comprehensive school, apparently, because he thinks—what was the wonderful phrase he used?—that it is a doctrinaire social policy. There are two doctrinaire social policies. I hold one, the right hon. Gentleman holds the other. He has given his a brilliant but disappointing run this afternoon. Is there any greater failure than that people whom we "kid" ourselves have the best brains and therefore pass the 11-plus examination and go to grammar school should find at the end of that course a gap, almost unbridgeable for many of them, between the grammar school and what we call technical education?
922 There was a reference in the 1943 White Paper to the position, when we killed the tripartite system. I had not heard of it for a good many years until this afternoon. We drew attention to the fact that the narrow curriculum of the grammar schools of 1944 seemed to many people of high intellectual gifts to lead along a road which was narrow, which followed the ancient paths of learning and which had no place for the children whose gifts were what we now call practical. By that process we denied to the manufacturing and productive sides of national life the possibility of recruitment from the best sources of intellectual activity. Bad as that was in 1943, it is a great deal worse today.
I deplore the fact that we should still think that we can have two kinds of education, one leading to the universities based on the gift of words and a gift for mathematics and another in which people who are supposed to be skilled with their hands and not very strong on thought can get educational satisfaction. I do not believe that mankind is divided into two such divisions, for the craftsman who does not exercise a considerable amount of thought will never be a very useful craftsman and the man of words and figures who thinks that he dwells in some isolated world to which only a few have access will not play his full part in the life of the complex community of today.
Most of the problems which we shall discuss tomorrow and on Tuesday of next week are concerned with the problem that arises through that dual conception of human nature. When we talk about the dollar gap and the balance of payments, we are not really talking about £ s. d., although it is generally in terms of £s that we collate them. We are dealing with a deficiency on the part of this country temporarily to be able to get, to produce and to carry goods to exchange with other countries. On that great problem, we hear from all the people who ought to be expert, like the Chancellor of the Exchequer and others, that it is exports we want.
Exports are the gifts to the economy of creative designers in one form or another who have been able to inspire craftsmen to get, make and carry goods. To think that in some way the education 923 of those people's talents and aptitudes is inferior to the gift of being able to write a Greek epigram is to have a quite false sense of what social values are today.
If it is a fact, as I fear it is, that the Minister of Education is justified in saying that there is a gap between the grammar school and technical education, all I can say is that we may have to have a complete change in social values, but we will never be able to solve our economic problem all the while it is believed that there is this social discrimination between the people who work in the office and the people who work on the floor of the factory or in the fields.
The Prime Minister told us just before the General Election that we are one nation. When I hear of this sharp division into various sorts of education, all I can say is that we are a long way off it yet. May I read to the Committee from J. L. and Barbara Hammond's Town Labourer this statement of the way in which that division began:If you turn from the language of the Declaration of the Rights of Man to the language of magistrates' letters"—of which I have read one to the Committee this afternoon—or to the speeches of Pitt and Wilberforce, you realise that the war between England and France, which developed or degenerated into a war for power in Europe, corresponded to a deep and vital spiritual struggle within the nation. At the time when half Europe was intoxicated and the other half terrified by the new magic of the word 'citizen', the English nation was in the hands of men who regarded the idea of citizenship as a challenge to their religion and their civilisation; who deliberately sought to make the inequalities of life the basis of the state, and to emphasise and perpetuate the position of the workpeople as a subject class. Hence it happened that the French Revolution has divided the people of France less than the Industrial Revolution has divided the people of England.I believe that to be a profoundly true social analysis.
The education of the children of this country must ignore any such outworn conception of the structure of the society of this great country. I sincerely hope that when we hear from someone in reply to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North, we shall be able to get an assurance that the problems that he posed are known to the 924 Ministry and that the Ministry is seeking to solve them.
When I was in America in 1956, I was asked by a gentleman who was interviewing me on the radio what was the cause of the problem that confronted both of our nations—the shortage of teachers. I said, "The problem is solved by simple arithmetic. We are trying to educate the children of the years of highest birth rate by teachers born in the years of the lowest birth rate in the history of our countries. You cannot reduce the size of classes or recruit an adequacy of teachers while those conditions remain."
We are passing out of that condition. In a few years' time, we shall be recruiting from the years of the highest birth rate the teachers to educate the children in years of high birth rate, but not as high as in the years in which the teachers were born. That will be the great opportunity for the Ministry to be able to give us, for the first time in history, schools adequately staffed by teachers adequately trained.
I emphasise the word "adequately" because I am a trained teacher. I have never stood in front of a class who seemed to be anything like the children who were talked about to me when I was in the training college as if the teacher had some form of magic and there would be no trouble at all. But it will still be the duty of the teacher to interest the child in the world around him and in his own development, and to inspire the child with the belief that he or she has a part to play in the world that only he or she can. All the moral and ethical influences that can be brought to bear can do no more than make that thought in the child's mind remain and grow and make him a citizen worthy of the part he will have to play in the distressed world that we shall leave to him in which to carry on that life.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Holland (Acton)
I found myself at the beginning of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) in agreement with him when he said that we should not denigrate the modern age and modern youth. I found myself differing from him as he proceeded to denigrate the efforts of my right hon. Friend and 925 the Ministry in what I believe to have been the highly successful implementation of the Education Act, 1944, an implementation which has taken place while the school population has been rising very sharply since the war, and yet it has taken place without its being at any time necessary for us to have a shift system in the use of our buildings in order to accommodate all the children.
If I do not proceed to talk about the many things Which have been achieved and are being achieved, about staffing and buildings, in the main it is because I am well satisfied with what is being done and with what is proposed, and not because I am in any way in agreement with the remarks made by hon. and right hon. Members opposite in their dissatisfaction. I want to confine my remarks to two matters Which give me concern.
The first of what I think are two of the real problems in education today, the first of the two things on which I want to touch today, and which was touched on by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields, is how to provide a liberal education in a society which is demanding ever narrower fields of specialisation. Undoubtedly we are now in an industrial revolution based on atomic energy and the development of automation techniques, and we already feel the increasing pressure of specialisation on the colleges of further education and the later years of grammar school life. The problem is equally arising for another and slightly different reason in pure and applied science as well as in the arts. As the sum total of knowledge of each subject widens, so we tend to sub-divide the subjects, and there is pressure here to limit the number of subjects in the university curriculum and for pupils who aim to continue after leaving school with further full-time education.
This is necessarily a bad thing, because it is by no means enough for an engineer or a scientist to be merely a first-class research worker or craftsman or designer within the bounds of his own specialisation. This point was raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields. To establish himself, and to add something to human life and human knowledge, he must have a facility for the communication of ideas, 926 and not necessarily solely in his own language; he must have flexibility of mind and an imaginative approach to his work unbounded by the limits of his specialisation.
In my view, he needs to be informed in other subjects, such as economics, history, English literature, and current affairs to ensure that his contribution to society can be fitted into the general pattern and to make that contribution most effective. Nor should the arts graduate be overlooked in this context, for a leavening of scientific knowledge is necessary in these days for the archaeologist and the historian. I think it has got to be a two-way thing, and not just for the scientist. I know a difficulty arises when we attempt to provide too many subjects in the curricula on which a liberal education necessarily is based. We need to indulge in a little more pure educational research into the possibilities of liberalising the presentation of the specialist subjects to set them in their proper context without necessarily increasing the number of subjects from the examination point of view.
I believe that the problem is now sufficiently urgent to warrant the setting up of a study group consisting of people involved in industry, commerce, and in the social changes which are taking place in our society, as well as those directly involved in education, to explore these possibilities. I know that, in the last analysis, curricula are the concern of those directly concerned with education, but I think that leading members of other professions may well have pungent views on the demands made on children when they leave school; and those views will be helpful to educationists in their researches.
I am aware, of course, that the Robbins Committee is looking at the whole question of further education, and we hope soon to have its report on this, but it does not seem to me to meet the problem involving curricula and the presentation of subjects to combat the pressure of specialisation already being felt, according to my information at least, as far down the academic scale as the fourth form in grammar schools. I hope that my right hon. Friends will not dismiss this as a gimmick suggestion, for it is intended as a serious proposal to remove the conflict between the demands of a specialist society and the need for a 927 liberal education. I believe that this pressure will intensify over the next few decades. I think the time has come to recognise and to tackle this problem.
Last week I visited the Russian Exhibition at Earls Court. I have got an interesting book on it here. There, I was particularly interested to learn that in the U.S.S.R. they have the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the Russian Federation which devotes its work to developing the principles of teaching and education, and to studying ways of improving teaching methods. Also in each teacher training base school there is what they call a pedagogical department to carry on experimental work on problems of training and education. I have, of course, no means of knowing how effective those academies or departments are, but it may well be that we want an educational research department at a university or a teachers' training college and that that may be a better answer to our problem than a once-for-all special study group. I am not wedded to any particular solution. I am only gravely concerned about this problem.
The other problem I should like to talk about was raised by my right hon. Friend, and that was the question of discipline in schools. I should like to look at it as a question of what can be done in schools to combat juvenile delinquency, which he mentioned. I think that I am probably in agreement with my right hon. Friend in this, that to make this merely a question of to cane or not to cane is to over-simplify the remedy and to ignore the cause. In any case, I think that the decision—and here I agree with my right hon. Friend—as to the type of punishment which should be administered to any child for any misdemeanour must be left to the teacher on the spot whose responsibility it will be to administer the punishment. I agree with my right hon. Friend that it is not practical to instruct teachers to use a form of punishment in which they do not believe. Equally I think it is wrong to prohibit a teacher from using what he considers to be the right punishment in the circumstances.
As we know, there are, unfortunately, in some local authorities' areas instructions given to teachers as to what punishment they must not inflict. I am told 928 that these are comparatively few in the country as a whole, but, nevertheless, there are some, and till all these kinds of restrictions are removed from the teaching profession I think we shall continue to create the controversy—to my mind, an unnecessary controversy—about the use of the cane or corporal punishment in our schools.
If we leave it in the hands of the teacher during that part of the child's life when the teacher is in loco parentis, if we take it out of the hands of elected representatives, the politicians who, after all, in this aspect axe laymen, I believe that the controversy will very largely disappear. I am arguing neither for nor against the use of the cane. I merely say, "Let us leave it to the teacher and the teaching profession who should be trained to know what is the right sort of punishment for a particular child for committing a particular misdemeanour."
As my right hon. Friend indicated, the peak age for criminal offences by boys and girls under 21 in England and Wales is 14. The significance of that, as the right hon. Member for South Shields has pointed out, is that it is the last compulsory year for education. We must attempt to tackle this problem in the same sort of way as I suggested for tackling the problem of the pressure of specialisation, namely, by looking at the curriculum, in this case of the final compulsory year in a secondary modern school. I use the term "secondary modern" for convenience to include all schools where the school-leaving age is 15. In other words, I include high schools and the secondary modern stream of the comprehensive schools.
We must inject a good deal more realism into that year's studies and relate what is to be taught more closely to the life that awaits the boy and girl on leaving school. The Crowther Report had some useful observations to make on the subject, but unfortunately that part of the Report did not attract as much attention as did the proposal to raise the school-leaving age by a certain date. That is a pity. We must get the study plan for the final year right before we raise the school-leaving age if we are to curb the tendency to rebellious restlessness in the 14-year olds.
The most heartening sign of a progressive advance in this direction that I 929 have seen is the experimental series of programmes inaugurated during the current scholastic year by the B.B.C. Schools Television broadcast team. During the spring term ten programmes were presented on two consecutive days a week for 14-year-old pupils in secondary modern schools under the title "First Years At Work." These programmes showed the sort of work done by young people in their first jobs and the sort of problems they have to meet when starting work for the first time.
These programmes were followed in the current summer term, and completed at the end of June in time before the examinations to begin, by a series called "Your World". This was designed to stimulate discussion among school-leavers so that they could crystallise their ideas about the situations which they might have to face when leaving school and starting work. The first series was divided into four parts dealing with the problem of work, leisure, family relationships—because there are certainly changes in family relationsihips at this time of the child's life—and early marriage. I should like to pay tribute to the B.B.C. for the excellent lead that it has given in this important matter. This year it was in the nature of an experiment, but I understand that it is intended to improve the nature and presentation of the programmes in the light of experience and of opinions received from the teaching world.
I am quite sure that this final year at school could be more profitably used than it is at present to stimulate children's interest in the new life that awaits them when they leave school and to arouse in them an inclination to use their leisure more profitably. More automation and mechanisation will lead to everyone's ideal of shorter hours and better pay, except, of course, in the case of Parliamentarians, because we cannot mechanise our speeches. Undoubtedly this will mean more leisure and earlier retirement, and at the most pessimistic estimate I believe that this will come within the life of children now at school.
This brings me back to my earlier plea for a more liberal education in all grades and types of schools, that is, a more liberal education to develop the imagination not only to enable the individual to see his place in society and to get his own job and his contri- 930 bution in their right context but to enable him to make imaginative use of his leisure and to enjoy his retirement eventually. This reminds me again of the Russian Exhibition at Earls Court and prompts me to say that I do not think that in solving this problem of the final year at the secondary modern school we need to go as far as the Russians did in 1958 when, on 24th December of that year, they passed a law on the establishment of closer links between school and life. Nevertheless. I am sure that this end must be regarded as an urgent objective.
I therefore make two pleas to my right hon. Friend. First, I ask him to encourage the setting up of some form of study group or research department to tackle the problem of marrying specialist requirements with a liberal education. In other words, to engage in pure educational research into the presentation of specialist subjects in grammar schools, universities, and further education colleges. Second—to consider urgently the need to inject a sense of realism into the study course during the last year at secondary modern schools and similar schools for 14-year-olds. I am quite sure that education must not be regarded as merely a means of acquiring the knowledge to earn a living. In the fullest possible sense, it must mean learning for living.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ainsley (Durham, North-West)
I assure the Minister of Education that we on this side of the Committee had no difficulty in selecting the subject of today's debate as one of the subjects to be discussed on one of our Supply Days. We feel that education is the basic problem that we are facing nationally and that this is a subject which will affect all our economic, social and industrial problems not only now but in the years ahead. We therefore regard an education debate as one of the primary and most essential debates from the national point of view that can be held in this Chamber.
I was shocked at the Minister's complacency and evasiveness when he came to face the issues put forward and the challenge made in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey). I welcome the opportunity to take part in the debate 931 and I do so mainly with one specific object. On 9th May, 1960, we had half a day's debate on primary education. The Minister, in winding up that debate, said:The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) referred to the problem of reorganisation in his county. It is about the worst in the whole country. I do not know the reason for that but, if I remember aright, I think the county council has been fairly consistently in the hands of one political party."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1960; Vol. 623, c. 95.]The Minister was introducing party politics into a debate on education. We have been told over the years that party politics should be kept out of local government, but the party opposite has been engaging in party politics in local government for centuries, and in that debate the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to admit that party politics do enter into local government. I can assure him that there would have been a debate on that statement of his had not he hastened to add that we were all involved in solving the problem.
Soon after that debate, the Minister received a telegram from Durham County Education Committee, and he agreed to receive a deputation. My hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) and I came with that deputation, but many of our friends on it were not aware of the background against which the Minister intended to deal with the problem. However, in a joint statement he came half-way towards us, and admitted that education was a two-way partnership and that he himself was half responsible for the County of Durham. I reminded the right hon. Gentleman then that I would be reporting back to my colleagues. I have waited for one year to reply to the right hon. Gentleman's slanderous statement, which I feel I must remove from my honourable colleagues in Durham, many of whom have served the county for many years.
I was serving on the county education committee even before my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland joined it. Over the years I have brought deputations to see the late Miss Ellen Wilkinson, the late Mr. George Tomlinson, Miss Florence Horsbrugh—as she then was—and also the right hon. Gentleman in his first term as Minister of Education. I have thus met Ministers of Education 932 from both sides of the House, and I can understand why the Minister in the 1951 Conservative Government left County Durham facing problems which are still affecting it today.
Our own educational expenditure was limited in the bad old days because of the public assistance which had to be paid out—and here I pay tribute to the work of the county treasurer, who is second to none. After the beginning of this century, we established twenty-two grammar schools in the county. Early directors of education were art masters, and, although we in Durham were dependent entirely on the mining industry as an outlet for the aptitude and ability of our young people, it was only through the grammar schools' stream that they could find further education, and after receiving it, many left the county. That is why we find Durham men and women in prominent positions not only in this country but in many others. Their success is tribute to a generous education authority in Durham.
In those days, however, the grammar schools were unable to take all those of ability, and thus a trickle of boys and girls who wished to take up even technical education had to find their opportunity in Darlington or Sunderland or Newcastle. Yet it was the Ministry of Education itself which was stopping the development of technical education in the county, despite the changing circumstances of industry, which was demanding more technical education.
I remember meeting the Ministry's regional officer in Newcastle. He was anxious to open a building in South Shields with the aid of students from County Durham. I said, "Not on your life will I sell the birthright of the county any longer." That was why we were able to start technical education, on condition that we gave it a mining bias.
The first college was in Stockton, and I remember Mr. Tomlinson asking the education committee, "Another authority has fallen down on a project. Can you take a second college?" That is why we added Billingham during that same financial year. We built Stockton and Billingham, and although we also built Hebburn, further developments in technical education were in the face of objections from the Ministry.
Immediately after the 1951 General Election, there was a standstill for three 933 months in education and industrial building. The Prime Minister, who was then Minister of Housing and Local Government, carried out his election promise to build 300,000 houses a year, at the expense of schools and other social development. Education building was brought to a standstill for three months to allow him to build houses.
I remember telling Miss Horsbrugh on one occasion that at times she seemed to be no better than Molotov. There was deputation after deputation, leading only to frustration after frustration. The right hon. Gentleman can never claim that we are not anxious to get on with what he will allow us to do. But, as we have entered his office in deputations, we have seen the charts, and he has told us, "This is what I have received from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I must apportion it among local authorities. The money which we had for this financial year has been expended. I am sorry that we cannot help you."
That was the answer to deputation after deputation. Yet last year he turned round and said that the poor rate of progress was because Durham had been ruled by one political party for too long. That, apparently, is the approach of Members opposite. It was never my lot to be in the teaching profession, but I have served in the administration of education for many years. I slept on the 1944 Education Act, and worked almost night and day to bring it to fruition in Durham. The great problems we were facing in Durham were those of mining subsidence and the sterilisation of coal. Coal was gold at that time and the cost of sterilising it would have been prohibitive.
Besides grammar schools we built secondary modern and technical schools. Because of mining subsidence we adopted the campus system. We were faced with the problem of finding suitable building sites, and this sometimes led to a delay of a month or six weeks in submitting our building programmes for approval. Each financial year we submitted 12 or 15 projects in order of priority. On many occasions the Minister altered this list of priorities, and I therefore claim that it was the Minister who was responsible for retarding the school building programme in the County of Durham.
934 The county was second to none in the payment of maintenance allowances, but when we submitted our proposals to the Minister he said, "Your allowances are too generous. You must bring them into line with those paid by other authorities". At one time more teachers were coming from the colleges than we required. The position was such that we took only young students and not married women. If necessary, I could name the young people who were offering themselves as teachers but for whom we had no vacancies. Such was the position in Durham under a Socialist-controlled authority.
What has happened since then? The Government introduced the quota system and altered the teacher-student ratio in Durham to that of the national average. This led to difficulties. The last report issued for the county shows that we are 167 teachers short. All this has happened in the last ten years of Tory rule. We have chosen this subject for debate today because the Government have failed to meet the needs of the young people of this nation.
I come now to the problem of teacher training. I remember opening Wynward Hall as an emergency training college, when the period of training lasted for two years. After the end of the emergency training scheme, the college continued to give two-year training. However, I am concerned not about Wynward Hall but about the fact that we are losing about 120 teachers a year at a time of national crisis. The Minister may say that he proposes to extend Nevilles Cross and create an additional 160 places for students. Is that how he proposes to make up our shortage of teachers?
I was denied further education as it is now called, but I have had the privilege and honour of sitting in on the committees of many administrative bodies dealing with education—the University Court, the University Council, the Institute of Education—and I have served on the North-East Council of Education Committees, the Northern Counties Further Education Committee, the Northern Counties Technical Examinations Council, and on the national committee which was set up to consider the problems of those going into industry and commerce.
935 I think that we are losing sight of the fundamental purpose of the 1944 Education Act. We are losing sight of the child in our midst. That is why the Minister gave the tilt and slant that he did to the present position. He referred to primary education and then said that the problem of juvenile delinquency arose in the secondary school. Is there none in the public schools? Why does he attack the State schools and allow the public schools to go free?
Many hon. Gentlemen opposite went to public schools. I am here to defend the State system. When I was chairman of the education committee in Durham, in all innocence I accepted the challenge issued by the public school in my county, but I was soon deluded. Public schools are not restricted when it comes to engaging staff. Almost every boy at a public school gets individual tuition. A lady once came to me and said, "My child failed the 11-plus examination. I wanted to do the best for her, so I sent her to a public school. I paid the fees for the first term, but at the end of the term found that the fees were to be almost double for the next term. Can you help me, through the education committee to keep my child at that school?" That system is wrong.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are not concerned primarily about the welfare of our young people. To them the State system will always be secondary to the public school system. Conditions of employment in State schools are controlled by the Burnham Committee, but public schools are free to do almost what they like. That is why I maintain that State schools are unfairly treated. I hope that very soon the day will come when the private school system will be integrated into the State school system. There will then be equality of opportunity based strictly on aptitude and ability. When that happens, education will be based on a just social basis irrespective of the background of the children.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Mr. R. P. Hornby (Tonbridge)
The hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Ainsley) ended his speech on a good battling note, which I think one expects when an hon. Member from the North-East speaks. Incidentally, one might say that the North-East has had a good 936 crack of the whip, because we heard the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), then the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), and now the hon. Member for Durham, North-West. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not follow him into the controversies between the Durham County Council and the Minister, because I am not qualified to do that. I should like to revert to one or two of the broader matters raised earlier in the debate.
The hon. Member for Durham, North-West is less than just to my right hon. Friend when he says that my right hon. Friend does not care about the public system of education because he tolerates the existence of an independent section of schools. I do not know whether the hon. Member was present in the House when the subject was debated a week or so ago. On that occasion my right hon. Friend said specifically that in present conditions of national needs and priorities he could not see his way to devoting national resources to the financing of places in the independent section.
The hon. Member also spoke of teachers and the Burnham scale. I have not made a detailed analysis, but if he examines the salary scales in all independent schools I think that he will find that in a number of these schools the salaries are less and not more than the Burnham scales, although I concede that in certain schools salaries are paid above the Burnham scales. In some schools the contrary is the case. But I do not want to pursue that subject, because there are many more schools in the public sector than in the private sector, and it is with these that we are mainly concerned today.
Is it a coincidence that today we are debating education and tomorrow the economic situation? Whether it is a coincidence or not, I am convinced that the two subjects are very closely related, a point made by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North. We should be asking ourselves what is the relationship between education and the growth of our national wealth and, as a corollary, what is the relationship between present expenditure on education and present threats of inflation. Those two questions are important and relevant at 937 a time when we know that serious economic problems and strains are facing us.
I contend that neither in terms of present needs nor in terms of future needs can we afford to spend less on education, and we must face the prospect of educational expenditure rising sharply over the next ten years. In view of the present volume of Government expenditure and the proportion which it takes of our national wealth, anyone who makes such a remark has a dear duty to give some of his reasons for holding that view, and I will try to do so in a few minutes. Many hon. Members have far more experience in these matters than I, and the right hon. Member for South Shields has probably a longer experience and a closer interest in education in this country than almost any other hon. Member.
Let us look, first, at the things which still need doing—and very badly need doing. In this connection, I look, first, at oversized classes. About 30 per cent. of our classes are still over the not-very-high standards which we set of 30 pupils in a secondary school class and 40 in a primary school class. That shows that 35 per cent. of our children are being educated in those conditions.
Secondly, we must recognise that about 1,000 all-age schools are still in existence. That, too, represents a failure so far to cope with a major provision of the 1944 Act.
Thirdly, we know that there are many school buildings which we should like to see abolished but which we must use because the increase in the school population has been such that, despite all the school building we have done, we have, except in a few cases, been unable to dispense with existing buildings.
Fourthly, if we are to, meet our standards for smaller classes we need about 70,000 extra teachers, and that will mean a very substantial increase in the bill. There are other points which I could easily make, but I have shown some of the present urgent needs, as I see them, which will mean an increase in expenditure if they are to be met.
Let us next look at our immediate industrial problems and the shortage of skilled workers. In the debate on science last week there were references to the need in many parts of our national life 938 for highly trained scientists and others. On 31st May there was a debate on apprenticeships and training and the need at that level for more skilled people in various industries. All the time we are debating the pros and cons of our association with Europe and the form which it should take. There must be many boardrooms in the country in which directors are wondering how many linguists they have in the firm and how many people competent to jump out of the insularity into which so many of us have allowed ourselves to sink.
During the weeks ahead, when we discuss the economic situation we shall doubtless also consider the efficiency of our industry in terms of managerial, accountancy and other skills right down the line. Wherever one looks there is a need for more skilled people. May I weary the Committee with one or two figures to illustrate this, if only to make the point that in my opinion skilled people are in no danger in our lifetime of working themselves out of jobs.
With the assistance of the Library I worked out the relationship of unemployed people to unfilled vacancies in one or two skilled occupations. The figures are for March of this year. In the category of draughtsmen, cartographers and architectural assistants, the figures are: wholly unemployed, 348, vacancies unfilled, 2,618; bricklayers, wholly unemployed, 490, vacancies unfilled, 3,524: precision fitters, wholly unemployed, 870, vacancies unfilled, 3,419.
I could go on telling the same story of the demand for skilled people which, if unsatisfied, must leave our industries the poorer and less able to compete with their competitors. There is the converse story of the figures of unskilled workers for the same date: light labourers, wholly unemployed 47,292, unfilled vacancies 285; other labourers, wholly unemployed 73,000, unfilled vacancies 19,000. Surely, in the interests of the individual and of national competitiveness and efficiency, we need more trained skill in this country.
If we want another criterion of whether in our economic needs we should provide more or less education, perhaps we should consider what other countries are doing. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North mentioned some figures for higher education in France 939 and Germany. On previous occasions my right hon. Friend has mentioned similar figures. The way in which people are thinking in other countries is illustrated in a document published by the International Association of Universities entitled, "Some Economic Aspects of Educational Development in Europe". Everywhere plans are being made for higher educational expenditure and more training of more skilled people, and, whether we like it or not, in financial terms we cannot and dare not contract out of that pattern of development.
In defence of the plea for expansion in education, in addition to our own economic needs, we have a considerable obligation and a considerable opportunity for giving help and assistance overseas. For instance, in August, 55 teachers are leaving for Nigeria on a short course pilot scheme, which, if successful, will—I hope—be repeated. Teachers from this country will be able to assist in teacher training in Nigeria where the need is very great. There is great scope for assistance through schemes of this sort, and it would be a tragedy if we were so deprived of resources ourselves, not only in teachers but in engineers and statisticians, and so on, that we could do nothing elsewhere.
We have to expand our resources, and it follows that, whatever considerations my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be giving to economic problems, I hope that he will not find it necessary to cut back capital expenditure on education. It would be short-sighted and expensive, expensive in the short term as well as in the long term.
The effect of cutting back any building is obviously to slow down the improvement of conditions in which our teaching effort is being made. It would also have a damaging effect in other ways. Many of the plans of local authorities would have to be remade. One of the present bottlenecks in educational planning is at the draftsman stage, which is the sort of planning stage at which—if building plans were altered—there would be further serious hold-ups, which, in the long run, would not prove profitable to the country's economy, and which, I hope, we shall be able to avoid.
940 It would also be expensive in cash terms, because if an authority has been under the impression that it is to have a major project in two or three years, if it finds it is not to have such a project, it will have to make interim plans involving the expenditure of money, possibly on minor works, and so on, which would be an expenditure which it would not have undertaken if its own programme had not been altered in midstream. That is something worth bearing in mind.
The effect of buildings should not be exaggerated, for teachers and not buildings are the most important thing in education. The importance of teachers should not be minimised; but, on the other hand, the conditions in which people have to work affect recruitment. When teaching staffs are short, one has to consider how to make full use of limited resources, and the nature of the buildings can have some effect. I hope that we shall be able to avoid interruption in plans made for capital expenditure on education.
Even so, it has to be appreciated that an expenditure of £900 million or thereabouts is very large, and anyone interested in education, or the country's economy, or anything else, will agree that it is absolutely right to cast a critical and careful eye upon it. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North mounted a great attack on possible cuts on school meals and school milk, but he was not making the best of his case, because one has to recognise priorities within educational expenditure.
If he had made great play for leaving the capital programme alone, I would have been with him. But if there is a need for retrenchment somewhere in the educational budget and the Chancellor concludes that he has to find savings somewhere in education, they had better come from those places which the hon. Member spent a long time defending rather than those which I have mentioned. The hon. Member mounted his attack in the wrong place. I do not suggest that there are not values in school meals and school milk, but there are greater values in the building programme and teachers' salaries.
§ Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
Does the hon. Member realise that school meals and school milk are 941 often one of the best foundations of a good education, because the well-fed child is more able to partake of the advantages of those things about which the hon. Member has been speaking? The right hon. Gentleman spoke of moral values and social training in schools, but the school meal service is one of the best forms of social and moral training in our schools and I would hate to have means tests applied to it.
§ Mr. Hornby
I am quite aware of the value of the service. I did not use the words "moral values". However, I do not want to pursue the subject other than to say that these choices are always painful, but that, if I had to choose, I would prefer the economies to come in those places than in the others which I have mentioned.
By and large, the priorities which my right hon. Friend has been observing in his educational planning have been right—the elimination of oversized classes, the effort to extend the teacher training programme, and his efforts in technical education, which we discussed earlier. It is foolish to imagine that one can suddenly change the whole educational pace of any country. One cannot suddenly turn on a tap, even by changing salary scales overnight, and produce more teachers. If one wants more skilled people, whether they are teachers, or managers, or skilled craftsmen, it has to be done on the basis of the whole educational system, from the primary schools upwards. That takes time. As a country, we started late with public education. We have made immense progress since the passing of the Education Act, 1944, and over the last ten years.
That sort of progress is the least at which we should aim, but if hon. Members opposite will insist on criticising my right hon. Friend for being complacent because the educational map has not changed overnight, they are missing the point entirely. It is right to look ahead to our needs of ten years hence, but entirely wrong to believe that, just because something is wanted now and because a pattern of population is evolving which could not have been foreseen five or six years ago, the Ministry has fallen down in its duty.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
I liked most of the speech of the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby). He began by making a carefully reasoned case for educational expansion, for more money to be spent on education, but he turned from that to suggest the kind of economies in which he hoped the hatchet men of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would indulge if they had to. I must confess that he reminded me of Charles I pleading for the life of Strafford and saying, "If you have to execute him, I am a little worried about the date; would you mind leaving it until Friday or Saturday?"
I want, first, to refer to training colleges. We are on the eve of the greatest revolution in teacher training which we have made over half a century—the three-year teacher-training course. I begin by again protesting to the Minister on behalf of the training colleges of England on his refusal to allow a representative of the teacher training colleges to be one of his appointments to the Robbins Committee.
A century ago, the teacher training colleges trained elementary teachers for the masses while the universities educated gentlemen and produced teachers for the private schools of England. That, however, is a distinction which has long lost any reality. Yet there is still a hangover of differentiation between the training colleges and the universities which I for one want to see disappear. Education is one. There is no basic difference between the universities and the training colleges, just as there is no fundamental difference between primary and secondary education.
Those who teach the teachers hold the key to our future destiny. I hope that the Minister will let the training colleges feel and know that as they embark on the three-year course their contribution is to the whole of education and not to an inferior part of it, and that their present fears that they are to provide non-graduate primary school teachers while the universities provide graduate secondary school teachers and even graduate untrained secondary school teachers, are unfounded. If they prove, as I believe they will prove, that the three-year course is not merely a 943 quantitative but a tremendous qualitative change, we will put an end to the almost snob distinction drawn between the training colleges and the universities, parallel with that which we still draw between technical subjects and the humanities.
The Minister, however, made a bad start when he refused to put on to the Robbins Committee, one of whose jobs is to consider the whole future of training colleges as part of higher education, a direct representative of those colleges.
I want to address myself largely to the part of the Minister's speech for which I am sure the Committee thinks that he should not have apologised—the latter part of his speech when he dealt with the moral purpose of education. I wish that the earlier part of his speech had matched the latter part. I believe that the schools are waging the battle for the preservation of worthwhile values in a society which is based mote and more on a shallow materialist philosophy, a philosophy which made it possible for the Government to win the last election on the cry of "You have never had it so good"—words which will sound particularly empty when the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes his speech next week.
I found it singularly ironic that the schools, of all people, should be blamed in a recent book like Spoil the Child, and the Press articles which followed that book, for the alleged failure of the schools to win the fight against heavy odds, this fight against a cheap society, and that the Press, or at least the worst part of it which is partly responsible for the atmosphere of the society which the schools are engaged in combating, should join in the attack on the teachers.
Most of us can evaluate the book to which I have referred, by Miss Lucy Street, once we have noticed that she condemns Wordsworth for writing his famous ode, Blake, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Margaret McMillan and Comenius, the greatest educator of them all, for their views on children, accounts for Shakespeare's genius by the fact that he was educated at a grammar school, and states that more attention to the three R's and to religion will abolish juvenile delinquency, andour young people will once more approximate to the moral stature of the Pilgrim Fathers.944 That is indeed consummation devoutly to be wished. She also commends as "a little rhyme easy to remember" the kind of verse which the schools of England escaped from eighty years ago:No real advantage can proceedFrom saying what is wrongFor if at first it should succeedIt will not do so long.When Ananias thought to hideThe money he had gotHe and his wife Sapphira diedFor their deceitful plot.I assure the Committee that primary and secondary school teachers do try to inculcate standards of conduct and moral and spiritual values at least as earnestly, if not so eloquently, as did the unknown poet whom Miss Street finds superior to Wordsworth.
Teachers have always suffered from the laymen who know more about their profession than they do themselves. It is worth emphasising, in view of adverse comments in the Press, that reading, writing, and arithmetic are being taught in our schools against heavier odds than ever before, as I shall show the Committee, and, I believe, with increasing success. I spoke, at the week-end, in preparation for this debate, with an infants' school headmistress. Of 108 children leaving her school in July for junior school, 100 will be able to read. The other eight present the kind of problem which will not be solved by a return to the educational methods of 1900—the cane for mistakes or punishment for incapacity—but which, I believe, will be solved completely only when we get the classes down to the size that they ought to be. In this, as in everything else, size of classes is the vital factor.
The citizens of Southampton saw last week exhibited at the Southampton Show the work of our schools in needlework, handicrafts, art, science and hobbies, and excellent handwriting—better than the writing of most hon. Members, including myself—produced in the schools which the critics find fault with. I took thirty children, 11-year-olds, around the House of Commons a fortnight ago, and I received a letter of thanks from each of them, well-written with only three spelling mistakes in the whole bunch. This idea that fifty years ago all our children wrote fluently and eloquently, whatever their native ability, 945 at the age of 7 or 8, and that spelling mistakes are a new invention discovered in post-war Britain, has no basis in fact. Complaints from businessmen and universities about the inability of children to write, read and spell when they leave school are not new. Some of the children who go to university, incidentally, are not much better when they have left the university. Such criticisms were made when I was a young teacher forty years ago. They are also being made today in France, despite the formal and, in same ways, admirable system used in French schools, and the fact that French spelling is logical and not crazy like ours. I hope that some day we shall reform this crazy illogical spelling of ours and remove one of the chief handicaps to learning our great language.
Teachers are not complacent. Theirs is a live profession, self-critical, experimenting always—more teachers attend refresher courses for their own further education than do the members of any other profession in this country—and always grappling with problems of ever-increasing complexity. The great adventure of educating all children to the age of 15 is hardly fifteen years old. It has achieved wonders. If we were not attacking the Government tonight, I might has spoken at length of some of the wonders of achievement of secondary modern education. But it has not brought the millennium. I suggest to the Committee that the basic malaise which troubles the people of this country lies in forces outside the school, in the tensions that exist between school life and life outside. Not every parent co-operates with school. Home is still, and always will be, much more important than school. From my experience, however, it is clear that more parents are willing to make sacrifices for their children today than there ever have been in previous generations. There is still a neglectful minority, and much juvenile delinquency has its origin in bad homes.
The Minister has asked teachers to accept certain moral responsibilities. I interpose here to tell him that they are prepared to shoulder their share of the load, but that they cannot accept and carry out the duties which only a parent can perform for his child. Society itself is not helping the schools. A letter in the Daily Telegraph last week laments the 946 fact that some English children know more about Tommy Steele than about history and current affairs. Music and musical appreciation—which excludes Tommy Steele—as well as history and current affairs are being seriously tought in our schools. It is outside, in the world of cheap sensational music, and oversimplification of both history and current affairs in the mass media, that the child finds the material of which the letter writer complains, and which is forced on him by forceful agencies.
We have only to read the Daily Express on the complex question of the Common Market, or the popular Press reports—or absence of reports—of Parliament, to realise the kind of pabulum upon which our children and adults are being fed outside school. If some of our children go wrong, they receive their instruction in wrongdoing from the Sunday newspapers with the largest circulations, from cheap literature and from entertainment in which love becomes sexual behaviour, adventure sadism and drama the kitchen sink.
If these seem hard words, let me quote to the Committee headlines from this week's News of the World, which I picked out at random from the Library. They include "Maltese Scum and his £100-a-week Wife", "Boy Who Was Greatly Tempted", "War on the Saucy Postcards", "Eighteen Photos in her Dressing Table Drawer", "Gangs at War on Holiday Island", and "Den of Vice in an Old Country Town". This is the Sunday reading provided by the newspaper with a circulation of many millions. It is worth reiterating, however, that there are millions more worth-while youngsters profiting by all that our educational system in trying to achieve and all that is good in the mass media—because the mass media are a tremendous power for good as well as for evil—than there are delinquents.
In my early days I suffered at the hands of N.M. inspectors. That type has long since gone. The modern inspector is a friend and adviser of the teacher. I never thought that I would have to defend H.M. inspectors against the ridiculous charge, made in the book to which I have referred, by Miss Street, that teachers are "trounced" by H.M. inspectors because they have taught children to read by the age of 7. I am 947 reminded of the mythical story of the Pope who, at the end of a long confidential interview with Ambassadress Luce, was heard to exclaim, exhaustedly, "But, my dear, I assure you I am a Catholic." I can assure the Committee that H.M. inspectors are as keen on the teaching of reading as are the teachers.
Reading, with ease and pleasure, is the greatest gift that education can give our children. But when our generation learnt to read we needed it—we needed it to get by even day by day in practical life. There was no substitute. Modern discoveries—radio, television, the picture book and the picture paper—are making reading less necessary. Indeed, the French educationist Thabault has said:Those who uphold an educational system based on the written word … are fighting a rearguard action doomed to failure.I believe that opinion to be fallacious.
By all means let us use new devices as adjuncts to teaching. But nothing can supersede the wonder of live human contact, either in school or in life. The televised novel is no substitute for the novel. Orsen Welles' "Macbeth" is certainly not Shakespeare. The attractiveness of the comic strip, the popular Press, radio and television make more and not less necessary the handing down to the next generation of the power to read—and to read with ease and with discrimination.
The teacher's difficulty is that outside the schools the whole of the contemporary scene makes reading less necessary for the children. If democracy perishes in the struggle with totalitarianism it will be because too many of us want to oversimplify, to avoid bard reading, hard thinking and, indeed, hard work. That is why I regard as of supreme importance the quality of eduation—with one aspect of which the Minister dealt—and the length of education that we give all our children—and by all I mean all, and not only the rich, whose education is bought for them until they reach the age of 18, 19 or 20, and the able children who are fortunate enough to have won places in grammar school; I mean all the nation's children, including the poorest, the average and even the dull.
948 My hon. Friend has spoken about teacher supply. I do not want to deal with that, except to say that my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), the late Ralph Morley and the Minister's own advisory committees over the years warned the Government again and again of the teacher shortage problem. We are paying now for the Government's tardiness in grappling with it. The goal we ought to be aiming at is the raising of the school-leaving age at the end of this decade. The Minister ought to declare that this is Britain's aim. He ought to have declared it loud and long this afternoon, so that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might hear him as he is preparing his announcement for next week. Crowther is right. Given the will to raise the school-leaving age, as the basic right of our children, long, long deferred, we can also will the means to carry it out.
I now want to make a point about finance. We have to spend much more on education—despite the alarm that the hon. Member for Tonbridge showed at the mention of the £900 million figure, which is far less than Lord Hailsham visualises we shall be spending soon on education—if we are to match the educational achievements of the countries which have produced Gagarin and Shepard, or even our own more nearly equal Western rivals, France and Germany. This means added financial burdens for all of us. They cannot be dodged, but they can be Shared more equitably. I believe that either a complete reform of the totally unjust method of raising local revenue by rates must come about or there must be a much greater subvention from the Government to the local authorities.
I want to illustrate this point by referring to figures concerning my own county. Hon. Members can translate them in respect of their own county and county borough figures. This year Hampshire will spend £21 million. Of that £21 million no less than £12½ million will go for education. Most of the cost is inevitable. Indeed, it must rise steeply. Teachers' salaries, which already amount to £4¾ million, must increase this year. The only argument is how soon and by how much they will rise. Most of that increase can be justified but some items of increased expenditure were unnecessary. For example, loan charges for the 949 educational building programme of Hampshire amount to £1 million, which is almost equivalent to a 2s. rate.
This Government's policy—and the Minister of Education is a member of the Government—has driven up interest rates to 6 per cent., and some local authorities are at this moment cutting their own throats by raising money at over 6 per cent. to meet the demands of their educational programmes. The racket price of land for schools, as a result of Government policy, has enriched landowners and impoverished ratepayers, and it is breeding a resistance to expenditure on education in every local authority.
Last year I quoted a classic case. In February, 1958, my local education authority approved the purchase of a piece of land in Aldershot for £2,834. The vendor refused to complete the purchase, which had already been agreed. He was waiting for the Government's 1958 Act. In February, 1960, we had to buy that land for £17,500. Its cost rose from £400 an acre to £2,500 an acre in two years.
The process goes on. This month my education committee has paid £3,000 an acre, and in one case £4,000 an acre, for land in the countryside which it requires for schools—land the enhanced value of which ought to go to the nation. Yet, although the rates and the expenditure in every county have gone up three to four times over the last ten years, every local authority finds its school building programme inadequate. I quote from recent H.M.I. reports to my own authority:There is no staffroom, and separate toilet accommodation for the staff is very much needed,No factory would tolerate that.The main school premises will shortly reach their centenary, The reception class, together with the canteen servery and a tiny classroom, are housed in the adjoining church hall, which is also used by the school for the midday meal.This is certainly combining religion with education.The infants remain for two terms in the reception class, which is drab and uninspiring.Again and again I see in reports the phrase, "no school hall". My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) spoke with justifiable 950 enthusiasm of the act of worship, but the morning assembly is impossible in schools which have no assembly hall.
Hampshire is a good authority, as the Minister knows, but it cannot deal with the inadequacies I have mentioned, despite H.M. inspectors' reports, because its own building programme is completely absented by problems even more pressing than these, and because the Minister himself has limited the school building programmes. The programmes of local education authorities have been cut by nearly two-thirds this year. The paradoxical position facing the Committee and the country is that local authorities, despite the rate burden, have been for years the driving force on a reluctant Ministry. They have been asking for larger and larger building programmes, with the Ministry resisting all the time, and conceding only in fits and starts.
The Minister boasted in a recent Answer to me that next year's building programme may be the highest since the war at £65 million. We have, however, never reached the £70 million a year which the experts told us ten or eleven years ago was necessary. Ten years ago £70 million was worth more than £70 million today. Moreover, even the allowed building programme is held up by the unrestricted building which the Government permit. We are getting offices before schools. I am told that the building trade has a labour force of 1 million but is engaged in work which requires a building force of about 2 million at present. This means that schools, which are the least profitable of building contracts, lag behind. Building labour is taken from schools to be used on more profitable forms of building, as the Minister and anyone who has served on a local authority must know.
Undoubtedly Britain has made remarkable progress in post-war years. I can understand the pride of the Ministry. Like every local authority in the country, the Ministry can enumerate a mass of achievements, including for the first time free secondary education for all our children, thanks to the Labour Government; a vast increase in the teaching profession, and higher standards of entry at training colleges than ever before in history. It will interest the Committee to know that nearly 60 per 951 cent. of next year's entry to training colleges will not only have five subjects at O level but at least one subject, and many of them more than one subject, at A level. Another achievement is the huge building programme.
But we cannot be content to compare what we have achieved with the Britain which existed before the war—a Britain in which education had been neglected for forty years. We certainly cannot be content when we compare what we have achieved in education with what has been achieved by the rest of the world. Our advance in education is nothing compared with that of the Soviet Union, which started, after the Revolution, about fifty years behind the Western Powers. What we have achieved is inadequate compared with our expanding child population. It is inadequate compared with the problems confronting the youngster, particularly the ill-educated youngster, as he faces a materialistic, affluent society.
We lead in one way over the Soviet Union. That is that we are building our educational reform inside a free system. This free system is the most precious element in the whole of British life. Unless we use that freedom to end the anachronistic disparities which still exist in the class structure of British education, which make us the laughing stock of the whole of the rest of the civilised world, to ensure that talent, wherever it emerges, gets the opportunity it deserves, to ensure that all our children are educated for the responsibilities of citizenship in a free society and to enjoy the leisure which a technical age provides, and above all to end or resolve some of the tensions which exist between the community life inculcated in our schools and those of a society more and more blatantly based on private profit-making, by carrying some of the community spirit we seek to practise in our churches and schools into our political life, our free system may be replaced by one more ruthlessly efficient, which will in the quest for efficiency sacrifice the most precious thing of all—freedom.
We want education of free, critical, non-conforming citizens. We do not want education under a dictatorship, whether it is an open dictatorship or the subtle dictatorship which some of us fear from 952 the so-called "hidden persuaders" of the modern advertising octopus which threatens to strangle both Britain and America.
If we are going to get the things we desire, I do not believe that we can do it if we have a thoroughly dissatisfied teaching profession. The Minister cannot lightly dismiss the present critical situation. I thought that he would have at least mentioned it in his speech today. After all, we place the future destiny of Britain—the next generation—their intellectual, moral and spiritual well-being, their training for a vocation, or at least part of it, and the fate of the British nation, in the hands of 300,000 professional men and women. It is time that we paid them tribute, not in words only, but also in an adequate professional salary. And nobody can say that they have that today.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
On occasions in other places I have disagreed sharply with the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King), but this evening I certainly would not disagree with the remarks that he made about the teaching profession as a whole or, indeed, his preference for Wordsworth to Mr. Wesker. I was struck by the remark of the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that everybody was striving for recognition in our schools. I am conscious that there are many Members who are anxious to secure recognition before the debate ends, so I shall not follow the hon. Member for Itchen in his defence of the free world against the Soviet system. I shall throw away my own stirring oration.
Since the last general debate on education one of the most important developments has been the go-ahead which has been given for a number of new universities. This step is welcomed both in itself and in another respect. All hon. Members who have read the Crowther Report will have been impressed by the distortions that over-stringent university entrance requirements are making on the structure of the sixth forms in grammar schools and public schools today, and any development which can reduce that pressure is to be welcomed.
As a Kent Member I am glad that one of the new universities is to be sited 953 in East Kent, but I must admit that, ungenerous though it may seem, I look at this gift horse with rather a jaundiced eye. The advocates of a new university in East Kent had two sites between which they could choose—Canterbury and Margate. In other words, the University Grants Committee was faced with a choice between the spirit of St. Thomas a'Becket and the spirit of Billy Butlin. It may seem natural enough that the University Grants Committee should come down on the side of St. Thomas a'Becket, but I am by no means certain that it is right in making that choice.
Canterbury is a relatively small town with inadequate hotel accommodation. If there is a decent restaurant in the place, I regret to say that I have not yet been able to find it. There is a distinct shortage of boarding house accommodation, and I am informed that there is shortage of the casual labour which universities swallow so readily. On the other hand, a few miles away, at Margate, we have a town with ample hotel accommodation, a vast surplus of boarding houses and, out of the tourist season, a large surplus of precisely the type of casual labour which is so needed.
I put forward this argument because in the years to come we shall need to site more universities, more technical colleges and more teacher training colleges, and I believe that as a general rule one ought to try to place these higher education institutions in seaside resorts for the sake of the resorts and also because the resorts provide the facilities which are so needed by these institutions.
I have one other ground for being rather against Canterbury as a site for a university—a temporary one, I hope—and that is that Canterbury has a particularly bad record in the provision of textbooks in its primary schools. Since I have been a Member of Parliament I have been an enthusiast in calling attention to the need for greater expenditure on textbooks in schools. I am glad to say that there has been a distinct improvement in the four years which have passed since the Association of Education Committees, in conjunction with the National Book League, first produced a report which laid down standards of reasonable expenditure and good expenditure on books for our 954 schools. Curiously enough, up to that point the standard had never been definitely laid down.
During the last four years expenditure on these textbooks has risen by £2 million, or almost one-third. About £750,000 has been swallowed up by the increased cost of books, and £500,000 has been swallowed up by the progression of the bulge from the primary schools to the secondary schools, where one would expect the expenditure on books to he high. Nevertheless, a substantial amount—£750,000—is left for general improvement.
There have been some fairly spectacular improvements. The area represented by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) has one of the best records of improvement in the country. I am sorry to say that the education authority which has been referred to by the hon. Member for lichen is one of the very few in the country who have shown a decline during the last four years. The Minister has also not been markedly successful in getting his local education authority to improve its expenditure. On the other hand, I am happy to say that the local education authority represented by the Parliamentary Secretary has done extremely well in the last four years in improving its standards.
Although there has been a general improvement in most areas, there are still some extremely bad spots, and two of the worst, which were at the bottom and remain absolutely at the bottom year after year, are Barnsley and Plymouth. My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. I. Fraser) is present: perhaps he will catch your eye, Sir William, later in the debate. Certainly, during the past few years Plymouth has had an absolutely deplorable record.
I should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary what action has been taken during the past few years to stir up authorities where it would seem that the chairman of the education committee is subservient to the chairman of the finance committee and cannot get adequate facilities for the children.
§ Mr. Ian Fraser (Plymouth, Sutton)
The whole Committee knows—and I certainly recognise—the interest taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) in this subject. As 955 my hon. Friend has referred to my constituency by name, I would ask him whether he does not feel that perhaps he is making too much of this issue, and that it can almost be dignified by the term "obsession"—
§ Mr. I. Fraser
I hope that the hon. Lady will listen to me. I have had a lot of opportunities of seeing at first hand the actual quality of primary, secondary and, after that, the further education in Plymouth, and it strikes me favourably—and I hope that my partiality will be excused—compared with the quality of education, at all levels, in other parts of the country, where I have also had a chance of closely examining the position. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) will appreciate that there may be two sides to the question.
§ Mr. Goodhart
If my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton does not catch your eye, Sir William, he certainly caught mine.
§ Mr. Goodhart
What my hon. Friend has said may be the case. But the fact is that the figures for Plymouth are deplorable, have been deplorable throughout the years for which figures have been produced, and there comes a limit of expenditure below which it is impossible to maintain standards.
Consider the case of school meals, which has already been raised. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) spoke about the moral welfare one, could gain from eating Brussels sprouts. If our expenditure on school meals were allowed to fall in Plymouth to 50 per cent. of what is considered to be a reasonable standard in other areas, I imagine that there would be a tremendous outcry that would not only reach the ears of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton, but also the Minister. This is certainly a field in which one would not tolerate an expenditure of 50 per cent. below a reasonable level.
It is one of the paradoxes of our modern educational system that seven 956 times as much money is spent on school meals as is spent on school textbooks. We spend more on butter, beans and Brussels sprouts than we do on books and this seems to be an odd state of priorities in our modern society. Further, we spend twice as much on school transport as we do on textbooks and this, in our modern society, seems a rather odd system of priorities. And with the recent controversial Burnham recommendations, amounting to £60 million, ten times as much as is spent in a year on books in our schools.
I wish to follow the forbearance that other hon. Members have shown in discussing the Burnham recommendations, but there is one aspect of the controversy that causes me great concern, namely, I do not believe that in future the Minister will be able to isolate himself from the discussion of teachers' salaries in the way that he has been able to do in the past. After all, here we have the largest single item in the education bill, yet the Minister is not able to take a part, until the very last moment, in the discussions that go on in settling this item.
If the Minister tries to take part in the discussions earlier people on both sides tell him that he should not concern himself with the matter. I believe that the time has now come when the Minister must take part, and at an earlier stage. After all, the Minister has a responsibility to this House for seeing that the amount of money spent on education is spent wisely. I do not believe that he can adequately fulfil this role unless he is brought in at an earlier stage than is now the case.
One of the lessons of the controversy that has gone on during the last few months on teachers' salaries is that the Burnham system will have to be drastically modified in the next few years.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Fitch (Wigan)
I hope that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the interesting comparisons that he drew between eating and sleeping facilities in Canterbury and Margate and also between the amount spent on school meals and school books.
I regret that the Minister is not here at the moment, because I felt that the 957 earlier part of his speech was, if I may say so, delightfully vague. I recall reading a speech made by the late Ramsay Macdonald in which he talked about going on, on and on, and up, up and up, and I thought that the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech today was very much like that. The latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech I found a great deal more interesting, if rather unusual.
I agree with the Minister when he pleaded for a greater urgency and a sense of Christian morality in schools. We have heard the word "materialism" used quite a lot. I am opposed to the philosophical materialism of Marxism and I am also opposed to the more mundane materialism of capitalism. The former has very little root in this country but, unfortunately, the latter has very strong roots indeed.
It is interesting to note, in relation to the question of a Christian morality and schools, that in my constituency two-thirds of the schools are denominational. That is exceptionally high. Also, juvenile crime is rated as the lowest for any comparable town in the country. One can draw the obvious conclusions.
I will row deal with a few general aspects concerning education. I was interested to read that President Kennedy, after he left Vienna, where he had been meeting Mr. Khrushchev, was more than ever convinced that the challenge of the Soviet Government would be as much economic as military. If that is true—and it may well be—we must make an effort to improve our education services and make it the No. 1 priority.
The police have recently had an increase in pay, obviously to encourage recruitment to the force. This is very necessary to defeat crime, but surely the number of criminals in the community is a very small percentage of the entire population and if we are prepared to increase the pay and prospects of policemen we should be equally prepared to increase the salaries and prospects of school teachers. After all, education affects the whole community and not just one part of it.
Just as we prepare ourselves for any military challenge which may come from Communism, so, in future, we must prepare ourselves equally strongly for the 958 economic challenge that is coming from Communism. To do that we must look at our whole system of technical education. At the moment, I would describe this as bitty—a bit here, a hit there, and a bit somewhere else. We have in the secondary modern schools a curriculum which takes in certain technical subjects. We have 228 secondary technical schools, and technical subjects are now taught in grammar schools as well. In addition, there is a technical stream in our comprehensive schools. Nevertheless, I feel that we need more direction than the Minister indicated this afternoon.
On Thursday, in a supplementary question to the Minister, I asked whether he had any plans for increasing the number of secondary technical schools. He said:… many local education authorities prefer to give this in secondary modern schools rather than in secondary technical schools. I would rather leave to them that freedom of choice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th July, 1961; Vol. 644, c. 553.]I should like to put two points to the Minister. First, are the technical courses in the secondary modern schools and in certain bilateral schools as thorough and comprehensive as they would be in a purely secondary technical school? Secondly, it is all very well to talk about giving local authorities or anybody else freedom, but sometimes freedom of choice means freedom to do nothing at all. I would remind the Parliamentary Secretary that the Crowther Report comes out definitely in favour of an increased number of secondary technical schools. I should he interested to know the Parliamentary Secretary's attitude on this matter.
It is interesting to recall that the present Home Secretary, speaking in 1952 when reviewing the 1944 Education Act, said that there were too few secondary technical schools. The Government, or certain Government spokesmen, may have altered their view by now. There is also a certain amount of unfortunate snobbery about secondary technical schools. Rightly or wrongly, parents who went to public schools like their children also to go to public schools, in the main, although there may be exceptions, and parents who went to grammar schools like their children to do the same. But, fortunately, the 959 secondary technical school is largely, though not exclusively, a post-war development, and the idea that many parents have about this type of school is based on the conception of the old junior technical school which was not very efficient in many ways.
The number of pupils taking technical courses is increasing while the number of secondary technical schools is going down. I am certainly not against this trend, provided that the bilateral schools have the necessary facilities in the way of workshops and laboratories which are as good as those in the secondary technical schools, but I think that we need a far more definite and clearer policy in relation to the secondary technical schools.
I should like to say a word about the secondary modern school which I believe is the problem child of our present education set-up. What is its rôle to be? At the moment it is almost impossible to persuade parents that the 11-plus examination is not some world-shattering event. At the age of 11 the choice before a child is either to go to a grammar school, where he has the ability to develop the academic and social sides of his life and any sporting and athletic ability which he may have, or to go to a secondary modern school where he does not have half that chance. So to the parent it becomes an event of world-shattering importance.
A child going to a secondary modern school today has at least a 60 per cent. chance of being in an oversized class. What is the aim of the average pupil at our secondary modern schools? They have no aim except to reach the age of 15—
§ Mr. Fitch
In many cases that has been my experience. As I shall go on to show, there is very little for them to aim at.
Reference has been made to crime. The peak period for crime is now 14, but up to 1947 when the school-leaving age was 14 the peak period was 13. That is a very interesting set of figures indeed. It surely means that the last year at school is one largely of boredom, frustration and aimlessness, though I recognise that my hon. Friend the Member for 960 Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) may disagree with me.
§ Mr. Fitch
Therefore, I think that the proposals put forward by the Beloe Committee, which were mentioned by the Minister, need very serious consideration. I refer, in particular, to the recommendation to institute an examination on a lower intellectual level than the G.C.E. at the age of 16. Some very interesting figures have been published by the Secondary Schools Examination Council. I do not wish to bore the Committee with too many figures, but the numbers staying on at school after 15 are rising—of course, they represent a small minority—from 42,000 in 1958 to 66,000 in 1960. The same can be said of the number of children taking examinations. They have risen from 26,000 in 1958 to 46,000 in 1960, which suggests to me that there is a desire on the part of at least a minority of children to carry on and get some kind of certificate.
In examining the Beloe recommendations we must ask ourselves what a certificate would do. It would give personal satisfaction, of course, but I am of the opinion that the yardstick of measurement is the G.C.E. and I am wondering whether any new kind of examination would count very much with employers Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary, who may be aware of the reaction of employers, could say something about this. Personally, I would rather encourage the top 15 per cent. or 20 per cent. in our secondary modern schools to take a six-year course in the G.C.E., because, as I say, I believe that to be the recognised examination.
On the question of examinations in general, there is a great difference of opinion. I shall quote from a speech made by the present Home Secretary on this very subject of examinations. Speaking in the House on 28th July, 1948, the right hon. Gentleman then expressed a view which was commonly held at that time, but which, I think, is now being abandoned. He said:I have always had strong views about examinations, and I do not believe that an education can be good if it is dominated by an outside examination of any sort. In fact, the one advantage I see in the modern secondary school is that, thank goodness, so far they have got no examination at all".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th July. 1948; Vol. 454, c. 1373.]961 I agree that an examination does not bring out a person's full and complete ability. All sorts of things make up the human personality. Nevertheless, I believe that an examination gives children something to work for and something to aim at, and it should be seriously considered. Indeed, I think that it is to the credit of the secondary modern schools—here, no doubt. my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North will disagree with me—that they have got away from the early post-war conception, shall I say, the rather "free-for-all" conception, of what is required in education. I mean a good general sort of education, with nothing very much at the end of it. The secondary modem schools are moving away from that, and I am glad that they are.
In my judgment, four things must be done if the secondary modern school is to play a more effective role in our education service. First, there should be four full years at school. Secondly, the school-leaving age should be raised to 16. Thirdly, there should be some sort of examination for at least 60 per cent. of the pupils in the secondary modern school. Fourthly, I believe that the real solution is to be found in comprehensive education. I say this not because I am doctrinaire. I pride myself on not being a dogmatist in any way, neither in politics nor in religion. I believe in viewing things from an empirical point of view. The facts as we see them today suggest to me that the comprehensive system of education is the best that we have.
I come now to the primary schools. I shall not say much about them today because, when we debated this subject in May last year, I was fortunate enough to catch the eye of the Chair then. What disturbs me about our primary schools today is that we have selection there not at 11 but at 7. The children are segregated far too early. I doubt very much that the I.Q., while it will give certain indications of a person's intelligence and aptitude, is sufficient in itself to determine future academic careers. It has led to certain primary schools "cramming" their pupils with a view to seeing how many they can succeed in sending to grammar school.
There have been children—I could give examples of this, though I shall not 962 detain the Committee by doing so—who have been sent to grammar school, who have found it too difficult to keep up with the general level, and have had to return to secondary modern schools. This is all due to the "cramming" which goes on, the emphasis on some sort of prestige in being able to say, "Our school had so many successes, but the others did not". By and large, I regard early selection and "cramming" as two very disturbing features of our present primary education system.
In this country, university education has always been for the few. At the time of the American War of Independence, in 1775, the Americans had nine universities and we had only two, Oxford and Cambridge. We are nearly at the bottom of the European table in university attendance. The proportion of people attending universities in this country is far less than it is in many countries, some of which have been named in the debate today.
It is estimated that 700,000 children will be born this year in Britain. What have they to look forward to? They will have no schooling until they are 5. The majority will then go to primary schools, where 25 per cent. of them will be in oversized classes. There will then be the selection examination for them. The top 20 per cent. will go to the grammar schools where, at 18, they will have another selection for university, and, thereafter, 4 per cent. or 5 per cent. will go to the university. Eighty per cent. will go to secondary modern schools and leave at 15, unless, of course, their parents are wealthy enough to buy their education.
The education of our children today is neither good enough nor long enough. I do not know what will happen next Tuesday, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announces his economies, but I hope that education will not be among them. I ask the Minister of Education and the Parliamentary Secretary to act courageously in this matter. The underdeveloped and uncommitted countries of the world will judge us by the amount of economic and technical aid that we can give. We can give it only if we have a first-class education service. I hope that we shall regard the whole matter of education as of prime importance and resist to the uttermost any economies which may be suggested.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Compton Carr (Barons Court)
Education debates are notoriously debates for the riding of hobby-horses. I give my word that mine will be a very small one. I shall give it a quick dash on a loose rein round the Chamber and then sit down.
The matter I want to mention is, I suppose, really one of priorities. Everyone has been very high-falutin in talking about technical education, the universities and so forth. I come right down to the bottom end of the scale. I am concerned about nursery schools. Although not everyone needs to go to a nursery school, I am convinced that there are good reasons why many children need to go to nursery school.
Some of the reasons come immediately to mind. The mother is out at work because she has a sick husband or a husband with a low earning capacity. She may be a widowed mother. She may be an unmarried mother with an illegitimate child—a problem which is no less now than it used to be. Also, there are social reasons affecting the child. The child may be an only child. It may be a misfit in a large family, a common source for our juvenile delinquents later in life. A child may be either too bright or too dull in its family, or, again, it may be illegitimate, the one illegitimate child in a largish family. Also—I say this with some trepidation in the hearing of hon. Ladies across the Floor—the mother may just be a bad mother. Not all mothers are natural mothers. Finally, the very best and biggest reason, in my view, for our nursery school provision being considered again is that, especially in urban areas, great problems are created for mothers and children as a result of living in high flats.
We are not speaking of large numbers. About one in three of our working population is a woman. About one in three of those working women are married, and about 16 per cent. of those have two children. Nevertheless, although we are not speaking of large numbers, a mother living on any floor above the second or third, as we are coming increasingly to realise, does not like her small child to be out of her sight, with the consequence that she can do no more than have the child round her knees all the time from 964 the third year onwards. This is especially troublesome if the mother is pregnant with another child. It is really too much strain to put on any woman, particularly when we, by saving her that inconvenience, could do more for the child by providing a nursery school place for it. Obviously, the child suffers in those circumstances where the mother is overstrained.
The educational reasons are re always arguable. Very often, they are argued by people who have had advantages which very often these children do not have. I think we all have the advantage of having been brought up in literate homes. Even though they may have been poor homes, they were nearly always literate; but very large numbers of children today can go to school at 5 years of age never having seen the written word at all, and I think that is something of a social reason which we must start to overcome. Today, there is not even the family Bible in the home which can help to trace the children's fingers across the word.
I think, too, that the social habits which were inculcated more easily in what I might call the ground-floor dwelling are not so easily inculcated where children are boxed up with their parents or are alone with one or two other children. Indeed, large numbers of infants teachers whom I have the honour of knowing have told me that it might take from six to twenty-four weeks before they get a child to react socially with other children and settle down to the extent of learning in a crowd, and that shows the advantage of nursery schools in places where these disadvantages exist.
I know that the reason very often given is that there is not enough money. It is a matter of priority, but if I come to a choice—and I hope no one will take umbrage at this—between adults learning Russian at a few shillings a session, or, indeed, as I heard on one occasion not long ago, people learning scooter maintenance at a few shillings per session, I would rather have nursery education. The number of teachers is always insufficient, but I think that it is very much easier to get young ex-teachers with young children back into teaching if they are nursery or infant 965 teachers. I know that there are disadvantages, but I think that they can he overcome.
The final reason, and the one which is always thrown out at any one who makes this suggestion, is that children are best left with their mothers until the age of 5. I do not know whether I am at a disadvantage compared with other members of the Committee, but I find those who say that are very often people who were not brought up by their own mothers, but by "nannies" who were mother figures who gave them the two things they needed—a firm and kindly discipline and love at all possible times. I think that children living in special circumstances in urban areas today need that security, that continual firm calmness which the teacher in a nursery school can very often give but which a harassed mother cannot give. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary and his right hon. Friend will think again about the larger provision of nursery schools in urban areas.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. A. V. Hilton (Norfolk, South-West)
I am sorry that the Minister of Education is not here at present. I quite understand that he has to refresh himself, as other hon. Members have, but I hope that he will be back before I have finished, although to do that he will have to be in a hurry, because I do not intend to be very long, but to follow the fine example of the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Compton Carr).
In opening this debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) referred to educational priorities, and this theme has run through several of the subsequent speeches, including that of the hon. Member for Barons Court. Emphasis has been laid during this debate on all sorts of education—secondary, grammar school, technical and university education—but the hon. Member for Barons Court made nursery schools his priority. The hon. Member started on the bottom rung of the ladder, and I want to start on the next rung. I quite agree that the forms of higher education to which I have already referred are most important, and I have nothing against them at all, but, in my opinion, not nearly enough importance is attached to primary and infants edu- 966 cation. After all, the primary schools are the schools in which most youngsters start off at the age of 5, and during the following few years, the most formative years of their lives, they are being prepared for the higher forms of education which I have mentioned.
In his rather lukewarm speech, the Minister of Education referred only once, I think, to the primary schools, and that was in reference to their very good conduct. I wholeheartedly agree with what the right hon. Gentleman says about the good conduct of youngsters in primary schools, and that is one of the reasons why I believe that they are deserving of more encouragement than they are receiving at present, at least from the present Minister of Education.
I am sorry that the Minister did not refer more to this, and because he did not refer more to primary schools I intend to do so, and I hope to be able to prove that the Minister of Education has, in fact, neglected the primary schools.
For a number of years now, I have been a member of my own county education authority, and quite recently we sent up to the Minister of Education our list of minor projects for next year. These were really all essential works, needed to be carried out, and most them were aimed at improving the primary and infants' schools. The total amounted to £970,000 worth of work to be done on those schools. Imagine our disappointment when we received the reply from the Minister that all we were allowed was £130,000 instead of the £970,000 for which we had asked, or about one-seventh of the total amount of money we asked for. This small amount will enable us only to touch the fringe of the problem which we have in Norfolk in regard to these small village schools. Many of them need improving, and others require complete replacement by new buildings.
We have a quite good education authority in Norfolk, forward-looking, progressive and anxious to get on with the job, but it is disappointing to know that we in Norfolk have the rather unenviable record of having probably more schools than any other county in the country with the old type of pail lavatory. Despite the recent progress, we shall still have between 70 and 80 of this antiquated type of lavatory in our village schools in Norfolk.
967 Had the Minister been here, I had intended to make an appeal to him to try to have a blitz to see if he cannot sweep away these disgusting and outdated forms of sanitation and let us have decent, modern amenities instead. Had the Minister been here I would have accused him of being niggardly towards Norfolk and our particular problems. I believe that he is concentrating his attention more on the urban areas at the expense of such counties as Norfolk.
I know that it is difficult to attract the younger teachers from the colleges into such schools as those I have described. We have in Norfolk, besides those monstrosities, some fine secondary modern schools, but we have not nearly enough of them and will build more when the money is forthcoming.
My hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Ainsley), who has now left to refresh himself, referred to a number of times he had been received by the Minister of Education and said that he had led deputations to him. What a fortunate man he is. We in Norfolk have been asking the Minister to see deputations from the county, but he has turned a deaf ear every time. I only wish that he would receive a deputation from such places as Dereham and North Walsham, because there we have very real problems, and I believe that if he heard about their nature he could not turn a deaf ear to those deputations.
I am not opposed to secondary modern school buildings. We want more of them in Norfolk, where many children are denied secondary education. Only a fortnight ago, in King's Lynn, we had opened a really fine technical college. We are very proud of that, but there is too wide a gulf between these palatial secondary modern schools and the old-fashioned, often really antiquated, primary schools where our youngsters have to start their education, and I should like to see them improved.
We know that the Surtax payers are to be freed from £80 million of tax. If that concession were put off for a year and the money devoted to bringing these old-fashioned schools up to date, with modern amenities, what a great joy it would be to those of us interested in education in Norfolk.
We, too, have the problem of the shortage of teachers. This is not sur- 968 prising, because it is not peculiar to us but applies all over the country. I believe that there is one way the Minister could increase the number of married women teachers. I know a number of ex-teachers who have married and who find that if they were to go back to teaching it would hardly be worth their while financially, because of the Minister who often sits on the Government Front Bench and is responsible for taking Income Tax.
§ Mr. Hilton
I think that if the Chancellor were to give a lead on that aspect of the matter that would attract more married women back to teaching.
I was a little concerned at the antics last week of the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), when we had Questions to the Minister of Education and the hon. Member reminded the Minister and the House that all the proposals being put forward would mean spending extra money and that we could not afford that extra money at this time for education.
In conclusion, I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to appeal to the Minister to resist to the best of his ability the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he intends to cut down on expenditure on education in the proposals that we expect in a week's time. To cut educational expenditure would be a retrograde step. I am sure that if there is any likelihood of the Chancellor seeking to reduce expenditure on education, and the Minister of Education resists it, he can rely on the wholehearted support of this side of the Committee and upon the respect and support of many people in the country.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Fergus Montgomery (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
I hope that the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton) will forgive me if I do not follow him into the devious paths in Norfolk which he has been following. I want to say what I have to say very quickly, because I know that a number of my hon. Friends are also anxious to speak in this debate and time is now getting on. I should like to express my concern at certain aspects of education.
969 First, I would point out to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary that I feel that there are still far too many overcrowded classes. I was given some figures the other day, that 3 million out of 7 million in our State schools were taught in classes over regulation size. I hope that these figures are wrong, but if they are correct, then they show the necessity of reducing the size of classes. One way to do that is to get more people into the teaching profession.
I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday, a girl who has just come out of training college and is now in her first year as a teacher, and she is teaching a C-stream class in a junior school. She has the smallest class in that school, but she has thirty-one pupils. I believe that that is far too many to have in a C-stream class in any school, because how much individual attention can any teacher give to a class containing thirty-one pupils? Moreover, this is the type of class in which the pupils particularly need individual attention.
I turn to the doubts cast on attainment in the basic subjects. The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) mentioned a book. Instead of disagreeing with it, as he did, I would say that there is much in this book with which I agree wholeheartedly. One of the quotations is from the Entrance to Oxford and Cambridge (Reports of Committees appointed by the two universities) in 1960:The standard of English appears to us to be regrettably low not only among the majority of candidates for admission to Oxford but also in the country as a whole.We have got to decide why this sort of thing can be said in 1960 when so much money is being spent on education. We cannot, I think, put all the blame on over-large classes. I believe with Mrs. Street, who wrote a book on the subject, that the blame is attached to those people responsible for introducing what they call modern methods in our schools. I hope that the Minister will find time to read this excellent book, Spoil the Child, because it says a great deal about education that is common sense.
I agree with Mrs. Street when she writes of the harmful effect on education by not placing enough emphasis on the three "Rs" in our schools. As Mrs.
970 Street pointed out, proficiency in the three "Rs" seems to be frowned upon.
This was a quotation used by the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen, but he did not give all of it. Mrs. Street says this about teachers:… theories are propounded to them by visiting H.M.I.s when they have begun teaching. One theory is that no child should be able to read at the age of seven. This has been reported from so many schools up and down the country, both state schools and fee-paying schools, that it cannot be discredited. A Yorkshire teacher who expected praise because her class of thirty children could all read at seven, was roundly trounced because they were reading at such an early age and told they should still be playing.This is what she has written, and it has not yet been disproved. I believe that children go to school to work and to learn. I agree with the president of the National Union of Teachers who, in his presidential address in 1957 said:Restore the three 'Rs' to their pride of place and make children work,because without a good basic grounding in the three "Rs" what chance has a child of making his or her mark in adult life? I hope that we will get rid of these nonsense theories put out by these educational do-gooders. I believe that they should be called do-harmers. I believe that these methods should be stamped out of our schools and that we should get back to the basic principles and the so called old-fashioned methods of teaching the three "Rs".
The problem of juvenile delinquency is causing enormous concern to the whole nation. Schools today can do a great deal to combat this social disease. I believe that discipline is the first requisite for good teaching, because without discipline there is nothing. No matter how good a teacher may be and how marvellous the lessons are made, if the children do not attend to what is being said they will learn nothing at all. Like the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I was in a training college and there we were told that if our lessons were made interesting the children would listen. To this I say "baloney", because while that applies to the majority of children it does not make any allowance for that small vociferous minority of unruly children. Any teacher would say that one anti-social child in a class, unless he is corrected, can cause untold havoc among the rest of the children.
971 I am not advocating that we should return to the days of the beginning of the century when children were brutally caned for all sorts of trivial offences, but have we not in 1961 swung too far in the opposite direction? I believe that no teacher worth his salt will ever use corporal punishment unnecessarily. There must always be safeguards against any sadistic teacher, but a spot of punishment administered on the right place at the right time can work wonders. I agree with the president of the National Association of Schoolmasters when he says that if the felt that six of the best would prevent a boy from finishing up at Dartmoor, as he might well do, he would be lacking in professional duty if he failed to administer it.
Children have a tremendous sense of justice. They do not resent punishment when fairly administered. What they resent is unfair punishment and what they resent even more is the teacher who has favourites. I did not find the Minister's statement in the House on 11th May in answer to a supplementary question very helpful when he said:I consider that the use of the cane, although it may be necessary, is an admission of failure on the part of the teacher."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th May, 1961; Vol. 640. c. 616.]I do not feel that that is particularly helpful to those teachers who are in the forefront of the struggle to keep the social peace and bring about proper social development.
I am concerned about teachers who are prosecuted unnecessarily for the punishment of a child. We find that in every instance the case is dismissed, but we should try to put ourselves in the place of that teacher who has to go to court and then return to school. We should think about his position when there is some "smart aleck" whom he wishes legitimately to punish for some wrongdoing and who says, "Punish me and my mother will take you to court". I am surprised that more teachers do not say, "I shall not risk going to court for something like this", and turn a blind eye to bad behaviour. This problem deserves careful study, because this is one way in which we can help to combat juvenile delinquency. It would be beneficial not only to the nation as a whole but to the individuals concerned.
972 The amount of money that we are spending on education in the United Kingdom is about one-third of that spent in Russia per head of the population. Yet we have just witnessed the great enthusiasm of British people for the visit of a spaceman from Russia. I believe that the nation is anxious to hear of bold plans for improved State educational services and the establishment of teaching as an honourable profession which will have suitable financial reward.
I saw eye to eye with the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) when he said that more money would have to come from the central Government. The burden imposed on the ratepayers to pay the education bill is tremendous and it cannot reasonably be expected to increase much further. The Government must shoulder more of the financial burden, and I believe that if we are to give suitable financial rewards for the teaching profession the whole structure of educational finance will have to be reviewed.
I hope, therefore, like my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) and the hon. Member for Norfolk, South West, that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer decides that certain economies are necessary, education will be left free, because on education today depends the future of our nation. If we could only have a reasonable scale of salaries for teachers, if the rewards were made more attractive, the necessary recruits would be much more forthcoming, and with more teachers and smaller classes many of the problems in education which face us today would disappear.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
I hope that the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery) will forgive me if I do not follow him in detail in his speech, but I agree wholeheartedly with him about the importance of the three Rs and basic training, at least in junior schools. The free activity methods have some place, but they ought not to be used at the expense of the basic training of our children on which so much of their later education depends.
There are various points of view about discipline. When I left college I taught in a school where the headmistress walked round with a cane on her arm and almost every child was caned during 973 some part of the day. The general attitude to children in that school was by no means good, because they reacted to that cruel attitude of the headmistress.
Later, there was a change in the school and there was no corporal punishment. Instead, as a punishment, the children were excluded from all kinds of things in which they wished to participate. The complete change in their attitude was something which had only to be seen to be appreciated. Children will react to good teaching and encouragement much better than to corporal punishment.
I agree wholeheartedly with the Minister that a great deal depends on the social and moral training in our schools. I am not speaking of religious instruction as such, but where there is a religious attitude and approach and the children are expected to behave up to the highest possible standard there is a reduction in juvenile delinquency. There is a school on a large housing estate in my constituency where some of the parents have prison records, but because of the attitude of the headmaster and staff to the children there has not been one child on probation there for many years. There is no corporal punishment, but there is a high standard of approach to the children and the widest possible education is given in that school.
It is difficult to cover the whole of such a wide subject as education in a debate of this kind. I do not think that there are priorities in the departments of education, but that there are priorities of education in relation to other aspects of public expenditure. The local authority in my constituency has issued a booklet entitled "Education in Stoke-on-Trent in 1960". It was our jubilee year last year. This booklet lists the different educational activities ranging from nursery schools to technical colleges and even to Keele University College, which is conducting a most important educational experiment. It gives a picture of the wok of our secondary modern schools. It deals with all kinds of activities—arts, crafts, music appreciation, athletics and social training. In this booklet, the City of Stoke-on-Trent has shown how wide the field is and how much needs to be done.
974 I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Fitch) on one point, and I shall disagree with some of my hon. Friends about the place of the secondary modern school. I do not believe that these schools are falling down on the job. Many of them are doing a wonderful job under difficult circumstances. The standard in many of them is such that they are giving not only a fundamental education which, to many children, is the only opportunity of education they will get, but it is also giving them the desire to achieve something in life which is better than their parents achieved. In many of these schools a great and wonderful job is being done. I am sorry if, in the experience of my hon. Friend, this is not so in Wigan, but I can take him to many schools in my area where I am very proud of the staff and of the children.
Throughout the schools now we have the largest ever percentage of oversized classes—about 60 per cent. In Stoke-on-Trent we have classes with more than 40—some even have more than 50—children. I know what happens when H.M. inspectors come to these schools. Some of the children are transferred from these very big classes to others. That sort of thing happens in schools just as it does in factories when inspections take place. We all try to hide the worse features. It is a natural thing to do. This year there is the bulge, and it will still be with us next year.
This means, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said, that the question of the provision of teachers is greatly important. The burden of complaint by hon. Members on this side of the Committee against the Minister is that planning for this did not take place soon enough and on a big enough scale to provide the teachers we so sadly need. Last week he said, during the debate on science:We have to plan and to invest for fairly distant results, and we have to be judged on the timing, direction and pace of these plans for advance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th July, 1961; Vol. 644, c. 62.]The right hon. Gentleman has fallen down on the job in the planning, timing and direction, especially in relation to the training of teachers. When the three-year period was introduced, I 975 asked the then Parliamentary Secretary what provision was to be made to step up the number of places in our training colleges. The answer has already been mentioned in today's debate. It was that quality was much more important than quantity. Certainly, quality is important, but in this case we want both quality and quantity.
Great problems are facing us. We must bring down the size of classes both in secondary modern schools and in primary schools. In primary schools the classes should be brought down from 40 children to 30, because that is just about enough in such schools. The maximum figure should never have been fixed at 40. More specialised teachers are needed in our secondary modern schools—indeed, in all other types of school as well. With all these problems facing us, we need to be much more courageous than we are at present and much more forward looking in the provision for the training of teachers.
In view of the time, I shall deal with only one other aspect of secondary modern schools. At present, more children are staying on at these schools after the statutory school-leaving age. In Stoke-on-Trent last year, 180 more children were able to sit for the General Certificate of Education because of the provision made in six of our secondary modern schools. About 40 of them passed—and I do not think that that figure is bad in the early stages of introducing that examination into secondary modern schools.
The fact remains, however, that while we are encouraging more children to stay on, and hoping that more parents will allow their children to stay on, in many areas it is extremely difficult for parents to listen to our pleas. I agree with the demand for doing away, in time, with any fees for university students. I do not believe that there should be a means test anywhere in education, which is so important to our children and to our future. But when we come to the maintenance allowances for children staying on at school we find them to be very meagre.
A parent who earns £300 a year and has an only child who is staying on between the ages of 15 and 16, can get only £40 a year maximum grant. If his 976 income is £390, he gets only £10 a year. When the income is £400, and even if he has one other child, he gets nothing for the child who is staying on.
In the age group 16 to 17, a parent earning £300 a year, with one other child, gets £55 a year maintenance grant for the child staying on at school. If he earns £470 and has only one child he gets no grant at all. If he gets £550 a year and has two children, the grant is £10 a year. But when we come to the age group 17 to 18—when we begin to get the wastage—a man earning £300 with one other child gets £65 a year. This is the age group when a child is costing as much to keep in clothing and in food as the father. A man with two children and earning £550 a year gets a grant of £10. A man with three children and earning over £590 gets nothing.
It is at the age when children are sometimes required to stay at home to help their parents that we must ensure that they are not prevented from staying on at school purely because of economic reasons. If we deny children the right to stay on, whether it be in a secondary modern school, a grammar school, or a technical school, we will prevent those with ability from filling our universities. Ability should be the test, and not whether their parents can afford to let them stay on at school.
If further proof is required of that, I have some other figures. These figures relate to the number of children who stay on at school after 15. The average for England and Wales is 33.4 per cent. after 15; 16.9 per cent. after 16; and 8.2 per cent. after 17. In certain areas where there is a majority of working people, some on low incomes, the children do not tend to stay on at school as long as children in Bournemouth, Southport, and areas like that, and the proof is in these figures.
In Cambridgeshire, more than the national average stay on after 15; 14.1 per cent. stay on after 16; and 7.5 per cent. after 17. When one comes to Manchester, one finds that the figures are 29.8 per cent. after 15 compared with 33.4 per cent. for the national average; 13.7 per cent. after 16; and 6.3 per cent. after 17. Salford, next door. is worse. The figures are 15.7 per cent. after 15, which is half the national 977 figure; 8.8 per cent. after 16; and 3.6 per cent, after 17. Stoke-on-Trent is nearly as bad as Safford—15.6 per cent. after 15; 10 per cent. after 16; and 6 per cent. after 17.
In Bournemouth—and this used to apply during the days of the means test and that sort of thing—51 per cent. stay on after 15; 21.2 per cent. stay on after 16; and 8.4 per cent. stay on after 17.
§ Mrs. Slater
In Wales, the land from which my parents come, they do exceedingly well. In Cardiganshire, 62.3 per cent. stay on after 15; 37.5 per cent. after 16; and 21.7 per cent. after 17. In Merionethshire, which is a scattered county and somewhat different, 60.5 per cent. stay on after 15; 43 per cent. after 16; and 25 per cent. after 17.
I sincerely believe that the number of children who stay on at school after 15 is decided by economic reasons. It still depends on whether their parents can afford to keep them on at school, or whether they are needed at home for economic reasons. It is disgraceful that when debating education in 1961 we have to admit that economic reasons may be preventing many children from staying on at school.
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
Is not the position aggravated even further by the fact that it is well known that children in Stoke-on-Trent are much more intelligent than those in Bournemouth?
§ Mrs. Slater
Stoke always sticks together. I do not believe that those figures bear any relation to brain power. Children in Bournemouth are not more intelligent than those in Stoke. Children in Cambridgeshire are not more intelligent than those anywhere else. The simple reason is that the children in areas like Bournemouth and Cambridgeshire have more opportunities than the children in Stoke-on-Trent.
§ Sir D. Eccles
I am intensely interested in the figures for the number of children staying on at school. Is the hon. Lady sure that the average income of parents in Merionethshire is very much higher than that of those in Stoke-on-Trent or Manchester?
§ Mrs. Slater
Because I know so much about the villages of Wales. People in Wales—as in Scotland—have always had a desire to see that their children are not denied education, and they make untold sacrifices to ensure that they get it. In villages in North Wales parents have gone hungry so that their children could get a good education. It is because they have grown up with that great urge to educate their children that Wales is different from other parts of Britain. So I will not get caught out on that one by the Minister of Education.
I appeal to the Minister to look again at the question of maintenance grants. The list which I have was issued in 1957. The Minister tries to make every local authority toe the line about grants to university students, but I can take him to local authorities not far from my own which are not as generous as Stoke is over the grants given to children staying on at school after 15.
I could also go on talking about our building standards, for instance. I feel very strongly about having to ask teachers to teach in shocking buildings such as my hon. Friend mentioned. In the urban areas these buildings are mostly in the towns themselves, and we are moving the children out to housing estates, and as a result such buildings become no longer needed because the population is not there. I was glad to see two old schools in Stoke closed not long ago. We could never have made them decent schools in which to ask either children or teachers to work.
Our chief education officer says that the environment in which children work is very important. I believe that that is true. I do not say that a good building makes a good teacher or gives a good education, but there is a much better chance of a child being given a good education and of the teacher being happy in a good building.
I should like to know how much school building has had to be cut simply because of high interest rates. A week or so ago I asked how much a school tendered for at £170,000 would cost after we had paid the interest at the present rate, and the figure was £431,000. All 979 that has an effect on how far a local authority can plan its building, because it has to meet the constantly recurring burden of very high interest rates. If the Minister wants to do something, he should try to get the Chancellor, in his statement next week, to realise that pushing up interest rates is not the answer to our economic problem.
Education is so wide that the main thing for us to do is to ensure that every child gets a good education, a liberal education. I am a great believer in wide and liberal education. We need sound foundations, too, of course. Every child should have the glorious opportunity of an education according to its ability. The child should be able to appreciate that its education will never cease, and not only should it want further education itself but it should want, as a result of the advantages which it has had, to take part in youth clubs, adult education and other activities to ensure that others get the chances which every child does not have today.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith (Brentford and Chiswick)
The hon. Lady the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) always speaks with great sincerity and from wide experience. I hope that she will forgive me if I do not go into the details of what she has said, but I subscribe entirely to her last remarks. I, too, and I think most hon. Members, would agree with her that we want children to get the best possible education according to their ability.
I believe that sometimes we are in danger of losing sight of some of the general objectives in education through an over-preoccupation with the material things. The material things—better schools and equipment, more detailed ancillary services and suchlike—are important. All of us on both sides of the Chamber glory in the number of A and 0 level passes obtained by pupils in our constituencies and counties and are glad that thousands of teenagers today have a good knowledge of physics and can tackle advanced mathematics.
However, despite these things, I feel that in some ways we are neglecting the fundamentals, because the prime aim of all education must be to turn out good and useful citizens. The majority in our 980 schools are benefiting from more intense and modernistic methods of education, but there is nevertheless a significant minority who in that first aim of education are failures. These are not necessarily educational dunces either. The well-mannered and well-behaved child with only an average educational record may be of greater use to society than one who has reached a higher grade of education—but who is unmannerly and lacking in responsibility and refinement. The well-mannered child will be of greater use to the community than one who has passed many examinations, but who is lacking in social conscience.
As some hon. Members know, I am a member of a county education committee and, like others interested in education, I have visited many schools and met many teachers and pupils. Much of what I have seen I have liked very much. Part of what I have seen I have disliked. Same of the children I met were highly proficient in science and mathematics, almost staggeringly so. Unfortunately, their teachers regarded them as successes, but I also found that some of them were uncouth, badly spoken and rather boorish. They knew a good deal about calculus, but they knew far more about calculus than they did about courtesy. It is obvious to me, as it is to many others, that standards of behaviour and discipline in our schools have 'been sadly neglected over the past few years. I know that it can be disputed, but I think that it is revealed in the figures of rising juvenile delinquency.
I took a good deal of heart today from the very profound words of my right hon. Friend about discipline, and I was very glad that he drew the inference that there should be more emphasis on religious education, for religious education can do a good deal to put children on the right path when they are going astray and not being properly corrected at school.
There is too much hooliganism in all parts of the country. Much of it stems from a lack of guidance in the classroom. As The Times Educational Supplement said only recently:If the schools cannot teach children to behave decently, then. what can they teach them?It may be said that good behaviour in the first place should be taught at home, 981 but the trouble is that many parents lack concern. If as a result they abdicate their responsibilites, the teachers themselves should shoulder more responsibilities.
Like many other hon. Members, I have consistently advocated that teachers should be paid more. I said so at the Conservative Party Conference last year, and I know that many of my hon. Friends agree with me. I am sure that the teachers will get much more before very much longer, but if we are to pay them more, 'we are entitled to a better standard from some of them.
A few of the teachers I have met—and I stress that it is only a few, because we do not want to damn the majority by the actions of a small minority—have a rather sloppy approach to their duties and ignore the need for good behaviour and good manners among their pupils. Consequently, morale in the classroom is low, even to the stage where the pupils are getting out of hand. If we are approaching the position of paying qualified teachers about £1,200 or £1,300 a year, as we may well have to under the new Burnham scale, we must expect a general levelling up in the standards of teaching. The majority of members of the teaching profession do an excellent job, often in difficult circumstances, as hon. Members opposite have mentioned. There is no doubt that at present they are underpaid, but, like a significant minority of their charges, a minority of teachers need to pull up their socks to make sure that this decline in moral standards does not continue.
It has been said that the last year of compulsory schooling constitutes the greatest danger period for juvenile delinquency. Like other hon. Members, I think that that period should be geared to the schoolleavers' future. It should try to kindle an interest in the responsibilities of adult life which lie ahead.
But, quite apart from questions of conduct and behaviour there is another danger in education today—that of concentrating too much on the passports to adult life—the passports of academic distinction, the number of subjects passed at A level and O level and diplomas and certificates, which many children are not always capable of getting. Nor are they necessarily unintelligent children. Some are very late developers.
982 The grave danger is that in an age of specialisation and qualification we shall create a stratum of second-class citizens who will be unqualified and on whom their neighbours will look down, not as in the concept of the class society which largely operated before the war, but in a society which is educationally conscious in the wrong way.
That would be an extremely bad thing. We might well find that in due course we had improved our educational system only to damn the failures at the age of 17 or 18 to live out a life full of bitterness and resentment purely because they did not achieve a modern status symbol—a degree, or certificate, or diploma. That is why I have considerable reservations about the latest suggestion that there should be a lower form of school-leaving certificate, although I should like the idea to be considered with great attention.
My right hon. Friend has long shown a great deal of interest in educational research, and I am sure that all those connected with the educational service are pleased about that. Personally, I should like there to be far more research into some of the branch lines of education, lines which form part of the integral whole of the education service. I should like more research into questions of backward pupils and the methods used in handling them, more into coeducation and whether co-education should be further expanded, more into nursery schools, so ably dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Barons Court (Mr. Compton Carr), and more into which is tile best year to start school life.
Speaking from my own point of view, I do not necessarily accept that the age of 5 is the best at which to start school. Many children at that age are not ready to be launched into a primary school where big classes and harassed teachers do not have much opportunity to give individual attention and where the hours are sometimes long and weary. I understand from my researches that no other country in the world starts formal education as early as the age of 5 years. In parts of Europe and Scandinavia, where results are at least as good as they are in this country, no child starts school before the age of 7, and only then if he is considered ready to do so. This would be one way of reducing pressure on our beleagured 983 primary classes and would give an opportunity of lengthening school life at the other end, and of implementing the Crowther Report.
I welcome the efforts which my right hon. Friend is making on the question of getting married women teachers back into the education service. It has been a success so far, and I am sure that as time goes on it will continue to be a success. We obviously need more and more married women teachers because of the difficulty of the new bulge which is coming along.
In conclusion, I should like to say a few words about finance. I do not agree with the ideas put forward by the party opposite on education, in its latest pamphlet, "Signpost for the Sixties", but there is one point on which I find some common ground and that is on the question, mentioned by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), of financing the education service. The annual budget climbs each year. It will go on climbing and may well cost £1,500 million by the end of the 'sixties, and the rate burden is increasing the whale time. My own County Council of Middlesex spends more than any other county council except the London County Council. It spends three-quarters of its money on education and the burden on the ratepayers is becoming terrific. I feel that the cost in the future will have to be borne by the Exchequer, although I agree that we do not want to take away responsibility from the local authorities which, by and large, administer the education service fairly and with enthusiasm.
I also agree that we must go on expanding our educational services. I would regret any cuts in those services by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he announces his proposals next week. I feel that we are making good, sound progress in education generally, despite some of the things that have been said today. Since the war education has become more and more important in the eyes of the Government. We must keep it that way, and must always have our eyes fixed on the need for continuous expansion.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. D. 984 Smith), and to the four or five previous speakers, for making their remarks reasonably brief. In view of the time, I am compelled to do so, too. It is a tribute to the North-East's enthusiasm for education that so many Members from the North-East have contributed to today's discussion. The North-East has been the pioneer in many aspects of education, especially in experiments in adult education, prison education, the county library system and would—but for the parsimony of successive Conservative Ministers of Education—have been pioneers of the county college system.
I support the hon. Member for Brent-ford and Chiswick in his plea for greater Exchequer help for education, and his warning to the Chancellor to lay off education when he makes his next series of cuts. I was pleased to find a genuine feeling for education among hon. Members on both sides of the Committee in today's debate.
My main criticism of social service Ministers generally is that they will not assess the nation's needs in respect of education, hospitals, and so on, and then set out to tackle the problems involved. In these days there is a shortage of trained brains everywhere. I am reminded of some of the Questions I have asked about therapeutic dietitians, physiotherapists, building engineers and architects in local government service, schools dentists and teachers. In all those fields the endeavour to go forward is held down because the people have not been trained, thanks to long periods of Conservative rule before the war and during the last ten years.
Very little has been done to remedy the orthodox wastages in the education system. On 27th April, 1954, the House debated the Labour Party's Motion to increase the supply of teachers and the money available for education, and in that debate a former Conservative Member, Mr. Angus Maude, said:the proportion of both boys and girls who complete a grammar school course is scandalously low …"—"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1954; Vol. 526, c. 1509.]The boys and girls who fail to complete grammar school education are normally to be found in working class areas, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) 985 said. Time and time again Conservative Ministers of Education have been warned of the need for increased maintenance allowances, but they have done nothing about it. The wastage of able girls in all stages of our education system is acute.
The fight on the part of intelligent girls to get into universities is of long standing, and is relatively little easier now than it was before. This problem has been put to Conservative Ministers of Education time and time again. There is also the wastage at 11-plus, and the wastage among training college applicants and at the universities. The failure rate at universities wants looking into.
Hon. Members on this side have offered advice to previous Governments on many occasions. We have suggested action that could have been taken to improve the situation. The first Question I asked in the House concerned dependants' allowances for training college students. It took a long time before the Minister finally made up his mind to do anything about it, and when he did so it was only because of the shadow of Anderson.
On countless occasions my hon. Friends and I have expressed the need for the provision of more day training facilities. The Minister finally came round to this, but not fast enough, and it is still not being pursued with enough vigour.
There is a great need, as I have said many times, to get mature students in greater numbers from other walks of life into the teaching profession. There has not been a drive in this direction. There has been a drive to persuade married women to return to teaching, but there has not bean a drive to get mature students into training colleges. There is nothing like enough clerical and technical support for teachers in schools. This is purely a matter of money. Finally, there are far too many rejections of suitable applicants for training colleges because the buildings just are not there. The right hon. Gentleman has an indifferent record for getting the maximum number of training college students which he can.
I want to spend a few minutes discussing the very deplorable situation which exists in mathematics, physics and chemistry. In answer to a Question 986 tabled by me the right hon. Gentleman revealed that one-fifth of men and nearly one-half of women students at training colleges have no mathematical qualifications. A more systematic study has been undertaken by Mr. F. W. Land, of Liverpool University Education Department. It was a study of about one-fifth of all training college entrants in 1957. It covered 2,254 students, of whom 1,880 were women. It was a fair cross-section of typical training college entrants. One-third of all students needed specific remedial treatment in order to bring their mathematics up to the level of performance likely to be attained by at least half the Children they would be called upon to teach. These teachers are the new teachers in our schools today.
It is very doubtful whether the remedies about which the Minister talks in the training colleges have been anything like adequate to cope with that. In answer to another Question tabled by me he told me that 17 training colleges are without full-time mathematics lecturers. In the debate on science the Minister implied that 1950 was a period of low interest in the teaching of mathematics. I suspect that he selected 1950 because it is a favourite Conservative date to select, with the implication, without actually saying so, that this was the fault of the Labour Government.
But all the people I have been referring to, and, indeed, all the people who would be coming forward in 1950, received most of their education under Conservative régimes. The difficulty in the schools today is largely the absence of mathematics, physics and chemistry teachers in the 35–45 age group. These people received most of their education under Conservative or Coalition Governments and when a good deal of the money which should have been devoted to the social services was spent on the war effort.
I want to make two quotations from Cmnd. 902, Scientific and Engineering Manpower in Great Britain. Paragraph 84 says:The continuing shortage of suitably qualified teachers"—that is, in mathematics and science—is likely to remain of serious concern. In secondary schools other than grammar schools the increase in the number of children and the efforts that are being made to develop new courses are creating new demands so 987 quickly that there is little or no prospect in the next three years of maintaining even current standards.This means that by 1962 the position will be just the same as it has been, with no opportunity of improvement.
Paragraph 46 says:… to restore 1953 staffing ratios and to meet all the new demands in secondary schools … might require a further 4,000 to 5,000 science teachers.The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. K. Thompson), who now sits on the Government Front Bench, said this in the debate on teacher supply and the financing of education in 1954:We are aware of the problem and of the size of the problem, and of the effect on our society as a whole if those problems are not tackled in an imaginative and vigorous way."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1954; Vol. 526, c. 1533.]That was seven years ago and the problem remains almost as acute now as it was then. In grammar schools now, in the year preceding the O-level examination, about one-quarter of the girls have no mathematics teaching at all, one-fifth on top of that have four hours or less, and a quarter of the boys have four hours or less. I should regard the minimum amount of teaching for adequate mathematics education as being at least five hours. That is the position today.
The White Paper, Cmnd. 902, to which I have referred, speaking of the grammar schools, says thatthe experience of the last three years is likely to be repeated over the next three, i.e., more pupils, with enough teachers to maintain the present standard of science teaching.The present standard of mathematics teaching is 100 grammar schools with mathematics vacancies and 370 grammar schools with posts filledwith teachers not having satisfactory qualifications".I suggest that the qualifications of science, mathematics and chemistry teachers in the schools are far lower than they were in 1938, and the present standard is not satisfactory.
I should like to say a great deal more. shall conclude with this comment about girls' grammar schools. There are virtually no women graduates coming forward to be trained to teach physics and chemistry in girls' grammar schools. 988 These schools are unable to find staff to provide such courses for the girls. The most urgent need is to break this vicious circle—no teachers of the physical sciences, no provision for classes in these subjects, no students coming forward to study them, so no supply of science teachers. I leave it to my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) to break this vicious circle.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
Today we have had the last of a series of very interesting debates on education in its various aspects during the current session of Parliament. We started off in good time on the Address, and we are finishing now, shortly before the Summer Recess, with today's debate. It is inevitable that all debates on education should range rather wide, and today's debate has been no exception.
We have a certain amount of agreement between the two sides of the Committee on education problems, but I think that the basic difference between the Government and ourselves is that the Government are satisfied because some progress is being made while we are profoundly dissatisfied because so much more remains to be done. That is the difference in emphasis, and the difference in our approach to these matters.
During the debate, contributions from hon. Members have ranged in subject from the nursery schools right up to the universities. One cannot deal with them all. I was very much interested to hear what the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Compton Carr) said about nursery schools. I was rather disturbed to hear the contribution made by the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. D. Smith). We have been discussing behaviour problems among children, and I think that, for the children who are brought up in our urban areas, the fourth and fifth years of their development are extremely important psychologically. One thing which worries many of us is that children of that age often do not have adequate play facilities, and for them play is a most important aspect of development. I am myself strongly in favour of nursery schools, and, in my view, where they cannot be provided there should be far better facilities for 989 play of a constructive kind for these very young children. I should very much like to have a proper debate on that subject at some time.
Having said that, I must turn now to some of the crucial matters raised in the debate, of which, quite clearly, the most important, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) plainly showed, is the problem of teacher supply. I understand that the Parliamentary Secretary is to deal with this when he replies. Only last week, we had a discussion on one extremely important aspect of teacher supply, the great shortage today of teachers of science and mathematics. I shall not go over that ground again. It would not be necessary to do more than mention it had the Minister been franker in his contribution to last week's debate.
Last week the Minister twitted the Labour Party for suggesting that the position was getting worse. The right hon. Gentleman denied that and he quoted, most unfairly, from an article by Dr. Crank called "The Crisis in Mathematics" Conveniently, the right hon. Gentleman quoted from that article, but now I quote from the conclusion of it, which is:It must be obvious by now that we are confronted with a national problem of considerable magnitude. So large is it, in fact that a national policy co-ordinated by a vigorous central effort is needed to cope with itI would not have dealt with that further tonight had I not, as the representative of a Welsh constituency, felt obliged to draw attention to the situation in Wales. Last week hon. Members representing all parts of the Principality were shocked to receive a report on the position of physics teaching in Wales. This is one of the aspects of the problem of mathematics and science in general. This Report, the production of which was carried out by people with the highest academic qualifications, must leave all hon. Members really shocked.
It pointed out that the number of honours graduates is declining and that in the past ten years not one first-class honours graduate has gone in for teaching in Wales, and only two have in the past twenty years. At the other end of the scale, the number of those with pass degrees—not even third-class—who have had to be accepted as teachers has risen 990 to fifty-nine in the comparable period, with only two first-class graduates going into schools.
The position in the girls' schools, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) pointed out, is now, in the words of this Report… quite appallingly bad".I will not weary the Committee with a great deal of detail, but I have with me a list of replies from headmistresses and headmasters of schools in Wales relating to the impossibility of obtaining adequate staff. One saysThe position is desperate".and continuesMy physics specialist is a man who has never taught in a grammar school until he was transferred here. He can not teach the sixth form".Another headmaster writesThe second post was repeatedly advertised but with no result. The man I finally obtained …to teach physics… holds a pass degree in economics and geology.From a girls' school a letter statesThe physics post was vacant for six years.A letter from another girls' school statesThe post was advertised for two years with no response.Another girls' school statedA retired chemistry master helps out part-time.And so it goes on. I have batches of these which I could quote if there were time, but I will read just the conclusion of the report:The position is obviously a grave one, and as far as standards are concerned, a further drop in the near future is inevitable. Obviously strong action is required if the basis of physics teaching in the Principality is not to collapse entirely.In the light of this sort of evidence, I suggest that we were right and that the Minister was wrong when we said last week that the position, far from improving, is deteriorating. The absolute figures may be better but, relatively, they are deteriorating.
That is just one aspect of the most crucial question in teacher supply. There are other very important aspects of the problem to which we should turn our attention. My hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland mentioned mature teachers, people not direct from school or college, but older persons who may 991 have gone into other occupations but who feel that they may become useful teachers. I have been to the various teacher training colleges and I have found that it is a fact that, for instance, women who went into clerical occupations and who found that they were not satisfied with that type of life, wished to turn to teaching.
It is also equally important that we should attract older men back into teaching—possibly some who have gone into industry. But if we are to get back into teaching these people who are settled in life and have families—and the Minister made great play of these older persons in his speech to the Association of Education Committees the other day—we must offer them reasonable conditions. I suggest that the grants for these older people with dependants are quite inadequate to attract them if during training they have to keep their families on present grants. The maximum for dependants is, for a wife £160 a year, a first child £55 a year, a second child £35 a year, a third and subsequent children £30 a year. Even adding family allowances to that, I suggest that we cannot expect people to transfer from other jobs to teaching if that is the total grants available to them during their training period.
There is also the matter of the day training colleges. It is clear that people with families are not likely so easily to he able to detach themselves from their homes and they would, therefore, be particularly suitable for day training colleges. But what is the position there? We were promised colleges which would open last September but which did not open until January. We were told this time last year that there would be three others, but we now find that they are not being opened until next September. One can understand that a residential institution takes a fairly long time to plan and establish, but I cannot believe that if there were a real sense of urgency we could not have had more day training colleges before now.
I now wish to deal with married women who are asked to return to teaching. The Minister started out with a great flourish. He said that he wanted 5,000 out of the 50,000 women former teachers who are of a suitable age to 992 return to teaching. He has had half of that number so far. The rate of recruiting of married women to teaching appears to be no higher than it was in 1953, 1954 and 1955. One cannot pretend that one is doing anything spectacular in this respect, although naturally one is glad of such progress as has been made.
Now I come to something which is extremely disquieting on the question of teachers. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North mentioned this, but I feel that it should be emphasised. He received a Written Answer last Friday from the Minister concerning the number of untrained teachers who had entered the profession last year. Out of 24,000 new entrants nearly 8,000 were untrained. About one-third of the total entry were untrained. These include, no doubt, a number of graduates, but they are nevertheless untrained according to the Minister's own figures.
The Minister himself, speaking at Sheffield in March of this year, drew attention to what I think is the most serious aspect of this high proportion of untrained teachers when he remarked:By the end of the decade one in foul teachers in secondary modern schools will be graduates and a growing proportion of these will he untrained.Anyone who has any knowledge or experience of secondary modern schools will agree that if there is any type of school in which a trained teacher is needed it is the secondary modem school, dealing sometimes with these rather difficult boys and girls whom we have been discussing in another context. Many of us are deeply disturbed to suppose that we are to have this large proportion of untrained college graduates going into the secondary modern schools where they may possibly do considerable harm through their lack of experience. They will be learning at the expense of the children.
The Minister suggests that he is doing everything possible, that he is battling against great odds and is doing all that can be done to improve teacher supply.
Before leaving this topic, I would mention that I happen to be connected with a voluntary organisation which is responsible for some teacher training colleges. We have been anxious to expand and have asked the Ministry for a decision about whether we could be 993 allowed to expand. I am thinking of one well-known women's college, a small one but it could be made bigger, which is training the primary teachers for which the Minister has been calling. The hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman), the Chairman of the committee, and I had to go on a personal deputation to the Home Secretary, in whose constituency the college is, before we could get a decision from the Ministry that we might expand. It is complete nonsense to say that everything is being done, that there is tremendous pressure and that we could not possibly go faster. I know of other instances where expansion could take place and could be planned, but we cannot get decisions from the Ministry about whether we may be permitted to expand.
I believe that if we consider the delays over decisions, the delays over the day training colleges and the inadequacy of grants for mature students and so on, the Minister cannot honestly say that he is doing everything possible to deal with what everyone agrees is the really central and vital problem in education today—teacher training. The Minister said that he is "waiting for Robbins". If he does it will be three or four years before we have the Report and then work out how to implement it.
I make no apology for having spent some time on this very important matter. But there are other things which we ought also to discuss. We have had some talk today, very properly, about secondary modern schools. The one announcement of policy which the Minister made will affect those schools in particular; that is, the announcement about the implementation of the Beloe recommendations. The Minister was right in saying that to establish a different examination at a different level is a very important step in our national education and one which should be approached with a certain caution and reflection. I think that he was on the whole right on the line which he took on this point. I feel about the Beloe Report much as I do about the Common Market, that I enter it reluctantly but feel that it probably should be done. The evidence which has accumulated over the past few years, the experience in the secondary modern schools and the number of miscellaneous examinations which are being taken all over the 994 country call for some reform on the general lines which the Minister has pointed out.
I should like to draw the attention of some of my hon. Friends who may feel a little diffident about this to some figures given in an answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) last March showing that a very large number of secondary modern pupils are taking the G.C.E. examination and are not passing in any subjects at all. That in itself must be a discouraging experience. While I am all in favour of children taking the examination if they are able to take it, I believe that there is a place for a different examination if it is very carefully thought out and so shaped that it will not stunt or restrict the freedom of education which has been a characteristic of the secondary modern schools up to now.
In fairness to the secondary modern schools, we ought to draw attention to some of the difficulties under which they are labouring. I do not agree with what I understood my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Fitch) said about the secondary modern schools being, in effect, failures. We ought to draw attention to the very serious handicaps under which a vast number of these schools are still working. In 1959—these are the latest figures that we have; we are still awaiting the next Report from the Minister—out of 51,000 classes in secondary modern schools, 31,000 were overcrowded.
Let hon. Members think what that means in terms of strain on teachers and children. Not merely were the classes overcrowded, but the buildings in general were overcrowded. I have a list here culled from districts all over the country, and one could pick out one after another. Here, for instance, is a post-war school planned for 600 pupils which in 1960 had 893 children on the roll. A school planned for 510 pupils has 803 children on the roll, and another school planned for 450 had 932 children on the roll. Need I go on? I have pages and pages here, with which I cannot weary the Committee, of descriptions of conditions in which some of these schools are being conducted. I will mention only one or two.
995 Here is a school with 424 children on the roll about which it is said:The Baptist Church Hall, which is adjacent to the school, is used as assembly hall, dining hall and gymnasium. The church uses the building during the weekend, so that no permanent displays or apparatus are possible. There is one practical room shared between woodwork and metalwork, which is not a satisfactory arrangement.That seems to me to be an understatement. There is another school with 614 children on the roll. Two practical rooms and four classrooms are in a detached block of ex-Army huts about fifteen minutes walk from the main building and the playing field is ten minutes' walk from the school. There are no changing facilities. In the science room there are only three working places. I could read so many more, but one cannot pick them all out.
Here is a girls' school for 511 pupils, and they say that there is inadequate provision for domestic science, which takes place in an antediluvian, gas-lit old railway property, completely isolated from the school and three-quarters of a mile distant. The hall is used for school meals, physical education and assembly. It cannot be used for physical education in lesson time. There is endless time wasted in walking to and from the playing fields, which are shared by another school quite a considerable distance away.
The point I am making about this is that a great deal of the work in secondary modern schools is being carried on in extremely difficult conditions, and we ought to be glad that so many of them do as well as they do.
There are a number of other subjects which I should very much like to discuss. Frankly, I was surprised that the Minister made no reference at all to education for commerce and business, because he made an announcement in a recent speech saying that he would refer to this matter before the summer holidays. He has not very much time left for that. In the speech in which he mentioned this, he said that in this particular field:We are lagging badly behind some of our most prominent continental competitors.We would agree with him.
It is now nearly two and a half years since we had the McMeeking Report. 996 Some steps have been taken, but I think that everybody interested in this field is wondering when we are to have a definite announcement about a higher diploma or "Dip.Com.", if it is to be called that, to bring commercial subjects up to the level of technical subjects.
No matter what the announcement may be on these higher awards, and I do not wish for one moment to minimise their importance, because they are very important for us as a commercial nation, I feel that one should also draw the attention of the Ministry to the other end of employment in commerce—the number of children who leave school at 15 with an inadequate background to drift into office jobs for which they have no proper training. The idea of apprenticeships at that level—craft apprenticeships, as opposed to student apprenticeships—is very sadly lacking in the business world today. I was horrified only on Friday, on going to a secondary modern school in Hertfordshire, the headmaster of which told me that some parents were refusing to send their children to his school, which I should have said was an admirable school, because he did not permit girls of 13 to start commercial subjects. They were asking that they should go to a neighbouring school where, presumably, the head was willing for this to happen.
We complain about the inadequacy of the people who go into our offices and businesses, but what can we expect in the circumstances? I think that the Government should very seriously look at this whole question of the proper training and proper day-release of these youngsters who leave school with a completely inadequate background. I recognise that the higher level, the sandwich courses, of which we hoped to hear something this afternoon, is important, but I contend that at the younger age we are wasting a fantastic amount of juvenile ability, because parents do not realise what is best for their children. They take them out of school or encourage them to acquire mechanical skills when they simply have not the necessary educational background to enable them to make any progress in commerce or business. I repeat, this is waste. We cannot afford to waste ability in any sphere.
We cannot afford to waste ability in teaching. I come back to the teachers 997 because they really are the mainspring of education. I appeal to the Minister not merely to recruit and train more teachers but to do everything he can to take the drudgery out of teaching. There is hard work in teaching. There must be, as in any worth-while job, but I believe that there is a great deal of unnecessary drudgery. I ask the Minister just what his policy is on this matter.
Again, in a recent speech he made an eloquent aside about mechanical aids to teaching. There was an article only last week in the Schoolmaster on "Automation in the Classroom". This may be a new idea to some of us. I personally have no objection to it if the teacher can be saved from drudgery—for instance, if absolutely straightforward marking of arithmetic can be done by a machine. That, however, costs money. Is the Minister going to provide money for this, or is this just one of those remarks which he tosses off when he is making speeches outside this Chamber?
We have been discussing science teachers, but what about laboratory assistants? It is a waste that really valuable science teachers should do in the laboratory all the chores which could be done by laboratory assistants. There has been some improvement in clerical help, but not enough.
Finally on this point I refer to the waste in the teachers' energy, time, temper arid general resilience in the sort of conditions I have been describing in some of these schools. If there are not sufficient specialist and craft rooms, if all the time the teacher has to be clearing out and putting away apparatus and equipment, if the teacher has to spend a vast amount of time going round makeshift, badly-planned buildings, he is worn out, and that is a waste of the most precious educational material we have.
We have accused the Minister in the past of complacency. He complained about that in the debate last week on science, but we still believe that he is over-complacent—or gives the impression of being over-complacent. He may not be able to help it, but he gives the impression of being complacent from his smooth hair to smart boots. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap"] I just say that he gives that impression to us on this side 998 of the Committee. This is not the time for it.
We believe the time has come for a real crusade in education. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North pointed out, we need at least 100,000 more teachers in the next decade. At the moment we are getting them at only half that rate of increase. We on this side of the Committee have said in our "Signposts for the Sixties" that "investment in people in this country is still tragically inadequate". We say:Under Tory Free Enterprise system no limit is set to the amount of our national resources and intellectual talent consumed by the popular newspaper, the glossy magazine, the cinema, commercial television and the advertising industry … But when it comes to building schools and paying teachers' salaries, strict economy is the order of the day.We shall know next Tuesday what is the real attitude of the Conservative Government to the values of education. We have had warnings from both sides of the Committee and we hope that when next Tuesday comes education, at least, will emerge unscathed.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Kenneth Thompson)
I join with the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) in recognising the great attention which has been given this Session to the cause of education, beginning at the earliest days and carrying on, as she said, until the Session comes almost to an end. I am very glad that it should be so. It is an indication that through the country today there is a great enthusiasm for the cause of education and great determination to see that the resources which the country can provide for education shall be found and shall be properly applied to the general good.
One would have thought from listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) that the education system with which he is familiar is very different from the system existing today. Indeed, one had the impression that such schools as he may visit are entirely apart from the State system for which my right hon. Friend is responsible. I would strongly adjure the hon. Member to take an early opportunity of visting a maintained school of some kind to bring himself up-to-date with what is happening in 999 the schools. There is even less excuse for the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East. We know that she has been inside a school.
The task which my right hon. Friend has to discharge is to provide enough good schools of all kinds, primary, secondary, and technical, spread throughout the country to meet the needs where they are wanted and when they are wanted. I claim that the record of the last ten years shows that extraordinarily good progress has been made in meeting this obligation. The present school building programme, as the Committee has been repeatedly informed, is the largest that the country has ever undertaken. What is more, the rate at which the school building programme allocated among the education authorities is being carried out has now reached a pace which is faster than has ever before been achieved. I shall deal with more records before I come to the end of my speech.
The truth of the matter is that the starts on all kinds of education building, except universities, in 1960–61 total £115.4 million, which is about £30 million better than ever achieved before. I should like to pay tribute, and I think that the Committee would want to pay tribute, to the local education authorities and churches for the magnificent effort on their part that this represents. We may claim, and I hope that the Committee will not think it inappropriate to do so, that part of the credit for this achievement belongs to my right hon. Friend and his Department, for the improved procedures introduced in the last two or three years to add the steam to the programme which the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East thought ought to be there.
Work completed in 1960–61 totalled about 84.5 million. That is the last completed year. This represents about 4 per cent. shortfall of the allocation of projects allowed to local education authorities. This is not evidence of a reluctance of local education authorities to get on with the job. Far from it. It is true to say that all the education authorities are very anxious to do more than we are able to allow them to do, and would willingly set their hands to more if they could.
1000 The truth is that the local education authorities have found, as we have found, that there is a limit of speed beyond which they cannot go—that there is a load on the building industry at present beyond which that industry ceases to be efficient, ceases to bring to completion the projects upon which it is engaged, and the result is a failure to deliver the goods at the end of the day. There is a shortage within the local authority services themselves—leaving aside what goes on in other parts of the building industry—of architects and professional staffs, without whom none of these jobs can get very far.
In the further education programme—the five-year programme which was announced five years ago to accomplish the completion of £70 million worth of technical college construction—we have approved, and seen effected, the start of £69,849,000 worth of work of that £70 million. I hope that hon. Members will consider that to be a reasonable achievement, in all the circumstances.
It is not unreasonable to point out that the building and construction industry, upon which we rely for our schools, our training colleges and our technical colleges, is stretched almost to the limit of what it can be called upon to do. I shall return in a moment to other aspects of this matter, and of what we can ask the building industry to do, since this bears on what I want to say later about the teacher training college programme.
I come now to the problems which have been turned up by the situation to which the hon. Member for Sunderland, North referred. I give figures which it is convenient for him to ignore —if, indeed, he is aware of them. I do not know whether he is. There was no evidence of them during his speech. I can assure him that 1951 is a much more convenient date for us to quote, as it saw the end of the Labour Government and the beginning of our period of responsibility. The school population then was 5¾ million. In 1961, the school population is 7 million children, All these extra children have had to be found places, first of all in primary schools and later in secondary schools.
This has meant that, within the building programme for which my right hon. Friend is responsible, the first and 1001 largest portion had to be given to providing new additional primary schools to accommodate the additional primary school population, and, as that bulge passed through the primary schools, the concentration had then to be put, gradually at first and then considerably, on the provision of secondary schools.
Furthermore, we have had to take account of the fact that, as these larger age groups have moved into the secondary schools, we have had to provide accommodation for the phenomenon to which many hon. Members have referred —the larger numbers of children who have chosen to stay on a further year in secondary schools after reaching the age of 15. In 1961, about one-third of the children are staying on for a further year, and there are also twice as many 17-year-olds staying on at school today —46,000, or 7.6 per cent. of the age group. Thus, the first charge upon the school building programme during these recent years has been the provision, first, of additional primary school places and then, as the bulge has passed to the secondary schools, of further secondary school accommodation. I do not think it unreasonable 4o claim that the achievement of meeting these needs when and where they have arisen is something for which the Committee would wish to give my right hon. Friend every approbation.
I turn now to the most important part of the field of education, the item which has occupied a predominant place throughout this discussion, the training and recruitment of teachers. I think that the Committee ought first to have the present position clearly in mind. Taking the across the board figure, the average size of classes in primary schools is 32.7 children. In the senior schools the average is 30 children. Those were the figures for 1960, and we expect a further improvement in 1961.
I agree that within those figures there are wide differences. There are, of course, classes which are well above the average, and classes which are below it, and it is true, as I think one hon. Member pointed out, that some parts of the country are less favourably placed even within those broad averages. But these figures represent a very considerable improvement over recent years.
1002 In 1952, the percentage of oversized classes throughout the system was 39 per cent. In 1960, it was 33 per cent. In 1952 the percentage of pupils in oversized classes was 47 per cent., and in 1960 it was 38 per cent. In spite of the fact that this extraordinarily large number of children has been going through these schools in this period—I have given the Committee the figures—the staffing standards, which are a fair test of the adequacy of the system of education provided, have been improving throughout the period, and I think it right for us to be able to claim that to the credit of my right hon. Friend.
We ought to consider, as the Committee has been doing, what are the prospects for the future. The number of teachers in the service has increased from 221,000 in 1952 to 274,600 today, an increase of 25 per cent, during that period. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Sunderland, North and his hon. Friends to say that this is not enough; that it is too little and too late. That is a familiar line for the Opposition to take, and it is a familiar line for the Opposition to describe to the world at large how, if they had had the responsibility, they would have done better. The fact is that there is no recorded evidence to give grounds for believing that that would be so, and an increase in those years of 25 per cent. in the size of the teacher force in the schools is a very considerable increase indeed.
In 1952, the number of non-graduates recruited into the schools totalled 9,000. In 1961, the figure was nearly 13,000—an increase of 4,000, represented, in the main, by the overcrowding of the teacher training colleges. I think that the Committee would want to pay tribute to those in the training colleges, the staffs and all concerned and the students themselves, who have endured these conditions and made it possible for this enormous increase to take place.
The recruitment of graduates has shown an increase along similar lines. In 1952, the recruitment of graduates into the maintained school system was 3,100. In 1961, that figure had risen to 5,900, a very considerable increase—almost double—plus the recruitment into the service of about 8,000 teachers from other sources.
1003 Great play has been made about the recruitment of untrained teachers into the service. This figure of 8,000 represents a combination of various types of entrant—the student waiting a place in a training college, and some teachers who have been recruited from outside as mature entrants with industrial experience suitable for the job for which they were wanted, and for which a plea was made by an hon. Member a short while ago.
Recruitment into the teaching profession has been going on at a very considerable pace during these years, and my right hon. Friend is justified in claiming that he has sought all the avenues open to him and has sought to harvest among all the sources to the very best of his ability to obtain additional recruits into the teaching profession.
We have been faced with circumstances which nobody could forecast—the phenomenon of an extraordinarily high wastage mainly among young women teachers. This presented a problem to which there is no final solution. There is no easy answer to the fact that young women today marry earlier than ever before. I can understand that the devotees of planning will resent anything so vicarious, but the truth is that these young ladies are extremely attractive and extremely marriageable—and off they go. It is a very good thing that they should.
Very few trained men teachers left the service during this period. The hon. Lady who, with one or two other hon. Members, asked about day training colleges, allowed herself some unjustifiably scornful references to the rate at which these colleges had been provided. Apparently, she would have managed it in a good deal less time. I have no doubt at all that she would. But the fact is that my right hon. Friend has provided eight day training colleges—two which we have had for some time and six which have been provided in the last year. This seems to me a very creditable accomplishment, and I thought that the hon. Lady would be the first to give credit where it is due. With the eight day training colleges we have provided 1,700 places for mature students, and, in addition, there are about 3,700 places for similar day students in the residential colleges.
1004 The Committee knows quite well that we are not resting on these laurels. It has been informed on previous occasions of our proposals for doubling the training college places to raise the total by 24,000 places in all at a total capital cost of £36 million. We require to provide 12,000 of these places by September, 1962. The prospects are that we shall about hit the target of having that number of additional places available for entrants by September, 1962. The second phase of the programme is an additional 4,000 places to be provided by September, 1963.
Returning to what I said about the difficulties in which the building industry finds itself at present, it will take a great effort of planning and architectural and preparatory work to get these college places available by September, 1963, but I can assure the Committee that we will spare no effort to see that that is done.
§ Mr. Willey
Is the Parliamentary Secretary saying that the Government have targets in educational building, but that they are physically prevented from achieving those targets by the pressure of less necessary building?
§ Mr. Thompson
I am trying to give the Committee an assurance that we will do all we can to see that that does not happen. We can do no more than that.
§ Mrs. White
Can the hon. Gentleman explain why it is, when an organisation wishes to expand, that organisation cannot take the decision that it may expand and may be delayed for months and months before ultimately being given sanction, when planning could have been going on?
§ Mr. Thompson
I am sure that no such thing would have happened but for very good reasons. I do not have the details before me, but when we are carrying through an expansion programme of this kind it is certainly not done for any but the very best reasons.
This task of providing 24,000 places is very heavy, and the local authorities, the churches and the colleges themselves will find that it will call for every effort of which they are capable. In addition to the problems of providing sites and buildings, there is the problem of recruiting the additional staff which these expanded 1005 and new colleges will require—about 2,400 academic staff right away.
The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East probably knows as well as anyone in the Committee that there are problems of arranging for teacher training practice which, in this kind of situation, are very difficult to resolve and where an additional strain is thrown upon the local schools that serve the colleges. We hope quite confidently that if all goes well the number of graduates recruited into the teaching profession will increase as the universities themselves expand.
As the Committee knows, we are pursuing the married women returner campaign with a great deal of effort. The principal recruiting time for teachers is prior to the September term, as the Committee knows. We have not reached that stage yet in the first phase of the married women returner campaign. but I assure hon. Members that we are ready to make the best use we can of the numbers presenting themselves when we get to that time.
§ Mrs. Slater
How far has the Minister considered whether married women should be included in the quota for local authorities?
§ Mr. Thompson
These circumstances have already been explained to the Committee on several occasions. They are ex-quota in most circumstances, except where there are one or two conditions where, for obvious reasons of distributing resources fairly among authorities it is necessary to take a different decision.
In all those ways, we have attempted to anticipate the criticisms which we confidently expected would be made in this debate. We have our programme moving forward as rapidly as we can. We make no claim that our system of education has achieved perfection, or even that it completely meets the needs of the present day. We know that that cannot be so. Still less do we claim that we have the perfect blueprint for the future. Claims of that kind would be as meaningless as the phrases in the handbook to which the hon. Lady referred.
We make a different claim. Our claim must rest on a realistic appreciation of the practical day-to-day problems, of the numbers of children, their differing talents and abilities, the pace and direction of the change in the demands made by industry and society on our schools 1006 and colleges, the problems of the building programme and, above all, the problems of teacher training and supply.
I know that no Labour speech these days would pass the scrutiny of the "Socialist central oratorical planning board" unless it contained a charge of complacency against the Government. We appreciate that, but I hope that the Committee will be assured that no such charge can possibly lie against my right hon. Friend. His task is to assess the needs, to mobilise the resources and to direct their efficient use, and that he does with energy and skill.
We are building the schools and colleges at just about the rate which the economy and the building industry can bear. It is the largest building programme in our history and many times the wildest dreams of hon. Gentlemen opposite when they last had responsibility. It is even more than hon. Members opposite promised to build.
We have built up the strength of the teaching force to its greatest size ever, and, in spite of the bulge, we have made some progress in reducing average class size. We are increasing and improving the output of the training colleges and we shall recruit a greatly increased number of graduates. The technical colleges have grown and continue to grow out of all recognition from what they were only five or six years ago.
Those are solid achievements in which I should have thought the whole Committee would have found satisfaction. Their success is reflected in the growing numbers of our children who choose to stay at school beyond the compulsory age, reflected in the size of sixth forms everywhere, and reflected in the intense competition among able young people for places in the growing universities. They give the lie to the charge of complacency.
We know and we freely acknowledge that there is much more to do. The difference between us is simply that the party opposite can content itself with proclaiming dreamy-eyed objectives, whereas we have to manage with what is possible. Our educational resources are growing all the time and are growing rapidly. We want to keep up that growth. The worst that could happen to British education would be for the electors to give the party opposite a 1007 chance to disrupt the plans and developments now in progress and, if this is what they are in for, I think that it will be a long time before that will happen.
I invite the Committee to reject the Opposition's charges.
§ Question put:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 158, Noes 242.1009
|Division No. 252.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Ainsley, William||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hilton, A. V.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Holman, Percy||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Holt, Arthur||Randall, Harry|
|Blackburn, F.||Houghton, Douglas||Rankin, John|
|Blyton, William||Hoy, James H.||Redhead, E. C.|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Reid, William|
|Bowles, Frank||Hunter, A. E.||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Boyden, James||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Jeger, George||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Ross, William|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech(Wakefield)||Short, Edward|
|Butter, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Kelley, Richard||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Kenyon, Clifford||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Chetwynd, George||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Cliffe, Michael||King, Dr. Horace||Small, William|
|Collick, Percy||Lawson, George||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Snow, Julian|
|Cronin, John||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Crosland, Anthony||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Lipton, Marcus||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Darling, George||Mabon, Dr. J, Dickson||Stones, William|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||MacColl, James||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Deer, George||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Swain, Thomas|
|Delargy, Hugh||McLeavy, Frank||Swingler, Stephen|
|Diamond, John||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Sylvester, George|
|Dodds, Norman||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield,E.)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Manuel, A. C.||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mapp, Charles||Thornton, Ernest|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Fitch, Alan||Marsh, Richard||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mason, Roy||Wade, Donald|
|Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||Mayhew, Christopher||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mendelson, J. J.||Weitzman, David|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mitchison, G. R.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Ginsburg, David||Moody, A. S.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Gordon walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Morris, John||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mulley, Frederick||Whitlock, William|
|Grey, Charles||Neal, Harold||Wigg, George|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Grimond, J.||Oliver, G. H.||Willey, Frederick|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Oram, A. E.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Owen, Will||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Hannan, William||Padley, W. E.||woof, Robert|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Henderson,Rt.Hn.Arthur(RwlyRegis)||Parker, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Popplewell, Ernest||Mr. Charles A. Howell and|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Biggs-Davison, John||Buck, Antony|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bingham, R. M.||Bullard, Denys|
|Allason, James||Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Bishop, F. P.||Burden, F. A.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Black, Sir Cyril||Butcher, Sir Herbert|
|Balniel, Lord||Bossom, Clive||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)|
|Barber, Anthony||Bourne-Arton, A.||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Box, Donald||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)|
|Batsford, Brian||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Boyle, Sir Edward||Channon, H. P. G.|
|Bell, Ronald||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Chataway, Christopher|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Brooman-White, R.||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Bryan, Paul||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Hocking, Philip N.||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Holland, Philip||Pott, Percivall|
|Cole, Norman||Hollingworth, John||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Cooke, Robert||Hornby, R. P.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hornsby-Smith. Rt. Hon. Patricia||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Costain, A. P.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Pym, Francis|
|Coulson, J. M.||Iremonger, T. L.||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||James, David||Ramsden, James|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Jennings, J. C.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Critchley, Julian||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Cunningham, Knox||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Curran, Charles||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Renton, David|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Dance, James||Kershaw, Anthony||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kimball, Marcus||Roots, William|
|Deedes, w. F.||Kirk, Peter||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Langford-Holt, J.||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Leavey, J. A.||Russell, Ronald|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Leburn, Gilmour||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Doughty, Charles||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Seymour, Leslie|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lindsay, Martin||Sharpies, Richard|
|du Cann, Edward||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Shaw, M.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Litchfield, Capt. John||Simon, Rt. Hon, Sir Jocelyn|
|Eden, John||Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Longbottom, Charles||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Elliott,R.W.(Nwcstle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Longden, Gilbert||Smithers, Peter|
|Emery, Peter||Loveys, Waiter H.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Farey-Jones, F. w.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Speir, Rupert|
|Farr, John||McAdden, Stephen||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Fisher, Nigel||McLaren, Martin||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Forrest, George||McMaster, Stanley R.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Maddan, Martin||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|Gammans, Lady||Maginnis, John E.||Teeling, William|
|Gardner, Edward||Maitland, Sir John||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Marshall, Douglas||Turner, Colin|
|Goodhart, Philip||Marten, Nell||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Goodhew, Victor||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Vane, W. M. P.|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William||Matthews, Cordon (Meriden)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.||Mawby, Ray||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Green, Alan||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert||Mills, Stratton||Walder, David|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Montgomery, Fergus||Walker, Peter|
|Gurden, Harold||Morgan, William||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Wall, Patrick|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Nabarro, Gerald||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Webster, David|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Noble, Michael||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Harrison, Brian (Maidon)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Whitelaw, William|
|Harrison, col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Page, John (Harrow, West)||Wise. A. R.|
|Hay, John||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Hiley, Joseph||Peel, John||Woollam, John|
|Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenthawe)||Percival, Ian||Worsley, Marcus|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Pilkington, Sir Richard|
|Hobson, John||Pitman, Sir James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Finlay and Mr. Gibson-Watt.|
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes) rose—1010
§ It being after Ten o'clock The CHAIR MAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.