HC Deb 03 August 1962 vol 664 cc1005-29

2.17 p.m.

Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)

I am most grateful to Mr. Speaker for selecting the question of admission into teacher training colleges for debate today. It is one which affects many thousands of young men and women, and I am afraid that some of them who have not yet been admitted to college but who wish to go will be in a great state of uncertainty unless we have a more satisfactory answer from the Ministry of Education than we have had in the past.

First, nothing that I say this afternoon will in any way reflect on the efficiency and humanity of the clearing house, which has performed a most difficult job with the greatest tact and efficiency. The criticisms which I shall direct at the arrangements which have been made must fall on the Parliamentary Secretary and on the Minister for not making adequate arrangements for the number of students requiring admission.

Secondly, the training college staffs and the principals have made great efforts, by overcrowding and adapting their arrangements, to cope with the very large number of students with whom they are being asked to cope. Nothing that I say today will be in any way critical of their efforts. Such badgering as I shall do about the admission of training college students is unfair in a way to the training colleges, since they are being asked to do almost the impossible, and I shall continue to ask them to do that until the Ministry of Education makes greater efforts to support them and gives better answers than it has up to now.

I want to tackle two subjects. The first is the number of students who seek to become teachers and to go to training colleges in September who so far have not been accepted for admission. The second is the curriculum which will be provided in the training colleges, particularly in relation to the adequate training of mathematicians and scientists.

First, I deal with the number of students who have sought admission but so far have not, I understand, gained admission. According to the figures for the autumn of 1961, 517 students classified as acceptable by the clearing house failed to gain admission, and 1,397 classified as borderline cases failed to gain admission. Nearly all these students were wasted to the teaching profession. A small number of them made reapplication. It is interesting to notice that of the borderline cases, who applied— that is, those who were sufficiently persistent, even though classified as borderline, to have another try—73 per cent. of men and 71 per cent. of women in 1961 gained admission. That fact shows that borderline candidates, probably the majority of them, are suitable for admission to a training college. What emerges from these figures of nearly 2,000 applicants, however, is that very few indeed finally gained admission. I understand that the figures this year are much worse.

In reply to a Question of mine a few days ago, the Minister of Education said that he had no figures later than for 28th May. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary today can give us something more up to date. At least, on 28th May the figures were alarming. Two thousand four hundred students who were classified as acceptable were unplaced, in addition to 1,800 borderline students. Unless we are to have a constructive answer from the Parliamentary Secretary, it would appear that these nearly 4,000 students will not gain admission this year.

Hon. Members opposite frequently charge us on this side with being un-constructive. I will give the Parliamentary Secretary some advice about how to tackle the problem of these students who so far have not been admitted and who, it appears, will not be admitted in the coming autumn. First, the Ministry should give them a guarantee that they will be accepted for training college places and for training, either in September this year by emergency arrangements or in September, 1963.

I consider it quite possible to carry the Trent Park-Southend experiment a stage further and to arrange for groups of students all over the country to be associated with technical colleges and training colleges and to be organised into groups, their training to start in September this year. It would cause great disruption to the inspectorate, tout the inspectorate has under its hand, as it were, a number of qualified ladies and gentlemen who could be put in charge. I suggest that 60 or 70 H.M.I.s could be shepherds for this particular flock of people whilst the emergency exists.

Many of the difficulties which are said to exist are difficulties purely of money and of providing lodging and transport. Few of the difficulties come within the description used by the former Minister of Education on 17th May when, in writing to Mr. Fulton, he said: The root causes of this shortage"— that is, of teachers are almost entirely beyond our control. These matters are not beyond our control. With a little imagination and ingenuity and a lot of hard work during the Summer Recess, these arrangements could be made and the bulk of these students could be started on their training courses.

I distinguish between students classified as acceptable and those who are borderline inasmuch as amongst the latter there are probably some who would do well to go back to school and some, perhaps, who would benefit better by teaching as untrained teachers in the schools. What is required is a guarantee to these students that they will be accepted and that provided they do the things that are required of them, they will be able to come into the training colleges and take the course at the latest in September, 1963.

In that connection, I ask the Government to consider another matter. Every year, some thousands of students apply for training college places but are not accepted and withdraw their application before the end of the year. In 1961, 1,569 students who were graded as acceptable and 951 borderline students withdrew after making application. I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to ascertain the reasons—the clearing house gives a list of them—why the students withdraw. These are not students who were accepted by the universities. I beg the hon. Gentleman to look into the matter and to give us the reasons why the students withdraw.

On the face of it, there were in 1961 2,000 students who were not admitted but who persisted in their application to the end, and there were almost 2,500 others Who applied but who, for some reason, finally withdrew their application. It would thus appear as though there is a wastage of about 4,000 potential teachers and the situation this year, I understand, is much worse. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to explain that it is not as bad as this, but I fear the worst.

When, a few days ago, in the debate on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, we had a discussion on the supply of teachers, the Minister of Education referred to a number of emergency measures. I ask that they be carried a stage further. For example, where are the temporary day colleges which are being unearthed and put on an emergency basis? Some of us might be able to help in getting these colleges going if we knew where they were and if we knew which local authorities were trying to get them going. Which are the abandoned premises which are now being rehabilitated? Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell us, for example, whether Wynyard College is being reopened? I am sure that the only reason why it was abandoned was expense. Admittedly, this is not the kind of situation in which we can entirely ignore expense, but a very different attitude is required to the expenditure of public funds. The Minister said that we must in any event consider what further short- or medium-term measures we can take to improve the situation during the years immediately ahead."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1962; Vol. 664, c. 196.] The Minister should be working to an emergency programme and a long-term programme. The two might sometimes appear inconsistent, but undoubtedly there is need for a great many emergency measures to be taken.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell us, for example, what further overcrowding is taking place with students in the existing training colleges? What proposals has he for the double-banking of accommodation that has been referred to? Why does he seem to think that the Trent Park-Southend experiment was one which, if copied elsewhere, could not be expected to provide a great many more students? I hope that there will be & sense of urgency in the Parliamentary Secretary's reply and that we shall have something on which to work during the Recess. We should like to know what measures have been taken to accommodate the students who so far have not been admitted.

I turn now to the question, of the curriculum in the training colleges, particularly for science. Here, too, two things seem to be needed. Steps need urgently to be taken very much to increase the number of mathematics, physics and chemistry teachers, and to institute a medium-term programme so that within the next three or four years there will be an adequate number of teachers of teachers, both in the universities and in the training colleges.

On 12th July, when the Minister of Education was answering in the scientific debate, he made this statement: as we all agree, the real foundation for the training of scientists, technologists, technicians and craftsmen in this country must be first-class teaching in the primary schools."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1962; Vol. 662, c. 1653.] What the Minister did not say, and what he did not seem to know about, was the need to ensure that the women's training colleges took far more interest in the training of scientists. I am sure that one of the untapped sources in providing more scientists and more mathematicians is the girls' schools. It is in the girls' schools and in the women's training colleges that there is unbalance between subjects and not by any means adequate teaching provisions in these subjects.

I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that one way in which quite promising men and women could gain wider training and better qualifications is by abolishing the rule that if a student receives a Government grant for education, that one grant must be the only grant. In other words, the two-year training college student is ineligible for a university grant. This I think should be very carefully looked at.

The principle does not apply to the university student. The university student receiving his grant for a three or four years' scientific course can later get a D.S.I.R. grant and take a higher degree. The two-year trained teacher is unable to go on to the university by means of public grants. I am quite sure that if many of the third-year supplementary teacher trained students and some teachers with no degrees at all were given an opportunity to take shorter courses at the universities they would come back into the teaching pro- fession and teacher (training colleges much more refreshed and be of great advantage to us in this struggle to get more physics, chemistry and maths teachers.

A subject which is very important but which I have no time to go into, is that we need to switch a good many of our teachers from what one might call the straightforward subjects such as geography, history and literature to the social sciences and to the teaching of Russian. We need a much more flexible attitude to the way in which promising teachers can be seconded, even though we are in an emergency, to follow up new courses, to widen the syllabus and get the sort of subject teaching in the colleges and schools which the nation requires.

This is not to interfere with the actual detailed teaching of subjects. It is not to interfere at all with the curriculum of the schools which is a very touchy matter. What is required is to adjust the overall provision in the national requirements.

The Zuckerman Report made reference to what it thought was an over-supply of biologists. The right hon. Gentleman in the debate on science leaned over backwards to go the other way. He said: I entirely agree with all that has been said about the importance of biology. In my view, some commentators in our society today do no service by laying so much emphasis proportionately on physics."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1962; Vol. 662, c. 1654.] The right hon. Gentleman may be a bit sorry over that.

Although there was a report which stated that there was need for more biologists, nevertheless a look at the figures shows that there is a great disproportion between the numbers of biologists in women's training colleges and in the girls' schools and the number of teachers of maths, physics and chemistry. However much one values biology, there is a great deal to be said for the transfer of biologists into the other sciences so that there is a rapid increase of mathematicians, phycisists and chemists. I would suggest that in the women's training colleges, the lecturers in biology should be given an opportunity to take a year or two-year course to qualify as first-class teachers in maths, physics or chemistry.

When one refers to the situation, it does not at all correspond to the national needs. I took these figures of maths and science lecturers in the women's training colleges from the Ministry's statistical report, and I think that these bear out my point, Comparing 1959 with 1961 these are the number of lecturers in women's training colleges:

Mathematics: in 1959 there ware 54 and in 1961, 68. When I asked the right hon. Gentleman Co bring me up to dale on this he gave these figures: 63 full-time lecturers in mathematics plus 27 teaching mathematics and other subjects, plus ten part-time and a further two part-time teaching mathematics and other subjects. It is very difficult to make a comparison between 1962, 1961 and 1959 on that basis.

Certainly there looks to be a very great unbalance as between the number of lecturers in mathematics, physics and chemistry, and biology. The figures are as follows: physics 1959, 10; 1961, 11; chemistry, 1959, 24; 1961, 26.

Here is an interesting comment on the value of these statistics. When I asked the right hon. Gentleman to bring me up to date he said that physics and chemistry were not given separately. They are separate in the statistical report for 1959, 1960 and 1961. However, for 1962, the Minister said that there were in the women's training colleges 18 lecturers of physics and chemistry only, plus seven teaching physics and chemistry and other subjects, and six part-time lecturers, five physics and chemistry only, and one physics and chemistry and other subjects.

It would appear, whichever way one looks at it, as though the situation in the teaching in the women's training colleges in physics and chemistry has deteriorated. The figures for 1959 were biology 92 and in 1961, 96. Other scientific subjects 1959, 26, and 1961, 29. This does not at all correspond with the needs of the classes in relation to these subjects. Whether or not the Minister is interested in biology, there is a very great need substantially to increase the number of teachers in maths, physics and chemistry.

The right hon. Gentleman in the same debate seemed very complacent about the number of maths and science graduate teachers in our schools. He said: The number of mathematics and scientific graduate teachers in our schools rose in total from 17,800 in 1959 to just over 20,000 in 1961. So the trend is favourable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1962; Vol. 662, 1653.] I wonder if the trend is as favourable as he makes out. Certainly the total numbers have increased, but he gave no account at all of the numbers that require to be taught nor did he make any reference to the great increase in the number of sixth form and fifth form students who would require extra teaching.

I spent a little time doing some homework on his figures and on the statistical report. Perhaps I can explain my method. I estimated from the figures sent to me on 31st July, that is, the number of graduate teachers in grant-aided schools who have mathematics, physics or chemistry as first subject degrees and the number of G.C.E. "O" level and "A" level students. I worked over these increases in relation to what seemed to me to be the classroom requirements. I estimated each unit of 30 G.C.E. "O" level and G.C.E. "A" level students as representing one class and I took the proportion of the teacher for each one of these classes. My proportion was one-fifth of a teacher for G.C.E. "O" level classes, two-fifths for advanced level and one-tenth of a teacher teaching physics or chemistry at "O" level—that is, three periods a week, and one-fifth for Advanced level.

I think that the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that these estimates are on the conservative side. It is probably desirable to have a larger proportion of a teacher than this. I then added to the requirements the 90,000 extra pupils that were in secondary schools in the last year 1960–61, which is 3,000 extra classes and the mathematical requirements of one-fifth of a teacher for each class. I took the figures for physics and chemistry as one-twelth of a teacher, being a little more conservative there.

When the extra numbers in the secondary schools for 1959–60 are added, making 108,000 pupils, one has need for extra teaching for 3,600 extra classes. In other words, I took the number of those who would be required to teach mathematics, physics and chemistry for the bulge of 6,600 extra classes and added to that the numbers of G.C.E. "O" level and G.C.E. "A" level classes, the figures given to me by the right hon. Gentleman. I then compared the total increase for mathematics, physics and chemistry graduate teachers with those figures that the Minister gave. This is the figure, on this method of working out, comparing the situation in mathematics, for example, in 1959 with 1961. It is an increase of 434.

There was an increase of 25,695 G.C.E. "O" level entrants. This would require on the basis of 30 pupils per teacher 170 extra teachers; at "A" level 16,000-odd, requiring an extra 160. Then taking the 6,600 extra classes in the secondary schools, we arrive at the figure of an extra number required, to see that the situation in mathematics teaching in 1961 would be the same as in 1959 —and 1959 was not a particularly good year: for that we should require 330 extra to cope with the G.C.E. and 1,320 to cope with the bulge. This gives a figure of 1,650 extra mathematicians required compared with the 434 the right hon. Gentleman boasted about.

This seems to me, even if my averages are a little out, not a thing to be complacent about. It is obvious that the real situation in the teaching of mathematics in our schools today has deteriorated since 1959. The actual figures are biassed in my favour, because merely dividing by 30 and saying this is the class, is not what happens. There are secondary modern schools with classes of 15 and there are not many grammar schools with over 30 in a class. Therefore we require more teachers for mathematical subjects. Moreover, in practice, the numbers are unequally distributed.

Even if we add the teachers who have had supplementary courses of mathematical training the figure still does not look very much better because, of the one-year supplementary courses, the increase for 1960–61 and 1961–62 is only 51 and the number of teachers who have been through short courses in science and mathematics for junior schools has actually decreased. The number who have been through short courses for secondary schools shows a very slight increase. Whatever way one looks at it, unless the hon. Gentleman can produce some very new figures, and I do not think he can, the situation of teaching mathematics would appear to have deteriorated.

Let me give abbreviated figures in relation to the other two subjects. For example, my calculations were that we needed a further 620 teachers of chemistry. The right hon. Gentleman said there had been an increase in 1959 compared with 1961 of 330, so that in fact there was a net deterioration of some 300. If one looks at the figures for physics the situation is no different. My calculations show that merely to stand still in 1959 there was a requirement of 634 teachers of physics. In fact the extra number of teachers was 282.

Although these figures are a bit involved, I shall be very glad to have comment on them by the Parliamentary Secretary, although it is a little bit unfair suddenly to throw these calculations at him. Leaving figures aside, I hope that the Minister will take some very drastic steps in relation to this subject.

Finally, I come to the question of the way in which students come to study their subjects. It is out of touch with national needs. I have here the subjects taken at "A" level by training college students admitted to college in 1960. These are the latest figures available. Students going to a three-year training college with "A" level subjects in 1960 showed there is a very great unbalance as between men and women and a very great unbalance as between the arts and the sciences.

For example, the actual numbers of students with art qualifications are 192 men with Advanced level and 740 women. I am quite sure that the autistic talents of the nation are not so ill distributed between men and women as that figure indicates. In English literature at "A" level there were 582 men and 2,430 women. This shows fairly conclusively that as between English literature and science, English literature is regarded as a soft option and active steps must be taken to break the vicious circle, that because there are plenty of English teachers, the students go on studying it The need is to produce the mathematicians and scientists and it is not being grappled with.

The actual figures for advanced applied mathematics are not so wide apart, 69 men at "A" level and 75 girls; in pure mathematics 259 men and 235 girls. There must be many more girls who could take these subjects and it seems that much of this scientific and mathematical talent among girls is being wasted.

In physics there were 275 men and 127 women; in chemistry 243 men and 139 women. The biology figures show exactly the opposite pattern, 290 men and 660 girls.

I urge the Parliamentary Secretary not only to take steps immediately to see that more provision is made for scientific studies in the training colleges but that efforts are made in the schools to get more and more girls to take these subjects. It is not so much that in the women's training colleges and in the junior schools a high degree of mathematics knowledge and scientific knowledge is necessary as that, unless there is interest in the training colleges in these subjects and they are scientifically taught, the effect will not be felt in the schools.

2.47 p.m.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

I suppose that of all Members of the House I have the most recent experience of a training college. I wish to pay tribute to those who work in these colleges, because I think that they have been maligned in the Press and very unjustly. I should like to say "Thank you" to those who taught me, and particularly to Dr. Inglis and his staff, of Moray House College of Education, in Edinburgh.

I feel that unless some drastic action is taken we may have a similar debate to this next year and the year after and the year after that right up to 1970, because I think that basically this is a long-term problem. Would the Government consider a crash programme of residential training colleges? They may say that residential training colleges are more expensive and slower to build than the more orthodox form, but I think they have great, real advantages. Is it not a most important aspect of a training college that the students should be able to discuss among themselves their experiences, and to talk late at night, as in a university, about their own reading? Is it not true that in a teachers' training college, in ideal conditions, more is learned by the students from their own contemporaries than formally from the instructions of H.M.I.s and from other training college teachers?

The Government ought to consider putting these training colleges in areas of high and persistent unemployment, because they give in themselves a great many jobs. There is also an academic advantage. This stems from the belief particularly of primary teachers that nature study and the whole subject of ecology is most important in teaching our youngsters, so there is an argument for training colleges based in country areas of persistent unemployment. Again, the study of geology is of great inherent interest of youngsters aged 11, 12, 13. They love going around chipping at rocks. This is a subject of great interest to them. I think that geology could be developed at training colleges sited in particularly suitable areas, away from towns, where teachers could give practical experience, in easy reach.

But in relation to our short-term problem I wish to make a suggestion. A number of those who are suitable—and I emphasise that it should not be all— taken from those who might have been refused in 1962, should be given an opportunity, after a year's teaching, to go to a training college, because many of our more sensible and mature students would derive greater benefit from a training college, after a year in the schools, and not before they go to their first teaching. Therefore, both on grounds of administrative convenience and also for the benefit of the students concerned, the Government should look into the possibility of sending a number of the more suitable students to school this year, so that they, the Government, will have fifteen months' grace to take action, before 1963, in the way of providing places.

There is a possible objection to this argument, namely, that they would not have the appropriate qualifications from their so-called "crit" lessons. But these "crit" lessons are a little bogus anyway, because they are carried out under entirely artificial surroundings. Out of sheer loyalty the youngsters in the schools where the "crit" lessons take place behave very well when they see their teachers being examined, because, on the whole, they have nice natures These lessons are not a criterion of a teacher's ability, and on the grounds of qualification they could be dispensed with.

I do not propose to follow the statistical arguments put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden), but there is one category to which attention should be paid. I refer to our budding teachers of physical training. The Parliamentary Secretary may have considerable personal sympathy with this argument. Teachers of physical training are more subject to injury—possible cartilage injury, or incipient arthritis—and there is no more pathetic sight in our schools than to see those of 40, 45 and 50 years of age struggling away teaching physical training, long after the age when it is reasonable to expect them to do so. I ask the hon. Member to consider whether provision could be made in training courses so that those who took up physical training teaching could do this for the first fifteen years of their teaching lives and afterwards be allowed to take the top classes in primary schools.

I am worried, as a result of my personal observation, about the immaturity of many of those who are behind teachers' desks today. My generation of men did National Service. It changed us, and made us a little more competent. I had the good fortune to be sent to the Salzburg seminar of American studies by the training college which I attended. Nowadays men are going behind teachers' desks shortly after their 21st birthday. The hon. Member may say that this is what happened during the 1930s. He may ask what the difference is. There is a considerable difference.

In the 1930s we were dealing with "children". Nowadays, however, the so-called "youngsters" that we have to teach in secondary schools are by no stretch of the imagination children in the old sense. The whole concept of chronological age has become suspect. It would be more realistic to talk about post-pubertal age because many of those who are 12 or 13 years of age chronologically are two, three, or even four years past puberty. This is why it is desirable that the teachers themselves should be much more mature—much more men and women of the world.

In these circumstances the Government should consider providing some alien experience for them. I ask the hon. Member to pay particular attention to the experiment of taking 90 potential teachers from Moray House, Edinburgh on the British-India ship school "Dunera", in September, to Stockholm, Leningrad and Copenhagen, as a group, in order to help them with their training. If this is a success, I ask the hon. Member to consider whether the scheme could not be enlarged by using the troopship "Oxfordshire", or "Nevasa", which will be coming off Government charter and which, because of a breach of contract, will, in any case, cost the taxpayers between £8½ million and £10 million. This is an opportunity for the Ministry of Education to experiment. I am not telling the hon. Member that he must do this, but I ask him to see whether it is possible.

If we operated on the lines of Voluntary Service Overseas and took some of these potential teachers on ships that might otherwise be useless, to places such as Africa or the Far East, it would be a good thing. Hon. Members may say that this would be exceedingly expensive. They may ask how we could possibly face such costs when we are not paying the teachers enough as it is. But if the hon. Member's party is serious about financial help to underdeveloped countries, and about giving them the sterling that they so badly need for their development plans, this is the sort of way in which they can earn that sterling. It is certainly expensive to send a group of 20 young teachers to Ashanti for twelve months, or to Malaya, to finish their training, but, it would provide the sterling, and it would be satisfactory to such countries, to the extent that it would not smell of charity.

The hon. Member has travelled a lot in Africa, and he will realise that charity has certain political connotations. But under-developed countries would be earning money if they were giving facilities to our teachers, and I am sure that if our teachers went abroad before settling down to their professional of women, they would benefit both in careers or their married lives, in the case knowledge and in maturity. In those circumstances, I ask the hon. Gentleman to contact the Arden Clarke Committee in order to obtain its views on the subject.

2.58 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Christopher Chataway)

If it is not presumptious of me on my first appearance at this Box to do so, I should like to thank the horn. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) for raising the important questions and issues which he has done today affecting teacher training colleges. For more personal reasons I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for enabling me to stand in this vulnerable position for the first time on an occasion when the fire, though accurately directed, has not come from too many quarters.

The hon. Member has raised points relating to student grants and I hope that I may be able to reassure him. The hon. Member suggested that the recruitment of teachers might be hampered by the restriction on students' grants to a certain number of years; as, for example, in cases where students switch to teacher training colleges after having failed their degree course or having left the universities after a year or two. It is true that normally a limit is set at a total of four years and this does seem reasonable. Evidently a limit must be set somewhere.

It would be wrong to encourage and assist the perennial student out of public funds. But it allows someone who has already done two years at the university to have two more grant-aided years at a teacher training college if need be. And although in normal circumstances this limit is sat it is not the intention of my right hon. Friend nor is it the practice of the Ministry to apply it in any rigid fashion. In exceptional cases we are quite prepared to consider allowing grant for a longer period than four years when there are good grounds for doing so.

I noticed a letter in The Times Educational Supplement last week suggesting that many additional teachers could be found from among those students who come down from the universities after failing to qualify after their first or second year examinations. The argument was that these young people might eater the profession if given the opportunity, but they were being neglected. This is not the case. The Ministry has encouraged the area training organisations and training colleges to consider admitting such students to training, and they have said that a student who has received assistance from public funds for a degree or other non-vocational course, and who has withdrawn after not more than two years, can be allowed further grant aid to train as a teacher provided always, of course, that the authorities are satisfied as to the student's suitability for training.

Mr. Boyden

I am obliged for what the hon. Gentleman has said, which is very helpful. I am also thinking of teachers who have done their three years' training and wish to take a mathematics or physics degree at university. Under the present rule they are barred. Will the Ministry relax that rule, too?

Mr. Chataway

I would hesitate to cross swords with the hon. Gentleman at this stage, because I know of his experience in these matters, but I believe that they are not barred. There is no regulation prohibiting a grant being given to a person who has completed three years' training at a teacher training college and who wants to go on to university. It is up to the local authority.

I think that a number of local authorities may operate a regulation where, normally, they will not give more than a total of four years' grant-aided education; but it is purely up to the local education authority. If a student who goes to a teacher training college wishes to take a full degree course, I believe that I am right in saying that there is no Ministry of Education regulation to prohibit him from doing so. I hope that the hon. Member will accept my assurance that it is our intention to ensure that these useful recruits to the teaching profession are not lost as a result of rulings about grant aid.

I turn now to the major questions about supply which the hon Member has raised. Here, as my right hon. Friend told the House on Monday night, we are faced with a problem which has developed seriously in recent years. The principal reasons are well known. They were unexpected. I submit that they could not have been foreseen. They are twofold. There has been a sharp and sustained rise in the birthrate, holding out the prospect of a 25 per cent. increase in the school population between 1960 and 1980. Secondly, the age at which women marry and have children has dropped, with the result that half the women who qualify from teacher training colleges today leave the service four years later. If the present trend continues, it will be the fact that in 1970 only 40 per cent. of women teachers will teach for as long as four years, at any rate initially.

Neither of these trends, as the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) remarked in that debate, should in themselves be anything but a cause for joy. That can be readily accepted. One may happily welcome the additional children and the greater and earlier eligibility of women teachers. But the problems raised for the education service are challenging. In this situation the training colleges have a particular duty to ensure that their facilities are used to meet the needs of the schools as precisely as possible. In the circumstances they are striving not only to produce as many teachers as they can, but to achieve the right balance between the subjects taught in the colleges and the right balance between the training of teachers for primary and secondary work.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland suggested that the correct balance is not being struck in the subjects taught in training colleges. He argued that too many girls are taking art subjects and that on the science side there should be some switch from biology and the like to mathematics and physics. In the case of mathematics, there has been a general increase in the number of students, both men and women, who take a main course in the subject. Of the 1961–62 intake, 1,470 students are taking mathematics as a main course compared with 524 in 1952-53, and I think that the figures show a fairly steady rise in recent years.

There has also been an appreciable increase in the number taking science, but it is not as large as one would have liked to see in terms of the proportion of all new entrants. There are 2,700 taking science now compared with 1,540 in 1952–53. Within the science field there are welcome signs of a tendency to switch to the physics and chemistry side. The number of men students in physics and chemistry has increased in these nine years from 90 to 330. Among the women 220 of the 1961– 62 intake are now studying physics and chemistry compared with only 20 in 1952–53. But the proportion of students who take these subjects as a main course is still only 3.7 per cent. and I agree with the hon. Member that there is scope here for a greater number.

The problem here is basically not one of facilities so much as obtaining the right number of students with the appropriate qualifications and inclinations. Nonetheless 20 colleges are providing a special combined force in chemistry, physics and biology for secondary teachers in secondary schools. All these colleges are being enlarged under the expansion programme and in each case the building project is specially designed to give them first-rate facilities for science teaching.

The hon. Member referred to training college admissions and here, of course, is a matter of particular interest this coining autumn since 1962–63 will be the first year in which the general colleges have had to accommodate three intakes concurrently. This is the result of the three-year course being introduced for students entering college in the autumn of 1960 or later; I imagine that the introduction of the three-year course would be commanded by all those interested in education.

The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) made a point about maturity, but the change-over from a two-year to a three-year course will help in this respect. It means that the teacher, all other things being equal, is at least a year older when he enters the college. For this year this raises particular difficulties and those difficulties over places have coincided with a gratifying increase in the number of applicants for entry.

Mr. Dalyell

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that possibly a measurement of chronological time is not so relevant as the necessity of having some other experience out of classrooms and the like?

Mr. Chataway

I believe there is a great deal in what the hon. Member says. I have been particularly interested, for example, in Voluntary Service Overseas, which gives the young people leaving school the opportunity of working abroad. I concede to him that there are many people who will benefit from that kind of experience right away from school and school life.

For this particular year there are these special difficulties. They have coincided, as I have said, with a gratifying increase in the number of applicants for entry. The idea of good candidates being turned away at the time of teacher shortage is a distressing one, but let us at least welcome the fact that a part of our difficulty is due to the increased attraction of the teaching profession for young people. There has been a quite dramatic change here. Not very many years ago the training colleges were having great difficulty in filling all the places available. Today, the position is very different. Despite an intake of about 16,500 compared with 12,500 in 1957, the training colleges are faced with some embarrassment of riches.

It is sometimes argued that the increased competition for entry to training colleges will make the teaching profession less attractive to young people. This is not an argument that rings true to me. I do not believe that the attraction of a job is increased by the knowledge that it is easy to get. In my experience quite the reverse is the case. Although I have no inclination to do battle with the Foreign Office, it always seemed to me when I was at the university that a very large part of the Foreign Service's attraction for the most brilliant undergraduates was the knowledge that it was extremely hard to get into.

In the situation of this year, however, my right hon. Friend recognises that there is a danger that useful and much-needed recruits will be lost to the profession, and this is particularly true for women. The Ministry drew attention to this last year and urged colleges to do all they could, laying stress on day admissions. A further letter this spring asked colleges to make still further efforts to find day and lodging places.

In the event, admissions are likely to be maintained at a remarkably high level. We are hopeful that no fewer than 16,450 candidates will be admitted, virtually repeating the figures for the past two years, which were a record. This, as the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland conceded, is not being achieved without very great effort, and the colleges, having resorted to all sorts of shifts to achieve these numbers, are now very heavily overcrowded.

Two examples of the means by which training colleges have increased their intake are that one rural college of 240 places has obtained about 100 places in lodgings by writing round to all local parish priests, and in another instance a college is taking up hotel rooms out of season. There has, therefore, been no lack of inventiveness. I should like to pay tribute, as did the hon. Member, to the colleges for their efforts.

But there is a continuing need to search for unorthodox means of increasing the colleges' intake. The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland drew particular attention to one enterprising scheme, the link between Trent Park College, in Middlesex, and Southend Technical College, whereby Southend has been accepting students from Trent Park for a year's training in music, drama and art. The scheme has produced additional places and despite the obvious difficulties and objections, the enthusiasm of those concerned has made the arrangement work. My right hon. Friend is very grateful for these efforts, and he has been glad to approve the continuation of the scheme for a further period.

The hon. Member asked why we do not urge this scheme more vigorously upon all other training and technical colleges. The fact is that it has already achieved considerable publicity, and although no other college has as yet decided to follow exactly this example, there can be none which remains unaware of the experiment. But we doubt whether this particular solution, which involves all the difficulties of a suitable course to a group of students very largely cut off from the college, could easily be applied over a wide field.

Other forms of co-operation between training and technical colleges are already in successful operation. One of great flexibility is to use subject teaching at a technical college to ease the load on a training college in the area. This has happened in Doncaster and Kingston upon Hull, where training college students go to a technical college for training in science or mathematics.

I am advised, however, that it would be wishful thinking to imagine that a very large increase could be achieved by this sort of means. There is growing pressure on technical college accommodation, which is needed for their own purposes. If training colleges are to be helped by technical colleges in this way, they must be able to count upon accommodation for extra students for several years ahead, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for technical colleges to mortgage their space in this way. But some special arrangements should be profitable, and my right hon. Friend is ready to consider any soundly-based co-operativs scheme. I have no doubt that many of these arrangements, including the Trent Park-Southend experiment, will be included by the National Advisory Council in its current examination of the means of improving training college output.

The main solution has to be sought in expanding the training colleges' own output. I do not believe that my right hon. Friend's predecessor could be accused of any lack of vigour in this respect. On 17th May the Ministry wrote to education authorities saying that the short-term implications of the situation were being considered by the N.A.C. but that the Minister had decided to initiate straight away two emergency measures.

In the first place, authorities were invited to submit proposals for the establishment of temporary day colleges in suitable existing premises in the heavily populated areas. These temporary colleges would be intended primarily for candidates, mainly girls in the first instance, entering direct from school, in contrast with the existing day colleges, which cater mostly for mature students. Secondly, the authorities concerned were asked to keep on for the time being, if this was practicable, training college premises that were scheduled to be abandoned and replaced through a building project on the expansion programme.

The hon. Member asked me for details of this, but I am not able to give them to him. He will understand that in a number of instances negotiations are at a delicate point and that the local authorities do not wish us to reveal what day colleges may be opened up. However, I can say that we are consulting the Durham and Middlesbrough authorities about the possibility of temporary day colleges.

There is no doubt about the readiness to help of local education authorities in the well populated areas. The difficulty almost everywhere, as was expected, has been to find suitable existing premises in Which to house a temporary day college. A fair number of authorities have, however, found or are expecting to find suitable premises and we are hoping that in the end we might manage to secure the establishment of up to ten temporary colleges, most of them opening in September, 1963, though some might well take the form of annexes to nearby colleges and not have an independent existence.

Under the expansion programme some existing colleges are scheduled to be replaced by new and larger colleges on different sites and others are due to give up unsatisfactory portions of their existing premises and, in particular, to get rid of hutted accommodation. We are still discussing with authorities ways and means of continuing to use this sort of accommodation for the time being in an effective and economical way, but it is already clear that about 1,500 places can be secured by the retention of redundant premises of this kind.

By these means and because of the additional training places becoming available next year—there are, of course, additional places that will be finished in the autumn of next year—we can hope for a record intake into training colleges in 1963.

In the light of these better prospects for 1963, my right hon. Friend has very carefully considered the point that the hon. Member put to me this afternoon as to whether we should not, in effect, mortgage some of these places for this year's unsuccessful candidates who might, for example, be promised a place if they would seek a temporary teaching post meanwhile. The hon. Member for West Lothian also made that point. I think that both hon. Members will accept the phrase that I have used, because this is what they are asking us to do.

Mr. Dalyell

The important point is to select not those who happen to be at the end of the list, but those who are already mature and would benefit from a year in the school where they can cope and can then go on with their training.

Mr. Chataway

Yes. I am sure that the hon. Member realises that this would reduce the numbers that we can take next year. This is clearly so, or it will put back training for a large number of students for one year for a good while ahead.

My right hon. Friend has decided against this, with the backing of the National Advisory Council, because we fear that we should simply be storing up difficulties for the future at a time of mounting pressure from candidates. Although there will be more places next year, we can expect a greater number of applicants too, because there is likely to be a higher output in 1963 from the sixth forms.

Mr. Boyden

Will the Parliamentary Secretary deal with the 4,000 missing ones? My point was not that the future should be mortgaged, but that the 4,000 or so students who are not to get places this year should start on a training course—I suggested how it could be done—and that, if some of them could be accommodated, the future should be mortgaged but only for a limited number of the 4,000.

Mr. Chataway

I am grateful to the hon. Member. I assure him that these very specific suggestions that he put to me will be considered very carefully. The point that I was making was that it is not widely practicable to say to students who have failed this year, "We can guarantee you a place next year simply because you are accepted to be of a very satisfactory standard". The only consequence of that might be that we might either have to do the same or to refuse altogether training to satisfactory students in the following year.

The hon. Gentleman asked for later figures than he received the other day There is not a great deal that I can do to help him there. I understand that it is very difficult for the clearing house to give an accurate picture of the position at this stage in the proceedings, because there are still the applicants who have not found places, but who will yet find places, and there are still some who will withdraw because they have gained places at universities or for other reasons. Therefore, the position is rather fluid and unclear. I can say, however, that the reasons for these withdrawals, will be looked at and that the point which the hon. Gentleman made is, I think, being met by the Department. The figure for acceptances which I have for 30th June is 15,600, and these are firm acceptances.

Because of this, my right hon. Friend is prepared to consider any unorthodox measures, and is encouraging the training colleges to do all they can to fit in additional students in this difficult year. But there is a balancing consideration to the fore in my right hon. Friend's mind. He is very much aware that the training colleges are emerging as important institutions of higher educa-tion. They are not just production belts, and their success is not to be judged solely by the number of teachers they produce. For women, in particular, they provide a higher education that will have a value far beyond the teaching profession. Their problem, therefore, and it is shared by my right hon. Friend, is how to balance numbers against quality. We are expanding the colleges and, at the same time, lengthening and improving the course.

The colleges aspire to provide more and more a university type of life for their students, such as was described by the hon. Member for Midlothian. I can say to him, incidentally, on that point, that the expansion programmes do provide increased residential accommodation. One must agree that in the present difficulties one cannot let the best be the enemy of the good. My right hon. Friend has a balance to strike. He will strive vigorously to increase the intake. He referred the other night to some of the ideas in his mind, and he will be grateful for the further suggestions that have been put forward this afternoon. His concern is not only for quantity but quality of life and training in the colleges. This must set some limit to the expedients that he and they will be able to tolerate even in this particularly difficult year.

I think that I have shown that the colleges are making quite remarkable efforts to accommodate every student they can this year, and I hope that, when the accounts are finally drawn up, even if I have not been able to give the hon. Gentleman definite figures today, the gap between reasonably well qualified applicants and acceptances wild not be as large as the hon. Member fears.