HC Deb 21 December 1962 vol 669 cc1657-90

1.35 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Skeffington (Hayes and Harlington)

I am glad that the House will have the opportunity to look at the numbers of mathematics and science teachers before the House goes into Recess. Quite obviously, this is one of the principal factors which will determine whether Britain in the second half of the twentieth century will be able to face the technological challenge before us. I say this in two senses. The narrower sense is that one naturally hopes that Britain will be able to maintain her status and standards in comparison with those of other nations; the other and wider sense is that Britain will be able to be in the van of scientific progress and discovery in which she so often led in the past. Many of us today feel she is capable of doing it again in the future.

We start our examination against a somewhat dismal background in relation to the universities. We all know the desperate shortage of places in the universities, a shortage affecting practically all departments. It continues to exist despite repeated warnings over the past decade. We recall, of course, that at the beginning of the year to try to improve the proportion of our population going to universities, as compared with the proportion going to universities in many other countries—I do not want to go into the details of those comparisons, because they have been drawn before and are very well known—and to obtain the trained skill we need, the Government announced with a considerable flourish a university expansion plan to increase the number of places to 150,000 by 1966-–67 and 170,000 by 1973–74. It is true that even in spite of that programme the Sunday Times said on 13th May this year that the programme was quite inadequate and the target ought to be 200,000 by 1970 but at any rate, if one had been able to ensure an increase of places to 150,000 by 1966, from the present 111,000, it would have been a satisfactory start.

Hardly had those concerned been gearing their minds to the now possibilities when the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury came to the House of Commons and said that universities could finance the expansion with less costs. What an extraordinary thing it is that the present Home Secretary seems always connected with disappointment. This is true for universities as in other connections. The reverberations of that statement, although the universities had since received more cash for building, are still going on. I noticed that only last night a distinguished officer of the University Grants Committee has resigned, and according to the Evening Standard—though I would not take all information as absolutely reliable from that source—his resignation is not unconnected with general satisfaction with the Government and their handling of and meanness to university finance. At any rate, this lead to an extremely serious situation, and that is the background to our examination now. I would like to cite these three pieces of evidence as to the result.

The Association of University Teachers has just published a survey based on an examination of 1,362 grammar schools which shows that from them there were 5,289 qualified sixth-formers who were unable to find a place in a university because of the shortage of places. This is a deplorable figure when, clearly, we are in a period of crisis over skilled personnel. Here are qualified pupils which the country needs who are unable to find places this year, though they may hope to find them later, because of the present shortage of places.

I noticed that a little earlier, on 21st November, the Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University, Sir Charles Morris, speaking to the half-yearly meeting of the Court of Governors, said: Unless some clear gesture is made to show that the nation really wants able young men and women to teach, the future of university education in Britain was seriously at risk. He went on to say: Unless more money was made available there was a danger that the universities—particularly the six big northern ones of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Birmingham, which were bearing the brunt of the plans to increase student numbers to 150.000 by 1956—would be unable to fulfil their programmes. Oxford, Cambridge and London were hardly expanding. Then there was a heading which appeared in The Times of 6th October, which said: Austerity year for Oxford University. Teaching may have to be cut. It is really extraordinary, after all the warnings given over the last ten years, that we are in this crisis, and while I am not one of those people who pretend that Britain ought not to play her part in Western defence, because I certainly believe in that, I wonder what could have boon done if only a fraction of the money we seem to be wasting upon some things like Blue Streak could have been invested for this essential educational need.

I do not say any more about the university background to the subject of specialist mathematics and science teachers, except to say that not only do we face acute shortage of places, but we still know that our universities are to some extent geared to conditions which have now passed away, and are still producing far too many historians and far too few mathematicians and scientists in relation to arts graduates. I do not want to say that there should be fewer arts teachers or historians, but we do need and must have more scientists and mathematicians.

I should like to confine my remarks to the teaching of mathematics, because I am certain that my hon. Friends, if they succeed in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker, will want to deal with the teaching of science and the position in the training colleges. As one looks at this question one starts with the knowledge that teachers of mathematics are the key factor in the training and education of those who are to become scientists, and with the fact that we shall not get the scientists we need in the future, either for teaching or for industry, unless we secure the necessary number of mathematicians in the schools now.

Again, the Government have had adequate warning of the increasing seriousness of this shortage of teachers of mathematics. In 1955, the Appleton Committee, Which was the Committee concerned with conditions in Scotland, said that the shortage was so grave a national danger that if not solved our economy, even our safety, will be endangered. This was said seven years ago by that very distinguished Committee. Then, there was a sensational lecture delivered by Professor Thwaites in May, 1961. I have previously quoted from his findings when I wound up in the science debate shortly afterwards, and I do not want to travel over all that I said on that occasion, but there are one or two points I should like to make, as they still seem to me from the evidence which I have that they are absolutely relevant.

Professor Thwaites, during the course of his remarks, said: Mathematics may already in May, 1961, have passed the point of no return, the point beyond which there will be a steady and irretrievable decline, on the average, in the quality of students coming into the universities, in the proportionate number of adequately qualified teachers both in schools and universities, and in the overall prestige and standing of mathematics as an academic displine. Such evidence as I have obtained since, unfortunately, leads me to believe that there is a great deal of truth in that statement. I very much hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will today be able somewhat to assuage me on this point. This was said at the time just after his inquiry into some 800 grammar schools which showed that, in the year of the inquiry, there had been, on the average, a turnover of mathematical staff amounting to nearly 50 per cent. in some of these 800 grammar schools.

That was the situation then. What is the position today? It has been authoritatively stated that to provide adequate teaching facilities in the schools we need about 10.000 teachers of mathematics. I do not know whether that figure is accurate, but it must be something of that order. I have since been assured that Professor Thwaites and others subsequently have said that we have only about 5,000. If this is really the gap, and it is a gap which appears to be increasing, then the prospect is alarming. I hope that we shall get some positive answer on this point which is rather more precise than the one I received two years ago.

It has peen said that we ought to have coming into the schools every year between 250 and 300 new qualified mathematicians. That proportion would be about half the mathematics graduates coming out of the universities at present. I am quite certain that we are not getting anything like that proportion in the schools. Some estimates have been made of the requirements of industry, and I believe that industry alone could take the entire product of mathematics graduates, and this is one of the reasons why I think the universities and the Government have been so slow. One of the revolutions of the last few years is that the new electronic processes require absolutely first-class mathematicians in industry and commerce, and industry can afford to pay salaries which are at present undreamed of in academic circles, even in the universities, far less in the schools.

It is an extremely grave position. When I raised this matter specifically in an Adjournment debate on 9th May two years ago I drew attention—I have no doubt that my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) will develop this point—to the fact that at that time 25 out of 75 of the women's training colleges had no mathematics lecturers at all. We have since had various statements showing that only 4 per cent. of the women trainees for teaching are studying mathemtics. I should very much like to know what is the position now.

After an interesting speech the then Parliamentary Secretary wound up with these high-sounding phrases: … we recognise both the nature and the extent of the problem. This was specifically on the shortage of mathematics teachers. I very much hope that the House will feel that this matter, which is not yet solved, is, at any rate, engaging our urgent attention."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 9th May, 1960; Vol. 623, c. 169–7.] We want something more than that.

That was two years ago. I hope that on this occasion we shall get not only pleasant phrases—I am sure we shall—and a courteous speech from the Parliamentary Secretary but some positive facts in answer to the points raised. It is very difficult for hon. Members on this side of the House to know precisely what the position is. There is a very considerable time lag in the statistics. Another distinguished predecessor of the hon. Gentleman said that reading the Ministry's own statistics was like looking up a train in last year's Bradshaw. Unfortunately, the facts emerging from the statistics may mean that the position is much worse than I believe it and not better. If it is better than I am expecting it to be, I shall be delighted, but I am fairly certain that it is not.

Even this year, two years after our discussion in the House, I read these words about the shortage of mathematics teachers: … if national disaster is to be avoided, direction of labour will have to be introduced in order to make good the shortage in the number of mathematics teachers in our schools. This very extreme phrase was not by some Marxist but by the headmaster of Battersea Grammar School, formerly president of the Incorporated Association of Head Masters and a previous president of the Mathematical Association. Headmasters of grammar schools are not usually used to talking this kind of melodramatic language. Usually, their phrasing is rather tepid, and the significance of it has to be seen by examination afterwards.

But that was the view of this very distinguished teacher earlier this year. Therefore, I hope that we shall get from the Parliamentary Secretary some answers to the following questions relating purely to mathematics teachers. I should very much like to know what proportion of the teacher-training colleges for both males and females today are without mathematics teachers, and what proportion of the students, male and female, are now studying mathematics, and how that compares with the position when I raised the matter in May, 1960. I should also like to have some estimate of the shortage of mathematics teachers in these schools, given in figures from the Ministry from its point of view. This is essential if we are not only to try to understand the significance of the problem but also to consider what sort of measures ought to be taken.

I should also be very glad to know what is being done to try to increase the product of mathematics graduates from the universities. Is the total product in the region of 700 or 800 a year? A good deal of criticism has been directed at the universities—I know that this is a matter not entirely for the Minister but also for the universities—in that they sometimes concentrate on producing a smaller number of extremely highly qualified mathematicians. No one wants in any way to debase standards, but if we do not get some mathematics taught lower down there will not be any eminent mathematicians later on, and this is a prospect which the nation cannot face.

I believe that the decisions taken in these critical three or four years about both science and mathematics will in the long run be even more important for the nation than whether or not we join the Common Market. This is something over which we have some control. It is a question of deciding priorities and devoting resources. It is a matter far more within our own competence and power than some of the enterprises in which the Government engage from time to time. I believe that the nation will pay a terrible price if those who have been responsible in this matter have failed in their duties.

1.55 p.m.

Mr. Antony Buck (Colchester)

I welcome the opportunity of making what hon. Gentlemen opposite will be glad to learn will be a very short contribution to the debate. I wish to express the gratitude which I think we all feel to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) for having raised this very important subject. How right he is that the whole future of our country depends on our being far more scientific in our outlook and that we should pay far more heed to the need for science graduates, people trained in technology and people trained in mathematics.

But the picture, as I understand it, is not an entirely black one. Much has been achieved over recent years. No doubt the Parliamentary Secretary will in due course tell the House in specific terms what has been done. There is no doubt that it is a very great deal. I will quote two examples which are of a hopeful character. There are two statistics which I picked out slightly at random; they seem to me somewhat more hopeful than some of the trends to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

First, it is encouraging to note that the number of A-level passes in mathematics rose from 26,800 to 29,700 over the short space of one year from 1960 to 1961. Thus, it would appear that more children are taking their A-levels and passing in mathematics, and for that, I, as an extraordinarily bad mathematician, pay them tribute. They mill go on, and some will become teachers and some will be absorbed in industry. This is a statistic which struck me as being encouraging.

Carrying on the theme of the hon. Gentleman as to the need these days to have an increasingly large proportion of our graduates studying science and mathematics as opposed to the Arts—no hon. Member would want to cut out the arts at all but it is interesting to note that the estimate of the University Grants Committee is that between 1961–62 and 1966–67 there will be an increase of about 40 per cent. in the students taking pure science courses, an increase of 60 per cent in the students taking applied science courses and an increase of only 18 per cent. in the number taking arts courses. Thus, an enormous effort is being made by the universities.

It will always be suggested that the effort should be greater. On all sides we should like to see more money being spent. But we must keep things in perspective, because there are many calls on the taxpayers' money. It is encouraging to notice that a very large proportion of the vast sums which are to be devoted to new university places will go to the people who will be taking science, pure or applied, courses. This is encouraging, and the position is, therefore, by no means entirely black.

To mention one further aspect, it is important that we should have more teachers of science and mathematics, but it is equally important that we should use the teachers of science and mathematics that we have at the moment to the very best effect. The first point on this which I wish to mention is the provision of equipment. From a large amount of what I have read about this, I am by no means convinced that sufficient laboratory and scientific equipment is available. It is true that many of the county councils and education authorities are much more aware of the problem than they were, but there is always the Treasury behind any consideration of this issue.

I have seen it stated that there is not a single scientist at the Treasury. If that is true, it is something which might well be righted. That there should not be a single scientist at the Treasury would seem surprising. Presumably the Treasury has mathematicians, but it appears to have no scientists. There would be a better appreciation of the need for scientific equipment in schools and universities if there were a few well-placed scientists at the Treasury.

We should not pass this matter by without paying tribute to what industry has done. I would mention the Industrial Fund for the Advancement of Scientific Education in the Schools, to which Industry has contributed generously and which has been of considerable help in furthering scientific education.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Would the hon. Gentleman use his influence to persuade the Industrial Fund to give some benefits to the State schools as well as the private schools?

Mr. Buck

Yes. If I had the influence I might be encouraged to use it in that direction after hearing from the hon. Member what he has in mind. But as a humble member of the Bar, my influence in industry is somewhat limited.

Then there is the actual use of their time by the teachers themselves. Here my attention was struck by an article in the house magazine Esso recently by Mr. J. L. Lewis, senior mathematics master at Malvern College, who has investigated teaching methods in science in Russia, America and on the Continent. He is, a course, highly familiar with our own methods as well. He suggested that we could draw some lessons from what is done in Russia. He wrote: The Russians are teaching as much science in less time than we are by giving the teacher a lot more guidance and far more aids to his teaching. If we too had the means of teaching our subjects more efficiently, the English schoolmaster might not have to say the same thing over and over again. We might achieve as much in fewer periods and the shortage of teachers would not be so acute. In Russia there are research institutes for the devising of school experiments and the design of apparatus. In England this is usually done by the busy schoolmaster in any spare moments he may have. We cannot really afford to continue in this amateurish way. Not only is the Russian teacher provided with a complete set of demonstration apparatus for his course, but he is well supplied with films on precisely the subjects being taught. All this does much to help the teacher; it does not impede the good teacher from developing his own ideas, but it does enable the indifferent teacher to achieve a minimum standard, to teach with a minimum of efficiency. That is an interesting comment by a person who has made a deep study of the subject. I hope that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will comment on it, because it appears that there is much to be learnt from what is suggested there. One would also like to see more use being made of experiments in teaching, such as ordinary television, closed circuit television and films.

We must make science fashionable. Far too many people still think that it is "smart to do art" or rather the arts and spurn scientific and mathematical subjects. Far more people like myself, with training in history and the law, should take an interest in scientific matters. We in this House should also devote more time to them. It is absolutely vital to our survival that we make science fashionable and get more children wishing to take it up.

I have sat through several science debates in this House. On one occasion I sat here for seven hours trying to catch Mr. Speaker's eye. One of the things we ought to mention is the enormous contribution—and I say this with all humility—which is already being made by the Duke of Edinburgh. I am surprised that no tribute has been paid to his work in previous debates. The Government and the House should follow up his work by thinking more about modern scientific and mathematical subjects. We should think scientifically and make science fashionable.

2.4 p.m.

Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)

I agree with the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) that there is need to publicise scientific education and for developing interest in it. But I blame the Ministry of Education particularly for not uncovering the nature and extent of the problem, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) said. It is about that aspect that I wish mainly to speak. After the Adjournment debate on 3rd August, I had a most interesting letter on this subject. This read: Your experience in endeavouring to obtain statistics from the Minister appears to be much the same as mine. That there is a shortage of mathematicians and scientists has been common knowledge for 15 years or more, yet the Ministry professes an, albeit highly rationalised, ignorance of the extent of this shortage. Your own indication to the House of the simple arithmetic necessary to approximate the shortage suggests that the problem can be defined. Until it is defined, however, it can hardly be solved. I would prefer to call the ignorance of the Ministry "sophisticated." I have a feeling that it does not wish to uncover the full facts because of fear of political odium.

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

indicated dissent.

Mr. Boyden

I am glad to see that the hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I hope that he will follow up the suggestion of making a full survey of the problem involved. The latest set of statistics—I call it the "Red Book"—is a great advance in relation to the G.C.E. statistics. I have been one of those con- stantly badgering the Ministry to improve its statistics. I am glad that it is taking that advice.

One of the arguments which Lord Eccles always put forward about increasing expenditure on education was that one could not carry the public too far—that the public, as it were, dragged the Ministry back. In considering the shortage of science teachers and lecturers in training colleges, a good example has been set by a number of professional bodies. For instance, the Science Masters Association and the A.U.T., referred to by my hon. Friend, have done very good surveys recently about students not getting into universities, while the College of Preceptors has surveyed the reaction to the Crowther Report. The clearing house has a very good system now for taking account of the subjects studied by students making application for training college places.

The moment is ripe—the professional people are very interested—for taking the matter a great deal further and setting out in simple language, well documented, the nature of the problem and what the Ministry expects the various parts of the educational system to do. The Ministry's function is that of coordinator and stimulator, and that is a job which no one else can do. However good outside surveys might be, they cannot match the resources of the Ministry. Above all, outside bodies lack the opportunity to co-ordinate the various efforts.

If one can make a general criticism of the way in which the Government as a whole have proceeded in relation to education over the years, it is that they have appointed a committee to deal with each particular problem they wish to investigate. We have had the Crowther Committee, the Robbins Committee and the Albemarle Committee. Each took its subject in isolation. Yet what was needed was not so much separate inquiries into these aspects, but continuing Statistics, information and action over the whole problem of education.

Rumour has it, according to the "bush telegraph" in this House, that the Minister is now about to embark on an inquiry into primary education. But the research department of the Ministry should already have the statistics to help the Minister in his task of making a plan, which need not necessarily be cast iron, but which could indicate to people the way they should go and their r÷le in the system. It should be able to fit people more economically and efficiently into their places in the system and get the maximum results.

Even the problem of manpower is dealt with unscientifically by the Ministry, although the approach to the problem of buildings and equipment has been very much improved over the years. There is room for improvement in relation to the scientific assessment of these problems. But in the problem of coordination and of getting people to fit together, it seems to me that the Ministry are extremely deficient. On the side of public relations, too, there is nothing like the application to the problem which is required.

I was reading over, as I often do—it is almost my bible—the Plowden Committee on the Control of Public Expenditure, and there are a couple of quotations from it which are appropriate on the production of information in the Ministry of Education. This is what the Plowden Committee said about public interest: Unless the issues of long-term expenditure priorities and policies can be discussed in Parliament and become the subject of public controversy, it will be difficult for Governments to carry public opinion with them. My criticism of Lord Eccles was precisely this—not relating to public expenditure in particular, but relating to public information about the expenditure and about the sort of thing which the Ministry of Education wants the local authorities and the schools to do. It is just as necessary to have public discussion here about the problem of scientific education and finding sufficient training college lecturers, and to have the facts and figures available, as it is to discuss the expenditure of money.

Another quotation which is apposite is this: Our proposals are designed to lead gradually to greater public interest in the priorities of expenditure —I would say "in the priorities of information"— to the stimulation of academic thought about it, and to a greater awareness of the implications and choices involved in policies as they come forward. It is not only a matter of expenditure, but also a matter of public information, and I very much agree with the hon. Member for Colchester about this. Very few people dispute—and I should be interested to see whether the Parliamentary Secretary does—that the talent for the training of lecturers in training colleges and masters and mistresses in schools in mathematics and science is available.

I will quote the final words of Sir Ronald Gould, on 11th March, 1961, at a very good conference of many people concerned with scientific information—the Association of Scientific Workers, the Association of Technical Teachers, the A.U.T., the N.U.T. and the Assistant Masters Association. He said: The one assumption which has gone through the whole of our discussion is that there is enough human potential if we only use it adequately. No one has questioned that. This is surely the major role which only the Ministry of Education can play. The material is there.

I give the Ministry credit for some advance. The figures show that for boys and girls in physics and chemistry the material is there, but what is lacking is the Ministry's consideration in getting everybody together to produce the maximum result. Perhaps I may be specific on this matter, as I rather like to be constructive in these debates. There are a number of problems which I am sure need to be considered and to be more in evidence in the statistical data which the Ministry produces.

For example, what are the steps which are being taken to deal with this dreadful way in which the sons and daughters of semi-skilled and unskilled people fall through the educational net? Looking through the "Red Book" I have picked out some figures. Among children from all schools, taking three A levels in the last G.C.E., the professional and managerial group account for 8,000 boys and the semi-skilled and unskilled groups for 790. Among the daughters of professional men the figure was 4,350 and in the semi-skilled and unskilled categories, 330.

If we look at the independent school figures we find that they are a disgrace. There are no girls in the independent schools from unskilled or semi-skilled backgrounds getting three A-levels, and there are no boys, and there are only 150 from the skilled occupations. This means that the public schools are less public than they have ever been.

Even in the Middle Ages they were much more representative of the people than they are today. I imagine that all those 150 boys came from Christ's Hospital, but, certainly, it means that there are no girls at all in these categories. If the public schools want to justify their place they have to do what was suggested in the Guardian, by Mr. Peterson, two days ago—come to some degree of co-operation and sharing of their staff, particularly in science.

Another specific problem, in the same way, in which I think it is highly desirable that the Ministry should give evidence of studying problems of operational research as well as of education is the deplorable failing of part-time students in further education. Again quoting the "Red Book", in 1961, in mathematics the number of entries for G.C.E. A-level among evening class men was 750, and the passes were 170. Among women it was 100 entries and 30 passes. These were part-time evening students. For the part-time day students, the entries in mathematics were 1,120 men, with 390 passes, and 190 women, with only 70 passes. In the full-time classes the passes are just over the half-mark. I could give the same sort of figuers for chemistry and physics.

This is an organisational problem for the Ministry of Education—how to ensure that, with grants and time off and that sort of thing, these people, who are among the most serious groups of students in the whole educational world, are given a reasonable chance to pass their examinations and to receive the necessary sections of full-time education to do so.

Another very intractable problem on which we need much more information is what progress is being made in girls' science education, because upon this depends our success in the training colleges. The figures for the last advance level G.C.E. seem to demonstrate once and for all that the mathematical and scientific ability of girls, if properly cultivated, is as good as that of boys. In the last results, for all the mathematical examinations—that is, all the A-mathematics groups together—4,298 girls passed, which was a 68–9 per cent. pass rate, compared with 27,000-odd boys with a 65 per cent. pass rate. It is fairly obvious that the mathematical teaching in the girls' schools is at a reasonable level, because I suppose there is bound to be one reasonably good mathematician on the staff of every school.

But when we come to physics and chemistry, where we know from our personal experience that a considerable number of schools have no physics or chemistry teacher, we find that the girls show up very much worse. In physics, for example, 5 per cent. fewer girls pass than boys and in chemistry it is 6 per cent. fewer.

I urge the Ministry of Education to pay particular attention to these black spots and to set out statistically and by argument and in the Annual Report the nature of the problem and what the Ministry is doing and wants other people to do. In scientific education and mathematics there is a great need for a new attitude to teaching in this country—particularly in mathematics. I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary has seen the shadow of the Common Market, but a book "New Thinking in School Mathematics", issued by O.E.C.D. is a very good document which ought to be in the hands of everybody who has anything to do with educational administration.

I put forward three ideas which seem to me to be most important. We ought at once to devise a better curriculum on mathematics, we ought to make all our mathematics courses more interesting throughout the educational system and we ought to do what I suggested in the debate of 3rd August—then I thought that I had got something, but, obviously, it was not very much—which is to do much more to ensure that bright teachers in schools have opportunities to go to universities full time on grant. They ought also to be given part-time day opportunities at university for refreshers in mathematics. The O.E.C.D. document suggests that teachers going to universities for part-time refreshers in mathematics, chemistry and physics ought to be in contact with university professors by correspondence and so on. The O.E.C.D. document says: In every field of activity the difficulty nowadays is by and large inertia. This is a very big task which the Ministry has. It has a task to make plain the facts, and to publicise them, and it has a task to overcome inertia.

2.20 p.m.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

My hon. Friends have concentrated on the problems of universities and training colleges. I focus attention on the school problem. First, I must frankly confess to the Parliamentary Secretary that I do not care to offer him, with confiedence, any figures on the current shortage of science teachers in schools. It is sufficient to say that in 1959 only 34 per cent. of the secondary modern schools felt themselves to be adequately staffed in science.

On more certain ground, there is the calculation that we need 14,000 more graduates in science if we introduce the following assumptions—that sixth forms are doubled; that the numbers for classes are reduced to the 30 statutory pupils; that the school-leaving age is raised to 16; and that practical work is to be done at a suitable ratio of teacher to pupil. If 14,000 are needed, let the Parliamentary Secretary also bear in mind that the current net rate of increase is 500 science graduates for teaching each year.

Add to this the further complication of the birth rate. In 1955 live births numbered 668,000. In 1957 the figure was 723,000. In 1959 the figure was 749,000. In 1961 the figure was 804,000. This year one gathers that it is at the rate of 820,000. Has the Ministry taken into consideration these statistics and the new bulge with which it will be faced?

Rather than throwing numbers at the Parliamentary Secretary, there is something which disturbs me a good deal more. That is the decline in the numbers of those with first class honours in teaching. Over the years 1959 to 1961 the number of firsts was between 10 and 11 per cent., but in the training colleges the overall total of firsts in mathematics was 3 per cent., and for men only 2.6 per cent. Considering the real totals, I think that hon. Members will appreciate the seriousness of this decline in really high quality honours graduates in schools.

It is not only a question of those with first class honours, because I appreciate that pupils under 16 may not necessarily be best taught by those with firsts. May I quote a Scottish figure? One sees no reason to suppose that the ratios are different in England. Those teachers between 25 and 29 years of age with honours degrees in mathematics number 29. Those between 50 and 54 with similar qualifications number 115. I repeat that perhaps this is not critical for those under 16, because after all by someone who has some scientific training they can be taught how to study, how to get the facts, and how to go about a problem, which is as much as one would ask at that stage. Those over 16 must have teachers who have a profound understanding of scientific methods and the knowledge to do it, particularly in mathematics, where one year before 25 is worth five years afterwards. Because the mathematician, involving intuition rather than judgment, matures so much younger, it is more important than in any other subject to have those who are really profoundly educated in their own expertise.

Again, there is the serious situation north of the Border. About half the posts which should go to honours graduates in 1972 will in fact be filled, according to the calculation of the Educational Institute of Scotland, by those with an Article 39 qualification.

There is again the serious problem of age distribution. I wonder if the Parliamentary Secretary is aware that 60 per cent. of those teachers with honours degrees in mathematics are over 50 years of age. This is again the Scottish figure. It could be different in England. Forty per cent. of those qualified in mathematics are over 50 years of age. In order to teach advanced mathematics—this is almost tautology, but it is important—there must be teachers who understand this highly complicated subject.

I am concerned now to try to be constructive and put forward various ways of increasing teaching power, although I admit that there is no overall panacea. How many teachers are being recruited from the colleges of advanced technology, because some figures which I would offer with very little confidence show that there is remarkably poor recruitment from colleges of advanced technology? Perhaps the Minister would make some comment.

There is again the question of refresher course's. Particularly is this necessary in physics. Instead of teaching a series of unrelated topics, what is the Minister doing to encourage the idea whereby physics should be treated from the point of view of energy? What is he doing to make this possible, both with equipment, as was mentioned by the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck), and also from the point of view of re-training present teachers of physics? If it is taught as an ordered body of knowledge rather than as unrelated topics, this country would get more better physicists. I am not one to countenance taunts of "bachelors of outmoded science" which are so often thrown at our more senior and elderly science teachers. One must ask, however, whether refresher courses, however desirable, are really realistic. Can one ask those who have been doing a job for fifteen or twenty years to go back and change their methods? My senior colleagues involved would, with the best will in the world, find it extremely difficult, and I certainly am not sneering at them or criticising them.

It is at this point that one has to introduce the question of television. I shall confine my remarks very shortly on this, because my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) wishes to speak about this. He is a great expert on this. Would the Minister consider the introduction into Britain of the sort of physics and perhaps chemistry teaching which is being done through television in the United States by the 162 half-hour lessons of Dr. Hervey White? What happened was that the President of the United States said, "Who is the best science teacher in America?" Eventually they alighted on Dr. Hervey White of the University of California, who, with the aid of seven Nobel Prize winners, put together 162 really relevant lessons of fundamental physics. It seems to have been a tremendous success.

Perhaps the importance here is that it cuts out much of the most difficult stuff which happens, in the light of the frontiers of knowledge now, to be irrelevant. We should not assume for one moment that the hardest stuff pupils have to learn is the most relevant, because it is not. Therefore, by giving some sort of short cut they have alighted on a most important educational idea.

Perhaps the Minister also would look carefully at the experiments which are being done at the Durham Colleges in connection with Tyne Tees Television preparing pupils for G.C.E. O-level. This is particularly useful in those schools where there is a shortage of science teachers. Perhaps the Minister will also consider the interesting experiment which is being done at the Kidbrooke Comprehensive School which is linked with the Avery Hill Training College. Could more finance be made available for this sort of idea? Television can stimulate the interests and activities of younger children in the direction of science. In this connection, I would like to draw on a personal experience. I used to teach twelve and thirteen year-olds from and with the aid of Professor Dennis Bullough's programmes on evolution. Professor Bullough could tell them about coelecanth and explain the topic in full by showing one of them. He had one and I did not and, therefore, his programmes were extremely effective. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East is an expert on this subject.

Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)


Mr. Dalyell

I believe that there should be television sets not only in every secondary school but in every primary school and while this might be considered a tall order, I would like to see a television set in every single classroom. This would partly avoid the time involved in taking pupils to the communal television room—and I refer to the physical time spent moving from one room to another—but it would partly assist by being able to use a television programme not just once but twice, which is particularly effective in science teaching. It is much better that pupils should see a programme once, spend some time discussing it and then see it a second time. If there is only one television set in a school difficulties are created. Besides, in every school that has a TV set, there are clashes of timetable between classes.

Without finding myself out of order in talking about finance, I would draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to two early day Motions on the television industry. Before the 625 line system is introduced in April, 1964, this industry will be going through a serious economic crisis. If these sort of steps are taken the under-utilised resources of the unemployed makers of television components in my constituency and other parts of the North-East and Scotland, as well as Northern Ireland, would be assisted. I realise that it assumes a certain amount of financial expenditure when one claims that every classroom should have a television set. This would certainly help the industry to tide over lack of sales until April, 1964. It may be thought that one is relying far too much on television of schoolchildren receive a lot of television teaching. Perhaps they would look less willingly at television in the evenings if this were done; and the Minister can choose which is the better for pupils.

I would like to suggest the setting up of centres of science so that pupils in the cities can attend them, and I must confess to have been influenced to a certain extent by the palaces of pioneers which one sees in Russia. While it might be unrealistic to ask that extremely expensive equipment should be provided in every school, such science centres could have this expensive equipment and the sixteen to eighteen year olds who so badly need this form of study could attend these centres. This suggestion could take in various types of clubs, centres of geology, perhaps astronomy and even solid state physics. Students could approach these subjects with much more enthusiasm than they can do in the compulsory sense inside the normal school framework.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) would, I am sure, discover that girls would make a great deal of use of these centres. It is a serious thing that of the physics graduates in our schools with degrees in physics 2,012 are men and only 316 are women. The interest which science centres would provide could do a lot to encourage a solution of the problem which the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland spoke about.

I must be brief because a number of hon. Members still wish to speak. I had intended to deal with a number of other points but I will merely commend to the Parliamentary Secretary the document "Science Teaching in Secondary Modern Schools "published by the Science-masters' Association in 1959. I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to give this his urgent consideration.

2.34 p.m.

Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)

Because of the time factor I shall have to condense what would have been a twenty-minute speech into one lasting for not more than three minutes. I wish, firstly, to reinforce some of the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) and specifically to ask the Minister to recognise that in science and mathematics the shortage of teachers, which has been exposed today, reveals that these two subjects are preeminently suited to tuition by television. This has been clearly brought out by recent reports on this subject.

If we are to make the best use of the teachers who are available, we must give them the largest possible audiences we can. Television can provide the answer to this. The Government have taken a thoroughly obscurantist and unirnaginative attitude towards this subject. Recently the Minister of Education told me that he was opposed to the conception of an educational television channel, but I think that there is a misunderstanding here as to the purpose of such a channel. Its purpose would be as a teaching device and not to show general cultural programmes like "Carmen" which we saw yesterday or the Greek play which was screened by I.T.V. the other week. It would, as I say, be a specifically teaching channel for schools, universities and colleges of technology. It would give instruction in science, mathematics, history, geography and the like.

It is clear that neither the B.B.C. nor the I.T.V. have any intention of performing the function of such a channel. The fourth teaching channel should and need create no difference whatever in the programmes of the other channels. They would continue as now with their education and cultural work. It would be a purely educational channel and it could be opened immediately. The Minister himself has experience in television. Like me, he had considerable experience (f it before vanishing into the obscurity of the House of Commons. He might make a personal effort along these lines.

It should be done via super-high frequency; not on the ultra-high frequency but on the v.h.f. network. There is one available and it could be done on 405 lines as a crash programme for science, mathematics and other teaching. We know about all the old objections to a fourth channel for (this purpose but they do not hold water. I do not have the time to go into the pros and cons of this matter but I urge the Minister to look into it as an immediate practical advice for remedying what is an appalling position.

2.37 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

I, too, must be brief in my remarks, but I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to be realistic about the subject we have been discussing. I can assure him that we require figures showing the advance that has been made this year compared with last, for we are very concerned about the pace of that advance. We are following a debate on supersonic aircraft. While the speeds at which aircraft travel are increasing all the time—to the extent of the proposed production of a supersonic aeroplane—it certainly cannot be said that we are advancing sufficiently fast enough in education compared with the progress that has been made in other countries.

It is a sheer waste of time to talk about advance as an absolute, for we are concerned solely with the pace of the advance. Many hon. Members are depressed when it appears that the advance we are making generally, and particularly in education, is by no means fast enough. My hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) mentioned Mr. Petersen. I remember an essay of his which pointed out that in China there is a bias towards the sciences of 8 to 1. I am not saying that that is necessarily desirable but it shows what can be done by a country in a dramatic way to bring itself into line with the first-rate powers.

We know that a precedent was set by the Soviet Union, which thirty or so years ago put its money, as the previous Minister of Education, Lord Eccles, said, "on their red shirts" on education. That country has devoted enormous resources to education and we in Britain must be prepared to do the same. We are today discussing science and mathematics teachers and it must be said that the pace of advance has slackened. The reason for this has been explained by previous Ministers of Education as being something to do with the call-up. We cannot accept that as an adequate answer and it is disturbing that the pace of advance has been slackening considerably.

Professor Thwaites has been mentioned. He said that, as an absolute priority, we have to double the entry of mathematics students this year. Have we done it? That is the target that he has set us. The hon. Member mentioned the Industrial Fund. I am not criticising it; it has done an enormous amount of good work for independent schools, but it has caused a disparity between the equipment provided in the independent schools and that provided in the State schools. Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell us Whether this disparity has decreased over the past twelve months? These are questions to which we want answers from the hon. Gentleman.

Training colleges have been referred to. I am appalled at the difficulty of getting elementary information about them. I have been trying to obtain information on subjects such as science and mathematics in relation to the increase of students attending training colleges, and I was appalled to learn from the Ministry that it does not know. All it can give me is information about the qualifications on first appointments in the schools. This is an appallingly unscientific attitude towards education.

I want to know what the present position in the training colleges is with regard to science and mathematics teaching. We know that by a diktat, or decree, the Minister has laid it down that 80 per cent. of all those in training colleges have to receive training for primary education. It seems hopelessly unscientific to imagine that, just by decree, we can do this without upsetting the whole system of education in the training colleges.

I sympathise with the hon. Member. I know the pressure of the various priorities. But we simply must meet them all. We cannot wantonly sacrifice the priority that we are now discussing simply because the Ministry did not think sufficiently early about the increase in the birthrate over the past four or five years.

Finally—and because I know that the Parliamentary Secretary is also in difficulty about the time, and we do not want to take up too much time of the following debate—

Mr. Speaker

The times laid down are only provisional. In fact, I think I have slightly over-estimated the time that will be required for the next debate.

Mr. Willey

I am greatly encouraged by that, Mr. Speaker, but having said what I have I do not want to trespass unduly upon the Parliamentary Secretary's time.

I want to deal with the question of equipment. There is an enormous difference between the equipment provided in Russian and West German schools, and schools in this country. In view of the acute shortage of science and mathematics teachers, one would have thought that the bias would have been the other way. What has been done about this? This matter demands a good deal of research. It demands the same sort of approach that the Ministry has taken with regard to school buildings. This does not involve an enormous expenditure. My hon. Friend has mentioned the figures. I believe that we can provide all the equipment that needs to he provided for about £500. What is being done about this? Are we having an examination of the matter? Are we going, to have the equipment provided? If not, I agree with my hon. Friend that we shall be at a serious disadvantage compared with other countries in regard to physics teaching.

It has been suggested that there is a lot of equipment in Government stores which could be used, but because we have no scientists at the Treasury this equipment has to go through the orthodox machinery for the disposal of Government surplus stores. Television has demonstrably been proved to be a short cut. Why are we not taking advantage of it? Let us have this sort of approach to the very difficult problem which will prejudice us irretrievably in the next generation unless we tackle it.

I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will not evade the issue by saying that we are better than we were last year. We have to be as much better as we can possibly be. Are we making the utmost use of our teaching resources? Has Professor Thwaites' target been attained this year? What is the position of the training colleges? We are concerned here not only with the grammar schools. This is the mistake which the Minister often makes. The figures that we get assume that science and mathematics are taught only in grammar schools. There is a woeful lack of science teachers in secondary schools. We must adopt an entirely different attitude to the problem.

It is for this reason that science teaching in primary schools is important. I do not say that we can go very far in the primary schools, but we could at least go far enough to encourage a climate which will create a much better response to scientific education than is apparent at the moment.

I am glad to see that the Parliamentary Secretary for Science is here. That shows a joint interest. I am sure that he will impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary —as Lord Hailsham once impressed upon us —that if we get education right, we can get the rest right, but that if we do not get education right there is no possibility of getting the rest right.

2.46 p.m.

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

I am sure that the House is very grateful to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) for raising this issue. I agree entirely with what was said by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden), that the more such matters as this can be aired in the House of Commons the greater the benefit likely to be derived from an increased knowledge of the position throughout the education service.

We are talking about one of the great problems which the education service now faces. I do not seek to hide that fact for a second. The overall shortage of teachers will, for some years, have its worst effect at two points in the educational system—in the staffing of primary and especially infants schools, and in the supply of specialist teachers of mathematics and science.

As the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) suggested, there may be a conflict of priorities here. It is no good suddenly switching one's attention to one problem without having regard to the other. The hon. Member suggested that the Government have concentrated on the possible shortage of primary teachers at the expense of providing mathematicians and scientists. I shall refer to that point shortly, and I hope to be able to show that that is not the case.

This aspect of the shortage is mainly attributable to social trends, which, unfortunately for the staffing of the schools, has the effect of increasing the demand and diminishing the supply. We all know that social trends have had that effect in primary schools. The shortage of mathematics and science teachers is the result of an increasingly scientific and technological bias of society, which leads to a growing demand for education in mathematics and science at all levels. The bias also reduces the supply of qualified people, because it increases the competition that education must meet from industry.

I have been asked for specific figures, but I have been discouraged by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North from giving too many figures—or perhaps from giving figures of which he does not approve. First, I want to try to put the essential facts before hon. Members and, in the process, particularly to answer a number of questions which have been put by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington. The growth in the numbers of mathematics and science graduates entering the maintained schools has been quite encouraging.

In March, 1961, there were 7,321 mathematics graduates and 12,734 science graduates in employment in all grant-aided schools and establishments. Compared with the position two years before, these figures represent an increase of nearly 10 per cent. for mathematics graduates and nearly 15 per cent. for science graduates. In the maintained secondary schools the numbers were 5,077, an increase of 7.8 per cent. over 1959 for mathematics graduates and 8,528, an increase of 13.2 per cent. for science graduates. This is an advance and a percentage increase of some importance.

I would quote one other set of figures at this stage. This is for the numbers of mathematics and science graduates entering university departments of education to train as teachers. These have risen from 715 in 1957–58 to 965 in 1961–62 and 1,110 in 1962–63. This is a cause for some satisfaction and my right hon. Friend hopes that these figures will show a further increase, because these training courses can be of great value to graduates and perhaps particularly to 'those with degrees in mathematics and science. They help the graduates to understand the different needs and abilities of their pupils and to see their subject as part of the whole curriculum rather than in isolation.

I would offer one or two comments on the picture that these figures reveal. The growth in numbers entering the schools has kept pace with the general increase in the graduate teaching force. Therefore, in relation to the general graduate teaching course we have held our own in this respect. Recruitment has been rather better than the figures of growth suggest because, as the hon. Member for Sunderland, North said, men teachers have been leaving the schools more rapidly than we would expect to be the normal ease in the last year or two as a consequence of the ending of deferment under National Service. Further education and the training colleges have been gradually increasing their demands for mathematics and science graduates as part of their expansion programmes, and it is the schools which will eventually feel the benefit of this.

Over the last few years additional teachers have been absorbed in dealing in the secondary schools with the steadily growing school rolls. Now that the school rolls have begun to decline, a further increase in the staff should bring more apparent benefits and should mean better standards. The increase in the number of mathematics and science graduates training before entering teaching is another welcome factor.

There has been a growth in the number of pupils in secondary schools taking A level, as the hon. Member for Sunderland, North said. In confirming this, I do not want to suggest other than that this constitutes a great achievement by the teachers, because there is no question that many science and mathematics teachers are facing great difficulties at the moment. That they have been able to increase the numbers taking A levels, and taking them successfully in the quite substantial number to which reference has been made, is a great achievement on their part.

These are all moves in the right direction, but nobody, and least of all my right hon. Friend, will deny that a grave shortage persists. It is not uniform. In science, physics teachers are far harder to come by than teachers of biology, and the general situation for girls is worse than that for boys. The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) demanded better statistics. He was kind enough to say a good word or two for the publication Statistics in Education and for the improvement in statistics from the Ministry. I get the impression that there has been a quite dramatic improvement in recent years. But when I am asked for reliable estimates of the shortage of mathematics and science teachers I must say that they are not available. We cannot give really reliable estimates of the needs of the schools.

Hon. Members may be surprised to see the difficulties that are involved in the accurate calculation of shortages of particular subject teachers within the schools. It is not a straight-forward exercise in any way. The available statistics do not show how teachers are occupied by subjects throughout the educational system. One can assume that graduates teach the subjects in which they graduated. That is broadly true, but it is much more risky to make the same assumptions about non-graduate teachers of mathematics and science. Non-graduates, moreover, are of widely varying qualifications and there is a need to analyse those qualifications before it is possible to say to what extent posts in schools are satisfactorily filled. During the shortage of mathematics and science teachers it is likely that both the schools' curricula and their estimates of teaching vacancies are conditioned by that shortage and hence underestimate what is really required.

Most important of all, one cannot assess the demand for individual subjects considered in isolation. In the past, we have collected figures showing the schools' demand for individual subjects, but we have come to think that this information is of very little use if it is not set in the context of the rest of the curriculum. I am sure that hon. Members will appreciate that the final total one arrives at by adding together the numbers of teachers required in individual subjects tends to be a very arbitrary one indeed.

We have, therefore, to establish typical curricula patterns for schools of different types and while giving teacher-shortage subjects priority consideration relate the demand for teachers of particular subjects to the supply as a whole. The Ministry of Education Curriculum Study Group has embarked on a study of these complex questions and it is hoped that it will before long devise some working assumptions on which to base rough interim estimates, but some time will be needed to accumulate the basic data and to devise techniques for producing more sophisticated results.

Mr. Boyden

Is the Minister of Education working in conjunction with the Zuckerman findings? Do the Minister for Science and the Minister for Education try to do an exercise to determine what would be the desirable number of people flowing through in mathematics, chemistry, and so on? Would that not be a method of determining the numbers required in the schools?

Mr. Chataway

I am told that there is a report coming out in January on newly qualified scientific manpower, which will bear upon this problem. I take the hon. Gentleman's point.

The gravity of the shortages has to be accepted, and I think that the House will want to know what are the prospects of improvement. The supply of mathematics and science graduates is inevitably part of the general problem of recruiting more graduates, and university expansion gives us grounds for hope, especially since that expansion is to be predominantly on the science side. Two-thirds of the places supplied at the new universities are to be for scientists.

Some of the questions raised by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington are not for me. They are for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but in so far as our fortunes in this respect are bound up with the output of the universities we intend to use every effort to bring home to graduates the advantages and attractions of a career in teaching.

Closer links will be formed with the university appointments officers. Recruitment publicity has been improved and will certainly be maintained. Talks are given to students by young teachers who have already obtained posts of special responsibility in the schools. We have already tried this out with some success at one university. Arrangements will be made for students to visit schools to see for themselves current standards of accommodation and equipment.

The salaries and career prospects for graduate teachers in mathematics and science have been greatly enhanced and their working conditions have been steadily improved both by the provision of better equipment, to which my right hon. Friend attaches considerable importance, and by the increase in auxiliary help in laboratories.

Mr. Dalyell

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in 1959 there were only 45 secondary modern schools in the whole of the United Kingdom with laboratory assistants? Would he quote figures for laboratory assistants now?

Mr. Chataway

I cannot give the hon. Member those figures at the moment, but I will certainly send them to him if he wishes.

One very promising development is the establishment of a small steering committee on the supply of mathematics teachers bringing together schools, universities and the Ministry. It has long been a puzzle to us why so few people with good mathematics qualifications at school go on to read mathematics at the university. Now that the demand for mathematics graduates is increasing so fast outside education as well as inside —for one reason because of the use of computers in industry—it is essential to tackle this problem, and a steering committee is much better equipped to do so than either the schools or the universities in isolation.

I have spoken of graduates. I will now say a word about the supply of science and mathematics teachers who are non-graduates. The three-year course, coupled with the greatly increased demand for admission, which allows colleges to choose highly-qualified candidates, has given the training colleges an opportunity to broaden and deepen the training that they give to non-graduate mathematics and science teachers, and so equip them to play their part in the teaching of these subjects in both primary and secondary schools.

I was asked for the figures of scientists and mathematicians at the teacher train- ing colleges. With the permission of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North, I think that since they are rather lengthy I had better give them to him privately.

The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington suggested that there are many teacher training colleges without lecturers in these subjects. I must tell him that for mathematics there are about 240 lecturers, an average of two per general college teaching full time. Another 60 are teaching mathematics either part-time or in combination with another subject. There is no indication of a shortage of lecturers in mathematics in the training colleges, although there may be one or two temporary vacancies. Of course, the teaching of science tends to be more concentrated in a few colleges and, therefore, the lecturers are found in about 45 colleges, and it may, therefore, seem that the supply of lecturers in the colleges is not so satisfactory.

The hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) and the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) raised the subject of television, which is one—

Mr. Willey

Before the hon. Gentleman comes to the subject of television will he tell the House whether he is saying that in 60 training colleges there are no science teachers at all?

Mr. Chataway

I am saying that there are lecturers in physics and chemistry in about 45 colleges. Many remaining colleges have lecturers in other science subjects—for example, biology—which are more appropriate for girls intending to work in primary schools. Only one college is known to have a vacancy for a lecturer in physics and chemistry.

Incidentally, the numbers of scientists and mathematicians in training colleges for this year and for last year are substantially higher than the intake for 1960–61, which was the year when the training colleges were asked to devote 80 per cent. of their capacity to those training for junior work. I think that that fully answers the accusation so often made that that resulted in a reduction in places for scientists and mathematicians.

It is not the case that my right hon. Friend is committed in principle against the introduction of a special television channel at any time. It is, as the hon. Member for Woolwich, East, will know, the policy of the Government that there should be no special education channel at the moment. He will know, as well as I do, the arguments for that proposition which were advanced, among others, by the Pilkington Committee.

There is an encouraging expansion of teaching on television going on at present. An agreement has been reached between the B.B.C., the I.T.A. and my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General on the subject of adult education and the expansion of hours; and I know from recent conversations with the B.B.C. that, in addition to the mathematics courses which have been run, they are considering how best to increase science teaching on television.

Mr. Mayhew

Is not it a mockery to regard the Government's proposals for the expansion of education as a means of increasing the hours of television which means that these programmes will be shown after eleven o'clock? That is all that the White Paper on the future of television has to offer regarding educational television—programmes out of existing hours; that is to say, after eleven o'clock. Is not that burning the midnight oil in the most literal sense? Why should not science and mathematics instruction be available for different age groups at different times of the day and integrated with other educational programmes?

Mr. Chataway

This is a large subject, as the hon. Gentleman knows, and the proposition that he has made would make no sense except in relation to a special education channel.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

It makes sense in any channel which is used in the public interest instead of in the private interest of a few people.

Mr. Chataway

If the hon. Gentleman is so insensitive to the opinions of the majority of viewers that he would put on a television lecture on biology or chemistry at eight o'clock in the evening, when there are only two mass media channels, not only is he a very brave man but he would be guilty of misusing a mass medium of communication—

Mr. Mayhew

indicated assent.

Mr. Chataway

I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Woolwich, East, who has much experience of television, agrees with me.

I have not been able to give all the statistics for which I have been asked in this debate. But my right hon. Friend and I attach considerable importance to the point, made by my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) and by other hon. Members, that it is essential that the talents of the science and mathematics teachers which we have are used to the maximum advantage in our schools.

Evidently, in-service training is of importance in this respect, and the equipment and facilities which are available to teachers. There is still a shortage. The gravity of that shortage is not underestimated. I hope that I have given some indication of the many ways in which my right hon. Friend is intent upon increasing the supply of scientists and mathematicians to our schools. I can assure the House that these efforts will not be relaxed until the present admittedly serious shortage is greatly alleviated.

Mr. Mayhew

The hon. Gentleman's statement that the Minister of Education was not, in principle, opposed to a separate educational channel is encouraging. Can he assure the House that this is being studied by the Minister?

Mr. Speaker

It is not often that the Chair intervenes in these matters. But this particular topic has already had 25 minutes more than the time allotted and we should allow some finality to sitting down.