§ 11.10 a.m.
§ Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)
I beg to move,
That this House notes the serious crisis in the supply of teachers and welcomes the proposals made by the Secretary of State for Education and Science to deal with the shortage.The debate takes place against a background of discussion about the need for many more teachers in our schools and the need to keep in our schools the thousands of teachers whom we train, many of whom we lose year by year. I understand that we train about 20,000 teachers each year, yet the net increase in the supply of teachers works out at only about 5,000 each year. My purpose in initiating the debate—I am sure that this is shared by my hon. Friends—is not to score party points. This is a Friday, private Members' day, when we normally dedicate ourselves to discussing problems in a factual and objective way, without the usual flourish of party trumpets on either side.
However, it is only fair to the Government and to my colleagues on these benches to say that this crisis has not just emerged. It has been developing for a number of years. I will remind the House of some of the complacent things which have been said in recent years by the Secretary of State's Department. I refer to the Report of the Ministry of Education, 1954, "Education in 1954", page 1:…during the year a stage was reached when it became possible to contemplate not merely keeping pace with these demands but some additional improvement of the educa- 780 tional service. The number of children … increased by almost 120,000 in 1954; this compared with increases of 170,000 in 1953 and 236,000 in 1952. The number will continue to grow for a few years, but by smaller amounts each year, and the total is expected to begin to fall after 1958.These forecasts have not been realised. The challenge of the expanding birthrate has imposed itself sharply on our minds in recent months. The Report goes on to be equally complacent about the supply of teachers. That was ten years ago. I do not want to make the crack usually made in the House about 13 wasted years, because that would be to fly in the face of the desire I announced at the outset. But this was 10 years ago. I am reminded also of a statement made by the Department in 1960 that the battle of the bulge had been won. The battle of the bulge has certainly not been won, because the bulge has shown itself afresh.
My purpose this morning is not so much to bring the attention of the House to this question, although the rules of order demand that the form of the Motion is along those lines. My purpose is to draw the attention of public opinion outside the House to the nature of the crisis in our educational system and to remind the public that the basic thing in all this is the need for a much greater expenditure on State education.
I often wonder whether the public realises this. Hon. Members on both sides will be aware of the things that are so often said by people outside to the effect that we spend a hell of a lot of money to get very little education. Some will argue that we spend too much on education. I have heard this said. During elections, when one is canvassing the electorate, one sometimes hears these statements. There are universal complaints amongst a certain section of the public about the illiterate louts that are turned out from our schools.
Those of us who have been teaching for many years know full well that there is nothing new in this. There always were. We tend so often to have the activities of a minority blown up, especially in the Press, and particularly on bank holidays. They are given far greater importance than they deserve. What is not seen is that we have an enormous number of young people with delightful manners and good brains, but their names never get into the papers.
781 Youngsters are no worse than they were. I began teaching in 1930. I was teaching until I entered the House. The young men I was teaching at the London College of Printing before I came here were as delightful a lot of young men as one would wish to meet in a day's march. They are fine students. They are a credit to our society. They will make first-rate citizens.
I stress that much talent is being wasted. This is relevant to the Motion, because I believe that we are selecting teachers from too narrow a section of the population. An enormous number or people who are capable of benefiting form a higher education and who would themselves contribute to our educational system as teachers are themselves being lost. I am thinking particularly of the young men of whom I spoke a short while ago. Many of them left school at 15. They rushed out into the world, liberated, as they thought, from the shackles of the classroom. Only when they are 19 or 20, at the end of their apprenticeship, do they begin to learn how much they have lost. As a teacher I realised how much the nation has lost from not giving these young men opportunities of further education.
One young man told me in his last year of apprenticeship that he wanted to become a surgeon. I said, Why not?" He said, "It is too late." Too late at 21! There are many young men like this, with brains, independence, and self-reliance, whom we might get into the teaching profession but whom we lose. We need a dramatic increase in the quantity and quality of education to get more people into the professions in general and into teaching in particular. So often in our education debates we talk about organisation and administration. We talk very little about the content of education, about the philosophy of education, and about the purpose of education. These are relevant.
The significance of all this is that with an expanding educational service and a higher quality of teacher, by taking advantage of the skills of these young men and women we could get more teachers. We have a low standard of education and, with it, an insufficiency of teachers. If we improve education, we get more students in colleges and universities. These things hang together.
782 I often think that the quality of education is low because we have so few teachers. It seems sometimes as though we are in a vicious circle. I hope the House will not mind and the Secretary of State will not be embarrassed if I say something about teachers' salaries. I know that this is not really the responsibility of the House, but it is bound up with the creation of a public opinion in favour of more and better education. I particularly want to stress the need for the ordinary class teacher to be given not only much more status—that is not quite the word—but more preference. After all, it is the class teacher who is the linchpin of our educational system.
I often feel that in our present system the more money one gets the less teaching one does and that the higher up a person goes the further away from the classroom he gets. I should like to see this reversed. I should like to see the ordinary class teacher become the apple of the Secretary of State's eye, and not so much the men with graded posts and people like that. The world is upside down in education, as in so many other things. Too much administration is being done by teachers, and not enough teaching.
I should like to make a special plea for the young teachers. I was speaking this morning to a trade union officer who was talking to me about a young fireman. The firemen are just about to have an increase in their pay. The basic pay in August of a recruit into the Fire Service will be £16 a week. This is far more than a young teacher receives. It is the young teacher who is setting out in life, getting married, making a home around him and bringing up a young family who needs some attention.
I should like also to make an appeal—this is part of the process of education of public opinion—to those people who are responsible for administering education, who are what we might call the establishment, to use the State system rather than to opt out of that system. I feel sure that if we had had in this House a generation of Secretaries of State whose children had gone to the State schools, who knew where the shoe pinched, the status and condition of our schools would be far different from what they are. It is so easy when one opts out of the system oneself to be blind to 783 the faults and difficulties. I look forward to the day when we have Secretaries of State who send their children to the local school and later on to the local comprehensive school, and who join in the activities of the local community with all the other children. Then we shall be in a position really to educate our children.
I want to say something about the gross inequalities in our educational system, because these impinge directly on the supply of teachers. I said earlier something about the great amount of talent that was being wasted. I often think that in my own case I was the Newsom child who got away. I went to a university because of mass unemployment. I came from a working class home. At the age of 16 I left grammar school and wanted to go to work to help the family because the income of the children was important. I did not leave school because there was simply no work to be had in 1928. I became a teacher because this, at the age of 18, seemed to be the only job I could get. I went to university at a time when my father was unemployed and I was the eldest boy at home. There was no job that I could take to help the family.
I think of the thousands of boys and girls from working class Liverpool who never had the opportunities that I have had and who ought to have had them, who would have benefited from them and who would themselves ultimately have benefited our society and notably the teaching profession if they had had these educational opportunities.
Gross inequality still disfigures our educational system. I should like to draw attention to an article in the British Journal of Sociology for December, 1964, written by two people from the L.S.E., entitled "The Trend of Class Differentials in Educational Opportunity in England and Wales." I do not know if this article is familiar to either the Secretary of State or the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle), but I will let them have a copy if they would like to see it because this is a dynamic condemnation of the complacency that we have in our society towards educational inequalities.
784 People think that educational inequalities could have been reduced in a startling manner in the last 30 or 40 years. These people argue that this has not happened. They go further and say that in the last decade educational inequalities have widened still further because of the widespread abolition of the 11-plus. They point out, for example, that the differential between the sexes is as great as ever it was; that the opportunities of a working class girl going to a university are as poor as ever they were; that although the opportunities for further education have expanded, this expansion has not been concentrated on the deprived groups in our society, that the people who have benefited most have been middle class children and not working class children. This, I think, is a startling condemnation of what has happened in the last 20 years.
I referred earlier to the students I taught at the London College of Printing. I am certain that if those young men had been born in middle class homes many of them would have finished at universities. That would have been the normal pattern in the middle class family but it is not the normal pattern in the working class family. This is not a question of relative abilities. These young men are just as able as any middle class children. It is simply that it is not their normal pattern of life to stay at school until they are 18 and then go to university, as it is with middle class people. It is the assumption in a middle-class family that a boy or girl will stay at school till 18 and then go to university. This is the assumption from the cradle, and it is an assumption that I would like to see exist among working class families as well. Then we would be able to have a much wider group in society from whom we could select and appoint teachers and other professional people.
I want to say something more narrowly about some of the questions that the Secretary of State referred to in his remarkable speech at the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers in Douglas. I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating him not only on his speech but on the manner of its presentation. It was very pleasant to hear the Secretary of State 785 talking to teachers, taking them into his confidence and saying quite plainly what his policy was, with no ambiguity, no equivocation, and asking them for their co-operation. He spoke of wastage. I said earlier that every year, net, we lose 15,000 teachers. I have taught in secondary modern schools, primary schools and at a technical college and I have no doubt that the poor physical working conditions in many schools are the cause of a good deal of wastage.
There are several questions. First, there is the situation that when one arrives at school at ten minutes to nine the first thing one has to do is to walk round the school and see that every child has a teacher. This does not happen now and again. This is the daily chore. It is not surprising that many young men leave the profession because they have had a bellyfull, and one must speak about the wastage of men teachers as well as of women teachers. Some people are under the impression that it is only the women teachers who are lost to the profession. It is not. These men are the people who so often have to deal with the more difficult children and more un-co-operative parents and these are the people whom I had earlier in mind when I was talking about Salaries—the ordinary school teachers.
There is the question of disparity of staffing as between the primary and secondary schools. At the recent conference I heard of a primary school with 475 children and 14 staff, and in the same area a secondary school with 450 children and 26 staff. I am sure that this staffing disparity is something which we can no longer endure. There must be a fairer deal for the primary children.
The Secretary of State might look again at training. I started as a student teacher in 1930 and I have no doubt that the year which I spent as a student teacher was of inestimable value. Now that we have three-year training I wonder whether it might be possible for one of those years to be spent in school. I have heard it said that it should be the third year. I prefer that it should be the first.
§ Mr. Hamling
I prefer that it should be the first. Young people might then acquire a taste for the profession.
§ Mr. Hamling
Possibly. Some people naturally will have a distaste for the job, but it would be as well that they should find out at the beginning and not at the end. They might then find some other sphere in which to exercise their talents. I emphasise that if we return to student-teaching it should be done under proper supervision. I was very lucky. I had a first-rate headmaster. I was attached to a class for a whole year with a first-rate teacher and this was one of the most enjoyable years that I have ever spent in school. This is learning the practical way without tears.
As for retired teachers, I knew a retired teacher who came to work for the mornings. He often said to me, "I am working for nothing." I know that the Secretary of State has said something about this on a previous occasion, but I wonder whether we could look at the question of rewards for retired teachers coming back into the profession and spending three or four mornings a week helping in the school. Some of them are fine old class-room teachers who are an acquisition to any staff.
I should like to say something about ancillary staffs. I hope that we shall not hear today the expression "auxiliary teachers". I hope that this went out with Eccles and that we shall talk about ancillary staffs. My last place was a technical college where we never had any difficulty over ancillaries. The technical assistant is an integral part of the teaching world. There are laboratory assistants, technical assistants, librarians and administrative staffs. These are the ancillaries and they can do a most useful job in the primary school as well as the technical colleges. I am sure that when the Secretary of State spoke on this question at Douglas he had this sort of thing very much in mind. I hope that it will go out to the teaching profession that we are not out to dilute the profession or to get teachers on the cheap. What we want to do is to make the work of the ordinary class teacher more tolerable, more fruitful and more useful.
I often think that the people to be persuaded of the value of part-time teachers are not the people in this House or in Curzon Street but the people in 787 some local education authorities. I am fortunate inasmuch as I have worked for London and have lived in London. The London practice is good, although one might criticise even the activities of the old L.C.C. or, as it is now, the Inner London Education Authority. Our aim should be to bring the practice and performance of some of the poorer local education authorities up to the standard of the better. I am sure that that would produce good results.
There is another fruitful source of teachers. I was taking part in an educational conference at Gosport a couple of weeks ago. I met there a naval rating who is interested in education. He spoke about the desire of some people in the Royal Navy to do some teaching when they have finished their service. I asked him to write to me about it and I have received a letter from him. This is what he says:You may remember that when you were in Gosport for the education discussion on April 11th, you suggested that I should write to you concerning the possibility of retraining certain ex-Navy men as technical school teachers. In making this suggestion I had in mind particularly the artificer branches (Electrical and Control, Engine-Room and Radio-Electrical). Many of the chaps in these branches have technical experience far beyond that which they could hope to attain in civilian life, being frequently in a position of responsibility for hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of equipment whilst still in their mid-twenties. E.R.A.s and E.A.s are handling modern gas-turbine engines and generators (type 81 Frigates) and nuclear plants designed for the latest submarines. R.E.A.s are maintaining Digital Recording Equipment, computer-type prediction equipment and automatic telegraphy machinery.Added to this, a large proportion of senior ratings have spent at least twelve months (and in some cases three to four years) as instructors at the Naval Technical Schools at H.M.S. 'Collingwood' and H.M.S. 'Sultan'. Most of these have been given courses in instructional technique. It may be that some scheme already exists whereby such men leaving the Service can be trained as practical or theoretical teachers in technical schools, but if this is so, such a scheme is not given sufficient publicity. I know that many chaps will be interested in a teaching career and even those leaving the navy after 22 years service still have 20 years to offer before retirement. I feel that Mr. Mayhew and Mr. Crosland might be interested in giving some thought to the matter.I am sure that the Secretary of State will be interested in that, and one thinks not only of the Royal Navy as the senior 788 Service but also of the R.A.F. and possibly the Army as well. There must be many hundreds of men with high technical qualifications who when they finish their Service career might be useful to our teaching profession not only as technical teachers but also as ordinary teachers. Some of them have great ability.
I emphasise once more the need to take advantage of the abilities and skills of the many young men and young women we are losing to the profession year by year. This, as I said, is bound up with educational inequalities. I hope that the public outside the House will realise that the responsibility for teaching children is not simply that of teachers but is the responsibility of society. In educating children, we are not simply, as it were, educating the children of a pair of individual parents but we are educating those who ultimately will look after us when we grow old and frail and can no longer work. The future of our society, the future prosperity of our community, depends upon these children. We have a right and a responsibility to expect children to have the best that we can give them and the best teachers we can give them. I am sure that the House will accept the Motion with overwhelming support.
§ 11.41 a.m.
§ Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)
The House should be most grateful to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) for introducing this Motion at such an appropriate time. It comes just over a week after the memorable speech of the Secretary of State for Education and Science at the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers in the Isle of Man in which the right hon. Gentleman set forth 14 points dealing with the whole question of teacher shortage, recruitment and supply.
I compliment the hon. Gentleman on keeping the promise which he made at the start that he would refrain from scoring party points. I detected now and then a subtle innuendo, but it was an admirably constructive and thoughtful speech, and, knowing him as I do now after his six months in the House, I can only say that it was a worthy effort in keeping down the "old Adam". I hope that I am as successful in keeping the old Adam at bay during the few minutes 789 while I address the House. I shall be controversial but, as far as I can, not party political controversial. I shall certainly be educationally controversial, and not everyone will agree with all I have to say.
The Motion is about teachers, but, of course, it is primarily about children. Always, whenever we talk about education in the House, it is implicit that the base of the educational edifice is the consideration of children. If we never mention children again in this debate, that thought will tacitly always be there.
I shall not follow the hon. Gentleman in all his points, but one matter he raised impressed me tremendously—the question of teacher training and what he told us of his own experience. I had an exactly similar experience. I was trained under the old system, a little earlier than the hon. Gentleman, and I did my pupil teacher year as he did. I was fortunate in having an excellent headmaster who did not regard the pupil teacher as a fellow to go round filling the ink pots, putting out blotting paper and so on. We were actually taught to teach before going to college to train, and it was a tremendous asset because we had got the feel of a school. This is what is lacking today. Now, with the three-year course—I am entirely getting away from the charge of dilution of the profession—I am sure that we could use some portion of that course for two purposes: one, to relieve the shortage, and, two, to give the student far more practical training than he had under the two-year system.
In his summing-up at the end of his speech to the N.U.T. conference, the Secretary of State made this significant statement:I should like every local authority to consider how best it can raise the efficiency—and the status—of its teaching force.…I wish to say a few words about status. Questions of status will play a great part in our efforts to attract people into the profession. In days gone by, the teaching profession had a much higher status in the eyes of the public and in its own eyes than it has today. Therefore, we must consider how we can improve the status of the profession. I use the word "profession", because it bears on something I shall say in a moment.
790 I have three points to make here, and, like the hon. Member for Woolwich, West, I cannot avoid mentioning salaries because it is the salary which offers the simple short-cut to attracting greater numbers into the profession. It is easy to say this, of course, but not quite so easy to implement because the question then arises of where the money comes from. I do not wish to impinge on the present salary discussions because they are going to arbitration, so what I am saying is general rather than particular at this moment. One of the first things to do is to look at the bottom end of the scale because this will be the base for the future development of the teaching profession.
But this ties in with something else far more important, and here I enter the realm of controversy. For many years before the war, I was in the wilderness in my union, the National Union of Teachers, and in my party, the Conservative Party, as I advocated that a far greater proportion of teachers' salaries should be the responsibility of the central authority. That was long ago, and in those days I was a heretic. Now, I have hundreds of thousands of heretics with me.
This brings me to my main point on salaries. We have reached a stage when local authorities can no longer adequately bear the growing burden of education costs. I realise that we have committees examining the matter of education finance, but it is vital that we consider carefully the whole incidence of local government finance and, in particular, education finance. One of the points at which to start would be a consideration of the expense of teachers' salaries. If the drive for increased salaries continues year by year—this is a nation-wide problem in all industries and professions—and if we even keep to the norm of 3½ per cent., then, whether the system be block grant or percentage grant, the burden on local authorities arising from that demand will increase and increase.
So we must examine the complete relationship between State responsibility and local government responsibility, and we start with salaries for developing and improving the status of the profession. Again I enter the realms of controversy. I want to look at the profession itself. We in the profession are not blameless 791 in respect of the decreasing status over the last two decades. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I hope that hon. Members opposite will say "Hear, hear" to one or two of the things that I shall say in a moment.
I would say as a first principle that, in order to keep our present status, never mind improving it, there should be no talk of strikes in the profession. It demeans the profession and immediately damages our—to used a blessed modern word—image in the eyes of the public.
Secondly—here I speak personally and very strongly—I deprecate talk about affiliation with the Trades Union Congress. It would mean that the teaching profession would relinquish the term "profession". It would become a trade union and a member of the Trades Union Congress. If we wish to remain a profession, we must keep our professional status.
Thirdly, we must improve, certainly in the eyes of the public and the local authorities, the standards of the profession and, thus, the aim should be a graduate profession. Time after time in education debates during the 10 years that I have been in the House I have raised this point. I do not suppose that my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) will agree with me but I maintain that, geographically, no college of education is far removed from a university, and now that we have in our wisdom instituted a three-year course, it should be easy to affiliate every college of education, if it is not already affiliated, to a university, that university to be one giving some form of degree in education, so that a student going to a college of education on a three-year course can get a degree just as a student going to a university for a three-year course can. It seems completely anomalous that a teacher training college student should spend three years on the course and then get only his ordinary parchment without a degree in education. This would be a long-term policy, but I think that it would pay big dividends in improving the status of the profession.
Again I say something controversial. In dealing with colleges we are dealing with children in schools and students in 792 colleges. These are the people who will make our profession. There has been talk about wastage. I sometimes become frightened at the belligerence of students and the impetus which they give to disturb Governments—and that is being charitable. One has seen what has happened in other countries. However, I have more faith in our student bodies than those of many other nations, and I cannot imagine that sort of thing happening here. Hon. Members opposite know exactly what I mean.
However, we have reached the point where students and their parents expect that the State shall automatically bear a responsibility to the young people for their training. In the past we have had debates on grants for students, and I have taken a prominent part in trying to improve grants. But what students forget—this is a most important point—is that, the State having automatically taken over a large proportion of their training—in other words, putting it bluntly, paying for it; we have a means test, but it is gradually being got rid of, and I hope to see it disappear—they ought to accept some responsibility towards the State in return.
In the past we have talked about the "brain drain". Here I suggest something which may not be quite practical but is surely worth looking at. I remember the time, as do the hon. Member for Woolwich, West and other hon. Members, when on leaving our training we had to sign an undertaking to teach for a number of years. That has gone now. Would it not be good for men and women if they were obliged to agree to teach a specified number of years within a period of 10 or 20 years in order to repay the State for its responsibility to them, the situation being that if they did not fulfil that condition they would have to pay back a proportion of what the State had paid out on their behalf? Many people say that this would be putting the clock back, but it would certainly arrest some of the wastage that we are experiencing.
I now come to probably the most controversial part of the subject. The Secretary of State concluded his speech last week—it was, of course, very skilful to leave this to last—by referring to what have euphemistically been called "auxiliaries". I agree with the hon. 793 Member for Woolwich, West that we should ban that word. The word to use is "ancillaries". I believe that the Secretary of State—I say this in kindness and in no way as harsh criticism—made a tactical error in separating ancillaries outside the classroom and ancillaries inside the classroom. [Interruption.] Of course the right hon. Gentleman did. I have the quotation here. This is an exact transcript of his speech in the publication Education. I believe this to be fair. I did not take it from an N.U.T. document. I thought I would go to the enemy. The Secretary of State said:There are two aspects to this.He was talking about giving more help to teachers.One is ancillary help outside the classroom".Then he outlined the type of thing that he wants. Then, in the same paragraph, he said:We must also examine possible help inside the classroom".To anyone who reads that carefully, it appears that the Minister envisages—he can clear this up for us when he speaks—two types of ancillaries.
§ Mr. Hamling indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Jennings
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Probably he knows the mind of the Secretary of State better than I do—perhaps better than the right hon. Gentleman himself. Nevertheless, the impression among many people—including me—is that the Secretary of State has two types of ancillary in mind.
There is a another misunderstanding which should be cleared up and that is the picture that people outside the teaching profession have of the attitude of the teachers to ancillaries. I should like to give a correct picture of what the teaching profession really means about this. I want to be careful with my wording and to say that the teachers have no objection to the employment of non-teaching ancillaries to help them inside or outside the classroom where that will help the professional staff to be more efficient in their professional and teaching functions.
I said that it was a tactical mistake to appear to draw a firm line of distinction between the use of such people inside 794 and outside the classroom, because it immediately gives rise to the conception that there is a difference between the status, duties, and functions of those inside the classroom and those who are doing similar jobs outside.
What does such a distinction really entail? It suggests someone, particularly inside the classroom, with substandard training—in other words, a teacher substitute and not a teacher aid. What the hon. Member for Woolwich, West, had in mind was a teacher aid but if we get a teacher substitute then that means direct, distinctive dilution of the profession.
§ Mr. Hamling
I had in mind in particular my experience in technical colleges, where we have no problem over this whatever and there is no question concerning inside or outside the classroom. We do not see this question in those terms in the technical colleges. We regard our technical assistants and others who help us as being skilled in their own right and certainly not as people with substandard skills. If the hon. Gentleman spoke to any lecturer in a technical college in the terms he has been using I am sure that the lecturer would raise his eyebrows in astonishment at the attitude of some teachers.
§ Mr. Jennings
I am grateful for that intervention because it pinpoints the issue. Do these technical assistants lecture?
§ Mr. Jennings
Of course they do not. They are not the teachers. They are the aids to the teachers. They do what I should call the technical chores—the preparation of apparatus, the building of models and that sort of thing. They are not teaching. They are teacher aids and not teacher substitutes.
I ask the Secretary of State to tell us what he means by aid inside the classroom. Does he mean, in infant schools, looking after the children's coats, dressing the children, taking them outside, looking after them on wet days, serving them with milk and looking after them at mealtimes? Does it mean child minding? Does it mean helping to teach them to read, for example?
Teaching in infants schools is a highly skilled job. Teaching them to read is one 795 of the highest skills. One cannot bring anyone in as a teacher aid to do that sort of thing in an infants school. The right hon. Gentleman should tell us exactly what duties are envisaged for an ancillary inside the classroom. Will he teach? This is an important question. Is it the intention that the ancillary will help with the type of thing I have mentioned? If an ancillary is to teach then that will be dilution and no craft union affiliated to the T.U.C. would accept such a position.
§ Mr. Jennings
I sincerely hope that this is not the sort of thing that the Secretary of State has in mind. If it were, one would wonder what type of individual would get into the classroom, for one must look at rates of pay in this context. How much would we give such a helper? His maximum would have to be less than the minimum on the Burnham scale.
§ Mr. Jennings
I do not accept that premise. To start with, I do not accept that we are a trade union. If the N.U.T. were to become a trade union I would leave. I would not be a member of the N.U.T. and I would give up my sponsored candidature for this House if the N.U.T. joined the T.U.C. The question of a strike as a union would not enter my purview at all. I maintain that for teachers to strike or talk of strikes would demean the profession. It demeaned the doctors and it would demean us.
I was saying, however, that the rate of pay for this type of helper inside the classroom, particularly if he or she were to teach, would have to be less than the minimum Burnham scale.
§ Mr. Hamling indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Jennings
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. But dare we pay an untrained, unskilled helper in the classroom more than the teacher? Of course we cannot.
§ Mr. Hamling
The hon. Gentleman is living in a fanciful world. Technical assistants in technical colleges are very 796 highly paid because they are skilled people. Compositors and others at the London College of Printing are extremely well paid, for instance—much better paid than a lot of teachers.
§ Mr. Jennings
I do not dispute that, but these are highly skilled people dealing with machinery. Here we are talking about people who will be infiltrated into the profession ostensibly to help with the chores but who might reasonably be called upon by the Department and the local authorities to teach. That is dilution and any honest trade unionist or professional man will set his heart and mind against it. The education of children from the moment they enter the infants school is the function of qualified trained teachers and no others.
There is another point that I have advocated for many years because I saw such a system years ago in Sunderland. The hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) will bear me out. This is the extension of what used to be called day training colleges. It is one of the ways in which, with a short-term burst, we can attract and train a greater number of teachers and I am pleased to see that another five are in prospect. But here is a very valuable and potent field for development. This is a hardy annual, as we all know. As the hon. Gentleman said, this problem has been with us for many years. I am glad that we no longer have the time, such as when he and I came out of college, when it was not so easy for teachers to get a job. There were far more teachers than places for them. The position is now reversed, and this will be the great problem of education over the next decade.
We have not gone into the statistics in this debate, thank goodness, but we all know the position. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman opposite for raising this subject and, irrespective of party spectacles, I wish the Secretary of State success in the solution of his problems.
§ 12.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
Is not the idea of status somewhat illusory? Does not status accrue not to professions nor to groups of people but rather to individuals on a basis of personal merit? Frankly, I do not think that this clamour for status is very meaningful or very 797 helpful. There are other things which are more important.
I made my maiden speech on this very subject almost three years ago, and, rereading it, I do not feel like altering very much what I said then. However, I must declare a conversion on one point which I would not have accepted until fairly recently. It concerns the advantages of the four-term year in training colleges. Fairly recently we saw the A.T.C.D.E., the association most involved, and one could appreciate its reluctance to accept the four-term year because it does mean a good deal of extra work for the staffs of training colleges. I must admit that on this subject I was set on the road to Damascus by the arguments of Sir William Alexander and Mr. Houghton, the Chief Education Officer of the London County Council, and I think that I ought to explain why I have seen this particular I light.
The first point which I think is rather formidable is the fact that there is no parallel between the position of the universities in relation to the four-term year and that of the training colleges. As far as the universities are concerned, one accepts absolutely that given the needs of research, the four-term year becomes impossible, but this does not apply to training colleges. The argument there is wholly different, and the two situations ought not to be confused.
One cannot anticipate the minority report of the National Advisory Council, but I gather from the statistic which has come forward that for very day when the training college "plant" is not used, it would amount to a rental of £500,000. Assuming that there is a crisis in producing more houses, in producing more hospitals and a crisis, heaven knows, in producing more school buildings, it seems unrealistic to say that training college building becomes any sort of a priority. If we did accept a four-term year on the basis of existing college plant, I understand there would be places by 1970 for an extra 25,000 people. I would ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to confirm whether this is true.
There is a second point. Some thousands of those at present unable to do so, who are qualified could, in the coming three or four years, get places in the training colleges. If they are 798 asked to wait a year in order to get an entry to training colleges, are we certain that they are going into teaching at all? My argument would be that it would not be a question of waiting a year. We may safely assume that 95 per cent. of those who cannot get places are lost to training and teaching for all time.
I now raise the subject touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) of older teachers. I introduce it by saying that it strikes me that many of our colleagues retiring in good health at the age of 65 enjoy for six months or so their retirement—they have a rest—but then gradually over two or three years they what I can only call "wither away." Their health becomes bad and finally they die. I do not know the statistics of the number of teachers who die between 67 and 70 years of age, but I guess that it is a very high proportion.
Would I be right in saying that this is because they have lost interest in life and perhaps feel that they are no longer wanted by society? I would not argue that even the majority of them are fit to teach a class of 30 or 40 pupils, and I would not wish any child of mine to be taught in a class of over 30 pupils by a 70-year-old. On the other hand, is there not a great job that they can do in the way of tutorials? This is the second part of the argument.
How many pupils are there who through some temporary illness, such as measles, mumps or whooping cough, have sustained a lasting setback in their academic and educational career? It seems to me that there are many teachers who, having retired, could give tutorials to those who have such setbacks in order to bring them up to date in their class work.
As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State very well knows, the objection to this concerns the pension. It raises the whole problem of the national attitude towards public service pensions. It may be unrealistic to suggest that the Treasury should fork out some £20 million towards public service pensions in order to make a consistent policy. At the same time, would not my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State consider some formula whereby there would be 799 a much greater incentive for those entitled to a pension to return to teaching?
As an example of the benefit that they could do not only to themselves in terms of morale but also to the pupils who come under their influence, I will never forget that the only two pupils to pass in higher mathematics in the school in which I taught three years ago, had been coached by the 77-year-old ex-rector. This is perhaps just one example of a story that can be repeated many times over.
Then there is another angle. Those of us who were at the Isle of Man heard Miss Edwards, speaking on behalf of the retired teachers, explain the poverty—and "poverty" was the word she used—in which many of them find themselves. In these circumstances any financial package deal would be highly desirable to help retired colleagues eke out their pensions.
On the question of in-service training mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West and by the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has, of course, had a very full report sent to him by a number of distinguished head teachers in London comprehensive schools about their views on the rôle of in-service training. I will repeat just one of the points they made which is that a teacher who comes to in-service training rather than visiting several schools feels himself to be less of an intruder. Continuity of teaching time not only increases a student's usefulness, but, more important, gives confidence. A teacher in training who feels himself in a sense woven into the fabric of the school is likely to get more out of training than one who comes for three weeks here and three weeks there.
At the N.U.T. conference at the Isle of Man the Secretary of State outlined in some detail his views about how technical institutions could be brought on as teacher training colleges and this was accorded a most favourable reception from the delegates from technical institutions. Some of us have long doubted the wisdom of having such a deep separation between teachers in training and other workers during their training, particularly 800 in regard to technical subjects. Perhaps there is a positive advantage in training technical teachers with those who are going into industry or scientific production rather than having them separated off.
Again, in order to make temporary teaching more attractive, is not there an argument for increasing the posts of responsibility in these subjects? I speak with more knowledge of the Scottish situation than the situation in England, but there seems to be a very strong case for having two heads of departments, now that technical subjects are becoming so much broader than before. This idea has been contemplated in terms of having a head of the theoretical department and a head of the practical department. This version would be disastrous. Any divorce between theory and practice is undesirable. Let us think in terms rather of a big school having a head of mechanics and a head of the woodwork department, but both doing the theory of their own subjects. To me this seems a more satisfactory solution. This could be established under the auspices of the National Council for Academic Awards and it would seem that more use of this body would perhaps help to solve the teacher shortage in relation to technical subjects. My right hon. Friend will remember that in his speech at the Isle of Man he emphasised the problem of distribution, and I would say that distribution is perhaps most acute, outside mathematics, in these technical subjects.
May I ask a question about headmasters? The best reason for making it possible for headmasters to do a great deal more teaching in the secondary schools is that many of them feel the urge to do so. It strikes me that many more secondary headmasters would be enthusiastic if they were given proper secretarial assistance and even an administrative officer who might be found from the Services—this goes back to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West. The Services could supply a large number of people with experience of administration who could relieve headmasters of administrative duties. Many headmasters would be far more interested in teaching than doing administrative duties and presumably they would be among the most skilled practitioners in the teaching profession. 801 Many would welcome a situation in which they took so many periods during the week, perhaps with the top class in the school, although, incidentally, they should spend some regular periods with a bottom class. If headmasters did this, and remained as practitioners, I have a suspicion that it would increase the morale of their staff, if the teachers thought that their headmaster was up against the same problems as they were.
I wish to say a word about the question of specialist schools. In a Socialist or any other society we have an obligation not only to those who are educationally subnormal, not only to the modified pupils, but also to those who have outstanding talents in one direction or another. Perhaps I may state, as a personal opinion, that this country is missing a great opportunity in not teaching oriental languages, in not teaching Arabic and in being very slow to make it possible for the proper teaching of Russian. I say this at a time when the Scottish College of Commerce—which I recognise is not the responsibility of my right hon. Friend—is thinking of closing down the Russian course for teachers because there are not enough applicants. This is because local authorities do not see their way to let off from school those who at present teach classics and other modern languages. That is perhaps a short-sighted policy.
It may well be said that oriental languages is an out-of-the-way subject and why should not people take it up at college and university age? If we follow the Hayter Report on the teaching of oriental languages, we must recognise that the Committee believed that a child's imitative linguistic ability is at its best at the age of 14. If this is so, there is an argument in support of teaching Chinese and Arabic to much younger children than hitherto in this country. I say to my right hon. Friend that he may have experiments in certain schools in the teaching of Chinese—I think there are three at the moment in England—but my information is that in each of these places there is only one teacher. Here we come to the typical problem which arises in this sort of situation. Where there is only one teacher of a specific subject, if he or she falls ill, dies or goes away, we find the whole course collapses. This leads me to suppose 802 that there is an argument for having schools where there is team teaching, where subjects would do well to be concentrated in some schools.
I suggest that the Secretary of State thinks in terms of perhaps one school where the teaching of Chinese and Japanese forms, not the whole curriculum, because we want a balanced education for every pupil, but part of the curriculum. We should also have a school where Arabic forms part of the curriculum, the pupils to be chosen on the recommendation of headmasters of primary schools. This may involve boarding residential education.
I come, finally, to a particular problem created by those parents who go abroad for the best of reasons, either as employees in developing countries, or members of the Foreign Service or in exchange to some centre of learning abroad. The problem is the continuity of the education of their sons and daughters. There is a good argument for using residential schools to overcome this problem. If we talk about aid to developing areas and sending people to them for three or four years, we have an obligation to the youngsters of those families. It seems to be a good argument for setting up residential schools, either in existing premises or even new schools, in a situation where more and more families are being expected to go abroad during the childbearing years of their lives.
Here are some constructive suggestions which are not in contrast to what the Secretary of State himself outlined at the Isle of Man. They are less important and perhaps less practical than what he out lined. They are in addition to the Douglas pronunciamento, and for consideration.
§ 12.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Hornby (Tonbridge)
I am glad to be able to follow the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), because he frequently speaks on these educational matters and always has something of interest to say. I remember hearing his maiden speech, to which he referred, about three years ago. He said that his views now were very much as he expressed then. I do not think any of us should be surprised at that. The scene is very much the same in its 803 essentials. First and foremost is recognition of the importance of supply and that teacher recruitment is the keystone of everything we are trying to do for education. Secondly, one has to recognise the size of the problem which we face.
Although I say that not much has changed, the one thing which has changed, year by year, is the figures of the school population predicted by the experts. When the demographers try to prophesy what the school population will be year by year, one finds that the estimates are usually too low. This is something with which the Secretary of State is already living and with which is predecessors had to live. As we all know, in 1945 we had a school population of 5 million. Now it is 7 million. We are told that in five years' time it will be 8 million and that in eight years' time it will be over 9 million. I shall not be surprised if in three, four or five years we have to recognise that these figures are too low.
This is the background. Alongside that, we are faced with the social trend to which we have all referred time and time again, namely, women teachers marrying younger and the problem of the loss rate. The right hon. Gentleman now has to run very fast in order to stand still. He has to recruit six teachers for every increase of one which he wants in the profession. This is no mean achievement. I thought that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) was a little unfair in saying that the "battle of the bulge" had been lost. It has been a fantastic achievement to stay on the field of battle at all. If he compares what has happened in tackling the same problem all over Europe, I think that he will reckon that the British achievement is well up in the top part of the league table, more especially as major steps have been made to raise the quality of education at the same time.
I agree that there is a need to increase the catchment area from which the teaching profession can be drawn. I believe that it is a very real contribution to doing precisely what the Secretary of State wants that, in these years of immense pressure on resources, it has been possible both to introduce a three-year course into the training colleges and 804 to make the commitment to raise the school-leaving age. These are both contributions towards doing precisely what he asks we should try to achieve.
I would mention one other social fact with which we have to contend. This is not just a matter of the women teachers leaving and marrying. There is also a problem in that the more who go to the universities the more there must be a trend, as the reports of the University Appointments Boards are now revealing, for them to stay on longer and longer before emerging into their first job. I think that the reports of the Board for 1962–63 revealed a considerable increase in the number of people taking a first degree course, yet one found that there had been a very small total increase in the numbers going to their first job after their first degree. Among men, there have been a decline in the numbers. So there is an additional problem to face, that although more and more people are wanted, in spite of the increase in the number of places in universities and training colleges, not necessarily more teachers are emerging.
I should like to say a word about the right hon. Gentleman's 14 points speech at the recent conference. I congratulate him on what he has said, although I do not think that he would claim that there was anything very new in what he said. This field has been pretty well worked. What has been happening time and time again is that the net has been put out for additional suggestions here and there as to how one can increase the recruitment figures and the quality of what is being done. I think that he would be the first to admit that many of the suggestions which he included in his 14 points are already being carried out. Many of them he owes to my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) and his predecessors. Many have been referred to in the paper recently prepared by the Council for Educational Advance. There is nothing particularly original in this. What is important is that one should present this as a forcible and realistic policy, to make known the needs, and the fact that there is still room for improvement, and then to get the administrative follow-up going as efficiently and vigorously as possible.
805 I should like to refer to four of the points which the right hon. Gentleman made. First of all, the colleges. I would agree with what the hon. Member for West Lothian said about the need for the more intensive use of the colleges and about all the real difficulties of trying to get this achieved. I believe that there is a strong case for the four-term year.
Next, the day colleges. As I understand it, the position is that 12 now exist and another four or five are planned. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman could say a word about why four or five is the number which he has in mind. I may be wrong, and I may not have seen figures which I ought to have seen, but my impression is that there is a very considerable opportunity and a considerable demand for the day college rather than the purely residential. The problem is, of course, one of siting, as a day college only makes sense if it is in a reasonably dense area of population. There is no denying that there are many more than 17 areas of dense population in the country which might be suitable for day colleges. Is his present position that he does not think that there is quite a big a demand as I am suggesting? Is that the reason that he is limiting the additional day colleges to four or five, or are there other reasons? My impression is that there is greater room than that for the introduction of more day colleges, and that there may be room for the introduction of more day students as an attachment to residential colleges. I should be grateful for any information which the Secretary of State can give on that score.
I should now like to deal with the problem of bringing back married women into the teaching profession. It seems to me that the first essential is to proclaim the need. A certain amount has been done, but I am convinced that more needs to be done. It is very important that, because the Secretary of State cannot do it all himself, local authorities, H.M.I.s, among others, should, where-ever possible, seize the opportunity to proclaim the need to get these people back into teaching. Alongside that goes the need to proclaim how they can do it. It is discouraging to be told that a particular service is wanted, when one finds it exeremely difficult to find out how one 806 can help. More should be done in this respect.
I believe that the right hon. Gentleman said in this speech that he would increase his publicity programme in this respect. I am sure that there is more which can be done by the local authorities as well.
May I next deal with the problem of part-time work. Some people will be available only if they can work on a part-time basis. The hon. Member for Woolwich, West, mentioned this and referred to the organisational problems involved. Of course, it is easy for a local authority or even a headmistress to funk the idea of trying to fit a part-time teacher into the school programme. It is much easier to know that one has one's "tabs" on a teacher all day. But if the choice is between having no one and having part-time teachers, surely we must grapple with the problem.
Personally, I think that this is a problem which will spread into many other fields of our national life. The working day is changing greatly in pattern and there are changes from job to job. Some women have difficulty in getting away from their homes for full-time work. They cannot be away from their homes for full-time work. They cannot be away from home all day. We must make use of part-time workers in many walks of life. Nursing is only one other example. Unless we do this we shall be short of people in the professions and many people will be extremely bored and frustrated through being unable to give the service which they would like to give. We must tackle the problem, and any lead which the Secretary of State can give in this respect will be welcomed; and I am sure that many of my colleagues will give him all the support they can.
Another issue is whether room can be found in the budget for nursery schools. My view—and it was the view of my right hon. Friends when they were at the Ministry—is that on financial grounds, and especially on teacher grounds, it is very difficult to give a higher place in the queue for nursery schools than for primary schools. But where it can be shown that there might be an addition to the total teaching strength by the provision of nursery schools for the children of those who might then teach, one's objections fall 807 away. Experiments have meen made in this respect. Does the right hon. Gentleman see any prospect of an extension? One of the barriers to women going out to teach is how to look after their own children while they are doing so.
There remains the question which the right hon. Gentleman looked at and rejected of whether any further tax inducement should be offered to married women to teach. I know the objection to doing anything of the sort—Treasury anxiety. Both the right hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friends have double vision on this point—the educational view and the Treasury view. There are very grave difficulties and dangers in making an exception for particular professions. It becomes difficult to hold the line. But I cannot resist saying, in passing, that the right hon. Gentleman has been willing to make exceptions when looking at the salary claims and setting them against the norm laid down by his right hon. Friend. If he is prepared to look at a salary increase of 12½ per cent. or thereabouts instead of 3½ per cent., then there is a case for seeing whether special tax treatment could be given. I am thinking particularly of allowances for domestic assistance where people go back to teach. This could be geared specifically to jobs of national importance where there is a real shortage. The right hon. Gentleman has recognised the point in respect of salaries. Why not recognise it in respect of allowances if the need is big enough? Although he has rejected the suggestion so far, I ask the Minister to look at it again.
So far I have been referring mainly to the problems of recruiting married women. I should like to consider the recruitment of men and the changing patterns of employment. The hon. Member referred to older teachers, but it is not only the older teachers who might be able to give service. In many professions hitherto the pattern of employment has been steady promotion or increasing responsibility up to the age of 65, followed by a total cut-off. My impression is that occupational pension schemes are increasingly starting earlier. Medical skill is more and more enlarging the gap between the date of the 808 retirement and the time one is no longer fit enough to give service. There must be a growing number of people who, if the problem were foreseen, could train over a period of time for the years when they might wish to take a relatively early retirement from what they have been doing in some other professional or technical work. It may be that with facilities for part-time training over a very long period and by the use of intensive courses at the point of retirement, we might have a considerable addition to the male teaching strength. This might well be looked at against the general pattern of earlier retirement in many walks of life.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Would not the hon. Member agree that for a man in his 40s and 50s it would be reasonable to think in terms of a technical refresher course, combined with an educational course at a day college, so that there was no devaluation of qualifications? Would not this lead to just the sort of thing which he has in mind?
§ Mr. Hornby
Certainly. There is no suggestion of the devaluation of qualifications. The reason I made the point about dealing with this over a period of part-time training is that the later one leaves the starting of a new career, the greater is the difficulty of adaptation. If one's mind has been on this possibility for some time earlier it eases the transition.
I come to the vexed question of assistance of one kind and another in or outside the classroom. I want in no way to make the negotiations more difficult, but while I entirely understand the susceptibilities of the teaching profession and their fears of devaluation, I feel that in the over-sized classes which so many teachers have to take, there must be many jobs within the classroom where the presence of some assistant could greatly help in their work. I will say no more than that except that I very much hope that the teaching profession, in examining this issue, will not seem to the general public, who are as concerned as we are about the solution of this problem, simply to be digging their toes in and refusing to look at what to many people seems to be a common sense proposal which deserves serious examination.
809 I thank the hon. Member for Woolwich, West for raising this issue. It is a question of making known the need and giving emphasis to the concrete proposals which are being put by the Secretary of State and which were put by his predecessors. If this debate and any reports of it can help in that direction, then the hon. Member certainly, and those of us who have taken part in it, will have achieved something.
§ 12.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernest Armstrong (Durham, North-West)
I join in the congratulations which have been expressed to my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) for raising this important topic at such an appropriate time.
I had the privilege of being in the Isle of Man when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made his recent important speech. It was a courageous, bold and imaginative speech and the comments made by those who have attended the conferences of the N.U.T. for a great number of years were to the effect that it was the most outstanding speech since that made by the late George Tomlinson. My right hon. Friend could receive no greater praise.
I have recently been reading the HANSARD reports of education debates which have taken place in the last few years. I have been disturbed to find that year after year we have been confronted with the same problem. Indeed, as the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) pointed out, there is very little new in what any of us can say about the problem and the solutions we can offer.
With this in mind, I hope to bring a sense of urgency to the debate, because people who are not actually in the classroom sometimes tend to forget that children are going through the schools now. Thousands of boys and girls are today being denied their true right to a proper education because of this tremendous problem which confronts the education service. Last week Sir Ronald Gould, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, commenting on the Secretary of State's speech, said:Occasional teachers are already being used in some parts of the country—many of 810 them unqualified. We are using anyone who is warm"—I have been in a number of schools where it is difficult to keep warm—and can stand up in a classroom for occasional work in the classroom. These people, in effect, become teachers in charge of classes. We don't like it. We don't think it is right.All sensible people will agree with that view. Nobody likes it. Sir William Alexander, also commenting on the speech, said:In the next five to seven years it is reasonable to doubt whether there will be a teacher for every class. In that event the possibility of sending children home … must … be examined.I am sure that I carry the whole House with me when I say that that is a possibility which we do not even want to countenance. In these modern times all children need and are entitled to education and the idea of them being sent home because teachers are not available to teach them is indeed worrying.
All hon. Members will be grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West for his interesting suggestions, and I agree that there should be a great extension of opportunities for higher education. Bearing that in mind, I was disturbed to read of a body of teachers saying that we should not raise the school leaving age. If we are to solve our present difficulty we must follow the good lead set by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) and see that the school leaving age is increased. I was most distressed to hear professional folk suggest the contrary. After all, the raising of the school leaving age will assist us to provide the additional teachers we need.
We must recognise that all these schemes will take a number of years to reach fruition. In the meantime the present generation of children in our schools must be properly educated. I therefore reiterate the courageous words of the Secretary of State about getting rid of traditional attitudes. It seems a part of English thinking to believe that when we talk about great changes we really mean that we intend to destroy something; that when we are prepared to accept new ideas we are, in some way, being unfair and unfaithful to what has gone before.
811 There is no slick or easy solution to this great problem. At the same time, we must constantly remind ourselves that the boys and girls who are at present in our schools must be educated. We must remember that the children who are suffering from the acute shortage of qualified teachers are the very children who need education the most—children from homes where the incentive is not what it might be and children whose background has perhaps prevented them from acquiring the intelligence we now realise can be acquired, such as children who are slow readers. These are the children who are at present in classes of 40 and 50, who are being pushed aside and who are at a great disadvantage. We must, therefore, treat this as a matter of great urgency.
I suggest that the situation today is more critical than it was in 1945. None of us must be negative in our approach. As a former teacher, I say with respect to the profession and those concerned with the education service that we have, in the main, been rather negative in our approach. Far too often we assert with great indignation that we are not prepared to accept this or that suggestion, without realising that it is at this very time that children—and nobody cares more for the children than the teacher—are passing through our schools and will be for ever denied their proper place in life if they do not get adequate education and receive the civilising influences which good education means.
I have some suggestions to put to the Secretary of State, although, as I said, there is nothing radically new that can be proposed. Last week I talked with the Director of Education for Durham, a man with extremely enlightened views in that great county. He suggested to me that there was a sphere for recruitment which had escaped me. He referred to the new towns, like Billingham and Peterlee, in which the progressive local authority has already established a good area technical college.
He pointed out that professional people are naturally attracted to such areas, in view of the new industries and so on being established in them. Many of the wives of those professional men have been in professional work or have had 812 teaching experience. Perhaps accommodation could be provided in such an area for about 30 people of that type to he tutored in a group by, say, the local area technical college. Otherwise, the training could be given by a nearby university or, in the case of Durham, by the teacher training college there.
Working in specially provided local centres, a group of, say, 30 people could be trained for teaching and would make a valuable contribution to our present problem. That could be done in Durham and in other areas. In the area which I represent we are up to quota, although in some parts of Durham there is a chronic shortage of teachers. On Tyneside and in the Billingham area, for example, there is a great shortage. It might be possible for the Ministry to help by the provision of transport so that more teachers would go into the areas of most acute shortage. This might encourage teachers into those areas because at present they face inconvenience by having to wait for public transport.
The core of the problem concerns the married woman returner. I understand that only one out of every four or five teachers we train gives continuous service. I was disturbed to read in The Times that because we are training so many women we are misapplying our resources. That is indeed a sad reflection in these modern times.
§ Mr. Armstrong
People who go to teacher training colleges, even if afterwards they teach for only a short time and then proceed to raise a family, are important to society. There is no real waste of our educational resources. I was, therefore, shocked to find such an outdated view being expressed.
We must do all we can to enable married women to be effective teachers. The Secretary of State should initiate a conference at which local education authorities might have put before them what the best authorities are now doing. It is sometimes very inconvenient for a married woman to teach even from 9 a.m. to noon—indeed, she may be prevented from doing so. In the Sunderland authority we have one or two peripatetic 813 teachers who teach a particular subject in secondary schools—perhaps music—from 10 in the morning until noon, or perhaps from 2 to 4 in the afternoon. We must be flexible. The alternative is to be without teachers, and we must make the maximum use of those people who are available, and qualified.
It is ludicrous to read in the national Press of married women, qualified teachers, anxious to teach, who visit the local education office where they see some clerk and are deterred by their reception. In this kind of crisis there should be an officer with personal responsibility for this kind of job so that wherever there are married women who are qualified teachers they may know that they are doing a service for the community which will be gratefully accepted by the local authority—
§ Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that when one speaks of local authorities in this context, there are not only the counties and the county boroughs but also the second-tier authorities? From such experience as I have, I can say that divisional executives are sometimes no as good in this respect as they should be.
§ Mr. Armstrong
That is a very valid point, and I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for making it. I must say that as I have worked so long in the borough and have been associated with big authorities, that point had escaped me. But it is obviously most important, and I am sure that the Minister of State will take note of it.
There is no doubt that married women can be particularly valuable in giving general relief to overworked teachers. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West laid such stress on the importance of what I like to call the "general practitioner", and that is particularly true in the primary school. If a primary school teacher, whose normal lot it is to teach from 9 in the morning until 4 o'clock in the afternoon, in charge of children all the time—even at lunchtime—and subject to calls for this thing and the other, knows that, if only for three mornings a week, or two mornings and one afternoon, a part-time 814 teacher will relieve her, it makes a tremendous difference to her enthusiasm and also to the quality of her work.
Small groups of those children who have, for one reason or another fallen behind, also need attention. Here married women part-time teachers can be of particular assistance. I know a number of married women who do this sort of work, and they are finding it well worth while. Even those who, in their full-time capacity, taught in the sixth form are now teaching retarded young children and find the work tremendously rewarding, and they are, of course, a very great asset to those handicapped children.
The practical details relating to married women returners vary from one authority to another—they are essentially a local authority matter. A national conference may not be the answer, particularly when the right hon. Gentleman reminds me of divisional executives. It may be that it should be tackled in areas. But circulars to local authorities are sometimes sent to members of the education committee, sometimes a précis is made, but they do not always get into the hands of those who could do something, and the problem is so urgent that I think that a conference should be called. We need an imaginative and attractive campaign to remind people not only of the great need but of the tremendous service that can be given by the very many qualified people whom we still have not managed to attract in this great drive. I see recruiting posters and advertising for the police, and so on, and I wonder why teaching has been left out for so long.
Referring to the mature student, I reinforce what the hon. Member for Tonbridge said about qualified people in industry and in the Services who would make admirable additions to the teaching force. They would obviously have to undergo a training course, and during that period should be paid full salaries. Where full salary is not applicable there should be grants, with appropriate grants for dependants. There is no doubt that a number of people in industry who would make first-class teachers and who feel called to teach cannot afford the financial sacrifice involved in going to the training college to acquire the proper qualifications.
815 There is also the very controversial matter of helpers which the Secretary of State made his 14th point at Douglas. It is something that we cannot run away from, and I congratulate my right hon. Friend on tackling it in the place where it should be tackled—in front of the teachers themselves. I would remind the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) that my right hon. Friend went out of his way to assure the teachers that he was not in favour of dilution of any kind; and that we do not help the educational service by running about the country asking what the Secretary of State meant. If one reads that speech carefully—and I heard it—one cannot read two meanings into it.
My right hon. Friend does not believe in dilution, but that does not mean that nobody except the fully-qualified teacher should be allowed to cross the threshold of a classroom. As the head of a primary school I recall the hard work done by the ordinary class teacher. Whatever may be said from platforms and elsewhere, every primary teacher knows very well that properly trained helpers given a specific job can be of very great advantage in the schools.
In the County of Durham, after very long and careful consultation with the teachers in the infant schools, helpers of this kind are now at work. They help to prepare apparatus for the teacher—very valuable work, indeed, in the primary school. They do all sorts of jobs, and the jobs are listed. Recruits are taken from those who have obtained certain certificates—nursery nurses, and the like. I have passed on the details to the Secretary of State, and I know that he will give the scheme his careful consideration. I believe that this will improve the status of the teacher. These helpers—call them what we will—must at all times be under the direct supervision of a qualified teacher, and will do jobs that are clearly and specifically defined.
I am concerned about the number of girls doing jobs that are well below their capacity. I hear of some of the chain stores, and other enterprises, demanding five O-levels for various jobs, and I meet girls in my constituency who are pursuing occupations that are well below their capacity. If this helper job is to be 816 done properly we should take the initiative from the Department for Education and Science and lay down certain conditions of entry. With the present great expansion of colleges of further education, and so on, there is no reason why, after 12-month or 18-month courses, two or three days a week, in colleges of further education, with the rest of the time spent in school, these girls should not qualify—and some boys as well.
I am inclined to the belief that this would also help our long-term problem, because there will be those who at 15 or 16 want to get out to work and who will take the short course but then be attracted to teaching and willing to go on to training college. If we laid down certain conditions of entry this would be another assurance to teachers who are still suspicious about our intentions. I commend the evidence given by the Fabian Society to the Plowden Committee. There there are many things worthy of our consideration which I need not mention now.
I want to say a few words about the general status of the profession. I agree with my hon. Friend very much about status. In this country we tend to feel that unless one has been to a university one cannot earn needed status. This is quite wrong. It depends on the individual to a great extent and not on the particular letters which appear after his or her name. I was very pleased, although rather shocked, to find that for the first time in January this year the youth employment department had at last produced a document on teaching.
We have had documents on almost every other profession and calling, but it was left until January, 1965, for this document to be produced. All over the country there is tremendous interest shown in careers conventions in our secondary schools. I have been to a number in my area. There I have seen the attractions of the police service, the fire services and the Armed Services put forward, but often teaching has not been mentioned. We should push this idea through the youth employment service.
I reiterate what my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West said about buildings and facilities. We built a new comprehensive school in Sunderland. We built it in the middle of two council 817 house estates. We did not take children into it from selective schools. They were all, as it were, non-11-plus. Yet we managed to attract a staff second to none. It was a first-class staff with a first-class master and heads of departments right through the school well qualified for their work, most of them from grammar schools. They came from interview to have a look at the school.
They had never heard of Sunderland, apart from its football prowess, of which you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, are well aware. When one gets out at Sunderland Railway Station the scene is enough to make one go back and catch the next train but we are changing that. When these teachers saw the school, the playing fields, laboratories, swimming bath, the gym, and heard of the working conditions, they were impressed. We had 400 applications for the jobs which were advertised. This was in an area where usually the trend had been the other way. We cannot over estimate the advantage—indeed the necessity—of getting good buildings with all the necessary facilities.
I do not understand why it has become the fashion for people to run down the profession. This is done even by teachers themselves. I say honestly as a former head of a primary school, I was very reluctant to leave the job and to come to this House although, since I came, I have been glad that I made the change. I have always found teaching very rewarding—I do not mean financially, for everyone knows about that. I would not hesitate to advise any youngster, the most able of our youngsters, to come into the teaching profession because I think it one of the most worth-while professions.
The teacher shortage and its relation to the education service is vital today, not only because the nation needs scientists, technologists and skilled folk—as we do—but because the very decencies of civilised life depend on our education service. George Tomlinson, who had a very charming way of uttering in the simplest terms profound truths, once at a conference said that if there were no teachers in Britain we would be back to barbarism in two generations. This is true.
This problem is something we must tackle, the authorities, the Government 818 and teachers together, because this is a partnership. We have to ask ourselves whether some of our old-fashioned ideas have to go, and go now. We must examine every possibility for strengthening the teacher service because we have an obligation and duty to the children in school now. We dare not delay. I commend the Secretary of State for his speech. I am sure the whole House will be anxious to see it implemented and to see our children getting the opportunities they ought to have.
§ 1.17 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. van Straubenzee (Wokingham)
The hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) has the advantage over me and many other hon. Members in that he has personally served in education. As he reminded us, he has been a primary school headmaster. What I found most attractive among the many attractive features of his speech was the sense of urgency he tried to inject—perhaps successfully—into this discussion. I was reminded of that saying of Lord Keynes that the trouble with the phrase "in the long run" is that in the long run we are all dead.
We would be very much better to be reminded that the people we are talking about are the children in school now, and more particularly the parents of children in school now. Nothing has changed more in the background of this debate than the complete change in the last decade in the outlook of parents towards education. The kind of attitude outlined by the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) as being prevalent when he left school is one which we very rarely find today. The child being used or considered merely as something to produce income for the home is a completely out-dated and out-moded concept in the vast majority of homes.
There was a particular suggestion which the hon. Member for Durham, North West made which I should like to pursue a little further. As to him, so it was to me entirely new and therefore had an immense advantage in a field which has been raked over fairly thoroughly in one way or another. I believe I attended all our debates on educational subjects in the last Parliament. It is inevitable that there should 819 be repetition of some of the great problems. If I understood the hon. Member aright, the director of education in his county had drawn attention to the possibility of recruitment in the new towns. It happens that I represent in this House the best new town in Britain, Bracknell. We have the great advantage of having as chairman of the education committee my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Astor), so this is a very formidable combination, as I am sure the House will appreciate.
To be serious, I see the attraction of the argument. We have a concentration of people whose average age is much lower than that of those in the ordinary town. Secondly, by their very nature they are adventurous people because they have moved the whole of their lives and their employment. Thirdly, large numbers of them may well be the sort of people who would undertake training best at a technical college as outlined by the hon. Member. The House is in the hon. Gentleman's debt for having passed on this interesting suggestion, which I am sure the Minister of State will examine more fully. The problem is that by their nature a number of the new towns—I speak only of those in the South—tend to be in that type of area where the quota is already full. With married women the question of the quota does not arise.
There has been an admirable sense of self-discipline on both sides of the House about party polemics. I do not propose to spoil that, but it must be said in fairness to all the predecessors of the Secretary of State that we should simply not be able to discuss further moves ahead if it had not been for the preparations made over so many years by officials and Ministers alike. That with hindsight we ought to have started earlier cannot be contested, but I have not yet been able to see any responsible authority which got its sums right any earlier than the Ministry did. We were all wrong. We were all in those early days statistically wrong.
Incidentally, it was not only the educational field which was misled by the statisticians. I personally always held the view that the birth rate would increase with increasing prosperity. I spoke with 820 the firm assurance of someone who could not possibly know, since I was and remain, though I trust only temporarily, a bachelor. But I always said from my own observations that as prosperity increased innumerable families with a sense of responsibility would like to have a larger family than their predecessors had been able responsibly to bring into the world. All sociologists will say that this is complete nonsense and that prosperity has nothing to do with it, but I believe sociologists are wrong on this matter and that ordinary people like ourselves are more likely to be right.
The fact of the matter is that the plans bequeathed to this Government—I may say they are non-controversial plans, because they were warmly supported in debate after debate—mean that our training colleges, as they used to be called, will by 1970 be producing three times as many teachers as they were in 1958. That this is not enough is common ground for both sides of the House, but that it represents a very substantial step forward I think might more often be repeated.
Incidentally, I have always thought that the country as a whole overlooked the very courageous step of adding a year to the teacher training course, as we did by common consent at a time of shortage. To go for quality at a time of shortage seemed to me to be a step of courage which the country as a whole never sufficiently understood.
Here I suppose I verge on the party controversial, but I have something to say about the attitude of both sides of the House. Politicians must be extremely careful in terms of teacher recruitment not to appear to be tinkering with the machine. Let me illustrate what I mean. I shall not argue—nor should I be in order in arguing—the merits or otherwise of comprehensive schools, save to put it on record that I am in favour of the comprehensive principle. I accept that too many members of my party seem to regard it as party dogma that in all circumstances in all parts of the world they must be against a comprehensive school. This is nonsense. There are some areas where by common consent a comprehensive school is the right answer. There are certainly many areas where the comprehensive principle is actually being successfully carried out. I was recently 821 looking through the list of a sixth form a very well known mixed grammar school in my county. Ten per cent. of the pupils came originally from a secondary modern school. This is the comprehensive principle working well by intelligent liaison between far sighted headmasters and headmistresses. Before I say any more, I concede from the outset that there is among some members of my party a dogmatism about the comprehensive school as such which I find regrettable.
Equally, it is fair to say that hon. Members opposite have in their ranks, at least in the country, persons who feel that the established system—the tripartite system—must axiomatically be wrong. Although I know that they do not mean it, unwittingly at times they do scant justice to the secondary modern school.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Samuel Storey)
Order. The hon. Member must relate this to the Motion before the House.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
I apologise Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I accept your reprimand. I relate it to the Motion in this way. I say that, if politicians throw into the political arena the structure of education, they may very well affect the recruitment of teachers, who will be far less willing to take part in a great profession which they are afraid will become the battledore and shuttlecock of party politics. That is the point I seek to make. I apologise for having reached it a little slowly because of my enthusiasm for the subject. I hope and believe that there is room for common ground and that the recruitment of teachers will be one of the factors we shall be able to bear in mind in reaching a far greater degree of unanimity than at present one would suppose possible.
I disagree with the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), in that I believe that the most important single task we have in the teacher force is its morale. I just do not believe that money is the most important single item. I hope that it will not be assumed from my saying this that I regard the negotiations at present in progress and the Burnham award when it comes from arbitration as unimportant. Of course I realise that it is exceedingly important to the profession. However, if I had to put my finger 822 on any one thing which was more important than any other, it would be the fact that the teachers as a body seem to have an inferiority complex. Those in the profession have, though not by using those words, said so earlier in the debate.
I find it most regrettable when I go to teacher meetings, as I frequently do, to be told so often, "We used to be very much respected. We no longer are". I find this a malaise which if I were Secretary of State would disturb me very much indeed. It was for that reason that I personally welcomed the proposal to turn the old teacher training colleges into colleges of education associated with universities. I always felt that the way in which the end product of three years hard work in an old teacher training college was recognised in a completely different way from the product of a three year degree course was quite unrealistic. For that reason it follows that I am extremely sorry that that recommendation has not been followed up, although I realise that my own Front Bench concurred in that decision. I think it overlooks the question of status and the belief in themselves which is so necessary in the profession. But nothing would make a bigger improvement in status than if, in some way, we could persuade the profession so to organise itself that it came together in one self-governing, self-disciplining professional body.
I have sometimes said lightheartedly at teachers' meetings that if I could imagine myself, in the realm of fantasy, at Curzon Street I would be sorely tempted to give myself a two-year life there and no more and to force through an amalgamation of all the many teachers' bodies. I would know that I would be burnt in effigy every day of the week for six months and I suspect that after five years there would be a stained glass window to my hallowed memory in Curzon Street or somewhere else. I am certain that if it could be done, the teaching profession would be thankful for the strong man or strong woman who did it. But that must be in the realm of fantasy both as regards my own presence in Curzon Street and as regards any Secretary of State acting in that way. But it must be said to the profession that so long as they remain a divided profession, so long can successive Governments play one off 823 against the other, wittingly or unwittingly, and so long also are they weakened when they speak to the country.
This is a difficult task. Plainly, in a profession which must be overwhelmingly drawn from women members it would not be reasonable for the women members to ask that the final body was ruled wholly by a majority vote. But there are constitutions to cope with situations of this kind, and it is enormously to be hoped that the profession as a whole can think sufficiently big. I speak as a member of a self-governing, self-disciplining professional body. I am not ashamed of the fact that we are well organised across the Floor in this House. Whenever our own professional rights or doubts are concerned we come together.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
I take the hon. Gentleman's point about the importance of morale and recruitment of additional teachers, but would he not agree that the question of salary scales is of great importance in this respect? Is it not also true that some of the feeling that may be left behind in the profession is due to the fact that their salary scales have not kept up with the increases which have occurred in other fields? As the hon. Gentleman has referred to lawyers, was not this principle adhered to when the salaries of Her Majesty's judges were increased to keep up their status?
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
Indeed, but if we are going to talk about judges I think the salary was increased from a figure which had been in existence—I do not have the year in my mind—for a period of years vastly in excess of anything which would have been accepted by any other professional or non-professional body in the country. However, I make no point on this. I am coming to the question of salaries.
Salaries, of course, are of immense importance but I am making the point that status is a very major consideration in the recruitment of teachers and that nothing, in my view—I may be wrong—would contribute more to the status of the profession than if it could be self-governing and self-disciplining. I believe that a profession gains and grows in stature and status if it disciplines itself. In the profession to which I belong certainly this is done. It can inflict really 824 savage penalties on its own members. It can take their livelihood away, and this is quite right. This is absolutely proper in certain circumstances. This, however, is not so in the teaching profession. I wish that I could see, particularly in some of the smaller bodies, a greater willingness to sink their identity in the interests of the whole.
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) reminded us of the importance of salaries in teacher recruitment. I think it is fair to recall that we now have a new negotiating machinery which owes a considerable amount to the predecessors of the Secretary of State. I never thought that the negotiating machinery could include provision for retrospection. I never expected that any Secretary of State could surrender his ultimate power of veto by putting in the arbitration provisions. But both are there, and both are very acceptable to the teaching profession. One of them has been used, and I hope they will be additional attractions when it comes to the wider recruitment of teachers.
However, in this recruitment we must remember how important is taxation policy. I very well remember undergoing severe criticism, in common with other Members on the then Government side, when the then Chancellor of the Exchequer raised to £5,000 the rate at which Surtax started to be paid on earned income, it previously having been £2,000. I can equally remember, when I was "bottle washing" for the then Minister and I was sometimes present at schools and at discussions in staffrooms, that many a married woman would say, "It simply is not worth our while. We, my husband and I, find that our combined incomes—we are being treated broadly as one person for tax purposes—have run up over the Surtax limit." That Surtax adjustment was a major contribution to the recruitment of married women.
The whole field of taxation policy will affect the recruitment of teachers, and particularly of married women. But teachers' salaries as such surely suffer from this inhibition. Broadly speaking, 60 per cent. of them are paid from taxation and 40 per cent. from rates. The fact that there is this very high proportionate payment from rates—this is a very rough calculation—is extremely inhibiting to the teaching profession. To 825 my knowledge, they feel it very badly. They are conscious, being ratepayers, that the rate burden has now grown so greatly in proportion to expenditure, that any fresh burden on the rates in respect of their salaries or otherwise will place extreme burdens on the ratepayers. I believe that the time has come when a greater proportion of that item at least will have to be transferred to the national Exchequer, though I personally would be sorry if that were coupled with teachers being employed by the State as distinct from the local education authorities.
I have one critical thing to say, of a different nature. We sometimes tend to forget that something like a third of our schools in the State system are voluntary schools and something like one-sixth of children of school age are educated in voluntary schools, the vast majority of them associated with one or other of the churches. I have only just had the opportunity of reading, and I bring it up as a good illustration of the sort of criticisms which are most inhibiting to the recruitment of teachers, an article in the New Statesman of 23rd April. It is fortunately a week out of date and therefore I shall do nothing to advertise the magazine.
The article is headed, "Dogma for Juniors", by Gerda Cohen. I do not think that I have ever read a more offensive account of a Roman Catholic school, and I speak as one who is not a Roman Catholic. I quote one sentence from the account of the work in that school, remembering the significance to Roman Catholics of what it is that the author writes about. She says:To each outstretched tongue, the Host clings white and papery like devalued coinage.I can imagine few things more grossly offensive to people who regard these matters as being very serious indeed, and we must remember that we are recruiting teachers to a large number of voluntary schools, many of them being persons who in their respective churches feel very deeply about their particular beliefs. If we indulge in criticism of that kind, and particularly in offensive language of that nature, we shall be doing very poor service to the voluntary schools, which I assert have played a major part in the school system.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I have today's New Statesman here, because I thought that there was a rather good article in it by the education correspondent. The article to which my hon. Friend refers has been answered in this week's New Statesman. Even the strongest critic of the Government would not wish to make the Minister responsible for all that appears in the correspondence columns of that paper.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
It shows what a good bipartisan spirit we have, with a Front-Bencher on this side of the House defending the New Statesman—and Nation as it used to be. But this was not in the correspondence columns. I do not wish to assail the Secretary of State. If by inference I appeared to do so, I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) has made that point. I shall seek to read this week's issue, but in a way which will mean that I shall not have to pay for it.
Nothing particularly new has come out of the debate in terms of ideas for recruiting teachers, because it is very difficult for new ideas to come. We have explored making greater use of the old teacher-training colleges, as they used to be. The House should remember the strain placed on these places, upon the staffs and in particular upon the non-teaching staff, the bursarial staff and the rest. As a House we are making tremendous demands on these colleges, willing as they are to bear them, and they are to be asked to do more. We should pause to remember what it is we are asking. We have pressed for an extension of day colleges and we shall listen with interest to what the Secretary of State has to say. We should remember that the proportion of older students presenting themselves has been higher than had been expected. This is an encouraging feature.
We have discussed what we have carefully not called auxiliaries and we must now call ancillaries. I am not sure that one altogether hoodwinks the teaching profession by calling them one or the other. I recall particularly what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby). We do not want to exacerbate feelings or to make the task of the Secretary of State more difficult in very delicate negotiations. It is 827 only fair to recognise the deep feelings of many members of the profession that this is dilution by the back door, but there are many professions which have ancillary help, and there is much more ancillary help going on already in teaching than many in the profession realise. The hon. Member for Durham, North-West illustrated this by drawing on his personal experience.
We have talked of mature entrants. I hope that we shall remember the success of the emergency scheme immediately after the war when very powerful support for the teaching profession was given by men and women who had experience in other fields. While quite plainly that was an emergency system to meet an emergency, we might adopt some of the lessons from that, particularly in the day colleges.
We have talked of married women. I should like to leap to the defence of the Secretary of State, who was understandably out of the Chamber at the moment when the hon. Member for Durham, North-West was not quite as fair as he usually is to the Department in relation to its advertising programme. I have been impressed by the number of advertisements that I have seen, not the paucity of them. I would come to the defence of the Secretary of State and say that I should have thought that it was an imaginative advertising campaign and bore a very good comparison with that for the Armed Forces mentioned by the hon. Member for Durham, North-West.
The success of the nation in recruiting to this immense task will depend upon the importance which the nation attaches to this work. I hope that discussions of this kind, carried on in a non-partisan atmosphere, will help that work forward.
§ 1.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Carmichael (Glasgow, Woodside)
It has been said by a number of hon. Members today, and particularly by the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee), that most of the ground has been covered in previous debates, but we should be most grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) for giving us the opportunity again to discuss this subject because with each new discussion something emerges and we begin to clarify some 828 ideas and to discard others which we had cherished on earlier occasions.
I want to point to two fairly important but narrow points, but first I should like to comment on the general tenor of the debate. Up to now, from this side of the House, members of the teaching profession have spoken exclusively. There have been speakers from the other side who also have been teachers, but I do not think that the rest of us who are not teachers should feel guilty about entering the debate. There has been some talk of partnership between the teaching profession, the Ministry and the colleges. It is just as important to have a partnership with parents. Ultimately, if we are to solve these problems, there must be partnership with the entire community in the whole matter of the importance of education to us as a nation. As a parent and as someone who is interested in the survival of such civilisation as we have built, I therefore feel that I have every right to speak.
I also speak as one who lives in an area where there is a large university and on its border a large training college. I was particularly interested in what the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) said about grants and the idea that there should be some obligation on a student once he has accepted a grant to teach for a number of years. Superficially, this seems attractive and fair. But we do not want people to be teaching for three years or five years when they really do not want to be teaching at all. This would be the worst possible advertisement for the profession that we could have.
This brings me to the discussion which has been going on for so long about the status of teachers, what is involved, what people mean by status and what the teachers mean. Salaries and all sorts of other matters have been raised. Recently, the Scottish Council for Educational Advance, a group of educationists, specialists of one kind or another, most of them in the universities or training colleges, started some work on this subject. They would not claim that it was any more than a pilot study as yet, but I commend it to the Secretary of State. They approached the universities, securing the co-operation of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Strathclyde universities, and tried to find out from students before they graduated 829 who would not be going into teaching and why. The results were most interesting.
I shall not give many of the details because I realise that I might be reading too much into the figures and I am not sufficiently expert in the abstraction of correct conclusions from a survey of this kind, but I should like the House to know of some of the results. Salary structure was the reason most often given for being put off teaching. Whether this was an objective reason or a subjective one, I am not quite sure. This is a point which remains still to be investigated. One wonders whether teaching salaries, relative to other work, are really as bad as the teaching profession has tended to say. I sometimes suspect that the graphs and publicity put out by certain teaching bodies may not be quite as unbiased and objective as they ought to be, but that is beside the point, because what is important is that new graduates who have to decide whether to go into teaching or not believe that the salaries are low, and the largest proportion of those deciding not to go into teaching make their decision on the ground of salary.
Other reasons followed not far behind. A rather strange one was that teaching was too conventional and safe. Another was the difficulty of getting out of teaching. It is a little surprising that it should be implied that we ought to encourage people to leave teaching, but, as the group say in their report, perhaps by opening doors to let people out or by allowing a wind to blow people out of the profession, one might blow people in at the other end. I commend this study to the Secretary of State and to the House. Perhaps it is not as exhaustive as one would like, but it is at least a beginning to show that there are many problems which can be measured tending to dissuade people from going into teaching. For example, the largest group of students said that they were just attracted to other work, but this in itself raises an enormous question. Why were they attracted to other work? I am sure that comparatively little money spent in the right places might well enable us to find many of the answers for which we are now looking.
830 My next point has been raised by other hon. Members and was mentioned in the excellent speech which my right hon. Friend delivered at the N.U.T. annual conference in the Isle of Man. He touched on the subject in points 2, 4 and 12. Incidentally, I think it very courageous of a Secretary of State to tell such a gathering that he would make 14 points and deliver a speech which, as one finds on reading it, did, in fact, make those 14 points very clearly and precisely. I refer to the need for older recruits into the profession. I may be wrong, but I just do not believe that we shall, in the next few years, secure the number of teachers we need from the normal school, university and training college system. I am sure that that source alone will not provide the answer to our problem in the foreseeable future.
We shall not get enough teachers even by bringing back married teachers. I know that the initial evidence is that the campaign in Scotland is most successful. The latest figures I have been given by the Under-Secretary of State show that about 800 applications have been received in Scotland from married women. Whether we shall be able to accommodate those married women on the terms which they, perhaps, require is another question. One of the difficulties of life is that, if one takes a single aspect of a problem, it seems quite easy to solve it; it is the other aspects which cause trouble. Nevertheless, the response is coming, and, if we can secure the services of only a fraction of those 800 married women and have them working in the schools within the next year or so, we shall have had some success.
The problem remains that industry makes great calls on the people who are now going through the colleges or the universities. These calls did not exist in the days when my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West was teaching, not only because there were not the jobs but because industry did not need so many highly qualified people. A factory could work with a few highly qualified engineers, and, basically, industry did not use anything like the number of graduates that it ought to have done, perhaps, in order to put the nation in a better position today. Now, however, the 831 demand for people with higher qualifications is so great that it will make sufficient normal teacher recruitment impossible, and I see a great danger of our not securing enough people from the universities to go straight into teaching.
I make no excuse for riding a hobbyhorse of mine. There is a tremendous wealth of talent in our workshops, shops and offices among men and women who are approaching the age which was at one time thought too old, the 40–45 age group. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West, in speaking of these people, put the point rather nicely, talking about their having been liberated from the shackles of the classroom at 15 and having run out of school into what they thought would be the big adventurous world. They did this for all sorts of reasons, social, cultural and the rest, but, having left education, many of them are not using their abilities to the full. I know of a number of cases of mature people, people of 35, 40 or 45, who, on being interviewed for other types of work, are found to make extremely high scores in various intelligence tests which do not involve verbalisation. The intelligence is there, the ability is there, and in many cases the desire and ability to keep on the job is there. What they lack—this is my point—is the basic verbal ability to take a teacher training course.
I speak as a Scotsman and, therefore, I am in no way thinking in terms of dilution. As the Secretary of State knows, in Scotland we demand a male graduate in the profession. I am speaking about people who, given encouragement and the facilities, could take a preliminary course and then could quite easily go forward to university, do a teacher training course, and become real assets in our education system.
We often speak about the wastage of women graduates. I do not accept that term in its true sense—it is not really wastage—but, of course, from the point of view of the profession and the classroom, it is legitimate to speak of wastage.
When one realises that we get an average of four years' service from a woman teacher, it makes one wonder why we cannot invest a little in the older people in the community from whom we 832 should be almost sure to get three, four or five times that period of service. This would do much more than just solve the problem of the classrooms. It would help to build the sort of society that we all hope for, a society of opportunity, in which people can feel that if they take the wrong turning early in their lives when they are not sufficiently mature to make the right decision, nevertheless the door will not be closed to them for all time but there will be an opportunity when they are older to take up a completely fresh profession and career. If we can do that, we shall have done more than merely solve the teaching problem; we shall have taken a real step forward towards the type of society that we all want.
§ 2.1 p.m.
§ Mr. John Astor (Newbury)
I am very glad to have an opportunity to take part in the debate. I think it is generally recognised by all who are interested in education that the supply of teachers and the programme of training new recruits to the profession constitute a most serious challenge to the future of our education service and the future advance of opportunities for young people.
The hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) has done a great service in introducing this subject. I am sure that the debate will be a great help to education. I think that the value is enhanced by the fact that he introduced the Motion in a non-party, non-controversial manner. I shall try to follow his example, though it may mean that I shall have to keep a few comments for another occasion.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not take exception if I comment on the use of the word "crisis", not because I underestimate the seriousness of the problem and the urgency of it, but I think it would be unfair and unfortunate if the word "crisis" implied that the present Government had inherited a situation which had been rapidly deteriorating. My hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) pointed out that over the last 13 years, although there have been 1½ million additional children entering the schools, the percentage of over-sized classes had been reduced. I agree that the progress was not as rapid as we should all have liked, but at least progress was made.
833 This was all the more noteworthy when one bears in mind that during that time the period of training of teachers was increased from two to three years. That extension will further raise the quality of teaching and enhance the status of teachers. Most educationists agree that, although it meant some restriction on the output from the training colleges, it was a worthwhile decision and one which will eventually benefit education.
In spite of the progress made over those years, the supply position is a continuing problem, one which is bound to intensify during the next decade. There are a number of reasons, mostly well known, why the problem has proved so intractable and why further steps are both urgently needed and very necessary to prevent the situation becoming even more difficult.
First, there is the birth rate. The Secretary of State referred to it in his speech at Douglas and said that he expects the school population to increase by 2 million during the next decade. It would not be fair to expect even a Socialist Government to make the birth rate conform to a national plan, and we must accept the fact that the right hon. Gentleman cannot alter this and that we shall have these additional pupils coming into the schools.
Secondly, there is the question of raising the school leaving age and the Newsom recommendations generally. Some people were doubtful at the time the decision was taken to raise the school leaving age. They wondered whether it was the right thing to do during a time of teacher shortage. I am convinced that it was right. I think that it will be a great advantage to the children who now stay on a year and get great benefit from the school. It is just those children who otherwise would not have taken advantage of the opportunity of staying on voluntarily. Although this is perhaps a self-inflicted addition to the problem, I think that it will on balance be of advantage to the children and the schools.
There is nothing that we can do about these two causes—the increasing number of children in the schools and the later leaving. But there are two other causes of the present shortage about which something constructive can and should be done. First, more places should be provided in the colleges of education and more inten- 834 sive use should be made of the facilities. Secondly, it should be possible to reduce the impact of the wastage from the teaching profession.
I read with great interest the speech of the Secretary of State at the N.U.T. conference, and I should like, respectfully, to add my congratulations upon a very clear and concise speech. One of my hon. Friends said that many of the ideas had been made before. But the Secretary of State reiterated them in a very constructive and concise way and rightly pinpointed the fact that the question of teacher supply and its effect on class sizes is, in his words, "the most critical problem facing the whole field of education."
The Secretary of State referred to the plans for increasing the number of teacher training places in colleges of education to 111,000 in England and Wales by 1973. Those plans appear to coincide with the plans already set in motion by the Conservative Government. Therefore, it does not seem that the present Government expect to be able to improve on the programme of building new colleges. Therefore, we must look for a more intensive use of the existing colleges and those which are projected. I am very pleased to note that the colleges have responded to the appeal by the Secretary of State, just as they have always responded to similar appeals, and expect to be able to take in a certain number of additional students, which will help to ease the problem.
The Secretary of State, in his speech, referred in regard to point 13—I hope that there is nothing ominous about that figure and that it will not be illfated—to the various possibilities of compressing the teacher training course. I do not think that there was any intention of reducing the content of the course; it was merely the possibility of compressing it. Hon. Members have talked of the four-term or "Box and Cox" method of sending students out to the schools. I hope that the Secretary of State will not be daunted by any of the difficulties which will no doubt be put in his way when he investigates the scheme, because it seems to me that this probably holds out the best hope of getting an early and substantial increase in output from the colleges of education. Therefore, I hope that the Secretary of State will pursue that flatter with vigour 835 as he indicated in his speech that he would do.
At the present time the numbers of applications for places in training colleges, especially for women, are approximately adequate to the accommodation available, but as the accommodation grows it will become necessary to intensify recruiting. I think that this will be successful in attracting satisfactory students only if the conditions and terms of service are good. I do not want to say much about salaries because that matter is at present under arbitration, but, obviously, the relationship between teachers' salaries and pensions compared with those of other professions will be a significant point in attracting good recruits.
Another very strong influence is the actual physical conditions under which teachers have to work. I have been for some years a member of an education committee in an area which now has the distinction of having the highest percentage increase in child population of any authority in the country. We find that that is rather a doubtful distinction, because it adds enormously to our problems of housing the children in schools. But it has produced one advantage, and that is that we have a comparatively high proportion of newly built schools or schools which have had to be enlarged and have, therefore, virtually speaking, been modernised. It is largely as a result of this that we have been able over the years to recruit our full quota of teachers, especially where we have had new schools, for which we have been able to select from a very high standard of applicants.
It is true that our success in maintaining our quota may partly be due to the charm of living in Berkshire, but I think that it is mainly because most of our schools are now reasonably well modernised or are new and it is therefore easier to attract good quality staff. This stresses the need to press on with modernisation of older schools and the building of new ones. As I have said, I do not want to be controversial but it is unfortunate that the Government decided to curtail the minor and "mini-minor" works allocation. I know that it was argued at the time that the allocation had actually been increased, but the fact is that less money 836 will be spent in 1965–66 on these works than in 1964–65.
The last Government were not as generous as I would have liked them to be in the allocation to minor building works. For some years I have made an annual pilgrimage to the Department to ask for more money, along with other representatives of my area. So far we have been successful. We visited the Department again last March and I hope to hear shortly that we have again been successful. Nevertheless, the reduction in the allocation has caused great disappointment to local education authorities and it will make it even more difficult to recruit teachers for the older rural schools which, with a comparatively small amount of money spent of them, could be made far more attractive to the teaching profession.
I want to say something about the forthcoming circular on secondary reorganisation. I do not propose to get into discussion about comprehensive education other than to assure my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) that I am not a dogmatist about this. But if the circular compels education authorities universally to adopt a comprehensive system this might have a very severe effect upon the building programmes of schools throughout the country. I will read a brief quotation from The Times of 13th January about this point. The Times said:If going comprehensive is to be more than window-dressing and better than the scrambling of schools on their existing premises, it will entail a large programme of building. Which will the Government put first, their experiment in social engineering or the replacement of bad buildings?I have not seen the circular but I hope that the Secretary of State bears fully in mind the possible consequences of delaying the modernisation of existing schools.
§ Mr. Stan Newens (Epping)
But is it not the case that the introduction of comprehensive schools will provide a larger number of children with the opportunity of the sort of education which will fit them for entry into professions which otherwise they might be denied? Will not this help in the long run to overcome the very problem of teacher recruitment?
§ Mr. Astor
That is going into the argument on the principle of comprehensive 837 schools, which I do not want to do today. Nevertheless, I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's premise. I believe that, with the present overlapping system of schools, people can enter teaching from the secondary modern schools as they can from the grammar schools.
As I was saying, if there is to be a reshuffle in education which will involve a lot of rebuilding, this might delay the rebuilding and modernisation of primary schools. They might be deprived of their allocations.
Another disadvantage of a universal system of comprehensive education—and I emphasise that I am not against it in areas where it can do a good job—is that it can limit the choice for teachers going in for secondary education. Many teachers feel that they are particularly suited for teaching either in secondary modern, or grammar or direct grant schools and dedicated members of the profession may be discouraged by lack of opportunity to put their skills where they think they would be most appropriate.
Another point about which something can and is being done is on the question of wastage. I know that the Secretary of State has begun a vigorous campaign to recruit married women returners and I hope that it will be successful. It has been successful in my area for some years and I think that the success will grow. However, there are one or two small ways in which we can help teachers and lessen the waste of time.
The first, of course, is the introduction of ancillaries, such as laboratory assistants and so forth. The other is the introduction of nursery schools, which local authorities are already free to provide where this will help married women to return to teaching. But the difficulty many local education authorities find now is that the rate burden is such that they are very reluctant to go into these "fringe areas" of education. They will spend money in the classroom but it is not always easy to persuade a finance committee—I have a good one—that these fringe areas are of benefit. I hope that when the Government consider the rating system they will look particularly closely at this point. If there were some relief from rates we should see education 838 authorities engaging more in the "fringe area".
I have a suggestion which was not included in the Secretary of State's 14-point programme but it may be worth considering. I accept the principle of equal pay for men and women but it is clear that married men with families normally have greater financial responsibilities than single women. It might, therefore, be possible to introduce some system of additional payment or allowances, even on a comparatively modest scale, for family dependants. This would obviously have to be financed in such a way that it would not detract from the pay of women teachers or of any existing teachers. It would have to be seen to be fair and not to detract from anyone else. Such a scheme is already operated in the universities and a number of other professions.
If this were practicable and acceptable to the teaching profession, it would help stimulate recruitment of men teachers. We certainly need all the women teachers we can get, but we should also try to increase the number of men because their wastage rate is substantially lower and this would make a considerable contrition to solution of the problem of long-term supply.
We face a difficult position in our concern with education standards, especially at a time of acute teacher shortage. That concern is shared on both sides of the House. I wish the right hon. Gentleman every success in his endeavours both to attract married women returners and to recruit the increased number of teachers which will be necessary if the standards of education we want are to continue to rise.
§ 2.19 p.m.
§ Mr. James Tinn (Cleveland)
It is an inevitable hazard of speaking late in a debate that so much of what one wanted to say has already been more than adequately dealt with by previous speakers. In today's debate the quality of contributions from both sides of the House has made that risk particularly great. There has been a welcome absence of purely repetitive arguments. Therefore, it is with no sense of frustration that I am putting down most of the notes I had carefully compiled, and I hope that the House will not feel too deprived of the opportunity of hearing them.
839 There is, however, one important aspect of this subject which has not perhaps had the amount of attention it deserves, although for one moment I thought that the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Astor) was going to deprive me of even this last kick at the ball. This is in connection with the wastage of teachers, particularly with the wastage of women teachers. The Secretary of State is, of course, only too well aware of the extent of the problem. Indeed, it was he who at the conference of the National Union of Teachers in the Isle of Man gave the figures which I am now going to quote. He estimated that the wastage of women teachers over the next 10 years means that of the 300,000 recruited at the end of that period no less than 240,000 will have left the profession. This means that for every five women training in the teacher training colleges only one will remain at the end of that time.
This is perhaps the biggest single problem, and it is one to which we have to face up, whether or not we expose ourselves to charges of anti-feminism, to being reactionary, and so on. Of course, one is not being in the least anti-feminist in advocating that there should be a greater proportion of places in teacher training colleges for men. We really must face up to the consequences which this drainage will have on the children.
If I might use an analogy rather than more statistics, I see the supply of teachers coming into the schools through, as it were, two pipelines—one, a distinctly small one, for men and the other, which will be longer, for women. But both, we have seen, have leaks in them. The pipeline through which the women teachers come leaks at the rate of five to one. Faced with such a situation in engineering one would put in a new pump at the bottom of the pipelines. First one would, perhaps, tend to switch over to the pipeline which is more secure and find out why so many men teachers were leaving. One would not just increase the size of the pump. Something more needs to be done which does not require buildings.
Although the Secretary of State's direct powers may be limited to altering the proportion of places available in training colleges to men to something closer to parity, there is no discrimination 840 against women teachers—perhaps not quite so much discrimination as against men teachers. In this respect, I believe that this links up with the question of mature entrants to the profession. This is a point on which I feel particularly warmly, having been one myself, and since I was, perhaps, a victim of the 11-plus system and coming back in later life to teach in a secondary modern school very similar to the one in which I grew up, thereby seeing the twist of irony, that the same deprivation, the same frustration, is still happening today.
I feel, like other hon. Members, that there is a relevance in the comprehensive principle. I am speaking not of statistics, however carefully compiled, but from my own personal experience. There is in my own generation a significant number of people in humdrum, everyday industrial occupations who feel frustrated, deprived, and who are, perhaps, inarticulate, but who, nevertheless, have still contained within themselves the capacity to give to the community the kind of service that is so abundantly needed in its educational system.
§ Mr. Hamling
I wonder if also out of his personal experience my hon. Friend would tell the House something of the activities of the W.E.A. which have helped in this respect?
§ Mr. Tinn
This would be something of a digression and at this stage, I think, not altogether a welcome one. However, perhaps I may be allowed to pay my personal tribute to the Workers Educational Association and, indeed, to the adult education system of this country which enabled me, and so many others like me, to by-pass the inadequacies of the existing system. I pay that tribute very readily indeed.
Finally, I would like to bring this question, as so many preceding speakers have done, down to classroom terms. I think it was the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) who referred to the importance of the skilled teacher in the infant school. Some people regard the teaching of infants as a less skilled form of teaching, but it is precisely at this level that certainly in the next five years the needs are going to be greatest. There will be 1 million extra children coming into these schools and it is precisely there 841 that the seeds of future failure are sown and the consequences of that are carried into individual careers.
We need skilled teachers with classes of a size that enables them to use their skill to diagnose at an early stage those personal difficulties—sometimes physical in origin—which have serious retarding effects on many children. To quote an example, some children—more than is generally recognised—suffer from a physical condition which is called mirror vision. Some defect of the mind tends to make them see words in reverse order which necessarily, of course, hampers their reading and, though they are intelligent in every other way, keeps them at the bottom of their class. Very often they develop anti-social attitudes in school which remain with them in outside life. This is the kind of condition which requires the skilled teacher with the time to study the child.
I have spoken for longer than I intended, but I commend the points which I have made for the consideration of the Secretary of State, which I am sure they will receive, and I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West for having given us the opportunity today of making our contributions to this debate.
§ 2.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
I am very glad to have the somewhat unexpected pleasure of making a very short contribution to this debate. I must apologise to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) for the fact that I was not present when he made his opening speech. I am sure that it was a constructive and useful speech, bearing in mind the other contributions which we have had from the hon. Gentleman.
This has been a debate in which people with real qualification to make their contributions to it have spoken and in the circumstances I feel rather guilty for intervening. The main qualifications which I have are that it is only eleven years since I was at school and also that I have been a member of an education committee for a period of five years. Apart from that, I was at university and I had the opportunity to become a teacher, but I chose not to take it. To that extent what I have to say may have 842 some relevance to the problem of teacher recruitment.
The first point I wish to make is that while we accept that the problem we have been discussing—and it is a vital one—relates to the recruitment of teachers to meet a national shortage which may become greater in future, another problem which must be faced is that of recruitment in a number of areas where the need is desperate. There is an urgent problem in relation to the whole country, but it is an unescapable fact that the shortage is not uniform throughout the country. Some positive step must be taken by the Minister to see whether special aid may be given to areas where the difficulties are considerable.
The shortage of teachers in Scotland presents a serious problem. I was interested when the hon. Member opposite, speaking from experience as a headmaster of a primary school, said we never wanted to come to the time when we should have to send children home. In Scotland we have been faced with the stark reality of this problem. At the last count 4,862 children were receiving part-time education in Scottish schools. The significant point is that no fewer than 4,700 of those children were located in Glasgow where there is only one-fifth of the population. That figure represents 95 per cent. of the children receiving part-time education. In other words, the problem in Scotland, as in England, is also a problem of particular areas of special need. I suggest that urgent steps must be taken to make sure that while the situation generally is being alleviated it is also alleviated in particular areas.
How may this be done? Obviously, we could give powers to local authorities generally to deal with the problem by making higher payments, by providing special facilities or better schools, but that would be unfair. The local authority with the greatest resources and facilities would attract more teachers, and perhaps the better teachers. Would not it be possible to adopt the same principle as is adopted in respect of the great problem of unemployment? When the difficulty is sufficiently serious, the Minister should have power to say that the local authority in a particular area should have the right, if it so desired, to use special powers. These might take the form of assistance with house purchase, 843 or paying transport charges in cases where the schools were located a long way from the homes of the teachers. It might be a straight salary differential, in which case special assistance would have to be given from the centre to local authorities.
Apart from the general problem of shortage of teachers, urgent steps must be taken to make sure that the available teaching supply is shared throughout the country. I do not wish in any way to detract from the urgency of the general problem, but coming from an area where there is a special problem, I think that we have to make provision for some special regional policy. It might be that if we could see an end to the problem, or the prospect of overcoming it, the situation might be left alone, but so far as we can see we shall have a general shortage of teachers for a long time to come. For these reasons, I feel that we must take special steps to alleviate particular regional problems.
From a recent survey conducted by the Scottish Department of Education, it was revealed that in Scotland we are short of 3,680 teachers. That takes into account the filling of vacancies, the replacement of uncertificated teachers and the reduction of classes to the prescribed level. Of that figure a total of 1,226 related to Glasgow. I do not wish to suggest that the problem in Glasgow is the only one requiring attention. There is a serious problem existing throughout the country, but the special areas have a special problem and need special policies and special assistance.
On the general question of recruitment, I suggest that there are certain steps to be taken which might help to attract more people. The first and obvious one relates to promotion. It is difficult to see how that may be dealt with entirely by Government policy. The plain fact is that many people coming out of the universities with high degrees have the impression that in the teaching profession ability is not given its full reward. I think it understandable that those with considerable experience and long years of service in the profession feel that they may be more in a position to accept responsibility, but if we want to attract a large number of graduates to the profession, especially those who 844 are highly qualified, we must somehow make possible promotion on ability as much as on years of service. I am not suggesting that at present promotion results simply from seniority, but it may be that too much weight is given to seniority and not enough to qualifications and experience.
We must keep in mind whether we are taking all possible steps to ensure that the attractions of the teaching profession are made known to the people coming from the universities. I feel that at present we do not do this. Local authorities in my area do not do it to the extent to which they ought. Visits should be arranged so that potential candidates may see schools in action. They should not be taken to new schools, or "copy-book" schools, but to all the schools, even to those where there are problems. The average person taking up a career is not looking for an easy and well-paid life necessarily, or one in which there will be no problems. Many young people are looking for a challenge and often this may be found in the more difficult schools with special problems. In some ways we tend to try to make the profession look too attractive and do not indicate that there is a challenge which can be overcome by teachers with a sense of purpose.
There is the simple question of salary, promotion prospects and facilities which are available. We do not do nearly enough in the universities to put this across in detail or to deal with the questions which arise.
Reference has been made to the status of teachers. One way in which local authorities and the Ministry could help to overcome this problem is by giving teachers a greater status in the running of education. The obvious one is a teaching council to consider policy and for teachers to take places on education committees. There is also the simple question of contact between elected representatives and members of the teaching profession. In Glasgow we organise six receptions every year at which all the elected members of the education committee meet members of the teaching profession to exchange views and discuss problems and to try to sort them out.
§ Mr. Dalyell
The hon. Member will recall that whereas his party stalled about 845 setting up a teaching council in Scotland mine did it as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Taylor
I do not think that is a correct interpretation of what actually happened. I should be glad to discuss this in detail with the hon. Member at some suitable time. I am not in any way trying to run away from the question but it would take me about ten minutes to give him an effective answer now. I can assure the hon. Member that I can give him an answer and should be pleased to do it on some other occasion, but now I have only a short time in which to make two other points. One which has been mentioned a great deal in the debate—it is good to see that more emphasis is being put on this point than on other more general questions—is the question of mature entrance into the profession. Apart from the benefit which can be derived by our children from the entrance of mature persons into the profession, it is also a way in which we can deal with what is a very real social problem of this century. We find that not only when people marry earlier do they move out of teaching. There is a real problem when someone of 48 to 52 finds that his family has grown up and have perhaps a good education and could make a good contribution and yet find themselves with no real task to do and no mission in life.
This question of earlier marriage is not just a problem. It is something which can be used for the advantage of the whole education system. In Scotland, we have started a scheme whereby people can discuss the possibility of entering the teaching profession. There was some comment in the newspapers on the fact that one of the people who had replied to an advertisement for the scheme was a grandmother aged 60. Someone of this age can probably give as much service to the profession as a person going through the normal course and perhaps getting married after three years in the school.
Finally, some mention has been made of the structure of education and the comprehensive principle, and of how comprehensive schools, in themselves, can often attract people into the profession. Apart from the arguments in favour of or against comprehensive education, we should try to ensure that the structure of education which we lay down is the most 846 attractive to potential teachers. The pattern of education which we are planning in my own city is based on four-and six-year comprehensive schools. These are in no way selective. It is just that, in certain areas, we have a four-year school, with children going on after that to a central six-year comprehensive school. Some get education right through this six-year school and some transfer there after their fourth year. Under this system, many teachers are not in a position to teach children up to the higher certificate leaving age. This is a disincentive for the teachers.
Many advantages stem from comprehensive education. There is a greater sense of mission—teachers can integrate themselves into the new community—than in the selective schools. On the other hand, one can see in the selective principle many advantages which cannot entirely be explained away. Nobody denies that the selective school tends to bring the best out of above-average pupils, although I appreciate that there are generally arguments for and against. As well as thinking what is important for the general pattern of education, let us make sure that, within any new system which we are planning, all the teachers can use their abilities and have scope to develop their talents. Action along this line and along the others which I have suggested might be worth looking at, and I am sure that the Secretary of State will.
§ 2.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Stan Newens (Epping)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn), I rise at a stage in the debate when many of the points which I might have wished to make have already been made. As a result, I shall merely reiterate certain points which I feel need a certain amount of amplification and one or two which have not been covered adequately.
If one is considering the need for teachers, one has to consider what standards one wishes to achieve in the schools. If one were merely seeking to bring the state of affairs in the schools today to one in which the maximum size of classes was maintained throughout the system, we should need a considerable increase in the number of teachers. If we take into account the raising of the 847 school leaving age to 16, again we need a large number of teachers. But even this situation is not static. We are facing a situation—as many hon. Members have pointed out already—in which the school population is rapidly increasing.
It might be useful if I refer to some figures. In 1945, the school population was about 5 million; in 1964 it had risen to 7 million; by 1970–71 it will be 8 million and by 1973–74, 9 million, if the estimates of the demographers and other statisticians turn out to be justified. It means that, in the next decade, we shall be faced with the problem of providing teachers for perhaps an additional 200,000 children per annum, which will involve a great additional burden on the requirement for teachers above that which would have been required to improve the present situation to the standards which we all desire to see achieved.
If we were merely concerned with maintaining the existing full-time force of teachers of about 280,000, we should need to replace an annual wastage of about 25,000. In addition, if we wish to reduce the size of classes and cater for the annual increase in the number of children, we shall have to do a great deal more than that. In 1964, there were 30,000 new teachers, but 25,000 or so retired or left the teaching profession. If we are to deal with this problem adequately, we must consider how we can tackle certain aspects of the wastage.
I want to add my word of welcome to those which have already been expressed for the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State at Douglas. It was a brilliant statement and it was recognised by most of the teachers at that conference as being inspiring and providing them with an opportunity to see exactly what the Minister proposed to do. I want to emphasise one or two of the points which he made and to deal with one or two of the points which have been raised by hon. Members opposite. The question of endeavouring to improve the morale of teachers has been brought up. As has already been said, one cannot possibly manage to do this without tackling the problem of salaries.
As a teacher, I spent a good deal of my time trying to persuade children whom 848 I thought had the ability to become teachers to remain at school beyond the age of 15 or 16. I found that it was always extremely difficult because many of the pupils could go out into the commercial world and obtain much better salaries by the time they were 20, or almost immediately, than they could obtain after having trained as teachers. If, for example, a competent girl of 14 decided to do a two-year course in commercial work, by the time she was 20 she would be able to earn probably about £15 a week as a shorthand-typist or secretary. That is considerably more than she would be earning if she had decided to remain at school and then go from there to a teacher training college, and start work as a teacher.
I remember a young man who had been in one of my classes some years previously and whom I had persuaded to remain at school for a certain period. He came to see me and I asked him whether he was continuing his studies. He told me that he had dropped them but that, nevertheless, he had done very well. He then pointed out a comparatively new Jaguar which stood outside the school, and said that it was his. I asked him what he had done, and he said that he had become a car salesman. I recognised that the return was much greater, at least for many years, than it would have been had he pursued his studies and become a teacher.
In my view, if we are to improve the morale of the teachers we must improve the basic scale very considerably. It is not enough merely to say that we shall improve the rewards for those people who happen to do best of all, because that merely increases the degree to which teachers are continually moving around in search of new posts of responsibility and probably are not utilising their skills to the full. I believe that a teacher should remain in a school for a considerable time in order to give of his best to that school. If we merely increase the reward at the top we shall produce a state of fluidity in the teaching world which in my view will not be to its advantage.
May I say a word about comprehensive schools and their connection with the problem? I referred to this matter earlier in an intervention. Many people who, 849 I believe, would make very competent teachers do not get the opportunity to have the sort of education they require because of the inadequacy of our present system at the secondary stage. The Crowther Report pointed this out clearly. One of the tables in that Report showed that 42 per cent. of the top 10 per cent. of able boys had left school at 16 years of age and roughly two-thirds of the next 20 per cent. The situation was much worse for girls. Clearly, unless we are to introduce a comprehensive system which prevents many of these pupils at the age of 11 from being diverted into a channel which will not enable them to get the basic education which they require to become teachers, we shall keep losing a great deal of our potential personnel from the teaching profession.
In the past, many who might have been teachers if we had had a comprehensive system of education did not have the opportunity, and today many of them are working in industry or other occupations. For this reason, I emphasise to my right hon. Friend how important it is to improve the opportunities which are available for these mature people to enter the teaching profession at whatever age they have reached. In many ways the experience which they have gained in the outside world will be of considerable value to them in teaching and also to the pupils and the teachers with whom they come into contact. Before entering the teaching profession, I spent almost four years as a coal-face worker in the mines, and to my mind that was a very important part of my education which enabled me to give much more to my pupils, even though they did not come from a mining area, than would have been the case if I had merely left school to go to a university and to a teacher training college and then returned straight away to teaching.
If we are to attract many of these people to teaching we must improve the possibilities of their entering the profession at a mature age. Not only must we encourage them much more but we must tackle the problem of adequate grants to enable them to support dependants who may be relying on them, especially if they are of a mature age. Furthermore, we must increase the opportunity for people who do not possess the basic educational requirements, for 850 example in O-level passes, to enter teacher-training colleges. I know of a number of people who left school at 14 years of age but who have since obtained these qualifications, have come into teaching and have made a very important contribution to it.
Several hon. Members have referred to ancillary aids in schools. It is extremely important to see that the teachers we have at present are used to the best possible advantage. That means relieving them of the various chores which take up so much of their time. Everybody recognises that it would be undesirable to put on the teachers' shoulders the entire job of dealing with school meals. We have a school meals staff to do this. But there are many other jobs which ought to be done, not merely in the primary schools but in the secondary schools, by ancillary help, and it seems to me that this would enhance the teachers' status and enable them to get on with the job for which they are trained. Many local authorities have already introduced many ancillary workers. The L.C.C., in which I worked, did so some years ago. But other local authorities have by no means taken advantage of the opportunities which are open to them, and I appeal to my right hon. Friend to encourage those who have not gone as far as they might have done in this direction to do so at the earliest possible moment.
Sir William Alexander made the suggestion that by introducing a four-term year we could make much better use of the accommodation which is available in the colleges of education. At this stage, I do not wish to develop that point, but we should consider such a suggestion very carefully and see whether it is one way in which we could greatly increase the number of teachers being produced by colleges of education.
If we can deal with these points and the many others which have been made today, and which were made by my right hon. Friend at Douglas, we shall go a long way towards tackling this vital problem. We must recognise that teaching is one of the most vital jobs of our generation. If, as a society, we are to enter the technological age, we must have more teachers. Unless we tackle this bottleneck, which is by far the most important in education, we shall fall down not merely on the immediate 851 problem of providing our children with the sort of education which we desire for them but also on the problem of developing our society in the twentieth century in the way in which it ought to be developed if we are to keep abreast of other countries on a world-wide scale.
§ 2.59 p.m.
§ Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)
I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) for having inspired one of the most successful education debates I can recall. We have had five education debates during the present Session. That may not seem very many, but certainly a fairer share of Parliamentary time has been devoted to the subject than was the case in some earlier Sessions.
I do not have any disputes with the points made by the hon. Member for Woolwich, West in his opening speech. I would have ventured to disagree with him on a factual point, but that was put right by his hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Newens). I am afraid that the figures of wastage are rather worse than the hon. Member for Woolwich, West suggested. He said that we recruit 20,000 teachers a year, with a net gain of 5,000. In 1963 the figures were a total gross recruitment of 30,000 and a net gain of 4,500. This is, of course, the most serious aspect of the problem of teacher supply.
I was glad that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West emphasised at the outset of his speech the need for steadily rising expenditure on education and the danger of permitting ourselves any complacency towards inequalities in education. When we speak about education expenditure we do not just mean capital expenditure on buildings, equipment, and so on. We should also remember all the measures that are needed to recruit more teaching staff. I hope that there is common ground on this issue.
Teacher supply is both an absolutely vital and a remarkably frustrating subject. In this respect it rather resembles council house building, where we have considerable inputs year by year yet the housing lists continue to grow. In the same way, in this decade the training colleges are already the fastest expanding sector of higher education. I was 852 thinking, when listening to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State at the Isle of Man, that when he said that this year the training colleges would have an intake of 27,500 students, that is nearly as great a number as the total student population in the training colleges seven years ago, although we now have the three-year course. This has indeed been a rapidly growing sector of higher education. I was in one sense relieved and in another sense, from a tactical point of view, a little disappointed that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West did not elaborate the theme of "13 wasted years" in this connection.
§ Mr. Hamling
The right hon. Gentleman must remember that his party came to power in 1951 and not in 1960. He must recall the numerous occasions when my right hon. Friend who is now the Foreign Secretary stood on the very spot on which he is now standing asking the Government of the day to increase the number of places in training colleges and being turned down.
§ Sir E. Boyle
Surely 1957 was the crucial year, when the relationship between the gross and net intake of teachers changed dramatically, and from 1958 onwards we have had a rapid expansion in the training colleges. I entirely accept that there is no room for complacency and that the figures which the right hon. Gentleman gave at the Isle of Man show the scale of the problem.
The Secretary of State pointed out that between now and 1975 we should be having a gross recruitment of 300,000 women and 150,000 men—450,000 in all—and that we should get a net increase of 150,000. Yet even with 150,000 added to our existing stock of nearly 300,000 teachers, that will still leave us by 1975 20,000 short of the teachers needed to fulfil the existing regulations; that is, class sizes of 40 in the primary schools and 30 in the secondary schools. These figures show clearly the enormous scale of effort that is needed, the very great problem that arises through what is called wastage and, therefore, the importance of the need for the sort of short-term measures we have been discussing today as well as the other measures to expand the training college plant.
853 One preliminary point I must make before coming to the speech of the Secretary of State is that I was glad that the hon. Member for Durham, North-East (Mr. Armstrong), in a particularly good speech, dealt firmly with the question of raising the school leaving age. I completely agree with him and I hope that it will be common ground that none of us want to go back on the decision to raise the school leaving age at the end of this decade. When people sometimes talk about rushing into this decision I feel rather the same as I feel about those who talk about rushing into the abolition of capital punishment. No one can say that this issue has not been fully pondered over the years. The raising of the age is vital to educational opportunity.
I remember mentioning in the House at the start of last year, that if we look at the percentage of those in school over 16, the figure for Surrey is, I think, about 30 per cent. and the figure for Durham is about 13 per cent. That shows the very great effect of neighbourhood condition and environment on readiness to stay on at school. If we want to make the best of our national talents and ensure a sufficient supply of trained manpower, the raising of the age is a priority no less vital than measures to expand the supply of teachers.
I pay my full tribute to what was a very remarkable speech made by the right hen. Gentleman at the Isle of Man, and I do not do so only because of what was a singularly generous reference to myself by the Secretary of State. Everyone present, as I was fortunate enough to he, felt that this was really a speech one would remember, and one that did full justice to a distinguished occasion. Perhaps I may add that, remembering my many discussions in the past with Lord Dalton on education, in which he was keenly interested, and remembering the admiration for the right hon. Gentleman's powers of exposition that Lord Dalton always had, I only wish that he could have been present to hear that speech.
The right hon. Gentleman brought together a very large number of points covering a great deal of ground, and I should like to comment on a number of the suggestions and developments of existing policy that he announced. The first two of his points concerned the colleges 854 of education. He asked them to do still more about using their existing accommodation to the full and about establishing annexes outside their immediate reach. We owe a great deal to the tremendous efforts made by the colleges of education in recent years. After all, they never anticipated 10 years ago—or even five years ago—that they would be asked to expand their numbers so rapidly. They have made a remarkably fine effort in expanding so fast.
I would just put this point to the right hon. Gentleman on the subject of annexes. I think that this is a perfectly right decision, and I hope that it will also be considered, as and when necessary, in other parts of our system of higher education, including the universities, bearing in mind that the proportion of those with the minimum qualification for university entry will be appreciably bigger—as I said in one of our debates some weeks ago—than even the most optimistic of the unpublished Robbins predictions. The same problem could well arise in the universities, and I hope that university numbers in the early 'seventies will not have to depend on the success of Secretaries of State for Education of any party in the annual scramble for the building programme at the margin, so to speak. There is considerable scope here for some leasing of buildings, and some annexes within reasonable reach of the universities.
The right hon. Gentleman's third point was that it should be possible to get some help from colleges of further education. I was glad to hear him say that college provision is so large that there should be some spare space. I thought that a tribute to the work, in particular, of Lord Eccles in expanding the technical colleges. It is certainly right that they should make a contribution. I very much hope that it will be possible for them to make some contribution in the way he suggested.
The Secretary of State talked next about the day colleges. He said that he wished to establish four or five more day colleges in addition to the existing 12. He said that these are particularly suitable for older students, whose numbers have grown so rapidly and encouragingly in recent years. This is important because, as has been rightly stated in an 855 article in today's issue of the New Statesman, we ought not only to think of teaching as a profession simply for the young new entrants, but also as one perhaps equally suited to a number of older people who have had experience of life in other ways.
I am glad that this article by the admirable education correspondent suggests that we can divide older women coming back into teaching into a number of categories. There are those who have left the profession and had their families and those graduate wives who have qualified by virtue of a degree but are without teaching experience. Thirdly, and not least, there are those who have no teaching qualifications but want to train. All these categories are important. Already the day colleges are making a distinctive contribution in this field. This is true in Birmingham where, as I think my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) will agree, Bordesley College is proving outstandingly successful.
The next points that the right hon. Gentleman dealt with in his speech were all concerned with ways in which we can tap more effectively this source of older women—and men too—who might return to teaching. We had a tribute with which I agree paid by my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) about the publicity campaign. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say in his speech that he is considering the idea of some kind of national register on which women teachers would be encouraged to enrol when they first leave the profession. I was always told when we discussed this point in the Department that it was impossible to do anything very effective until automatic data processing was in full operation. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could say something about this and tell us what the prospects are of a national register coming into operation fairly soon.
Then there is the highly important point the right hon. Gentleman made when he announced that he will set up a national working party to explore how best and how quickly it would be possible to extend to part-timers the pension 856 superannuation rights which are already possessed by full-time teachers. I believe this one of the most important points he made. Certainly when I have discussed teacher supply in the past with members of the profession one of the matters which has been raised most often has been the importance of establishing a superannuation scheme for part-timers. There are many practical difficulties here, but I think all of us on this side of the House very much hope that this working party can go ahead quickly and that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to see some results coming from it.
I make a rather obvious suggestion here on a point which frequently arises, in the case of a woman who leaves teaching and takes up some gainful employment and then returns. This period of employment is taken into account when calculating her salary. But at present there is no recognition for incremental purposes of the time which the woman spent bringing up a family. I know that the point has been raised often and there are difficulties, but it seems somewhat paradoxical that there is at present no recognition of the time a woman spends bringing up a family. Surely that experience must equip many women better for the purpose of teaching when they return to school.
The right hon. Gentleman's next point in his Isle of Man speech was also of high importance—nursery classes. The right hon. Gentleman said that local authorities can already open new nursery classes which will enable an appreciable number of women teachers to return to the schools. He also said he was considering some widening of this concession. This is a concession which I think I first announced in connection with Huddersfield two years ago. It was formalised in a circular last year. It has had pretty disappointing results so far. The Minister of State kindly wrote to me following our last debate and said that the position so far is that eight authorities have started a total of 16 nursery classes producing an estimated gain of 68 teachers. That seems very disappointing.
Does the right hon. Gentleman think that greater publicity can be given to this concession, not least through Her Majesty's inspectors? In particular I 857 ask whether he could not link this with the twelfth point he made—the introduction of training on a part-time footing. He rightly said this in his speech:there must be many people who would like to train for teaching, but who cannot afford to give up their jobs or to leave their families in order to do so full-time.There is a strong case for extending the concession on nursery classes to encourage those who would like to do part-time training. At any rate this seems to me to be ole field where policy has been instituted but where there is a good deal of scope for its further development.
The other point I would raise under the general heading of encouraging women to return to teaching is this. I am glad to learn that the right hon. Gentleman hopes soon to issue a circular on the whole question of part-time teaching. There is still a tendency in some quarters rather to decry part-time teaching. Incidentally, the only time the present First Secretary of State took part in an education debate, which was in March 1963, he said when he wound up that married women returnerscannot make any long-term effective contribution to the solution of the lack of teachers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th March, 1963; Vol. 674, c. 1246.]I hope that the right hon. Gentleman knows better now. We enjoyed the right hon. Gentleman's intervention then, but this simply is not true. Part-time returners and part-time teachers in general will have a growing part to play. We simply shall not be able to call on the army of unmarried women that we have had in the schools in the past.
In this connection, I ask the Secretary or State two questions about figures. When I spoke on this subject in that very debate in 1963 I gave an estimate that by 1970 we should have about 40,000 teachers a year coming into the profession, of whom about 24,000 would be teachers coming straight from the training colleges, about 9,000 would be graduates, and I thought there would be the full-time equivalent of about 6,000 to 7,000 part-timers and part-time returners. Cannot that estimate now be to some extent increased? Cannot one put a more encouraging figure on prospects for married returners than I was able to give then?
Incidentally, I also ask the Secretary of State about the training college figure, 858 because surely on the figures he gave in the Isle of Man we can look forward to reaching 80,000 students in the training colleges earlier than the 1970 date which I announced at the beginning of 1963.
There is one other point about part-time teachers I should like to make. It seems to me of the highest importance that local education authorities should use these teachers well. As I ventured to say when the hon. Member for Durham, North-West was speaking, this applies to lower tier authorities no less than to county boroughs and county councils. I have heard some rather bad cases of where, for example, a divisional executive has not been imaginative in its handling of this matter. I believe that we need to recognise that local government administration is a much more skilled job today than it has ever been in the past. A number of highly skilled and able people are needed today to deal with the administrative issues in local government. I hope that the Secretary of State will not hesitate to discuss these matters with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and with the local authority associations, because the whole tenor of this part of the Secretary of State's Isle of Man speech was that there is much more skilled work to be done today by local authorities in making the best of the potential teaching talent that is available.
I come now to three final points the right hon. Gentleman made in his Isle of Man speech which seem to me to be of considerable importance. The first concerns again the technical colleges. I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say:I am sure there are springs of energy and initiative to be tapped here—and also possibly a new source of recruitment of older and younger students—to the great advantage of the teaching profession … I would therefore like to use some of the advanced course facilities of the technical college system, not only for the professional training of students who have already obtained C.N.A.A. degrees, but also for students seeking a three year teachers certificate course.I was very glad to hear those words. The right hon. Gentleman will realise that they are very much in line with what I ventured to say in the House when we discussed higher education some weeks ago. I said on that occasion that I thought the question whether all degrees should be university degrees was harder 859 to decide in the context of teacher training than in the context of technical colleges. I went on to say:If all teachers are to be trained within the orbit of the universities, could this produce the full range of teachers which we shall require? We surely need to broaden the base of our supply of teachers and not to rule out the possibility of a technical college within the orbit of the Council for National Academic awards offering a course to a B.Ed. I am not yet convinced, even as a long term objective, of the desirability of aiming at a university degree for all teachers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1965; Vol. 709, c. 765.]I must say that I adhere to those views. I am all for broadening the base of our supply of teachers. May I just add that there is a wholly false idea gaining ground that all right-thinking educationists, except for a few tiresome people in Curzon Street, think that we ought to have a unitary system of higher education. This has not been the policy of successive Governments in this country. It is not the view of the present Government. It was not the view of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) or of myself. In case anybody should think that this is just my quirky idea, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone, I know, would go entirely with what I had to say on this subject in our last debate.
Therefore, while I am second to none in wanting to see high standards in teacher training colleges, recognising that there should be increased opportunities in colleges of education for students to gain university degrees and that academic studies have a part to play in many training courses, none the less I would not suggest that all teachers should be trained within the orbit of the universities, nor that we should aim as a long-term objective at a university degree for all teachers.
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman laid stress on the importance of the association of rapid expansion of colleges of education with higher productivity within the teacher training system. Surely it is highly important that we should get the maximum productivity from our training colleges, and I am glad that the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) spoke of the four-term year. I think another hon. Member suggested what 860 was in effect a kind of sandwich course for teacher training. Whatever possibilities exist, surely the important thing is that we mush get the best productive value from our very large stock of capital assets in higher education.
It is quite right to say that the rental value of our total educational plant in this country is in the region of £500,000 to £¾ million a day. When capital expenditure is rising so fast it is vital that we get all possible value from it.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I would apply it throughout the whole of our educational system and certainly the whole of our higher educational system.
The last of the right hon. Gentleman's points was on this more difficult issue of ancillary help. I think it is very important to look at this in as realistic a way as possible. The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly correct when he said:…we are desperately short of teachers; and we cannot afford to use this scarce and valuable resource uneconomically by dissipating it over jobs which others could easily do.It seemed to me to be the basic theme of this part of his speech.
There are today some eight or nine categories of help in many of our educational institutions. I am absolutely certain that the overwhelming majority of teachers—almost literally all—want increased help in nearly all these various categories. The one difficulty arises over the classroom itself. Here I would say three things. We are not here talking about auxiliary teachers. We are talking about ancillary help to teachers. I know that one can be too semantic. One thinks of the fascinating lecture by the late Professor Austin about the distinction between negligence and inadvertence. These can be rather sophisticated studies. But let us be clear that we are talking about not auxiliary teachers but ancillary help for teachers. We want to preserve the time of qualified teachers to perform those functions which they alone are qualified to carry out. And where this ancillary help exists in the classroom it should be under the direction of a qualified teacher. I cannot see anything derogatory to the standing of the teaching profession in any of these propositions.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I hope that I have phrased this in such a way that my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) will agree, because this seems to me to be the kernel of the matter.
Let us look some years ahead when we shall not only continue to need teachers but the three-year course will have existed for 10 years and more and more colleges of education will be growing larger—colleges of real standing as first-class institutions of higher education. I do not think that anyone can say that the position of the teacher will be threatened five years from now by the development of ancillary help of this kind.
I should like to raise one or two other points which the Secretary of State did not cover in his Douglas speech. I quite understand that no one can cover the whole ground, but I wanted to mention for a moment the development of audio-visual aids throughout the education system—teaching machines and television. These are matters of importance as well, and I am sure that the House will be glad to hear anything that the right hon. Gentleman can say on this subject. Very promising developments lie ahead here, particularly in television and programmed learning. Programmed learning can release teachers from competitive, work and allow them to devote more time to the tasks in which their professional skill can be used to the best advantage. Furthermore, closed-circuit television is of growing importance and it has been introduced very successfully into a number of schools, colleges and universities.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Would the right hon. Gentleman agree from his experience in the Ministry with the need for a certain amount of centralisation so that the firms which make equipment can reap the benefits of economies of scale? Many of them complain that they cannot get an answer from the mosaic of local authorities and that they are losing considerable sums of money on development?
§ Sir E. Boyle
The Ministry must be careful of not playing too purposive and centralising a rôle over this, but I agree that this is a field in which both Ministers and their advisers must keep in closer 862 touch with what is happening and must act more as a clearing house of ideas for the local authorities than they have done in the past.
We have got through this debate, rather surprisingly, without anyone mentioning independent schools. I shall mention them for just a moment. I do not believe that we can apply a quota to the independent schools, because the quota applies to local authorities and not to schools and competition is often sharpest where teachers off quota are concerned—that is the part-time specialists. This matter is not as easy as some people suppose. But let us just remember that my noble Friend Lord Eccles, in 1960, faced with the year of intermission, appealed to the independent schools to restrain their demand for teachers during a difficult period. Independent schools have not improved their staffing ratio since that date and there is a good case for whoever is Secretary of State seeing their representatives from time to time and obtaining their continuing co-operation about not actually improving their staffing standards. I believe they would continue to co-operate.
We have been right in giving a day to this topic, because it is one of the most important for the educational future of the country. There is no bigger distinction in education than that between those children who have experienced very large classes and those who have experienced much smaller classes. The same is true of parents. There is nothing that strikes me more as an unmarried person than the pleasure with which a mother will say that her child is getting on really well at a certain school. Indeed, there is nothing that matters more to parents than that their child should have a good chance as a result of his schooling. We shall not be grudged money for the recruitment of teachers provided that we convince public opinion that we use them to the best advantage. We on this side of the House will give the right hon. Gentleman continued support in his efforts to overcome the teacher shortage and to grapple with the problems which we have discussed today.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Anthony Crosland)
Like other hon. Members, I express my gratitude to my hon. Friend the Member 863 for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) for choosing this subject for debate today. It has been one of the most constructive debates I have ever listened to in the House, and very encouraging, showing the considerable measure of agreement in all parts of the House on the practical measures which we ought to take to try to solve the problem. For the reasons which many hon. Members have stressed, it is about the most urgent problem facing us in Britain today, certainly the most urgent facing us in education. I shall not go into the figures and the detailed reasons why it is so urgent and what the projections are over the next ten years because several hon. Members have already given the figures to the House today.
I shall confine myself almost entirely to commenting on points which have been made. Several of my hon. Friends were in the Isle of Man last week, and I think that most hon. Members who have spoken or who have been here during the debate have done me the kindness of reading the speech which I made there, so that simply to repeat all the 14 points would be rather irritating to the House. Therefore, I shall, if I may, take the points as read, turning to various issues which have been raised in the debate today.
A number of detailed matters have been mentioned on which I cannot give answers now, but I promise that they will be looked at in the Department. For instance, my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) asked about the teaching of oriental languages. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. Carmichael) mentioned an investigation undertaken at three universities in Scotland. I was not aware of this, and I shall try to get hold of the report and comment on it. There were one or two other detailed points brought out which will certainly be taken up in the next few days.
I turn, first, to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West. I very strongly agree with the whole philosophy which he expressed. He said, quite rightly, that even today there are still gross inequalities in our education system. I have not read the particular article which he quoted, but previous writings by Floud, Halsey and others 864 have shown that, whichever part of our education system one takes, one finds still an expression of extraordinary social inequality. Whether one takes the population in higher education, in the grammar schools or, obviously, in the independent schools, one finds this extraordinary example of class slant and class bias. The fact is that the chances of working-class children achieving education beyond the age of 16 are still very much less than those of the bulk of middle-class children. This not only means an undue element of privilege at one end of the scale but it means an appalling wastage at the other, a wastage which was described, in different terms, by both the Crowther and Newsom Reports, and I am very conscious of it.
Several hon. Members, not surprisingly, mentioned the question of teachers' salaries. I cannot say anything about that today. Hon. Members know the position. The teachers' claim has gone, by their own choice, to arbitration. I still maintain that the offer of a 12½ per cent. increase which we made, with the full approval of the whole Cabinet, was not a totally ungenerous one. It was a figure considerably in excess of the norm under the prices and incomes policy, but it was agreed by the Cabinet collectively that this was a special case and that the position of teachers should be improved relative to the rest of the country. What will come out of arbitration we do not know. While the claim is in arbitration, there is nothing more I can say on the question of salaries. This applies also to the suggestions made in various quarters during the debate about particular changes in the salary structure.
The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Astor) spoke about comprehensive schools and the circular which I am about to send out. On the general question of comprehensive schools, I agree strongly with one or two of my hon. Friends who have said that, in the long run, the change-over to comprehensive schools must improve, not worsen, the teacher supply position. It has always seemed to me that, really, the most critical single argument for comprehensive schools is that they will do something to diminish the wastage which at present exists in the categories of children who do not pass the 11-plus, who do 865 not get to grammar school and who leave earlier, having received a less good education—the Crowther categories, as one might call them, who were mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Newens). Therefore, I think that one of the strongest arguments for going comprehensive is that the consequence will be an increase in the supply of trained and educated man and woman power.
On the particular point raised, I can reassure my hon. Friend completely on one subject. It is certainly not my intention that as a result of going comprehensive there should be any slowing down of the programme of replacing and improving old sub-standard schools. I give that assurance categorically—that the price of going comprehensive will not be paid by children at sub-standard schools. That is an absolutely clear Government decision.
My hon. Friend mentioned another detailed point, whether we could not consider a system of dependants' or family allowances in the school teaching profession. He mentioned the universities. He may not have been aware that the Report of the National Incomes Commission in regard to university salaries spoke very strongly against this system in the universities. Therefore, I do not think there could be any question of introducing it into the schools.
My hon. Friends the Members for West Lothian and Woolwich, West, mentioned retired teachers. I really should like to do something for them, but I am afraid I am uncertain whether I can. As my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian pointed out, this matter cannot be treated in isolation. It raises the whole question of public service pensioners. It is not an issue which I as Secretary of State for Education and Science can decide. In the end it becomes a Treasury issue and a matter of wider Government policy. Therefore, as a Departmental Minister, although I am very sympathetic about the plight of retired teachers, and also very conscious of the contribution which they could make to teaching if the pension arrangements were more generous and more sensible, I am afraid that I cannot go further than that today.
The hon. Members for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) and Burton (Mr. Jennings) spoke about local government 866 finance and stressed the burden which education now places on the rates. Indeed, it is enormous. They raised the question whether teachers' salaries might not or ought not to be transferred to the central Exchequer. As hon. Members know, this is at present under study inside the Government, and until the study is completed there is nothing that we can announce.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian mentioned a point about which, like him, I feel very strongly—the problem presented by people going abroad and the lack of residential or boarding accommodation inside the state sector of education. In the independent sector of education, to which the right hon. Gentleman drew attention—although I do not propose to say anything about it this afternoon—there is a very large amount indeed of boarding education, and I hope that we shall do something in the very near future to spread its benefits more widely. Although there has been an increase in boarding accommodation in the state sector in the last few years, it is still deficient, and I should like to see the kind of experiment inside the state scheme that we have seen in regard to Crown Woods, where a boarding wing has been added to a comprehensive school. This was done for Service families particularly, but it could also be done to meet other needs. I should like to see a definite extension of boarding provision inside the state sector to meet this problem.
I was grateful for the remarks of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth about a unitary system of higher education and for making it clear—not that I doubted it—that he and his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) had both taken this view strongly. This is most helpful, as he knows. With regard to many institutions which would now like to become universities but which neither he nor I, for various reasons, think should become universities, it will be very helpful if they do not think that merely by a change of Government their position is likely to be altered. I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his comments.
The right hon. Gentleman asked two specific questions about teacher supply. First, he asked whether, in view of some 867 of the more encouraging figures which I have recently given, we are likely to reach the 80,000 teacher training places before 1970 rather than in 1970. I think that the answer is probably yes—that if we can get the same kind of exceptional effort next year as we have had this year we shall certainly do it, and if we had any sort of arrangement—perhaps a "Box and Cox" arrangement, inside the colleges, we should be quite certain to do it earlier. On these assumptions, I think that we shall reach that target before 1970.
The right hon. Gentleman also asked what would be the annual output in 1970 and mentioned his own prophecy of a year or so ago that it might be 40,000. Similarly, it depends on how many of the 14 points we manage to get adopted but, on reasonable assumptions, we hope that the figure will be well over 40,000. Indeed, we think that it will be a minimum of 45,000 and I hope for even more.
Now I turn to some of the 14 points that I mentioned at Douglas and which have been referred to today. The hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) asked about day colleges and whether the four to five that I mentioned represented the height of our ambition. That is not the height of our ambition in the long run. We shall need more of these colleges in suitable places but it takes some time to get this kind of operation under way.
As the hon. Member for Tonbridge rightly said, these colleges have to be situated in the right sort of areas. One does not want them scattered all over the country whether they are needed or not. One needs to find the right premises and to secure agreement with the local authorities and so on. It is not a quick or easy task but nevertheless that figure of four to five does not represent the limit of our ambition.
Quite rightly, much attention has been paid in the debate to the central and crucial problem of wastage and married women returners. Here, perhaps I can say something to my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) who raised the question of the sex ratio inside the colleges of education and suggested 868 that perhaps we should increase the ratio of men to women.
As my hon. Friend is probably aware, we have asked the colleges to raise the proportion of men from the 30 per cent. that it was a year or two back to 36 per cent. by the end of this decade and we think it likely that it will go up to 40 per cent. in the years following. There will be a considerable change, therefore, in the sex balance in the colleges, which will give more stability to the teaching profession than is the case today.
A number of points were made in the debate about the problem of married women returners. I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) for his tribute to the campaign being carried out by my Department. In referring to the national register, he was right in saying that automatic data processing is essential if we are to do this really quickly and efficiently. It will be 1967 before we get that, however, and meanwhile we have decided to go ahead with the register as fast as we can.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that pay and conditions are extremely important. I hope that the working party—naturally, however, I cannot guarantee this—will come out with an acceptable solution.
A large number of hon. Members mentioned the problem of the provision of nursery schools. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the response to the concession in the circular that he mentioned has been extremely disappointing. Yet I am always hearing from different parts of the country of people who would go back to teaching if there were provi-children but where the local authorities sion of places in nursery schools for their are either ignorant of the circular or are, for some reason or other, reluctant to take advantage of the concession.
I propose to draw the attention of the local authorities once again to this concession. I would like to go beyond it and if possible widen the concession. I have not yet decided the exact terms by which it can be done because it is sensible, obviously, first to get more information about the present situation and find out why not more use has been made of the existing concession. We have 869 sent out a circular to the local authorities, asking them to reply by 21st May, and on the basis of their answers I shall decide definitely what further concession we can make and announce it, I hope, at the beginning of June. This is a point of major importance in discussing the problem of married women returners.
One or two hon. Members referred to taxation, a subject constantly mentioned to me. I think that a lot of teachers are under a complete illusion when they talk about married women returners having to pay so much of their salaries in tax with the rest going on domestic help and travelling expenses that it is not worth it. The figures do not support the more dramatic complaints.
A married woman teacher earning £860 per annum working full time will pay, unless her husband has an income of well over £2,000 a year, only £140 to £150 a year in Income Tax, leaving a net income of about £720. All of that will not go into domestic help or travelling. A married woman teacher working part time and earning £430 a year will pay £25 in tax unless her husband is earning over £2,000. One cannot say that that tax burden is very heavy. Of course everyone would like to see our tax burdens reduced, but the burden on married women returners is not intolerable. I think that in so far as this operates as a disincentive it is more of a subjective than an objective one.
Then the hon. Member for Tonbridge said, quite rightly, that in this whole field of married women returners it was necessary to proclaim the need and to tell the local authorities what they ought to do. To a considerable extent this is a matter of publicity and drive because, one or two hon. Members have said, there is no doubt that we have a very patchy picture indeed between local authorities. I, like other hon. Members, keep on receiving complaints from people in areas who wish to go back to teaching but who are either totally ignored or cold shouldered by the local authorities when they offer their services. The essential thing is to raise the standard of the local authorities in this respect to that of the best of them.
This is largely a matter of publicity and pressure. We are doing two things. One is that we are issuing in one of our regular educational reports—No. 21 870 —an account of a survey which we have done on the practice of the best authorities and the best schools. We conducted quite an elaborate survey in areas chosen because they were doing well in the problem of part-time married returners. We have collated the results of this and, as I have said, we shall publish them in our regular series of reports.
The other thing that we are doing is issuing a very strongly worded circular to local authorities summarising the practices of the ones successful in the problem and drawing attention to a number of the points discussed—nursery schools and the rest—and urging them very strongly indeed to at least come up to the standards of the most successful. The picture at the moment of the authorities using part-time married women returners on a substantial scale is that they have increased their teaching force by about 10 per cent. Some authorities have not increased it at all where the contribution of part-time married women is zero. We want to attain very rapidly at least an average increase of 5 per cent. and to push it up to 10 per cent. by 1970. If we could get this contribution all over the country it would be something very substantial indeed.
My hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong), whose speech, unfortunately for me, was the only one I missed—I gather that it was an outstanding, constructive contribution, and I shall read it with great care—suggested, I understand, one or two additional ideas for getting publicity and putting pressure on everyone. He suggested that each area should have a recruiting officer for part-time teachers.
On the longer-term measures which I mentioned in Douglas, I think that most of them have won considerable agreement and approval this afternoon. I would like to say something on three points of the longer-term measures. First of all, mature entrants. I agree strongly with what my hon. Friend the Member for Woodside and my hon. Friend the Member for Epping said about mature entrants. I am quite sure, looking ahead over the years, that they are going to be an important source of supply and one which provides an element of stability. Anything that we can do to encourage these entrants we 871 must do. A number of the measures which I mentioned at Douglas were designed to attract the flow of mature students. The question of day colleges appeals particularly to them. Part-time training as part of our educational system is designed almost entirely to attract mature students.
On the question of grants mentioned by one of my hon. Friends, I would say that this is certainly in my mind and is something which I shall be studying over the next few months. Whether we shall be able to improve the position remains to be seen.
I was very interested that at least three, if not more, hon. Members were prepared in principle to approve the notion of a four-term year. There was general agreement that we could and should improve the productivity of the training colleges and use their plant more fully than today, and I was particularly interested that no fewer than three hon. Members mentioned the minority report of Sir William Alexander. It has not yet been published but it is widely known in the educational world that he has written and signed a minority Report with a number of others on the National Advisory Council.
§ Sir E. Boyle
In view of that remark, which I am sure the House will fully understand, may I ask when the Report will in fact be published, now that we know about it?
§ Mr. Crosland
It has only just been received by me. We shall consider it and I hope that it will be printed and published in early June which is the fastest that we can produce it on the grounds of printing.
The position is that we have this minority Report proposing the four-term year and a number of other suggestions from chief education officers, and local authorities, like the "Box and Cox" one which the West Riding is about to try out. We have had a number of ideas like those put forward this afternoon in two or three of the speeches of my hon. Friends. We have reached the position when all these things have been argued for long enough and now we have to do something. I propose in the next month or so to decide between 872 the various things or decide in terms of experiments with them all and make definite proposals with particular colleges for particular experiments. The time for discussion has gone and we must put something into practice.
A number of hon. Members mentioned the question of ancillary help whether inside or outside the classroom. The hon. Member for Burton read me a friendly lecture of warning on this point and I wish to say a word about the matter in order to clarify the issue. Hon. Members have asked, and after my speech at Douglas a number of people have asked, what exactly do we have in mind. There are some types of help which are not a matter of dispute. This applies particularly to certain forms of help outside the classroom—library assistants, laboratory assistants, workshop technicians and people of that kind and particularly secretarial and clerical help. There is no dispute about this inside the teaching profession and I wish to make clear here, as I did at Douglas, that I should like to see more of this kind of help and pressure put on local authorities to extend this sort of help. Then there is the question of certain types of help inside the classroom and it is here that there tends to be a certain emotion in discussions on the subject. I want to make certain things absolutely clear. Nothing for which I am asking involves any dilution inside the profession. I am not for a moment suggesting that people should come into classrooms and do anything without supervision by a qualified teacher. I am not for a moment suggesting that unqualified teachers or other persons should actually teach reading or the basic skills. I am not suggesting any of these things at all.
What I am suggesting is that there may be various ways in which, to use a phrase used by one of my hon. Friends, we can make life easier, more useful and more tolerable for the teacher by providing certain kinds of help inside the classroom which do not involve dilution or actual teaching. The kind of thing which I had in mind would be to help with play or reading stories, or collecting and distributing materials, or help to prepare and maintain equipment, or the supervision of one group in an infants' class while the teacher was engaged in teaching another group or was concentrating on them.
873 All I am asking is that this subject should be discussed by all of us with open minds to see whether at the end of the day we can get something which will ease our teaching problem, and at the same time—here I agree with a number of hon. Members—will raise the status as well as the efficiency of the teacher. The present position, as a result of a decision of the National Advisory Council, is that this subject was remitted to a joint committee of the teachers organisations and the local authorities which, as hon. Members will know, is engaged in sending out a questionnaire to try to elicit information which nobody at this moment knows; we do not know how much auxiliary help of different kinds is currently being used. This questionnaire is designed to elicit that information and then the Joint Committee will see what further action they should take. I have no intention of interfering with that Committee, but I want to make it absolutely clear that, although I shall not interfere with the work of the Committee, I shall not let this subject disappear from the agenda. I shall keep it there, and that is that.
There is one last words which I should like to say about visual aids and educational television, about which the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth asked me one or two questions. I entirely agree with him that these mechanical aids to teaching—I presume that we are now talking about the less controversial ones—are making a considerable contribution. Certainly educational T.V. has made big strides in the last few years. Only two years ago, in January, 1963, less than 5,000 schools or colleges were registered with the B.B.C. to receive school broadcasts by television. This January the number has gone up to nearly 9,000. There are 31,000 institutions which can receive sound broadcasts alone. Closed circuit television, which is more and more important in this respect, is already being used as an aid in 25 out of the 32 universities. It has been installed in more than 30 technical colleges and in about 20 teacher training colleges. There is a considerable spread and the speed of progress tends to accelerate all the time.
Of course, it is not only in educational television that we are interested. We are also interested in programmed learning 874 of various kinds. Here I note the comment of my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian and will look into that. One feature of this whole subject of programmed learning is that, until recently, there has been no one central research centre, no one central place to which one could go to discover what was happening. Because of this, and in order to try to improve this situation, we have asked the University of Birmingham to establish a research and documentation centre for programmed learning. I am glad to say that the university has accepted our invitation to do this. I think that this will bring an element of organisation and a more systematic element into the whole matter.
Inevitably after a debate of this kind, I have made disjointed remarks because I wanted to try to take up all the points which have been raised. Perhaps I could conclude by saying that we are all agreed on how desperately urgent and important a problem this is. The more I go into the problem, however, the more I am clear that it can be solved within a measurable period of years. I do not mean next year or the year after—it will not be next year or the year after—but within a measurable period, this problem will be beaten. It will only be beaten, however, if we are all prepared to accept certain devices and attitudes which are not completely traditional. That means that we shall, in terms of the use of colleges and how we train people, have to ask people to give up some traditional attitudes. But if we can get general agreement on this and a real sense of urgency, I think that, at some time in the next few years, we shall have this problem finally beaten and have classes of a size that, at last, we can all be proud of.
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
A wealth of educational experience has been brought into this debate. I am sure that we are all very grateful to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) for moving this Motion. One of my hon. Friends said that one of the things which aggravates the problem is the increasing birth rate, and that he would not blame the Secretary of State for that. I am sure that nobody could blame my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) for it either.
875 I am sorry that I have not the time to speak longer, because I think that it has certainly been proved that the problem affects Birmingham and all the constituencies around mine. In fact, I understand that children were recently sent to school only to find that the teachers were simply not available to teach them, so bad has the situation there become. One of the main causes, I should have thought, was the prosperity of industry, now and in the immediate past, and the competing influences for labour, not only in education but in almost every field. Of course, there has been—
§ It being 4 o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.