HC Deb 01 February 1965 vol 705 cc837-62

Motion mode, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Gourlay.]

9.15 p.m.

Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)

It is with considerable regret and a feeling of deep disappointment that I raise the subject matter of the Adjournment debate this evening.

For almost 20 years the growing problem of teacher shortage in Scotland has cast its shadow on Scottish education. Innumerable committees and working parties have attempted to grapple with the problem and have produced reports. As one wise observer recently remarked, there will soon be a shortage of pigeonholes for the reports. In my opinion, there exists a persistent and blind complacency in face of a deteriorating staff situation.

In the latest available Report on Education in Scotland, 1963, there are some almost disastrous figures. There is a teacher shortage in Scotland of 3,482. In reply to a Question in June last, the then Secretary of State for Scotland, the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), told me that the total shortage was expected to fall to 3,000 in 1964 and 1965. I wonder how far, if he were still in office, he would be prepared or willing to adjust that considerably under-estimated figure.

In the estimation of teacher shortage, there are the widest variations among the so-called experts. If we turn, first, to Appendix I of the Robbins Report on page 146 we see an estimated teacher shortage of 3,000 in 1970–71. But when we study the Fourth Report of the Departmental Committee on Teacher Supply, page 32, we find an estimated deficiency of 5,150 in 1970.

Lord Robbins goes further. He indicates that if Scotland were to adopt the English regulations on oversized classes —and why should we not do so in Scotland? —the shortage in 1970–71, taking into account the needs involved in the raising of the school leaving age, would be 8,300. There must be something wrong, or someone must have a miraculous touch, if one person estimates a teacher deficiency of 5,000 and someone else, ostensibly with the same facts and figures available, arrives at a shortage of 3,000. But it is safe to say that in Scotland in 1970–71, consequent on the raising of the school leaving age, the shortage will be nearer 10,000 than even 8,300.

I should like to ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State if he will invite the Departmental Committee on Teacher Supply in Scotland to issue a fifth report which takes into consideration the effects of the Industrial Training Act, 1964, and the industrial training boards to be set up under that Act. We may then get a more accurate picture of the massive shortage of teachers. It is essential and fundamental to the whole approach and attempt at solution of the problem that we should get a realistic picture.

I should like to break down the figures given in the Report on Education in Scotland for 1963 and to show what is happening in the City of Glasgow, one of whose constituencies I represent. Glasgow, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland knows, has one-fifth of the total school population of Scotland. In October, 1963, there was a shortage of 1,063 teachers, 674 in the primary schools and 389 in the secondary schools. That position, I very much regret to say, is worsening. I ask myself, therefore, how this acute, massive and growing teacher shortage is reflecting itself in education. It is doing so in two ways: in tremendous oversized classes and in growing short- and part-time education in the schools.

Again, I take the Glasgow figures, which are accurate—because I find great difficulty in accepting as accurate some of the other figures which are quoted. The figures given in the Education Report for 1963 show that in the primary schools, excluding nursery classes, there were 858 oversized classes; in secondary schools, excluding practical classes, there were 480; and in secondary practical classes, there were oversized classes to the number of 679. In our special schools, a sector in which we are required lo give that little extra bit of attention and where we have done all we possibly can to recruit the right type of teacher to help these unfortunate pupils, the 1963 Report indicates oversized classes to the extent of 97.

In the Report, there is only one reference to part-time education and it is most unfortunate that that reference is to the City of Glasgow. When we look at what I regard as the more accurate figures as revealed by the situation in Glasgow—I make no boast of this; I do not say this in any critical fashion, because I realise the tremendous efforts that the education authority, the director of education and his staff and the teachers are making to cope with this almost impossible situation—we find that in Glasgow 720 or 11.8 per cent. of classes are over size. Some 2,380 pupils in 30 primary classes are on part-time education and the forecast is that during the forthcoming spring term the number will unfortunately increase still more.

There is a very unhappy situation in the City of Glasgow in so far as the incidence of part-time education is largely in the cast end of the City. One could almost call the cast end of the City of Glasgow an under-privileged area as compared with some of the other parts of the City. In one primary school in the cast end of Glasgow, there were no fewer than 50 changes of staff in one year. We should try for a moment to ponder and allow ourselves to appreciate the significance of an educational situation such as is revealed by the primary school which I have just mentioned, in which there were 50 changes of staff in one year. What effect does this have upon the education of the children?

It is, of course, well understood that to travel across the length and breadth of the City of Glasgow is sometimes much more inconveniencing than going to live in an area where the teacher is given a remote area fee. I say it is well understood. I think it is by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, as it was pretty well grasped, I think, by his predecessor in office. At least, when teachers have gone to remote areas they are resident there, and life there is a bit more tolerable than it is for some of our teachers who have to travel through the sprawling outskirts, way out to the cast end of Glasgow, almost to the borders of Baillieston and beyond; while to come across from the west end of Glasgow is a journey which can involve as much as one-and-a-half to two hours per day, with two or three changes of transport vehicles.

Therefore, I regret that the former Secretary of State did not put into operation the argument which was adduced some considerable time ago, namely, that there should be granted to teachers in Glasgow a special allowance such as has been granted for many years to people teaching in remote areas. However, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State knows as well as I do that he will be meeting shortly a deputation from Glasgow Corporation, whose purpose is again to ask that favourable consideration should be given to a special allowance being paid to Glasgow teachers because of the difficulties they experience in teaching in Glasgow. It is as difficult, if not more difficult, to teach in some parts of the City of Glasgow as it is to teach in any other part of Scotland, and it is often much more congenial to teach in a remote area—congenial from the social point of view—than sometimes it is to teach in some parts of the City of Glasgow.

What I find now is that an increasing number of my constituents and others are coming to me, as I am sure they are coming to some of my colleagues in this House, and the local authorities, asking for tutors to be recommended who may be able to supplement the part-time education which is being provided in some schools in Glasgow. Therefore I should like, with all humility, to remind my right hon. Friend that the very first Section of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1962, says: It shall be the duty of every education authority to secure that adequate and efficient provision is made throughout their area of all forms of primary, secondary and further education. I wonder whether anyone, any education authority, particularly in the industrialised West, can say that that very first Section of that Act, which lays this duty upon the authorities in the provision of education, is being discharged.

Parents are anxious, because parents realise that nowadays there are changing habits and changing ways of life which will affect their children, and that, for instance, the ordinary labouring jobs will no longer be available in the new technological age. They realise that, in this new technological age, education will play a very important part, and so responsible parents, being somewhat alarmed that some education authorities have not carried out what is laid upon them by Statute, are prepared to pay out of their own money towards their children's education, although they con-tribute substantially through the rates; they are quite willing to spend a little bit more to supplement what the State or the local authorities ought to be providing.

They are anxious to get guidance on how their children's inadequate education can be brought up to a standard which will make them at least equal when it comes to the question of deciding what their future line of education should be, whether it should be academic or non-academic, or whether it should be technical. They are anxious that their children should be given the best opportunity in the primary schools which lay the foundation of our educational System, and that they should not be denied the opportunity of a fair chance.

In one or two instances parents have told me that after obtaining the services of part-time teachers their offspring have made tremendous and rapid developments in their academic attainments. This shows that if the authorities, through the State, had been provided with a reasonable System of teacher supply, and with school buildings, a great deal more could be made of the educational talents of our youngsters than is being achieved at the present time. For many years the cry has been that we must increase our educational reservoir so that more than a mere 5 or 10 per cent. of pupils can be brought up to university or higher technical education standard. Yet here, right at the beginning of the system, we are wasting talent which, as the employment of private tutors has shown, can produce excellent results if given the proper opportunity to develop. This is a sad and melancholy comment on an educational system in the challenging 'sixties.

I know that a Committee is studying this problem. My right hon. Friend's predecessor was able to get out of his difficulty by setting up another Committee to examine methods whereby we could deal with the teacher shortage in special areas. This is no solution to the problem. When it became known that teachers in Glasgow, and those in areas close by, were likely to get the additional £50 payment which was envisaged and which we thought would go through the House, those teachers who had indicated that they were proposing to leave the city decided to remain, not merely because they were likely to get the extra money, but because they regarded that sum as some recognition of the fact that they had to work under very difficult conditions from the point of view of transport and the situation in some school buildings.

No education authority in Scotland has a plenitude of teachers, but it has been shown that in the industrial West education authorities are finding it desperately hard to hold the line. It is a great tribute to our teachers that somehow they are managing to do the job, and I am sure that everyone will agree with me when I say that I am delighted that we have such an army of men and women who are so devoted to their work and who are doing a grand job in the face of almost overwhelming difficulties.

The fact is, however, that the shortage of teachers is having a disastrous effect on education. I therefore appeal to my right hon. Friend not to introduce the advanced grade certificate which is being discussed at the present lime. At a lime when there is such a grave shortage of teachers, especially in secondary schools, and in certain specialised subjects, it would be madness to introduce this certificate. I think that to do so would be unfair to the majority of schools in Scotland. One or two might benefit, but not in the areas that I have instanced this evening.

I still adhere to the view that the introduction of a teachers' salary structure is one of the main contributory factors to the shortage of teachers, together with conditions of service and pensions. The other day a very small education pensions Bill was introduced which may go some way towards solving the problem, although I do not think that it will go far. It will provide for a contributory pension schema on the part of teachers. But after the debate upstairs I learned that those teachers who are compelled to join it after the Bill becomes an Act will have to pay 2 per cent. to the financing of their pensions.

There still remains the basic fact that if we are to attract teachers in this period of grave shortage something dramatic will have to be done about salaries. I welcome the presence of the former Secretary of State for Scotland, the right hon. Member for Argyll, because during the pensions debate to which I have referred he said: I have always felt that it was right in a particular case when we are short of teachers to try to give, perhaps, a little lead to the teaching professions over others …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Grand Committee, 21st January, 1965, c. 23.] I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State shares that view. I strongly subscribe to it. In this situation, faced with a grave shortage which is having such a deleterious effect upon our children's education, this is what must be done. Many will say that if we do it in this field others will clamour for similar treatment. I say that we should deal with them when they come; let us try to deal with this problem now. The year 1970 is only five years ahead. We have been playing around with this problem for almost 20 years without making any impact upon it.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will give serious thought to proposals to introduce an increase of pay. I am not too enamoured of the regulations which are at present being considered by education authorities relating to a new teachers' salary structure, where, by almost backdoor methods, we are providing for increases. Everyone is being promoted. Everyone will be an officer, and there will be no troops. It would have been far more honest to take these proposed increases and instead of giving people additional pips on their shoulders, or stripes on their arms, to have put some additional money into the basic salary, so as to attract people into the profession.

I know that this provision will help matters in some areas, but it is not the honest, straightforward way to deal with the problem. Any money that is available ought not to be used as proposed under these regulations.

The Education Department, education authorities, colleges of education and this House have decided to give authority to build many more colleges for women in Scotland, but I still feel that we require more men in the primary and junior secondary schools. We should have done something in that direction, too. We should not merely have built colleges for women; we should have looked at the whole question of teacher recruitment in Scotland, and the method of training.

I share the professional opinion, which is strongly held in Scotland, that men should not be admitted to the three-year course to which they can now be admitted and by which they can become qualified as teachers. When we consider the situation in some colleges of education we find that substantial numbers of people can enter a training college, take Chapter 6 qualifications—which may be physical training, technical training or art training—follow that with a three years' course in the college, having been admitted on a basis which is far less than that required for male applicants to enter a university. They can then proceed to do another 12 months at the college and then become fully-fledged Chapter 4 teachers.

There is another way whereby we are recruiting Chapter 4 male teachers into the profession without their being graduates. This is not unknown. Quite a large number of people who take Chapter 6 training can go on to take the additional 12 months' training and so become qualified as primary school teachers.

Despite this, there is a welcome new move afoot. We are beginning to recognise that the present professional degree of, say, M.A. or B.Sc., does not necessarily provide the best possible training for a teacher. This is a view which I have for long advocated. I am glad that it is being accepted and that some action is being taken on it. This new line of approach to recruitment to the teaching profession may help us in the provision of the necessary number of teachers in this period of shortage.

I therefore welcome the suggestion that there should be provided an alternative course—alternative to the ordinary university degree of three years, plus a year at a college—of four years for men and women. I fail to distinguish, from the teaching point of view, between men and women. If it is good enough for a woman to become a teacher after three years at a training college—and many of them are far better teachers than some of the graduates who do only one year at the college—it should be good enough for men. After all, we have equal pay, so let us have a professional, graduate teaching staff in our schools.

Bearing this in mind—and accepting it for both men and women—there should be a four-year course for men and women, to be taken chiefly at the college of education. At the end of the period of training there would then be given an award of a bachelor of education degree by the university with which the college is linked. This is not my idea. Not only has this suggestion been discussed, it has gone beyond the realms of discussion and Edinburgh University has announced that it is almost ready to proceed with the provision of such a degree for people who have studied at the College of Education in Edinburgh, the governors of which will have been in touch with and, acting with the University Senate, will advise on a series of courses which will better fit the individual—and I mean male or female—to be a teacher in our Scottish schools.

I welcome the fact that Aberdeen is about to promote an ordinance to establish a similar degree. Unfortunately, Glasgow is at present taking only the first steps in this direction and I understand that St. Andrews is marking time until Queen's College has attained university status. If we are to have this idea as a new policy—and I hope that we will be given the views of the Secretary of State on it—I believe that we will be going the right way towards solving the teacher shortage problem in Scotland.

One thing that has puzzled me for years is the emigration of teachers. At an estimate, 95 per cent. of the entry to colleges of education, and to universities in the case of males, have training wholly and exclusively financed by the State. I think that there is something morally wrong when, immediately after the State has provided them with the wherewithal to earn their living and they have partaken of the financial strength of the country, they should listen to the blandishments and wiles of people from Australia, New Zealand and Canada who offer them salaries that we in this country just cannot possibly think of, and we receive no return whatsoever for what we have spent on their training. Would it be unreasonable to ask that teachers who come in on special recruitment schemes should give at least x years' service before emigrating so that we might gel from them some service in return for the financial expenditure we have laid out on them?

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland is reported to have told a deputation from the Scottish Trades Union Congress last Friday that new sources of recruitment of teachers were being urgently considered, as it was clear that the present sources would be insufficient for the growing needs. I invite either my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State or my hon. Friend to give some indication of the form that these new schemes for the recruitment of teachers that are to be urgently put into operation are likely to take. We have had all the returns, we have had the facts; unfortunately, we still have the teacher shortage with us.

I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will recognise that immediate action is desperately required. He knows that deeds are better than dreams, and if he and his Ministers display the same sense of urgency to avoid disaster in education which they so often, so brilliantly and so justifiably voiced in Opposition, I firmly believe that education in Scotland will be restored to its erstwhile preeminent position in the world.

9.49 p.m.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)

I have long wanted to speak in the House of Commons on some of the problems of Scottish education, and am, therefore, glad to have this present opportunity to do so. I am sure that we all recognise that there is no solution for teacher shortage in Scotland, as in England, outside a total change in the attitude of society as a whole towards education and teaching.

I am particularly aware of this because, out of the 15 years of teaching I did before coming to this House, 13 were spent under a Tory Administration. My own school in Lanarkshire was divided into two by two main streets, one going to East Kilbride and one to Hamilton. Children had to move along and across those main streets. Conditions like those affect the likelihood of people entering the profession. Few pupils, short of dedication—and, thank goodness, many are dedicated—receive much encouragement to enter again places such as that.

The task is not only to put forward an immediate solution, but to put Scottish education where it once was. Remember, we led the world 400 years ago in democratic education. We not only have to make Scotland educationally interested, but to make it education-centred. This is the only way forward for Scotland as a whole. To solve the immediate problem we face, I suggest to the Secretary of State a few short-term measures which he might consider before embarking on the long-term projects which will involve vastly increased expenditure.

The gravest shortage, the biggest wastage, is that of married women teachers. The majority are teaching for only two or three years after leaving training college. We perhaps do not need nursery classes in every school, but the provision of more nursery schools in every region will help married teachers to come back to the profession. Last week I visited many schools in my constituency and this is one of the questions I put to headmasters. All agreed that such a provision would bring back a substantial return of married women teachers who had left the schools.

Sir M. Galpern

Glasgow education authority adopted precisely that course of action and provided nursery schools, but there was not a single applicant.

Mr. Buchan

Because I was aware of that I made another check on the situation among married women teachers and other teachers. I found that there is a new mood, which I hope the Secretary of State will be able to push into action. My experience in the last few years has led me to believe that this could bring a reasonable return of married women to the profession.

We lose many teachers at the point where students leave university. When a young man or woman leaves university he or she looks at means of possible employment and often goes into industry. We ought to attract them then, but we are asking them to attend in training college for another year on a grant as opposed to going into commerce and earning a salary. I ask my right hon. Friend to look sympathetically at the idea of paying the first year salary to students entering training college.

We should consider means of recruiting into teaching some graduates who have already entered industry and commerce. A number of science graduates feel frustrated and do not find it a happy occupation trying to prove that so-and-so washes whiter than white. I think that we could attract many of them to return to teaching. If we could attract even 20 or 25 of such scientists in Scotland every year that would help the position in secondary schools.

We should also consider, what teachers have long argued for, a full pension being paid to retired teachers who return to the profession. At present, they can come in for only a limited lime each term because if they teach over a longer period their pensions are cut. That may seem a sad reflection that we have to consider bringing back older teachers, but nevertheless, but for this limitation, we might be able to attract many more back to the profession.

Together with the possible influx of retired teachers and married women teachers, we should ask headmasters and authorities to reconsider the form of time-tabling. For example, in secondary schools one teacher takes four or five classes. The value of this is that one class has the same teacher throughout the week. If, through part-time teaching, two women could be persuaded to return, one for two mornings and three afternoons and the other for three mornings and two afternoons, by careful timetabling one class could continue with one teacher. If headmasters found this difficult—it is enormously difficult—there are such things as computers.

We can conserve a good deal of teaching lime, because some labour is wasted. For instance, I taught history. It would have been easy for me in certain periods of history to lecture to a class of 200. This was as easy as teaching 20 for certain parts of the week. In a week of five periods of history, there was no reason why two periods could not have been lectures to all the pupils in one year. In this way, again with a certain amount of subtlety of timetabling, some conservation could take place.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) on the need for an education faculty. What has been worrying me about the drive for recruitment over the years is that the answers which have been brought forward by the Tory Party have tended to be connected with lower qualifications, when the need is always for increasing qualifications. An education faculty would be one way of achieving this, both by reducing the lime taken and by providing people with proper educational training whilst they obtained a university degree.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State should seriously consider the suggestion for a special recruitment scheme. The concept of the late developer is not merely an idle concept. I have met student after student who failed utterly at school, but who, for one reason, or another developed later. We know far too little about human development to write off so many. I have met many who would make first-class teachers if it were made easier for them to enter the profession later by means of a special recruitment scheme. I have been a referee for five adult entrants. Three have taken first-class honours. Three out of the five have also run into bureaucratic difficulties in administration which I had to help to solve.

Undoubtedly, the existence of uncertificated teachers, with all the odium this brings on the profession as a whole, acts as a disincentive. I do not think that we can burke this question. We are often told of the high qualifications of certain uncertificated teachers. This is true. We are told that many of them are competent teachers. This is also true. If they have such high qualifications, it should be easy for them to gain the rest of the qualifications and obtain certification. The training colleges must co-operate and lay on the right type of course so that these people gain certification.

It must be remembered however, that the standard of many of them is very low. I know of one uncertificated teacher who was brought in as an addition to the English-teaching staff. He was brought down to the principal English teacher, who was also taking history. The new-comer was told, "This is your class. They are doing The '45." The newcomer looked rather surprised and asked, "What is The '45?" He was told, "You know—the Jacobite rebellion". He said, "I have never heard of it".

He was asked, "What are your qualifications in history?" He said "I have not got any". He was asked, "What are your qualifications in English?" He said, "I have not got any". He was asked, "What are your qualifications?" He said, "Maths". He was asked, "What are your qualifications in maths?" He said, "I just failed first-year maths at university". This is a true story. It happened in my own area. The existence of this and the odium it brings upon us acts as a disincentive to others.

It would seem to many teachers that the old economic law of supply and demand has not always operated in terms of teachers' conditions and salaries. The lime has now come when education should be placed in the centre of our way of life. I know from discussions I had with teachers last week that many teachers in Scotland have confidence both in this Administration and in the Minister in charge of Scottish education. I assure her that she will have their enthusiastic support if she introduces some of these measures.

9.59 p.m.

Mr. Neil Carmichael (Glasgow, Woodside)

I am very pleased to have the opportunity, which has been provided by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern), of participating in this debate on the shortage of teachers in Scotland and education generally. I should not like to compete with either my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston or with my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan)—

It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. O'Malley.]

Mr. Carmichael

The last two speakers are particularly well informed and are experts on this subject, having devoted a great deal of lime to it, one in an administrative capacity and the other in a practical leaching capacity. However, in a debate such as this there should be an opportunity for someone who regards the topic from a more detached point of view to make some comments.

The question of sources of recruitment of teachers has been raised, and I am in considerable agreement with the comments of my hon. Friends. Everyone accepts that one important source is among married women and that if we could find the correct method of inducement we should be able to increase the staffs of many of our schools by recruiting women who have taught for only two or three years. Many of them, as their families begin to leave them, are no doubt anxious to find some other interest, and their interest and knowledge of teaching ought to be tapped.

I know that this was tried in Glasgow and that there was no response. But the fact that no response was obtained in one instance is no reason why an attempt should not be made to carry out a survey to find out why many married women do not respond. With a little market research we could perhaps find the right methods of attracting these people back into teaching.

On the question of the attractions of industry, I have been surprised at the arguments that some teachers have put forward. I have been in industry for a long time and I know that there has always been this myth about the opportunities in industry. I believe that while a number of people in industry get tremendous opportunities and that some graduates get interesting jobs—we hear of them flying all over the world, and so on—there are still a number of graduates in industry who are not so well off as those who are engaged in teaching, particularly those with honours degrees. This myth of opportunities in industry has grown up and it is very difficult to kill it. I think, however, that we should put it over to teachers as strongly as possible that this idea that industry is a vat of honey that they can jump into is quite wrong. Opportunities exist in industry, but for a very limited number.

My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West referred to a difficulty which I, too, have found in my constituency, in which area there is a university. I refer to the question of bureaucracy when people wish to gain extra qualifications. I know of people who have obtained a teacher's training grant to enable them to get an ordinary teaching degree. Having got the degree, they have taught the higher grades, such as the fourth and fifth years, in mathematics, although they were paid only for teaching the lower grades. They have then asked whether they could try to obtain the extra qualifications to allow them to teach and to be paid for the grade in which they were teaching, and the Scottish Education Department has on a number of occasions refused the request. It is most frustrating when people who have shown that they are able to do the job by getting rapid results are treated as second-class citizens in the teaching profession. This is something which should be looked into.

On the subject of part-time teachers I hesitate to question the experience of my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West, but my experience from discussions with many teachers and headmasters in my area is that as things are at present they are not very happy with part-time teaching, for a number of reasons. It may not be true, and it may be a matter which we should investigate, but there is a feeling that some part-time teachers are unreliable. It is said that many of them agree to attend school three mornings a week, but occasionally they do not turn up and they send the timetable haywire. This may be an exaggerated view, but there is a feeling in my area that part-time teachers are not as reliable as others.

Another and more valid point about part-time teaching is that some headmasters have told me that, good as some of these people are, they never become quite part of the school. Because they are part-time teachers and they have other commitments outside, they are always in a hurry to get away as soon as the classes are over. They never become integrated with the school, and headmasters believe that integration with the school is as much part of the education of children as the more academic aspects of learning.

I am greatly concerned about one matter in connection with the recruiting of teachers, from the social point of view as well as from the point of view of the crying need of many children in Glasgow. I have had experience, as has my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston, of schools with a ridiculous turnover of teachers in the school year. I presented prizes recently at a school in the east end of Glasgow where the turnover of teachers was 50 per cent. of the staff in one year. This causes me great concern because many people in our society slip through the net of all the educational processes which we have provided in Scotland in the last 20 or 30 years.

We should be careful about applying an age limit beyond which people cannot enter a profession. If a man or woman can give 10 years' service in teaching we should be happy to have that service. That period would not be too short, but we tend to say that a man is too old for a job or for retraining at 45. In some cases in Scotland a man is not given a grant to train at that age, whereas south of the Border he would be given a grant up to the age of 50 to train for the same job. After all, we train many young women teachers who in the end provide only three or four years' service.

Three years ago it was said that the expectation of working life of an almoner, after intensive training, was only two or three years, but we are still prepared to give grants to train almoners because they are doing a vital job. I believe that a teacher's job is just as vital, and that if someone comes along at the age of 45 or 50 and is able to work for 10 years we should be prepared to take him on.

There are great difficulties here, but I believe that there is a tremendous reservoir of ability in the country. People of this age, however, fell that it is too much to start working for even the modified examination in order to attain the entrance qualification for university. We mus[...] cut through a great deal of the difficulty, and I believe that we could have the co-operation of many university departments in so doing.

After speaking to a fair number of people who have had experience in extramural classes and adult education generally, I consider that one of the first things necessary would be to start a fairly intensive course for people willing to train for teaching just in English. The purpose of this would be to give them a proper understanding of English.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston said, so many of those who left school some time ago have been living in the under-privileged parts of the City of Glasgow, and they have not had anything like the opportunities for cultural activity which, perhaps, others more fortunate than they have had. They have abundant intelligence, but the first thing they need is a basic course in learning to read and handling ideas. Many of them strive to get just this by extra-mural classes at university and elsewhere. We need to extend the opportunities considerably, and in this way we could create an excellent source of recruitment and interest.

In the present desperate situation, I ask for a crash programme, and I suggest that the extra-mural departments of the universities be asked to collaborate and suspend their present work for this purpose. I have spoken to people in the universities—it has been just a matter of discussing some ideas—and I am fairly sure that the extra-mural departments of many of our universities would be willing, for a few years, to lay aside the work which they are doing and concentrate specifically on training adult people to pass the initial stages before entering on a course leading to a teaching qualification. I seriously ask the Secretary of State to think of making such an approach.

We could do a great deal more within the universities themselves. There has been much discussion in the universities, particularly following the Robbins Report, of the relative position of people doing research and teaching. We should think in terms of the next five to eight years, tackling these matters really vigorously, and say to people in the universities that we want them to give up a lot of some of the work in which they are more interested so as to concentrate attention on the present need. Of course, many university people are much more interested in research than in teaching, but, if we approached them and asked them to give up some of their research and concentrate, for the next five years or so, on this need, giving them some sabbatical years to do their research later, we could, I believe, do a great deal.

Nothing will be done on the cheap, of course. We cannot expect the benefit of co-operation from the universities in doing this training unless we are willing to give up a great deal ourselves as a Government. But this is the sort of plan which I suggest to my right hon. Friend. We should start by recruiting people in the age-group 30 to 50, ask the extramural departments to undertake the preliminary training of them, and run completely separate courses for this purpose. I would even go so far as to say that we should take over some of the empty office buildings in Glasgow specifically for the job.

If we demonstrated a real willingness to press ahead and spend some money, showing good faith, I believe that the back of the problem could be broken within the next five years.

10.14 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mrs. Judith Hart)

The whole House will be grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) for giving us the opportunity to have this most interesting hour and a half s debate. We expected a short Adjournment debate but, as a result of one of the opportunities which the House offers from lime to time, it has been possible to have contributions from other hon. Members. This is, I know, a subject on which many people have been waiting to put forward suggestions and make their views known, and we are all grateful to my hon. Friend for the opportunity which he has afforded.

My hon. Friend raised two very important questions, one affecting the problem in Glasgow, where teachers are in particularly short supply, and the other was the wider question of increasing the supply of teachers in Scotland as a whole. To deal first with the Glasgow question. There are other areas like Glasgow in this respect. The Glasgow problem is not unique, though the scale is particularly formidable. The neighbouring Counties of Lanark, Renfrew and Dunbarton share Glasgow's difficulties, and so to some extent do other counties such as Ayr and Fife. But Glasgow is the only authority which has had to resort regularly to part-time education in some of its schools.

This is where we have to make a distinction in our minds. All those who, like myself, welcome the diminishing use of uncertificated teachers recognise that there is a difference between the uncertificated teacher who has had no training and is completely substandard— the kind that my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) instanced—and the teacher who has had a good deal of training, perhaps not the kind that is specifically recognised in Scotland, one who has had a good deal of teaching experience but who is not formally certificated.

If we make this distinction between the two kinds who do not possess Scottish certification, we can recognise the extent to which other authorities may be right or wrong in seeking to use uncertificated teachers as a solution to the problem rather than turning to part-time education.

There is no easy solution to the problems of Glasgow. My hon. Friend mentioned the question of paying a special allowance to teachers in Glasgow. A committee has been set up under the chairmanship of Dame Jean Roberts to review the problem. Its first meeting will take place on 25th February. It is only as a result of careful and dispassionate consideration of the many difficulties involved that we are likely to arrive at practical suggestions which will reinforce the voluntary restraint in recruitment on the part of better staffed areas with which we have had some success, although it has been limited, in the last few years.

My hon. Friend suggested that he would rather that we postponed the Advanced Grade of the Scottish Certificate of Education. I want to make clear that there is no question of this at present. The matter is under study by a committee appointed by the new Examination Board, and it will be looking at all aspects of the question of the introduction of an Advanced Grade. But there is no question of its immediately having any effect one way or the other on the way in which we can use existing sources of teachers.

I have some figures to give. I know that my hon. Friend is particularly concerned that we should arrive at some accurate assessment of the statistics of the teacher situation. First, my right hon. Friend and I have been giving very careful consideration to all this since we came into our present position. It is clear that this is the most urgent aspect of education in Scotland confronting us at present. It demands the greatest urgency in our consideration, thinking and action. I can assure my hon. Friend that no efforts are being spared by my right hon. Friend to consider all possible steps that can be taken, either steps which have been under consideration for some time or new steps that have not been considered up to now. We are looking at every possibility of increasing the supply of teachers, because only if we get enough teachers can we begin to provide the quality and quantity of education that our children have a right to expect if they are to be able to develop their full potentialities, on the one hand, to play their part in the development of our society and, on the other, to satisfy their own needs in the development of personality.

Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)

This is very interesting, and we agree with the sentiments which my hon. Friend has expressed, but will she, for our Information, give us some suggestions about the ideas which she has in mind for curing this very difficult problem?

Mrs. Hart

I hope that my hon. Friend will give me time to do it. That is what I am proposing to do. I will look, first, at the size of the problem. One of the paradoxes is that the shortage goes on increasing.

In October, 1963, there was a total of 37,794 full-time and 963 part-time qualified teachers in schools. By October, 1964, the two totals had gone up respectively by 428 and 198. But, on the other hand, in October, 1963, the education authorities estimated that, to fill the vacancies and replace uncertificated teachers, there was a need for 3,480 more teachers. The corresponding figure to this—the "shortage" figure—in October, 1964, was 3,600.

Now I turn to future prospects. There is the raising of the school-leaving age facing us and the need to cut the size of classes. First, there is the need to change our rules in Scotland so that we can at last have the standards existing in England and Wales and later on we must cut down the number in the classes even further. We do not want to make the mistake of scaling down our ambitions in this respect. The correct way is to study the problem fully and then we can work out the ways in which we are to get nearer to a solution, even though we know that that solution cannot be reached very quickly.

If we do that, we find that there will be an overall shortage in 1970—with the raising of the school-leaving age—of 4,000 teachers. Looking further ahead there will be a more extensive shortage in 1975 if we are to cut down the size of classes. The figure of 4,000 in 1970 is based on leaving the size of classes as it is now.

I was asked whether the Departmental Committee on the Supply of Teachers could not make a fresh estimate of supply and demand and my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston quoted the figures of the Robbins Report. May I make it clear that the estimates made by the Robbins Report on the basis of the expansion of higher education which it recommended supersede the estimates in the 1962 Report of the Departmental Committee? It is on the basis of the Robbins figure that we have been arriving at the estimates of shortage that I have quoted. These can be regarded as the reliable estimates at present.

Now I come to the action that can be taken. Some hon. Members may have read what I said in Dundee recently. We must face the fact that this is one of the most difficult aspects of the social programme. One can plan and organise the use and the deployment of physical materials and finance but one cannot organise the individual choices of men and women. That is what makes this a particularly difficult problem and it is in the context of that realisation that we must devise our proposals.

There are four possible courses we can take. We can, on the one hand, expand the proportion of students in universities whom we attract in to teaching in face of the competition offered by other professions. Of course, there is scope here but not a great deal because there are other professions which can claim equal shortages and which are also vital to our whole future, just as teaching is.

It is not easy to foresee more than limited success, whatever measures we take, in inducing a much higher proportion of university students to enter teaching. We shall get larger numbers as the number of students increases but, from the proportion alone, we shall not necessarily get all we need.

There is the possibility of persuading retired teachers to stay on longer. We are taking steps to examine closely the question of paying full pension and pay to retired teachers. We are not in a position yet to state the results of our work but I hope that before long we can expand on that statement. Then there is the question of attracting more married women into teaching.

Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

Many of the university people complain that when they have finished taking their degrees, whereas they can go into another job and start earning money, if they wish to be teachers they have to spend a year at training college earning nothing at all.

Mrs. Hart

I was about to deal with that point, which was mentioned by one or two of my hon. Friends. It is not an easy question, as my right hon. Friend will recognise. It is a problem which bristles with difficulties, but we are looking at it, although I cannot promise that we can give any undertaking that we shall meet this problem in the way which has been suggested. We are looking at it. Indeed, there are no possible steps to which we are not giving full examination in our consideration of the matter.

I want to move on to consider some suggestions which have been made by my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. Carmichael), Renfrew, West and Shettleston about recruiting married women. I am convinced that there is some scope for greater success in attracting married women teachers back into teaching—not a great deal, but some scope for a little more success.

Certainly, I believe that if we make it quite clear to the local authorities, as we are trying to do, that nothing will be placed in the way of any steps which they wish to take to provide nursery accommodation specifically for the children of married women teachers, that might help. They will get every encouragement from us and nothing will be placed in their way. We want to make this quite clear so that none of them will hesitate in their efforts to recruit teachers because of a consideration of the difficulties of providing nursery school accommodation for their children.

There is reason to suppose that the changing pattern of attitudes in Scotland may begin to yield a little more results for the efforts to recruit married women teachers. We have not yet reached the point in Scotland at which it is regarded as quite normal for the professional woman with professional training to return to work at the stage at which her children do not need her so much. We are in a time of fairly rapid social change, and we may expect that this is one of the changes which may yield us some benefit in terms of teacher supply.

Let us look at the use which we make of existing teachers. I am certain that on the timetable question and on the use of auxiliaries in schools there is a great deal which can be done. Let me make it clear that this is a two-part exercise between Government and education authorities, because many of the initiatives and many of the original steps to help in this matter can be taken only by the education authorities. I am glad that in a week or two I shall be meeting the Convener of the Glasgow Education Committee to discuss with him teacher supply questions, and we can valuably explore the contribution which each of us can make to a solution of the problem in Glasgow.

Auxiliaries can certainly help in relation to teacher supply where they are used to relieve secondary school teachers of some of the more tedious work which they have to do when they are specialist teachers. They cannot give the same opportunity of increasing the use which teachers can make of their own time in the primary school, although there are useful advantages in the primary school of allowing the primary school teacher to make a more valuable use of his or her own time.

I turn to the Special Recruitment Scheme, and here I agree with my hon. Friends who have urged that there is scope for getting far more teachers of the older age group into the schools. My hon. Friend hopes to create the atmosphere that there is an ever-open door for men and women, who may have made the wrong choice when they left school, to go back into teaching. Within the next month or two the House will be hearing of the plans which we have for the campaigns both to induce married women to come back into teaching and to induce older men and women to enter teaching, whether or not they need assistance, as my hon. Friend the Member for Woodside suggested, in order to qualify for entrance to teacher training.

It is only when we have fully explored these matters that we can consider whether further steps may be needed. If further steps are needed, we shall look at them very closely indeed.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at twenty-nine minutes past Ten o' clock.