HC Deb 10 July 1967 vol 750 cc7-38
Mr. Speaker

Before I call the first Order of the Day, it might help those wishing to take part in the debate if I point out that these are largely consolidation Regulations, so that it will be in order to discuss whether the items which are to be consolidated shall be consolidated; but there also are some amendments to the Regulations and it will be in order to discuss them.

Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As I understand it, these Regulations to be consolidated, together with amendments, relate to the training of teachers. Without going into too much detail, can we not, in these circumstances, use this opportunity to ask the Government for a progress report on teacher training, since we are here consolidating all the main Regulations for such training?

Mr. Speaker

That is a fair point. I must allow it to be followed however with some discretion.

10.19 a.m.

Sir E. Boyle

I am grateful, Mr. Speaker. I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Training of Teachers Regulations 1967 (S.1., 1967, No. 792), dated 22nd May 1967, a copy of which was laid before this House on 5th June, be annulled. I do not intend to speak at great length, but this is an important set of Regulations. It will set the pattern of grants for the training of teachers for a long time to come. Therefore, before we pass these Regulations, it is reasonable to ask the Government to give a certain amount of information on the general subject of teacher training.

We all agree on the great importance of teacher training, for three reasons. First, because of the dependence of the schools on an adequate supply of teachers; secondly, because the quality of the work in the schools is so greatly affected by the quality of the products of the colleges of education; thirdly, and perhaps no less important, because, when all is said and done, colleges of education are in their right important institutions of higher education. One thing which I think comes within our terms of reference today is Regulation 12, which includes the requirement: Every college shall be conducted in accordance with articles of government made with the approval of the Secretary of State. Therefore, we could perhaps discuss matters relating to the Weaver Report on the Government of Colleges of Education.

In October 1965, the last year for which we have full figures, there were 199 training establishments, comprising 120 colleges of education, of which 90 were general colleges maintained by local education authorities, 50 were voluntary colleges and 29 were university training establishments. The total of students, which was about 28,000 in the later 1950s, rose to 78,000 by October 1965 and, in the present academic year, to nearly 90,000. In other words, the training of teachers has been one of the most rapidly expanding parts of our education system in the last ten years.

That should be recognised by the general public more than is always the case. We rightly hear a great deal about the continuing teacher shortage, but we should remember that in the last ten years the number of students has trebled and the annual expenditure on training has greatly increased. Perhaps the Minister of State could give us the figures for the annual cost and the prospective figure for 1970. At the start of the decade I believe it was about 14 million, and I estimate that it is already about £50 million.

The total number of students has risen, as has the number of full time teaching staff in the colleges. Last year, it was 4,000 men and 2,700 women, or more than 6,500. But although we should take considerable pleasure in this, successive Governments have given a high priority to teacher supply and the Government of which I was a member devoted £60 million to college building alone in the early 1960s—some aspects of the scene are less encouraging.

First, a matter for real concern is the declining number of graduate teachers in maths and science in our colleges of education. In 1962, there was one graduate maths teacher to about 117 students, but by 1964, the latest year for which we have figures, the proportion had declined to 1 to 190. The figure for graduate science teachers was 1 to 90 in 1962 and 1 to 120 in 1964. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can tell us something about this.

Second is the disturbing fact that the Government have not so far succeeded in raising the proportion of men recruited for teacher-training to the planned 35 per cent. In an answer on 15th June this year to the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Dr. David Kerr), the Minister of State said: The number of men entrants to the colleges of education has increased over the last four years from about 5.000 to 9,500, but with the rapid increase in total intakes the proportion of men in the entry has remained at about 28 per cent. We are taking a number of steps designed to ensure that boys in sixth forms are fully aware of what the colleges have to offer by way of both of higher education and preparation for a teaching careen"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th June, 1967 Vol. 748, c. 105.] I have never wanted to exaggerate this issue. We are still overwhelmingly dependent on the women output of the colleges for staffing infant schools, but we must always be disturbed about the wastage particularly of younger women teachers.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can give us the latest figure for the proportion of young women teachers and of men who leave within the first five years of their teaching career—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are getting a little wide of the Regulations if we enter on the subject of wastage.

Sir E. Boyle

Perhaps I might put it like this, Mr. Speaker. We are concerned with the fact that the colleges, to which these Regulations refer, have stepped up their contribution of places for men in anticipation of the 35 per cent. being recruited and there are problems in turning over these places to women. I am perhaps therefore justified, in view of the Minister's answer last month, in asking what the Government's proposals are. As I mentioned the declining proportion of graduate maths and science teachers, perhaps I could point out that there was a definite decline in the number of applications from students to read maths and science in the colleges last year, and this is something which we should hear about.

One of the ways in which we hoped to ease the supply position was by a more liberal attitude towards nursery classes in existing buildings provided by local authorities, and I hope that the Minister of State will tell us something about the numbers of such classes provided to get married women back to school when their

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Chair has been very generous. I hope that the debate will not go too wide.

Sir E. Boyle

I appreciate that Mr. Speaker. We are dealing with Regulations which, in effect, commit large sums of public money, and I raised the question of nursery classes because I thought that a more liberal policy here by the Government was an important means of ensuring value for money.

One thing strictly within the Regulations is that the Secretary of State's 14 points speech, two years ago, mentioned two aspects on which we would like progress reports. First, what progress is being made with part-time teacher training, particularly for older people, and, second, what is the prospect of refresher courses for returning women, including married women graduates who want to take up teaching for the first time but cannot manage the full professional course?

I now turn to my second theme, the constitutional aspect of the government of colleges of education and the progress in implementing the Weaver Report. This is within the ambit of Regulation 12. We must have a satisfactory statement on the progress here because two and a half years ago the Government of the day took a very important decision not to implement the Robbins Report recommendation about the government of colleges of education which would, in effect, have meant removing them from the sphere of local authorities and linking them to the universities via the institutes. My right hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) said on that occasion that, although he recognised the disappointment of the colleges, if he had been Secretary of State he would have felt bound at that time to take the same course. I repeated those same words when I spoke in the House on 25th March, 1965.

I do not suggest—I recognise this would certainly not be in order—that the time has now come, so soon afterwards, to reverse that decision. However, I know that my hon. Friends—and, I hope, the Liberal Party—will agree that, having felt bound to take that step two and a half years ago, which was bound to be very disappointing to the colleges, it is all the more important that we should meet all the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the colleges regarding their internal self-government; in other words, implementing the Weaver Report becomes a matter of first importance.

It will not be news to the Minister of State that there is very considerable concern today about a number of matters in the colleges relating to the Weaver Report. Indeed, it is not too much to say that there is a certain amount of low morale within the colleges of which we must take notice.

I will mention one or two detailed matters on which, as I see it, the clear view of the Secretary of State is of the highest importance. There is real concern that some local authorities will not accept the proposal that the clerk to the governors should be the administrative officer for the college rather than the chief education officer. I hope that the Minister of State will make a statement on that point this morning.

There is also the question about academic representation. Weaver went on to propose staff representation on governing bodies. This is causing difficulty. Reluctantly most authorities are accepting the principle of staff representation, but there are suggestions that these staff representatives should not have full rights of membership. It is very important that the Government should speak clearly here, because in Circular No. 867 on the Polytechnics, the Secretary of State said that the clerk to the governors must be the chief administrative officer, and the Minister of State himself has said some pretty definite things about academic representation on governing bodies of polytechnics.

We cannot this morning debate the whole philosophy of what is sometimes called the "binary system". I am one of those who accepts that it would be wrong for us to plan for the whole of higher education to come within the autonomous university sector. However, while I take that view, I regard academic representation on governing bodies as of the very highest importance. It would be quite intolerable if in this respect colleges of education were given less favourable treatment than polytechnics. While it is feasible and right to have an autonomous sector and a non-autonomous sector, we on this side will fight to the death against making invidious discriminations within the non-autonomous sector. It would be wrong if conditions for academic representation were to be different within the colleges of education and the polytechnics; that is to say, if in the one case, the polytechnics, the clerk to the governors has to be the chief administrative officer, but local education authorities can drag their feet where colleges of education are concerned.

There are two other matters regarding the Weaver Report. One concerns financial discretion. One of the best features in recent years has been the greater financial discretion given by some local education authorities to their head teachers; but I hope we will not reach a situation in which financial discretion of a reasonable kind is given to head teachers and denied to college principals, because that obviously would be absurd.

Another matter on college government concerns student unions. I have said many times that we have to live with the fact today that the student body is a state of the Realm within higher education. We do not want colleges where the students' union is little more than a creature. The position of the students' union is a matter which we must take into account.

I would summarise my views in this way. The Government took what was a very important decision two and a half years ago which, as my right hon. Friend said, any Government would have felt bound to take; but, for goodness' sake, let us remember that it was bound to be a disappointing decision, and it is important that the colleges should feel that they have reasonable self-government. While I absolutely understand any local education authority which says, "The Government, having taken that decision, we must not now act as though it had taken the opposite decision", nonetheless it is reasonable that we should insist on fair play for colleges of education and that they should have all the reasonable academic freedoms which will enable them to make their full contribution as important institutions of higher education.

There is one last matter. When we are considering regulations for the training of teachers and the grants and the conditions of grants, we should bear in mind the great strain that there is on teaching and study space in the colleges. It is important, at the same time as we make adequate grants for students, to ensure that there is adequate provision of study space, particularly for those mature students whom the Government are trying to encourage and also for those living in lodgings.

We easily forget in the House how big a slice of the total education budget, rightly, goes to training teachers, just as I think we also forget—and no doubt my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) will have something to say about this—the big part played by the religious denominations in teacher training.

I regard the contribution of the church colleges of education as probably the most important contribution that the religious denominations make to education in Britain today. This is a major subject. It is highly important that we should show empathy for the colleges for their problems and what they are trying to achieve. These colleges are primarily first-class major institutions of professional training whose whole curriculum should be orientated towards the needs of children, but which are also getting a larger and larger number of highly qualified young people—more and more students gaining grants who overlap in their qualifications with university students. Let us, therefore, insist on study facilities, and an atmosphere of academic self respect such that all students within these colleges can complete their course feeling that they have received the training that they deserve and they have been encouraged to give of their best.

10.40 a.m.

Mr. W. R. van Straubenzee (Wokingham)

Those who are not familiar with the procedures of the House will probably find it difficult to understand two things about the debate. The first is that, ostensibly at least, the Opposition are seeking to annul a set of Regulations which, as you have reminded us, Mr. Speaker, are partially consolidation and partially and very importantly new, whereas in point of fact this is merely a matter of formality, although, to avoid misunderstanding outside, it is as well that that is placed firmly on the record.

The second is that, quite properly, our rules of procedure limit what we are permitted to say about those aspects of these regulations which are consolidation measures. So that I may be strictly in order, I will start by gently pulling the Minister of State's leg about Regulation 32 and invite him, in the time which he will have before he replies, to read it and to see whether he can make sense of it, because I suspect that before we agree to its consolidation, it needs a fairly vital piece of punctuation. I am bound to say that I read it up and down with pleasure for some time before my limited brain managed to make sense of it, and I hope that before it goes out the Minister of State will have put in the vital comma.

Regulation 12, as my right hon. Friend has reminded us, is new and it is very important. It vests in the Secretary of State very extensive powers which, so far as I am aware, have been used so far by agreement, and I hope that that will continue. I hope that in exercising these powers the Secretary of State will pay particular regard to one of the most important matters which my right hon. Friend raised. Anybody who has had any kind of contact with the colleges of education, all kinds of colleges of education, will reckon that the most difficult problem facing them is the sheer problem of growing.

I am not altogether sure that we in the House appreciate the strains which we have placed on colleges of education in the kind of growth which, year by year, we ask them to assimilate. I should like to give some examples. For example, in the regulations the Secretary of State is taking a considerable new power to approve capital expenditure. The sort of problems which he will have to meet in exercising these new powers are, for example, the growing and chronic shortage of places for the practising of teaching. This is a major and growing problem in large areas of the country and we shall have to do some fairly extensive rethink about how this is to be apportioned between different colleges, particularly when a new college is founded in an area previously covered by an established college.

I should like to give another example. In exercising the new powers under these regulations, one of the matters with which the right hon. Gentleman will have to deal is the increasing tendency—and I think that it is the right tendency—for colleges previously dealing with men or with women only to become two-sexed colleges. This is a perfectly proper tendency, but I do not know that we always understand the very great pressures which it imposes, particularly on the staff, when there has to be grafted on to a college previously dealing with men or women alone the problem of the other sex coming in, with all the difficulties which that sometimes brings with it. That is a second example of the pressures on the staffs of these colleges.

A third example with which the Secretary of State will certainly have to deal under Regulation 14(2) has already been penetratingly commented upon by my right hon. Friend. This is the acute shortage of study places and spaces, and this is often very acute where the students concerned are out on teacher practice. I hope very much that, with particular reference to the more mature students, the Secretary of State will tell us something about how he proposes to exercise the new powers which he will have under this regulation.

I repeat without apology that I do not believe that we in the House, who are requiring this immense effort by the colleges, understand sufficiently the pressures upon those who are in charge of them and those who make up the staffs, and on rare occasions like this when we are able, even in part, to discuss their affairs, we should acknowledge that.

Regulation 30 is also new. A major power is vested in the Secretary of State—the power to make loans to voluntary colleges. I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for his graceful reference and tribute to the part played by the Churches in this respect. Their colleges of education will clearly be those most affected by this new regulation. I am not sure that the nation appreciates what contribution is being made by the denominations in this respect. At this moment there are about 15,000 students in the Anglican colleges of education, of which there are 27. I speak of them and emphatically not for them only because I have some modest knowledge of them. These 27 colleges will come within the ambit of Regulation 14(2) and will be vitally interested in how the Secretary of State views their work and how he proposes to exercise the powers which we shall shortly be giving to him.

It is some measure of the contribution which they are making that in less than ten years the numbers in the Anglican colleges have risen two and a half times. The colleges have done no more, and would claim to have done no more, than play their part in the general work of the expansion of the colleges as a whole, but I am not sure that the financial strain which has been, willingly undertaken, has been sufficiently appreciated, or why we are therefore, interested in and will be watching Regulation 14(2) so particularly closely.

Since the war, the Church Assembly of the Church of England has provided £2,250,000 in capital works on these colleges, and the servicing of those loans now amounts to £190,000 a year. While this is small by comparison with those sums which we so often discuss here, it represents one-fifth of the total budget of the Church Assembly of the Church of England. That is why the power to make loans is of such great interest to these colleges. That is why I am entitled to point out the financial burden already being willingly borne by the Churches—and I have spoken of only one—in this vital work. It is generally estimated that about £4 million in all in capital works has been raised in this respect since the war.

Regulation 14(2) may assume even greater importance than is thought, for I have a feeling—and clearly I cannot explore this by more than the merest glancing reference this morning—that the time is coming when the Churches may well move out of education at primary and secondary level and concentrate on the training of teachers. That is why these Regulations are of such profound significance and importance.

I should like an assurance about Regulation 12 which, I think, to judge from inquiries which I have been able to make, the Minister of State will be able to give without difficulty. Regulation 12 gives very wide powers over the articles of government. The inquiries which I have made show that this has not caused any difficulty. In fact it is welcomed, but the Minister knows that there are one or two colleges run by religious orders—I have Middleton in mind—and I would like to be assured that they will retain their religious freedom. They present a special case, and I would like to be assured about that.

I turn from the point that I was making about the contribution made by the churches to ask the Secretary of State whether he is satisfied that these new provisions will not, or may not, be limiting in one regard. I have always had the feeling that we may be training our teachers in too cloistered an atmosphere. This is a delicate thing to express, and a word put wrongly may give a false impression. I want to be sure that these new Regulations, particularly Regulation 12, will not be used by the Secretary of State in a restrictive way.

Let me illustrate what I mean. Clearly the training of probation officers touches at a number of points the same sort of problems as we get in the training of teachers. Another class whom I single out are youth employment officers. Clearly their work, too—I cannot discuss it in detail—impinges at many points on the eventual work of a teacher, and their training, one assumes, impinges closely on it at various points.

I want to be sure that these new Regulations will not be used by the Secretary of State in too restrictive a way so as not to permit individual colleges exploring and experimenting if necessary. The Minister will be aware that in at least one case of which I know an experiment to bring the training of nurses into a college of education very nearly got off the ground. For various reasons, which are not germane to this discussion, it did not do so, but it struck me as an interesting experiment, and I would like to be assured, in the context of these regulations, that the Secretary of State's mind is not closed to proposals being put to him, and experiments being suggested, for wider courses for persons other than those who are strictly going to teach. I have given three examples of this—probation officers, youth employment officers, and nurses.

I would like to be assured also that the Secretary of State is watching organisationally—and we can only discuss the organisation this morning—tendencies which it seems to me are beginning to emerge in the degree of B.Ed. There are organisations with considerable differences building up throughout the country, and if the Minister felt able to tell us it would be helpful to know how he sees this in relation, for example, to Regulation 12.

Perhaps I might give an example of what I mean. In two closely related geographical areas the organisation for this is totally different. In Sheffield all the organisational arrangements are incorporated in the Institute of Education, whereas at Leeds the colleges are totally autonomous, and I think it would be helpful to know what is in the Secretary of State's mind about this very important matter, because we are at a very early stage in the B.Ed. problem. One has noticed a tendency to empire building in some colleges, and as the right hon. Gentleman will have extensive powers, it will be helpful to know a little about how his mind is working.

I am quite unashamed of being a rebel on the issue raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) which again we cannot discuss other than as strictly related to the colleges of education, namely, where the line should be drawn on binary education. I am a rebel in the sense that I believe both major parties drew the wrong line in relation to colleges of education, but I am a realist, and I understand that when setting up new organisational arrangements as he is by these Regulations we cannot expect him—or his successor, who will clearly come from this party—to alter the situation literally overnight. But I go firmly on record as saying that I believe one of the gravest problems facing us—I cannot do more than touch on this—is the morale of the teacher force, the people who will eventually be affected by these Regulations, and that one of the causes is that we appear by these Regulations to be setting up a second-class form of training. I am sure that a future Government will have to re-draw the line.

It is customary to look with a rather baleful eye at the products of some of the colleges which are the subject of these Regulations. The Minister will probably recall a recent distressing article by Mr. Brian Macarthur of The Times whose work for education is widely regarded on both sides of the House. He interviewed a set of young men and women at a college of education. I do not know where that was, but by a curious chance I spent the following weekend, or part of it, in precisely such a college, and I believe that, like so many other things—curates' eggs as well —colleges of education differ widely. I went to a first-class college, the work of which the Minister knows is widely admired, and where they still have more students anxious to get in than they have places to offer.

I think that it would be a great pity if the general feeling got round that in all the colleges there was this listlessness and lack of purpose which perhaps was perfectly fairly reported on in that article, but the House has to recognise there are some colleges and some staffs whose standards are unacceptably low. This is why we look at Regulations like these with such care. I hope that out of our discussions there will always go the call that teaching is one of the great callings for which a young man or woman can offer himself or herself, and what we are engaged on this morning is an exercise to arm the Secretary of State still further with Regulations by which he can enforce those standards and so add to statute of the great profession to which they refer.

10.58 a.m.

Mr. Richard Hornby (Tonbridge)

There is not a lot that I want to add to the points which have been made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) and my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee). I think that we are all looking at these Regulations to see in what ways they will or will not improve the numbers of those who are going in to the teaching profession and who are so urgently needed, and, indeed, what effect they will have on the quality and morale of those taking up training and subsequently going into teaching.

We know the problems which the Secretary of State faced in drawing up these Regulations. We are all anxious to minimise the loss rate. We are all anxious to see recruitment from new areas, not just from the graduates emerging from the universities, or from those who are going to the colleges of education, but how these Regulations will affect the prospects of bringing people back for training once they have left the schools. We are looking also to see how these Regulations may be adaptable to those who have pursued other careers, or who might be willing to consider teaching as a career if the training can be on a part-time, and not only on a full-time basis.

The first things that I look at in these Regulations is to see how flexible they are for the varying needs of the different categories of people who might be persuaded to consider teaching as a career, and how flexible they are to meet the different needs of different geographical areas. I welcome what I have read of these Regulations, some of which consolidate previous regulations and others of which are new.

Regulation 2(2,b) concerns the constitution of governing bodies. We all welcome the inclusion of teachers themselves among those represented. I welcome this provision because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham said, one of the great problems for the colleges will concern the relationship which they strike up with the schools in their areas. Without representation of teachers on their governing bodies these problems will be greater rather than smaller. It is always a good thing for the consumer that the wares should be prominently displayed. I hope that the same thing will apply in respect of parents and governing bodies.

I should like to know whether the Minister can tell us what progress is being made with the part-time courses referred to in Regulation 6. The Regulation refers to: courses of initial training, which may include part-time courses". There is a widespread feeling that the numbers of potential recruits could be enlarged if more part-time training were made available. When addressing the National Union of Teachers' conference the Secretary of State expressed some doubt about the results that might ensue from these part-time courses. It would be interesting if the hon. Member could give any indication how these courses are developnig and what are the cost anxieties in respect of them—because I understand that it is with the question of cost that the Minister is most concerned.

Regulation 7 concerns shortened ccurses—for suitable individuals—which may be completed in less than three years but not less than two years. It would be interesting if the hon. Member could tell us what sort of numbers—at the discretion of the authorities—are enabled to take much reduced courses. Although I am aware of the sensibilities of teaching organisations about any suspicion of watering down courses I have a feeling that for many mature students the prospect of a full three-year course—provided the candidates seem to have adequate experience and comparable qualifications—would be a deterrent to their going into the profession.

We should welcome the flexibility which is apparent in Regulation 7 and should say so openly to the teachers' organisations which, in some of these matters —

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Order. These are mainly consolidation Regulations. The Regulation referred to by the hon. Member is a part of the consolidation and not an amendment. Therefore, despite the latitude which Mr. Speaker has allowed, I must warn the hon. Member that he is getting a little wide of order.

Mr. Hornby

I naturally accept your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall refer to the other aspect of shortened courses in Regulation 7, which concerns those which may, at the discretion of the authorities, be completed in less than three years. As I understand it, the idea is that it might be for the convenience of an authority if a course could be completed in the spring—in April or May—rather than running on. I do not object to this type of flexibility, but I cannot understand how the time saved—two or three months—can be put to further good use. I could understand it if a year, or nearly a year, was saved; it would then increase the through-put of students coming to the college. But with a matter of two or three months, when there is a specific age limitation and when it is not easy for students to come into the colleges at any time of the year, I wonder what the advantages of this provision are. Perhaps the Minister can enlighten us.

Regulation 14(2) sets a limit upon the discretion of authorities concerning expenditure on installation and equipment. I wonder whether this limit is not too restrictive, and whether it is not one of the very things that make for work, delay and additional administration costs in so many of the administrative practices in which local authorities are concerned. Surely, if the Ministry wants to know more, it would be better, rather than requiring approval for each item, for authorities to be required to inform the Department what they have done with the global sum given them. The procedure laid down invites delay and demands too much interference and time-consuming detailed work from the Ministry in its relations with local authorities.

On Regulation 28, I should like to know what information the hon. Gentleman has about differences in cost between residential and non-residential establishments. I suspect that there is a growing demand, from the new recruits that we are hoping to entice into the profession, for more non-residential establishments. The cost factors in this connection would be very interesting to know.

I should like to know what the thinking of the hon. Member and his right hon. Friend has been concerning the advice that they are to receive in the future. It is a long time since we heard of the demise of the National Advisory Council. Nothing has been set up in its place, and many people feel that if the Secretary of State does not want to revive the National Advisory Council he should set up an immediate inquiry into the whole practice affecting the recruitment and training of teachers. I hope that an announcement will be made on this subject very soon.

11.9 a.m.

Mr. Charles Morrison (Devizes)

Any Regulations concerning teachers—whether they affect salaries, conditions of work, standards, supply, or other aspects, such as those covered by these Regulations—must be judged on the basis of their effect on the quality and quantity of teachers and teaching. In many spheres quality is often maintained by setting very high standards, thereby limiting the numbers of people concerned. In teacher-training colleges, if the quality is high, if the training is of the correct standard, and if the output is of a high quality, the prestige of the teachers and the training colleges is raised and, as a result, the quantity of people coming forward for training, and their quality, are also raised. The Regulations are helpful on criteria both of quality and of quantity, but one can only conjecture about their practical effect on teacher supply.

Regulations 12 and 14(2) are particularly relevant to supply of men students, which is of such paramount importance because of the higher wastage of women and the longer lasting return from investment on men. The number of male entrants over the last four years has increased from 5,000 to 9,500, but this is only 28 per cent. of the total, compared with a target of 35 per cent. Why is this percentage not higher? What is the Secretary of State doing to attract more men? I hope that he is constantly considering it. This is important, because 60 per cent. of women students leave the profession in the first five years, which is a considerable loss, and this wastage is synonomous with marriage. About 27 per cent. of men also leave in the same period—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman should know that his right hon. Friend was ruled out of order by Mr. Speaker in dealing with wastage, and I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is out of order. He must deal with those matters which are for amendment or with the limited question of consolidation.

Mr. Morrison

I was about to ask how far this wastage is due to the training rather than marriage. We know that 27 per cent. of men also leave in the first six years, and it could be argued that 27 per cent. of women leave for the same reasons and only 33 per cent. for marriage. This means that between a quarter and a third of men and women leave for reasons other than marriage. What is being done to find out why this considerable proportion of young teachers leaves, and how far can the loss be traced to some lack in their training?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry to remind the hon. Gentleman, but he is still out of order. The matters which can be dealt with and which are for amendment are concerned with the articles of government of colleges of education, the £1,000 limit, grants to colleges of education and the establishment of a minimum age. The hon. Gentleman's remarks are outside any of those amendments and are therefore out of order.

Mr. Morrison

May I make one quick reference to Schedule 2, Mr. Deputy Speaker, concerning the conditions of admission to training establishments? My right hon. Friend referred to a reply by the Minister of State on 15th June to the effect that colleges of education had much to offer as centres of higher education as well as of training, but if they were seen too often in this light a number of people could enter with no wish to become teachers but would join the profession for a short time and then leave, contributing to the 27 per cent. wastage. I will pursue this matter no further in case I stray again out of order.

I wonder to what extent morale is low in the colleges, which are centres of academic excellence and discussion of ideas, because a feeling of depression which is common throughout the country is emphasised there. These Regulations are helpful but could have been more so and could have been more more strongly supported if they had been drawn up after the Secretary of State had had discussions with a body like the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers. I hope that the Minister of State will deal with this.

11.18 a.m.

Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)

I listened carefully to Mr. Speaker's guidance on the matter of order and looked at my notes to reassure myself that I would not strain the patience of the Chair. It might be convenient if I state that I understand that we can have a "Second Reading" debate on Regulation 12, which is new, as opposed to a consolidating Regulation. It provides for the Secretary of State to determine the functions of certain persons and bodies in relation to a college, which therefore raises the question whether these functions shall or shall not include the determination of syllabuses and content, with special reference to consolidation Regulations 16 and 5 dealing with content and method likewise.

Therefore, if my remarks are regarded u; in that line of thought, I hope that I am right in feeling that I shall be in order. I have not given the hon. Gentleman notice of these questions, but it is fair to assume that they would be on the surface of his mind, because he must hive asked them of himself.

First, who decides in practice under these Regulations, and will decide under the amended Regulations, what and how the teachers of the nation's children shall be taught? Secondly, what part does the Secretary of State himself and, therefore, vicariously this House, play in making this choice? Thirdly—and here I speak to how Regulation 12 may add to Regulitions 5 and 16 in relation to a practical e:tample—what ideas has the Secretary of State about social education, by which I mean the stimulation of children to form their own private moral values of social behaviour?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is perfectly in order in suggesting that Regulation 12 is one of those for amendment but, when he goes into the contents of syllabuses and the determination of what shall be taught, he goes ft. further than the administrative functions set out in Regulation 12, which are for the government of colleges of education. I cannot permit a detailed debate on the lines in which the hon. Gentleman is now proceeding, which I understand to be concerned with the nature of education and the terms and contents of syllabuses and how they are determined.

Mr. Iremonger

I accept that ruling instantly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, although perhaps I might ask whether you have considered the possibility that it might be a function of one of the bodies or persons mentioned in Regulation 12, as laid down by the Secretary of State, to determine the shape, content and method of the teaching to be carried out in training establishments subject to the Regulations.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am sure that in detail members of the governing body of a college of education will have a vast experience and considerable responsibility, but we cannot discuss in detail that responsibility or experience, which is what the hon. Gentleman is apparently seeking to do. In effect, he is trying to get a Second Reading debate on the whole range of the contents of education.

Mr. Iremonger

In that case, perhaps another occasion would be more appropriate in developing this theme, although I hope that the Minister of State will not feel that this is not far more important in the estimation of the House than the details, important as they are, of the administration and constitution of these colleges.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Has it occurred to my hon. Friend that we are vesting in the Secretary of State by these Regulations—although admittedly only in reference to voluntary colleges, which are nevertheless a most important sector—very wide powers to grant loans? It may be that my hon. Friend would want to know the attitude of mind of the Secretary of State before approving those loans?

Mr. Iremonger

My hon. Friend is extremely ingenious in the assistance he has offered me and perhaps, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you would be good enough to give me your guidance on that point. I reinforce the point made by my hon. Friend by pointing out that, under Regulation 16, which is a consolidating Regulation, the Secretary of State has power to provide that a voluntary college … shall… provide a course specified by him; In connection with what my hon. Friend has said, perhaps you could assist me to relate this to the Regulations by saying whether, if we are to approve the power to make grants to voluntary colleges—where the Secretary of State can require the provision of a specific course—we might discuss the attitude of mind which would lie behind it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is experienced in the procedure of the House and will realise that the contents of courses or the provision of courses cannot be raised under Regulation 12.

Mr. Iremonger

We are in your hands, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and it is for us to accept what you say. Perhaps in passing I might express regret at the extreme narrowness of the debate, but even so it is a pity that the Minister of State is supported by only one of his hon. Friends on the back benches. The Labour Party has held itself out in the past as being concerned with education, and surely this debate would have been a suitable occasion for hon. Members opposite to turn up at a morning's sitting to air their views.

I wanted to raise wider issues which are apparently not in order, so I merely say that I support the points made by my right hon. and hon. Friends and shall listen with great interest to the Minister of State. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will indicate what plans he has, since we are not proposing to annul these Regulations, to give us an opportunity to debate the whole philosophy and content and method of teacher training on a suitable occasion. This is not a subject that should properly be left to be dealt with in one or two individual speeches with a brief rejoinder by a Minister in a general debate. Perhaps the Government will provide us a half day debate on the subject of the supply and training of teachers rather than leave it to be dealt with in a general debate on education.

11.18 a.m.

Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)

I find myself in some difficulty. Dorothy Parker once said that everything she liked was either illegal, immoral or fattening. This seems to be the case with what I hoped to say in this debate. I realise that we can only discuss in detail the Regulation you have mentioned, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I would like to ask the Minister of State specific questions about others which are important.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman can only ask them if they are related to the effectiveness of consolidation.

Mr. Pardoe

I know not whether they are in terms of this definition.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

If the hon. Gentleman wants to ask a question about the contents, the answer is clearly, "No."

Mr. Pardoe

In that case, most of my notes are out of order and I therefore merely add my plea to the Government to provide a half day debate at least in which we can discuss the whole question of the supply of teachers, because as we no longer have a national council this matter seems very much in limbo. The Secretary of State should have provided some substitute for the work of that body and we have had no opportunity in this House, for as long as I can remember at least, to discuss the large number of issues raised by other Regulations in this consolidation Measure.

11.30 a.m.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Goronwy Roberts)

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) has initiated a wide-ranging debate and raised a number of important issues, many of which are currently under discussion and depending for their final outcome, as he knows, on appropriate consultations. He asked for a progress report and I will endeavour so far as possible, to take up many of the matters which he and other hon. Members raised and to provide the information for which I have been asked. I am sure that hon. Members will bear with me if I do not cover every inquiry which has been thrown at me, obviously often without notice. I have a sense of being within a pincer movement. On the one hand, there have been attempts to raise matters which, I gather, have not been strictly within order and, on the other hand, I may find myself traversing the bounds of order. Therefore, if the form in which I give the information asked for is a little diffuse and unrelated, I hope that the House will forgive me.

The right hon. Gentleman rightly stressed the extraordinary co-operation which successive Secretaries of State have received from the training colleges, the colleges of education, in the face of repeated requests to expand, to institute organisational change and physical changes, which have borne heavily on staff and students alike. I join with the right hon. Gentleman at once in most warmly thanking them once more for the spirit in which they have answered these challenges and the quite remarkable successes which they have made. As the right hon. Gentleman said, this is a story of continued achievement and at some cost. The cost is rather more than £50 million a year and, according to the Estimates for 1966–67, is now £68 million.

I join with the right hon. Gentleman in reminding the general public of the amount of money and resources which the country is making available for the vital task of training suitable people to teach our children. This £68 million is a substantial sum of money. No one grudges a pound of it, but it is right on occasions of this kind to remind ourselves of the extent to which we are asking the general public to subscribe, through general taxation, to the cost of this vital exercise.

The right hon. Gentleman gave his own very near guess of 6,500 as the number of full-time staff in the colleges, but it is much nearer to 8,000. It has been increasing every term, so that the figure which the right hon. Gentleman gave has been overtaken in the last year of 18 months and is now 7,900. I spoke of resources. We are devoting not only money, but scarce and highly qualified manpower to this vital task.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the important need to attract more graduated mathematics and science teachers. This is a very difficult problem. The increase in university provision for science and mathematics is itself a factor tending to absorb honours graduates and leave fewer for teaching, but we are continuing to advertise and to draw the attention of final year students to the possibility of a teaching career. We distribute publicity material and we are currently preparing new material. The problem is among the matters now being studied by the Committee on Manpower Parameters for Scientific Growth, which is expected to report later this year, and my right hon. Friend will consider carefully what that Committee recommends.

In relation to recruitment, the right hon. Gentleman asked about the progress in providing nursery classes. We have endeavoured to encourage local educaticn authorities to set up nursery schools where they would enable a sufficient number of married women teachers to return to teaching. I agree that in many cases this may be a more economic way of increasing the number of teachers, and in some areas it certainly is. Between the summer of 1965 and January, 1967, about 90 such classes were started, producing probably between 200 and 300 teachers. We shall be looking further into this matter in connection with the recommendations of the Plowden Council on nursery provision on its own merits. Personally, I think that this is a field of action which we might be well advised to expand. The provision of nursery classes releases very valuable entrants into teaching.

The central theme of the right hon. Gentleman and others was the rate of expansion of the colleges of education. I will not detain the House with a long statement of the progress since 1958, when a very large programme for the physical expansion of the training system was launched. What the House will want to know is that in July, 1965, the Secretary of State asked all colleges of education to see what they could do, following the expansion in late 1960 and up to 1963, to seek yet further to increase their intake for initial training by making still more productive use of their teaching facilities, whether by some form of organisational change, or other arrangements of their own choice.

The national target then was an intake of 35,000 students by 1968, an increase of 20 per cent. on the previous target. Again the response of the colleges was extremely good and their plans promise to achieve if not surpass the stated target.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am loth to prevent the Minister from giving this information to the House, information which the House is anxious to have, but the hon. Gentleman is going rather wide of the Order.

Mr. Roberts

I was asked by the right hon. Gentleman and others to give certain information. I should like to give it in so far as it is proper for me to do so within the bounds of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am in some difficulty. I, and Mr. Speaker before me, prevented some hon. Members from dealing with matters with which they wished to deal. Those hon. Members might feel a little unhappy if the debate is now widened. I can allow the Minister to proceed unless any hon. Member feels that something should be done about it.

Mr. Roberts

I think that I can assist by saying that what hon. Members want to know is what is now the stated target. The target is now 111,000 teacher-training places, outside the universities, in England and Wales in 1973–74 and 100,000 by the end of this decade. I have already given the figures for the cost.

Sir E. Boyle

We are very grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your forbearance. The whole House will realise that the Minister's statement is of very considerable importance and I should, therefore, like to ask him what figure of annual intake is represented in the Government's mind by the target of 100,000? What corresponds to the 35,000, if I might put it in that way?

Mr. Roberts

The 35,000 would approximate to the target of 100,000, roughly one-third, with the obvious offsets about which the right hon. Gentleman and I are always worried.

A point made by a number of speakers was the need to attract more men entrants. The Regulations, covering as they do the operation of all forms of training establishments, are specifically designed to assist us in ensuring that we get proper courses and proper colleges with proper proportions of men and women. The increase in the proportion of men in the national intake to the colleges must depend on a significant increase in the number of suitable men applicants, and there is no easy way of achieving this.

We are trying by various means to ensure that boys in sixth forms are fully aware of the opportunities open to them in colleges of education, and we are examining what further publicity may be helpful to this end. The figures given by the right hon. Gentleman are absolutely right. Since 1962–63 there has been a marked increase in the number of men entrants —from 5,000 to about 9,500—but this has kept pace with an equal increase in the number of women entrants. The percentage of men entrants has therefore tended to stabilise at about 28 per cent., a figure that falls substantially short of the target of 35 per cent. that we have set ourselves.

I should like at this point to say that if any hon. or right hon. Member would care to suggest further ways of stimulating the interest of suitable boy sixth-formers in the teaching profession, I should be very glad to talk over the subject with them. I have talked about this to headmasters and heads of schools, and though they themselves are very keen to see more of their boys choosing the teaching profession, they find it extremely difficult to persuade more than about the present proportion to do so.

A number of speakers referred to older students. The number of men and women aged 25 and over embarking on training more than trebled between 1962–63 and 1966–67 when, in the latter year, the number was 6,100. Here, again, I think that there is a consensus in the House about the utility of attracting more and more suitable older entrants into the colleges to train as teachers. It is part of the answer to the perennial problem of wastage, especially among the young women teachers.

I have visited a number of the outposts and annexes where special provision is made on the lines suggested by the right hon. Gentleman and, I think, by the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby), to enable older students to go into the courses, and those students have struck me as being particularly and delightfully dedicated to the profession for which they now find it possible to train. There are a number of very strong arguments for expanding the intake of the older students into the profession.

That brings me to the point made by the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger), who found it difficult, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to launch a debate on the philosophy of education and the content of courses. I sympathise with him. I would agree generally that the House should have an opportunity to discuss these matters, and the Opposition might themselves consider at some time making available for this purpose part of their own time. Having said that, I add that I shall certainly report to my right hon. Friend this feeling which, I am sure, is shared on both sides of the House, that an opportunity should be given for a debate on the purposes and general objectives of education.

The hon. Gentleman also made a point about what one might call social education, which links with a suggestion made, I think, by the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee), that we should not interpret these Regulations too narrowly, inhibiting colleges in certain cases from introducing courses which, while not being strictly teacher-training courses, were cognate with them in a general social sense.

The Regulations are concerned only with the teacher-training courses, but there is no impediment to a particular college providing courses of a different kid under other arrangements. Already, a number of colleges are not solely teacher-training establishments. My own daughter attends a college of domestic science as an intending teacher—and, we hope, as an intending Bachelor of Education—but her friend is at the same college to study for the Institutional Management qualification. Similarly, there are other colleges where training for youth leadership is already provided within the ambit of the training college provision.

We shall continue to consider any application for the introduction of courses of this kind which, though not teacher-training courses, are nevertheless related to the central purpose of the education of children and young people. I must say, however, that for some time our overwhelming preoccupation must be with the need to expand the teaching force so as to man the primary and secondary schools.

I touched on the subject of wastage of teachers when I spoke about the need to attract more older students, but I should like to add something. Figures of wastage of young women teachers and men teachers are not available in any meaningful sense as yet. The information is in process of being collected and collated, and I hope that it will not be very long before we have up-to-date information on this very important question.

But we have just had occasion to study a question closely allied to this: how many students who successfully complete courses in the colleges actually take up duty as teachers? The returns supplied by local education authorities last October suggested that fewer students who had successfully completed college of education courses might be going into teaching than would normally be expected. An inquiry was made into this aspect. Many exaggerated figures had been quoted, and it had been widely assumed that there was evidence of general disaffection. The results show nothing of the kind, and I must say in relation to one or two things said about the state of morale among students in colleges of education that I do not find this to be in any way generally true.

It was found that many of these students, pursuing further studies, were teaching temporarily abroad, fully intending to come back, or were engaged in voluntary service overseas and again, were fully intending to come back. The number who had left teaching was unlikely to have reached 3 per cent. of the whole, and was probably well below that figure. This is a figure which in any profession or industry is tolerable.

Mr. Pardoe

Does the 3 per cent. relate to all those who had come out of training colleges or to all those who came out of training colleges and went directly into education?

Mr. Roberts

It refers to the product of the colleges and what happened to it within the first year. While one would wish to see a figure lower, 3 per cent. is not on the whole alarming. We cannot afford to have any wastage at all, but these figures, which were bandied about earlier this year, were somewhat exaggerated and I thought that I would put the matter into fair perspective.

Among the other points of importance which were raised by the right hon. Gentleman and by the hon. Member for Tonbridge was the future of consultative machinery for teacher supply and training, about which I am glad to have heard the views of hon. Members. Clearly, it is a matter which both sides of the House must continue to study. My right hon. Friend agrees that there should be the closest possible consultation with authorities and teachers' associations and other educational bodies on the many difficult questions which arise in connection with the training and supply of teachers. He has, however, felt—I am sure that he is not alone in this—that the old council left a great deal to be desired.

The Secretary of State has more than once invited suggestions on the most appropriate form of consultative machinery and on 16th March last letters were sent to the bodies represented on the old council inviting their views. We have had suggestions from the majority of them, but a number have not yet expressed any views. I hope that this debate will serve as a reminder to them so that we may soon have a full picture of educational opinion on this question.

A wide range of views has been expressed, and from those and from the views which we are still awaiting it will not be easy to reach a conclusion which will be universally acceptable. Some associations, for example, prefer to have a large body on which they would be represented in proportion to their size. Their members would, presumably, act as delegates and report back to the associations from which they came. Against this, it has been suggested that what we need is a small body consisting of people with appropriate experience chosen for the personal contribution which they can make but not answerable to any association.

It will be difficult to bring about a consensus within the wide spectrum of views which have already been made available to us and those which, no doubt, will be forthcoming. It is, however, a matter which we are watching closely and on which we are anxious to come to the House as soon as possible to indicate a reasonable method of procedure.

A second point which merited attention related to the important matter of the government of colleges. The Weaver Report has been generally welcomed. We have invited colleges of education to prepare schemes. We have provided models from which they can work. Schemes are coming forward to us. We are by no means inflexible or rigid in trying to lay down a uniform pattern. It is not intended to seek to impose any rigid uniformity in the articles of government. Authorities have, however, been provided, in the annex to Circular 2/67, with a pattern to assist the task of drafting and the task of scrutiny.

As to the voluntary colleges, I entirely agree with what has been said about the quality and the quantity of the contribution made by the denominational colleges. In relation to their government, a modern scheme of government for voluntary colleges has been agreed with the voluntary bodies and circulated to all colleges. They are now submitting their proposals for new schemes of government. The procedure is roughly similar in relation to the maintained colleges as for the volun- tary colleges. The variation is traditional.

For more detailed consideration of college government, we might well await publication of the proposed legislation which we hope to introduce shortly. That will indicate the nature of the provision that the Government wish to make and give the House a full opportunity of discussing what from time to time the Chair was unable to allow us to go into this morning.

Sir E. Boyle

We are quite firmly within the ambit of Regulation 12. For the first time in his most helpful speech, the Minister of State has rather disturbed me by the small amount which he is able to say. Can he give the House a fairly clear undertaking that colleges of education in their relation to the Weave: Report will not be treated any more unfavourably than were the polytechnics in Circular 8/57—that is to say, concerning the position of the clerk to the governors and academic representation? Can the Minister give that assurance?

Mr. Roberts

We expect that both types of college will approximate in the levels of academic and, indeed, student autonomy which they attain in relation to the arrangements which are made for each type. There may be differences; they will not be differences which indicate a classification or a superiority of the one over the other in this matter. That is the assurance which I can give, that we hope that both will emerge with the fullest possible academic and student autonomy consonant with their nature and not with their position in the educational hierarchy.

I would not wish to be pressed on the question of the professional identity of the clerk to the governors. Our view is that he should not be the clerk of the authority. Certain education authorities and colleges take another view. When we publish the proposed legislation, there will be room within the bounds of order to go into the details of what is proposed and for the arguments for variation in this and in other matters to be put forward.

As you said, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is a consolidating and simplifying measure. The principal changes are, first, the requirement in Regulation 12 that colleges of education shall be conducted in accordance with articles of government made with the approval of the Secretary of State". I have made clear the provision for voluntary colleges.

Secondly, there is the requirement that the Secretary of State's prior approval shall be obtained for certain expenditure on equipment and installations. I have noted what the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Charles Morrison) said about this. The Regulation provides for this control at that level. The hon. Gentleman said some reasonable things about the general question of financial control. I shall study what he said and discuss it with my right hon. Friend.

The third principal change is the power conferred by Regulation 30 to make loans to voluntary colleges of education. I think there is general agreement that this should be as it is set out. Finally, there is the prescribing of a minimum age of 18 years for admission to a college of education or department of education and the reduction from 25 to 24 in the minimum age of admission for a college of education (technical).

Apart from those and one or two very minor changes, these are consolidating arid simplifying Regulations. They take up two previous bodies of L.E.A. and grant regulations made in 1959 which hive since been overlaid by no fewer titan six amendments. Therefore, there is not much that is new in the Regulations, but the principal changes which I hive mentioned have received fairly general assent.

Sir E. Boyle

In asking leave to withdraw the Motion, may I, on behalf of the whole House, thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker and Mr. Speaker for your forbearance with us during the last hour and a half. We realised the difficulty we were placed in with a set of Regulations partly consolidation and partly new. We thank you very much.

I found the answer of the Minister of Sate, who is always so courteous to the House, most helpful and satisfactory on those matters where we were rather skirting round the rules of order. I was quite a bit less happy with his answer on Regulation 12, which came firmly within the ambit of the debate. Having made that comment and having paid a sincere tribute to the Chair, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.