HC Deb 20 November 1974 vol 881 cc1295-6
3. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many secondary schoolchildren were receiving part-time education in Scottish schools at the most recent date for which figures are available; and what were the comparable figures in each of the previous three years.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Robert Hughes)

Returns from education authorities show that 47,160 secondary pupils were receiving part-time education on 4th November. Figures are not available for November 1971 or November 1972 but, in November 1973, 6,473 pupils received part-time education in Scottish secondary schools.

Mr. Taylor

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that those figures are absolutely alarming? Can he say whether any part of the figure of 47,000 relates to industrial disruption? I understand that the figures apply to the period before the major trouble started in the schools. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that there is a desperately serious education crisis, particularly in Glasgow and Lanarkshire? Bearing in mind that the problems are located essentially in areas of Glasgow and Lanarkshire, will progress be urgently made on the question of designation payments?

Mr. Hughes

I entirely accept that the situation is alarming, and confirm that in one-third of the schools affected the part- time education is related wholly to work-to-rule, which is not concerned with the current difficulties, and that much of the part-time education is caused by teacher shortage in particular schools. I am concerned to ensure that the problem is eradicated as soon as possible.

The figure has built up over the years. In March this year the figure was 12,000 in secondary schools. I met the education authority representatives of Glasgow, Renfrew and Lanark last week. We had a very useful discussion on how we might proceed to a better future.

Dr. Bray

Does my hon. Friend agree that, because of the different staffing situation in schools which are undermanned, some more acutely than others, a multilevel system of designation payments may be desirable?

Mr. Hughes

The question of designation payments is for discussion within the Scottish Teachers Salaries Committee. I have no doubt that it will be discussed because the Teachers' Side has agreed to consider the question of designation payments once it has received the Houghton Committee's report.