HL Deb 29 January 1964 vol 254 cc1148-242

3.55 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, if we may now come back to the Motion before the House, I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, for giving us the opportunity of debating the Newsom Report. I think it is one of the best official Reports on any subject that I have ever seen. Its author or authors have a graphic power of description, and it is evident that their heart was in their work. The debate two days ago in another place on Newsom and Robbins together was in the form of a Motion of Censure against the Government, and from the reports in the newspapers it would appear that the debate was not only polemical but at times even noisy. Until the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, got up to begin his speech, I had no idea what line he was going to take in moving his Motion. I should like to say straight away how grateful I am to him, as I am sure all noble Lords on this side of the House are, for the extremely moderate and constructive speech that he has made. It contained some criticism, which is what we should expect from the noble Lord, but I think it was a genuinely non-Party speech, and it is one which is helpful to the cause of education in this country. I should like to thank him for it.

The Newsom Report makes sixteen recommendations in all, and the great majority of them are suggestions for the improvement of the school curriculum, for the method of presentation of instruction to pupils and matters of that kind. These will be considered, and are being considered, by my right honourable friend's advisers; they will no doubt be considered by the Working Party under Sir John Lockwood, which has been set un to discuss the possibility of a Council on Curriculum, and I have no doubt they are being considered by the local authorities. They are not the kind of recommendations on which it would be right for the Government to take the initiative in saying what ought to be done, but we look forward to hearing advice and discussion about them from many of your Lordships, as we heard just now from the noble Lord, Lord Silkin.

I am grateful to the noble Lord for the interesting and valuable observations he made about board schools and about plans for improving the organisation of work and leisure there. We should probably all agree with him in the desirability of having mock parliaments. The noble Lord also spoke of one recommendation of the Report—namely, that which recommends teaching on the subject of sex in schools; but he added the qualification, which I think is important: provided it is of the proper kind. I am sure we have all heard reports of such instruction which have made us seriously wonder whether the teachers ought not to be instructed in the matter by the pupils, rather than the other way round. I think the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, would probably agree that in most cases it is preferable that this should be done by parents at home rather than in a public class. But these are all important matters—about 13 of the 16 recommendations contained in the Report—on which the Government clearly should not try to prejudice the advice they might receive by anticipating it now. As I have said, however, we shall look forward to hearing what your Lordships have to say.

The major recommendations of the Report which relate to matters for which the Government have primary responsibility are those which concern the school-leaving age, the school building programme and the school teachers' training programme. These things, I think, all hang together—or at least the question of the school age depends very largely on the progress that can be made in the other two. Even if we did not intend to raise the school age, we should still have a vast amount of work to do in improving school buildings and training more teachers for the benefit of the existing school population, which is increasing, and will increase much more rapidly than anybody expected a few years ago. The date at which we can raise the school-leaving age must depend upon the speed of our advance.

We have all been agreed in principle, I think, for twenty years on the desirability ultimately of raising the compulsory age to 16. As I happened to be a Member of the House of Commons in 1944, I should not like to reply to this Motion without a passing word of tribute to the present Foreign Secretary, Mr. Butler, who was the author of the 1944 Education Act. I saw in the House of Commons a little of the tremendous amount of personal labour and devotion that he put into this monumental Act upon which educational policy is still based. I think it is Section 35 of that Act which provides that the school age may be raised by Order in Council, first to 15 and then to 16. I think the question has always been not whether, but how soon.

When we used to discuss in 1944 the date of raising the age to 15, many of us thought that it should be raised as quickly as possible, almost immediately, even although our educational structure was not really ready for it; because, so the argument went, if you presented the country with a fait accompli then the Government, the local authorities, the teachers' organisations and everybody else, would be compelled to bring their system up to the required standard more quickly in order to catch up with this new entry; that even although you might suffer the disadvantage of lowering your standards of education for a few years, in the long run you would gain because progress would be so much quicker than it would have been if you had left it to the more leisurely process of preparing for this new entry before it was allowed to go to the schools.

As the noble Lord mentioned, the school-leaving age was raised to 15 in 1947, when it might have been argued that our educational system was not really ready for it. It was a courageous step at that time, which I think was generally agreed to. I do not think there was any serious opposition to it; and, of course, it placed a tremendous burden upon our whole educational machinery in this country. But I think your Lordships would all agree that it has been justified, although it has inevitably resulted in a great increase in oversize classes which can be reduced only very slowly indeed. But I think you would all agree, looking back, that it was right.

I think the fait accompli argument becomes very much weaker if it is applied to the next age-group of 15 to 16. At the present time, you have a great many boys and girls whose 15th birthday may come in October. They must stay on at school, whether they like it or not, until the following Easter, when they will be 15½. If you raised the age by one year, a great many boys and girls would have to stay on, whether they liked it or not, until they were 16½. There are a great many juveniles of that age who feel that they are really grown-up; that they do not need school any more, and who consider very decidedly that the £7 or £8 a week which they are able to earn—and it will very likely be more before long—will do them a great deal more good than sitting in a classroom being given instruction to which they are not in the habit of paying the slightest attention. They are not academically minded, and very likely their parents will agree with them.

Paragraph 47 of the Report quotes a headmaster who says: There are far too many of our slow and average children who long ago reached saturation point doing tedious and hateful work year after year. That is what one headmaster said, and your Lordships may have noticed a cartoon in one of the morning papers with an imaginary headmaster saying to a pupil, "Simpson, anything which delays your career as a pop singer has my ecstatic support." Newsom comments that these juveniles are provoked, not only by the tedium of the work, but also by resentment at being treated as children. Of course, the resentment is likely to lead very often to insubordination which is a bad thing, not only for them, but for their fellow pupils who might be much better behaved if it were not for the example of this disaffected and rebellious element in the school. I think your Lordships would agree that if we are to raise the compulsory age to 16, to introduce educational conscription up to that age, we must make sure that the minority who are compelled to stay on against their will are given the opportunity of having instruction which is really worth while, and in a class which is not oversized, so that they can get a little more individual attention from the teachers. I think it has always been accepted that we cannot move so quickly towards the 16 maximum age as we did 16 years ago in raising the age to 15.

The Crowther Report, which has been referred to by the noble Lord, recommended that the change should take place either in 1966, 1967 or 1968. But the demographic evidence upon which the Crowther Report was based had become out of date by the time the Report was published. In the middle '50s it was expected that the birthrate would not increase, and the best estimates we had then of the school population anticipated not much more than 6 million school children in the years 1966, 1967 and 1968. Now, in fact, we can see that, owing to the unexpected rise in the birthrate from 1957 onwards, the school population in those years will be more like 7½million.

The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will remember, no doubt, that when we debated the Crowther Report in your Lordships' House three or four years ago he, in moving a Motion similar to this, said that he would be quite willing to accept the year 1970 as the year in which the school-leaving age ought to be raised. That is the only point, and it is a small point, which I should like to take up arising out of the noble Lord's speech. He said this afternoon that if the Government had made a decision upon this matter three or four years ago there would have been, I think he said, a million school children who would have obtained the benefit of the extra year. But if we had made the decision in 1960 on the basis which the noble Lord was then willing to accept for raising the school-leaving age in 1970, I hardly think as many as a million school children would have obtained the extra year between 1970 and 1971, which is, in fact, the date upon which my right honourable friend the Minister of Education has decided.

The reason we did not make this decision in 1960 or until now was because the data were changing so rapidly and we had not got enough information to be sure what was the right date to have in mind. The Newsom Report has recommended 1969, and my right honourable friend the Minister has very carefully and thoroughly considered this, because he is, as I think your Lordships know, at least as anxious as anybody to raise the school-leaving age at the earliest practicable moment, and it is only after very careful consideration that he has decided upon 1971 as a better date than that contained in the Newsom Report.

May I just briefly remind your Lordships of the speed at which our school population is increasing? It has gone up from 5¾ million in 1951 to 6¾ million in 1957. In 1961 it was just under 7 million. Then it was expected to drop but, of course, it did not. It remained at 6.9 million in 1963. It will probably go up to over 7 million in 1965; to 7¾ million in 1969; and to 8,100,000 in 1971. My Lords, that presents us with a very formidable task in providing enough teachers to deal with all these increasing numbers of school children, and I will say a short word about the teaching position in a few moments. But the great burden of that increase from the present figure of about 7 million to about 8 million in 1971, will, of course, fall upon the primary and not on the secondary schools. At the present time the number of over-size classes in the secondary schools is very high—it is about 43 per cent. In the primary schools it is much lower; about 14 per cent. But during the next six or seven years it is the primary schools who will have the great difficulty in reducing, or even avoiding an increase in, the percentage of over-size classes, whereas in the secondary schools there is good reason to hope that over-size classes will have come to an end in 1971 or perhaps even in 1970.

I should like to make it clear to your Lordships that I am not criticising either Crowther or anybody else for having acted on information which turned out to be incorrect, because, in these educational matters, you must plan a long way ahead. You can take only the best scientific data you have for the basis of your planning, and that is all we can do now. It may possibly prove to be that our estimates turn out to be wrong, too, but to the best of our knowledge, according to the best information we have, it seems possible that we may expect by 1970 or 1971 that in the secondary schools the over-size classes will have been eliminated. There will still be a shortage of 35,000 teachers, but that will fall almost entirely on the primary schools; and that is the reason why my right honourable friend has chosen this date. Even so, the addition of 350,000 pupils in one year to the secondary-school population, which is what the raising of the age in 1971 will involve, will be a very heavy burden on our educational machinery, but we believe it is a burden which can be borne without a breakdown and, indeed, without any diminution in our educational standards. Having set that date, building and teacher training programmes must now be geared to that target and we must redouble our efforts to see that the school-building programme and number of teachers are enough to hit with success the targets at which we are aiming.


My Lords, I hope I do not spoil the atmosphere if I ask the noble Earl why it was necessary to leave the announcement about this particular date. These facts were fairly obvious before, and I am afraid the widespread conclusion is drawn that electoral considerations came into the particular timing of this announcement.


I do not agree with the noble Earl about that from any point of view. I am not at all sure that raising the school-leaving age is an electorally popular or advantageous step to take, and I have already explained, in replying to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that the reason why the decision was not taken two or three years ago was that we did not have the necessary information on which to take the decision. We must know, before we take a serious decision of that kind, that we have a definite possibility of being able to provide the necessary facilities for doing it without lowering our educational standards.

In referring to our building programme and our teacher-training programme, I would ask your Lordships to relate what we are seeking to do in the future with what has already been done in the past, because there are too many critics—the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is not one of them—of our educational policy who talk as if there had been some sudden change of policy in our educational aspirations, which is not the case at all. Building is an example of that. We have already since the war built 6,500 new schools at a cost of £1,000 million, most of which have been built in the last seven or eight years; and the average expenditure in the last year or two has been over £65 million compared with £30 million to £35 million in the early 'fifties. Your Lordships will remember the new school-building programme announced in 1958, which has now reached its peak and which was to cost £300 million over the five-year period. It will, in fact, cost rather more; and now, to meet further needs, the Minister has announced an even bigger programme for the three years ahead, 1965–66 to 1967–68. The amount will be £80 million a year, for each of these three years. These programmes are not for the additional places needed in raising of the school-leaving age to 16 announced by my right honourable friend on Monday. They will be provided in later programmes.

As for teachers, the number of teachers has gone up and provision has been made to increase it still further very steeply in later years. The two additional difficulties which the Ministry had were the unexpected rise in the birth rate, which made it evident that far more teachers would be required, and the unprecedented disposition of young women teachers to marry earlier than they have previously done. Out of 19,000 young women teachers who have been engaged in the last few years, 17,000 have already married. As your Lordships know, my right honourable friend is appealing to married women teachers who are in a position to come back for part-time work later on to do so, and I am glad to say about 10,000 have done so.

The present position is that the annual number of students admitted to training colleges has gone up from about 14,000 in 1957, to 21,000 last autumn. My noble friend Lord Eccles, when he was Minister, improved the quality of teachers by lengthening their training course to three years, and this reform, together with the higher intake, has led to a doubling of the training college population from 28,000 in 1956 to 56,000 now. We have now 280,000 teachers altogether in full-time occupation and 25,000 part-time, and we expect that the number will have gone up by 1971 to 355,000 and 22,000 part-time. That, as I have mentioned before, will still leave a deficit, 35,000 less than we need, chiefly in the primary schools, which we hope will be corrected during the 1970s, although the school population, so far as we can estimate at present, will still continue to rise.

The progress in education in this country, the amount of our national resources which we can devote to it, is one of the most difficult problems which any modern Government has, in an expanding economy with full employment and so many demands upon our national resources. School building has to compete with slum clearance, with the building of new factories and with many other desirable things in the national economy. And it is not really a question of money; it is a question of what proportion of national resources we can devote to education and what priorities we are going to give. But, of course, that can be conveniently expressed in terms of money. Our expenditure in terms of money on education was £414 million in 1952, which was just over 3 per cent. of our gross national product. In 1958–59 it was £804 million, which was 4 per cent. of our gross national product. In the current year, it is £1,300 million, which is 5 per cent. of our gross national product. This, I think, shows a massive record of progress both in absolute extent and in proportion of our national resources. We are grateful to the authors of this Report for the help they have given us in our aim of continuing this progress at an even higher speed in the years which lie ahead.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, during the debate in your Lordships' House on the Robbins Report, a debate which was remarkable for the learning, experience and concern which informed it throughout, the point was made by a number of your Lordships that it was impossible to consider the Robbins Report without at the same time bearing in mind the recommendations of the Newsom Committee. We are, therefore very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Silk in, for initiating this debate and giving us the opportunity of bringing together, before we have forgotten what we said on Robbins, what we ought to have been saying at the same time about Newsom; and also we are grateful to him for the way in which he introduced the subject.

The Minister of Education in his own foreword to the Report uses an important and rather striking phrase when he says that The essential point is that all children should have an equal opportunity of acquiring intelligence and of developing their talents and abilities to the full. It is because the Central Advisory Council in writing this Report never lost sight of this essential point, just as it never lost sight of the fact that it was dealing with the interests of the children, that the Report itself is such an important document, and it Is perhaps hardly going too far to say that it marks a turning point in the development of educational thinking in this country. A generation ago a good many educational theorists and a good many ordinary people would have doubted whether intelligence was something which could be acquired. Skills and techniques: yes, they could be taught; and character: yes, that could be developed. But intelligence was thought to be part of a man's fundamental make-up. You were born with it or you were born without it, and it was rather unfortunate for you if your ration with which you started life was smaller than that of other people.

The Newsom Committee believes something quite different from that. The belief on which all its recommendations are based is that among our children there are reserves of ability which can be tapped if the country wills the means, and that statement brings a kind of hope of liberation from the trammels of educational theories which have dominated some of our thinking far too long. It is for this reason, above all, that the Churches welcome and applaud this important Report, and I believe I can speak for all of them when I say that we recognise in this Report a concern for every individual and a claim for social justice for all, which are basic Christian principles and which we would wish to support with all our power.

It is sometimes thought that the only thing the Churches are concerned with in education is religious instruction, and that the Church of England, the Church of Wales and the Roman Catholic Church care more for the preservation of the Church schools than they do for education as a whole. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. We value our schools, and we believe that through them we can make a contribution to the national life. But we are even more concerned with the whole field of education, because we believe that every individual personality has a unique value in the sight of God, and that the abilities and talents given by God must, therefore, have the fullest opportunity for growth and development.

In supporting the principle of the Newsom Report the Churches are certainly not pursuing any sectional interest. Indeed, if all the Committee's recommendations are adopted, the Churches which have aided schools will have to face additional capital expenditure, over and above that which the raising of the school-leaving age will impose upon them, at a time when their financial resources for schools are already overstrained. But since the purpose is so clearly just and right, that additional expenditure will be faced cheerfully. To deny the opportunity for unrealised abilities to be developed, or to neglect any means by which intelligence may be acquired, would, for us, be quite unthinkable.

In this connection the recent announcement that the school-leaving age is to be raised is most welcome, for without this it would be difficult to envisage how the other Newsom recommendations could have been implemented. There is, however, one point—not a large one, but an important one—about the preparations for the extension of school life which I may perhaps be permitted to mention to your Lordships. It has already been said by the noble Earl who has just sat down that planning for the raising of the school-leaving age takes a good deal of time. That is true. But this applies not only to local education authorities but also to those who are responsible for aided schools. They need to make their plans well in advance. They have, indeed, already anticipated to some extent the Newsom recommendations by beginning to move their planning in that direction. But it is essential that the local education authorities should keep in close contact with the authorities of aided schools at every stage in planning. Grave difficulties can arise (I mention this because in one or two places they have already arisen) if local education authorities go ahead with their plans and keep the authorities of aided schools in the dark as to what they have in mind.

There is so much to welcome in this Report that one is tempted to touch on too many issues. I will content myself with referring only to two points. The first concerns the recasting of the methods of teaching, on which the Report has much to say which is sound, and which I, as a former professional schoolmaster, must welcome. What has been achieved by the best of our secondary modern schools shows that this approach is justified. But the Newsom Committee challenges us, and encourages us to go much further than anything that has been achieved so far. The Committee believes—and it gives reasons for its belief—that everybody can be given a fuller sense of his or her significance in society.

As the Controller of Educational Broadcasting in the B.B.C. said in a lecture two months ago: the Report shows a reasoned faith that everyone can be given some understanding of the social order and of his own place within it, some insight into the ways of thinking that have shaped the modern world, some habit of creative response to the arts, some basis for a personal sense of values". The implication of this for the type of teacher who is needed and the kind of training which he should receive, are obvious. There is much that I should like to say on this particular point, but as I believe that one of the other right reverend Prelates is to speak to it I will say no more. Perhaps the most important implication for the teacher is to be found in the chapter of the Report which has the title Spiritual and Moral Development". That chapter, in my judgment, is by far the clearest, wisest and most realistic discussion of the whole question that has appeared in any Report since the war.

Those of us in the Churches and the schools who have been working for the spiritual and moral development of our children take fresh courage from the Committee's assessment of what can be done in spite of all the difficulties. In particular, I welcome the emphasis on the need for clear and positive teaching both of morals and of religion, and the statement that such teaching can be given in a way which does justice to the mixed society in which we live, recognising the range and degree of religious belief and practice to be found in it, and recognising the right of the individual conscience to be provided with the material on which freely to decide its path. That last sentence is perhaps the best description of the way in which this whole question should be approached. The combination of positive teaching and freedom of choice is vital at every stage in education, and it is good to have it stated so clearly in this Report—and not least in connection with the relationship between morals and religion. As the Report states, boys and girls should be offered firm guidance on sexual morality based on chastity before marriage and fidelity within it. Those are brave words to say in a public Report in the present state of public opinion in some parts of our society, yet they are absolutely right. But if that kind of firm guidance is to be offered—and the verb chosen, "offered", is most important—and not forced upon them, then there must be a spiritual and ethical basis for that moral teaching.

Nowhere is the demand which will be made upon the teacher greater than in this sphere. Teachers must be free to choose whether they will take part in such instruction—that is vital. The Report reinforces again what we have understood all the time since 1944: that those teachers who do choose to give that kind of teaching—and it will be the vast majority of the teaching profession, as I know well—need all the intellectual equipment and training that can be provided; and it is to be hoped that as the colleges of education develop the cooperation which now exists so happily between the teacher-training colleges and many of the ministers and clergy will be expanded and enriched. So far as the Churches are concerned, they will, I know, be only too happy and ready to co-operate in regard to this question of giving this instruction in the schools.

But, in addition, the agreed syllabuses that we now have must be recast, as the Report itself recognises. Owing to the growing understanding between the Churches, it is possible now, as it was not possible in 1944, to move from a limited form of Bible study which was thought to be non-controversial and therefore relatively safe—and, in the opinion of some, relatively harmless—to a real teaching of the Christian faith as it is found in the Bible. There already exists a document, in which the Church of England and all the Free Churches have combined, on the need for teaching of the Christian faith, which in their judgment any teacher can undertake in a State school without disregarding the teaching of his own Church. Indeed, the Churches are ready and anxious to cooperate in the task of revising the agreed syllabuses which, it is to be hoped, will be undertaken as soon as possible by every local education authority. It is perhaps timely that just at this moment the British Council of Churches is initiating, with financial help from two of the great Trusts, a programme of study and research into the problems and methods of religious instruction; and the results of this study should be of great value to the committees which will have to revise the agreed syllabuses.

The Newsom Committee has emphasised in its Introduction that there must be a change of attitude towards the young people with whom their Report is concerned, not only among many of those who control their education but among the public at large, and this cannot be achieved solely, if at all, by administrative action. I hope, therefore, that in this debate there will go forth from your Lordships a challenge to the nation to see to it that these vital recommendations are implemented, not in 1980 but at the earliest possible moment.

4.39 p.m.


My Lords, I venture to address your Lordships for the first time as one who has taught in private education. Seeing the list of speakers in this debate to-day, I fully realise that this is but a minor qualification, so may I ask for the kindness which your Lordships are accustomed to extend on these occasions?

The chief recommendation of this Report is to raise the school-leaving age to 16. The Minister's decision to implement this is a courageous step, for, as your Lordships are well aware, more teachers and better buildings are the foundations upon which Mr. Newsom's far-sighted recommendations must rest. I hope I shall in no way be thought to be disagreeing with what the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, has already said when I point out that the eighth report of the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers clearly shows that the problem of teacher supply remains unsolved. I would suggest that this problem, together with the need for more secondary modern buildings which must be faced if many of the recommendations in this Report are accepted, may well have to be pushed into the background by the more pressing claims from the primary schools when the Plowden Committee come to make their Report.

In what ways can this longer school life be justified? First, will the academic standard really rise? There is little doubt that the goal of an external examination "concentrates the mind wonderfully," and I think it is fair to say that if a pupil is working for some definite objective he or she is healthily occupied. On many occasions, however, both the Newsom and Crowther Reports warn of the dangers of external examinations for the less able pupils. This thinking is generally accepted, but I must point out that at the moment many pupils to whom it might be thought this warning applies in fact leave school at 15 and then take G.C.E. from some college of further education. In my home town of Ipswich a new civic college has been built. So great have been the demands made upon its services that it had to be extended in size almost immediately. Children come in droves to take "O" and "A" levels.

It is evident that there is a need here which secondary modern schools simply are not fulfilling. It is not their fault. Insufficient numbers of children remain for a fifth year to make G.C.E. courses at many schools, particularly schools in rural areas, a practical proposition. But with the raising of the school-leaving age, I hope that all pupils who are able to attempt "O" level will do so at school. Provided that children are not swamped by the number of subjects which they are asked to attempt in this examination, such a policy would only help to raise the secondary modern academic standard generally. I would suggest to your Lordships that this same argument can apply to the newly proposed Certificate of Secondary Education. This new examination will have, I believe, one immense responsibility. If it can raise the standard of written and spoken English without at the same time inhibiting the freedom of children's thoughts and ideas, education will have taken a step forward.

The Report devotes much space to a second justification of a school-leaving age of 16. The Report declares: The last years at school need a unifying theme to give them coherence and purpose at a stage when the pupils themselves are growing restive. I hope that I shall in no way be repeating what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, if in this connection I say a little to your Lordships on practical subjects and on what the Report calls "extra-curricular activities". Obviously, practical subjects can play a major part in the school life of 15-year old boys or girls, nearly all of whom have one thing in common—a quickening interest in adult life. It is worth noting, however, that the Report specifically declares that practical subjects should not be considered in any way a substitute for academic work or vice versa.

But I wonder how many readers, who can remember their own school days, felt gratitude on reading these words: We believe that many, though not all, may find through practical activities a sense of achievement which can energise the rest of their work. This is very true, and I strongly support Recommendations 12 and 13: that deficiencies in practical subjects be remedied more quickly and that provision for such subjects be reappraised generally. As one example, I draw your Lordships' attention particularly towards a convincing account of how the formation of a brass band in a particular school brought out hidden depths in pupils of small academic ability. And music is one of the worst equipped subjects in secondary modern education.


Hear, hear!


My Lords, this concept of a unifying theme of a fuller and more adult education will necessitate extensions to the time-table, new design in buildings, and yet more staff. But if the spirit of this Report is to advance beyond the printed word, the recommendations for these improvements are essential of action as well as of recognition.

I should like to make two pleas for your Lordships' consideration to-day. One is for an extension of maintained boarding schools and residential experience for pupils. There is a case, and I would suggest a strong one, for boarding-school ideas in this Report. If pupils are to lead a fuller school life, in many problem areas boarding schools would provide a ready answer. The Report quotes the fact that peak figures for juvenile delinquency occur in the year before children leave school. The Report claims that many children are simply bored—a contention supported by the crowds of young people with very little to do on the pavements of provincial towns every Saturday morning. The Report recommends more homework, making it clear that such work need not necessarily be done at home—quite the reverse—nor have to be academic.

But one runs into a variety of problems here: school transport, part-time jobs, not to mention the attitude of some parents at home. There are children who can change for the better out of all recognition by going away to school, and certainly after reading the chapter "Education in the Slums", the conclusion is inescapable that for some children, at least, education away from home is their only real chance. The survey shows that in slum areas school buildings and staffing are still desperate problems. A headmaster in rural Suffolk who used to teach in one of the great towns of the North told me that if the school-leaving age were to be raised to 16 he would not like to be presented, in a slum area, with pupils, faced by an extra year at school but having few of the facilities or staff which are necessary to justify this change.

My other plea concerns teachers. This problem has been dealt with, and is going to be dealt with, in the greatest detail, so perhaps I may be forgiven for briefly making two suggestions on the immediate problem of teacher supply. The Crowther Report made the point that over 21 per cent. of the secondary classes in its survey had at least 36 pupils. In my brief experience this simply is not education. Not only can children have little individual attention if the numbers in a class rise above 17 to 20, but with these vast numbers teachers become so over-burdened with correcting written work that in some subjects pupils go for long periods doing little written work at all. Rarely has a truer word been spoken than when this Report maintained that to teach the children in its terms of reference is the hardest task of all; and yet, broadly speaking, graded posts go to those who teach the more able. It would be well worth trying the idea proposed by both the Newsom and Crowther Reports, to offer better pay to teachers in problem areas. And, hand in hand with this, I would beg your Lordships to give consideration to making the return of married women not only to full-time but to part-time teaching a more attractive proposition.

Before I sit down, may I say how very moved many people have been by this Report. At a time when, despite itself, the administration of education is becoming more and more a matter of politics, the authors of this Report have obviously had only one thought in mind—the good of what they came to call "their children". Many will applaud the caution of the Minister, who realises that a sixteen-year-old leaving age is not some magic touchstone in itself, but that it must be supported by the other ideas contained in the remainder of this Report. The fear is that many of these recommendations may have to give way to claims from other parts of education. What is certain is that out of 16 main recommendations in this Report, no fewer than 7 fall to local authorities alone to implement. Future Government and local authority action is awaited with anxiety by many. For, after all, in debating this Report to-day we are debating "half our future". I thank your Lordships for your indulgence.

4.53 p.m.


My Lords, it is one of the joys of your Lordships' House that in the course of our debates Members of your Lordships' House appear who really are experts and really know what they are talking about. We have had this afternoon, in the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, one of the finest contributions, as a maiden speech, that I have ever heard. It was obvious in everything he said that he had had personal experience—and, indeed, I knew that he had done school teaching. I believe that he now farms, and perhaps next time he will be talking to us in the same sort of way about farming. It was obvious, also, that he had not merely taught in school but had profited and studied, and was bringing a really expert mind to bear on the subject which we are debating this afternoon.

He is the first person, for example, who has mentioned the Certificate of Secondary Education, and the effect which that is going to have on secondary education, to which I shall certainly be devoting a few remarks in a minute. The noble Lord was quite right in pointing out the extraordinary problems which arise over the children who, because they cannot get "O" and "A" level teaching in their own schools, go off to civic colleges or other institutes of education to get their "O" and "A" levels, as well as the whole problem of examination pressure on the children who are not the academically brightest. To me it was a particular pleasure to hear the noble Lord's speech—knowing that his father, having been Member of Parliament for Ipswich, later served for a long time in your Lordships' House (I think a great deal in the Committees upstairs, where his service is well remembered)—because I happen to believe in hereditary Peerages, for which I am not always popular on my side of the House. Well, he is a jolly good argument for my view, and I think his speech was a grand speech.

The last time I talked to your Lordships about this Report was on November 20, when we were having a debate on the Address. I ventured to use these words [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 253 (No. 5), col. 387]: Will the Government accept the Newsom proposals? Of course they will, if we press them hard enough. This year they will accept anything. That was not a very difficult prophecy to make; and, indeed, it has turned out to be true. But what surprised me, after I had made this speech advocating raising the school-leaving age, was the number of letters I received, both depressing letters and depressed letters, from school teachers saying, in effect: "If you had to teach the kind of children we have to teach, you would not dream of suggesting raising the school-leaving age." It was a very unpleasant experience to get these letters, but they merit thinking about.

I had pointed out—and in fact the Newsom Report points out—that almost all the voluntary staying on at school is South of the Trent; indeed, the great majority of it is South of St. Albans. So it is in the North of England that the children are not staying on voluntarily for this extra year at school; and I noticed that almost all these letters came from the educationally under-privileged areas, or from areas in the North. I wondered what was happening, and what was the difference between children in the North and children in the South—or it may be between the parents. I was fortunate enough to meet a headmaster who had been a teacher in a very large, good, new comprehensive school in the West Riding. In that school 50 per cent. of the children are now staying on, including the grammar school stream. That is not a very large figure, when one realises that presumably about a third or slightly under a third, are already in the grammar school stream and are included in that 50 per cent.

My schoolmaster friend said to me: "In the North there is a tradition of early school leaving. Father or grandfather went into the pits or the mills at the age of 12, 13 or 14, and it is expected that the son will do the same at 15. This is the established pattern." This schoolmaster is now teaching in the South of England, and he said: "Here you are getting an entirely different pattern of behaviour. You are getting, in fact, a middle-class pattern of behaviour, with parents saying, 'We want the best for our children. What is good enough for the managerial classes of society, as it were, is good enough for us, and we are certainly going to let our children stay on'." But not only do they want the children to stay on; they want them to wear school uniform. It is all part of getting a certain social kudos from friends and neighbours: they say—and it is a very good thing, too: "My child is staying on". But I have no doubt that following the raising of the school-leaving age to 16, the next phase in the South of England, and, I hope, elsewhere, will be that we shall get voluntary staying on to 17 or 18 as a matter partly of educational desirability and partly, also, of social prestige.

I should like to tell your Lordships a little about a bilateral school in our New Town of Harlow. It is, in fact, a secondary modern and technical school; it has no grammar school stream at all. It has been there for about nine years, and the situation is that 80 per cent. of the children are now staying on till they are 16. Although it has no grammar school, 50 or 60 "O" levels are obtained every year, as well as a fair number of "A" level places and a few university passes. In those nine years, the effect of staying on for the extra year at school by way of change in the children has been quite staggering. In the words of the headmaster, "There were a fair proportion of rough hooligans when we started off, but now, by comparison, they are young ladies and gentlemen".

For the 80 per cent. of non-grammar school children this extra year has already worked, and worked brilliantly. But what about the 20 per cent. who are still leaving at 15? Of course, this means about 10 per cent. of the total educational stream because this school has no grammar school element in it. Now the remainder, who are still leaving, are the real problem, because they are the people who will be compelled to stay on, and it will require a real effort to get them to stay on. They are the potential social problems of any society; the potential drifters from job to job; the potential National Assistance addicts—or a small proportion of them are; not all of them, by any means. A large proportion of these children come from very large families, from broken homes or from problem families. These children are the challenge because, if we can get them right, either by our present school arrangements or as a result of the extra year when it comes in, if we can get them socially fit and well and going on the right lines, the extra year at school will not only have justified itself but have paid for itself, and more than paid for itself, by the subsequent saving in medical and social service care.

But, as my noble friend Lord Silkin and other noble Lords have said, it is no good plumping these children down at desks in front of dull teachers trying to grind in conventional school subjects. I asked my friend the headmaster what he did about these children at present in their fourth or last year at school, and what he would do with the extra year when it was forced upon him, and he told me a very interesting story. It happened, in a way, by accident. These children are in the seventh and eighth streams, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, has said, there is a great temptation to nut one's best teachers on to the best children. But this headmaster, like many another headmaster, decided that a proportion of the best teachers ought to work with the least well-endowed intellectually—these children of the seventh and eighth streams. He has 19 points of special allowances to allocate for teachers in his school, and he has allocated some of these to the teachers in the seventh and eighth streams; and I am sure that is right.

He said that the girls needed treating quite separately from the boys, and that they were harder to deal with at this age. They mature sexually much quicker, and they are less interested in material environment. Therefore, they are less interested in conventional school subjects like geography, history and so on. Their interest is in people. He put a very good woman in charge of this section of his school, not at all the conventional pattern of old-type school-marm, who I hope is now a rarity—and now comes the happy accident which took place. In the infant schools in the neighbourhood there was need for some help, and this school started sending out these seventh and eighth stream girls in their fifteenth year for one afternoon a week to act as helpers in the infant schools—to fetch and carry, to mind the little children, to take them to the lavatory, to do up their shoes and so on.

This was not, perhaps, conventional education, but the effects of it were quite dramatic. Indeed, it seemed almost as though a miracle was taking place. These potential trouble-making children became, in his words, "gentle, warm and giving". Their behaviour at school improved, and their attendance improved. They were welcomed by the infant school teachers, and they really did help. There was only one teacher who complained that the secondary school teachers were pushing these "kids" off on to them, and getting them to do their work for them. But for the first time the girls were treated as adults. They were called "Miss" by the small children, and they had cups of tea in the staff room. All this was because, for the first time in their lives, they were people of importance; somebody felt that they mattered.

They are now out for between one and three afternoons a week; and they go in groups of three to eight at a time. One has been wondering (and the headmaster has certainly been wondering) what other work these girls could do that would help them to mature. Two regularly help in the school office: they are running messages and writing lists. They feel that they are useful; and they are learning to speak properly and nicely to visitors. They are learning, in fact, to be useful office juniors by the time they leave. But there are all sorts of other things that could be done in this way. For example, we have been wondering whether a few of them could help in our mother and well-baby clinics, in the same way as they are helping in the infant schools; whether they could help elderly people; and even in some ways in hospitals. It may be said that hospitals are places where harrowing sights occur, and that they are not suitable for girls of 15. But these youngsters are used to that sort of thing in their own homes. I feel that here is a pattern for the future, and that here is a pattern which works, and works extremely well, in building personality as opposed to simply trying to build academic ability.

The boys are not quite such a problem, provided that there are plenty of facilities for physical education. In the fourth year the seventh and eighth streams get twice as much physical education as the more academic children—that is to say, they get 40 to 80 minutes of physical education (games, gym and so on) every day. They are the only children who get swimming every week throughout the year in the large, fine, closed, heated swimming pool which has been built by our urban district council. The result is that they feel a cut above the clever children: they feel important because they are the only ones who get swimming in the winter. They also have a bit more workshop time—and here again, following on what my noble friend Lord Silkin said, obviously teaching and work must be related to the jobs to be done in the neighbourhood, which, in our case, happens to be engineering.

So I think there is emerging a pattern of the future non-grammar school education. In the non-grammar school, perhaps 20 per cent., at the most, will be taking G.C.E.—though I hope it may sometimes be possible to get the proportion to 25 per cent.—and the next 20 per cent. will be taking the C.S.E., the Certificate of Secondary Education, to which the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, referred, which will start in 1966. It is in some ways, perhaps, a pity that we have to have this exam; but, on balance, it is probably as good an exam as one could have for this particular function, because it will be a school-based, teacher-based exam, with the teachers themselves conducting it, not the teachers from individual schools, which will be an improvement on an entirely outside exam.

For the remaining 50 or 60 per cent., there we have the key words in the Newsom Report—"practical", "realistic", "vocational" teaching, and this element of choice which the Council advocate. Here, it must be related to the ordinary life of the district; it must reflect the interests and occupations of the area. My noble friend Lord Silkin stressed the importance of civics. Civics, of course, is not an easy subject to teach. It can degenerate, like social studies, into "waffle". So it is important to make it tough and to make it real; and one of the best ways to do this is to get the children to carry on their own field surveys in the area where they live—not only to find things out, but to find things out in a systematic way. I am not sure whether, in the last year at school, every child should not learn to drive a car. In America every P.E. master, so far as I could see, is also a car teacher for the school; and this is not a bad thing. After all, these "kids" are going to be the possessors of these lethal weapons; as soon as they are 16 many of them will be starting to drive. Why on earth should they not learn to drive safely, as they ought to learn to swim?

But all the children must be stretched intellectually as much as possible. Here again I agree with the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of London, that you do not know what you can do with intelligence until you try to do it. In a multilateral school in Harlow, a three-stream school which has been going for two years, we have had between 15 and 20 children from primary schools who were illiterate, who could just write their names—and that was all. Now, after two years, all are literate. This has been done by putting them into small groups and giving them really concentrated teaching of the kind the noble Lord was speaking about. For stretching there must be the right motive; they must feel that it is worth while; and there must be a core of real tough subjects taught. Here I agree with my noble friend Lord Silkin about the importance of English language and literature—not in the form of Othello, but in the form of learning to be able to express oneself simply and clearly on paper and in learning, above all, to discuss rather than to argue. This is one of the hardest things that boys and girls—and, indeed, all of us—have to learn: to discuss rather than to argue. If they can do this, then they have the makings of good democrats. I think that all have to learn mathematics. Even the back-ward child can be taught to factorise, provided that he As taught in a concrete way.

My Lords, there remains, besides the problems of the seventh and eighth streams, the problems of the lower middle ability children—the children who are not, as it were, bad enough to have the real full treatment, but who are not clever enough to take the Certificate of Secondary Education. These children are in danger of being neglected. They are the young people whom a correspondent in the Guardian called "the Wilkinsons"—why he should pick on "Wilkinson" I do not know, unless perhaps he suffered under a Wilkinson. The only thing that matters with these is that, above all, they should not be neglected. Here the importance of having some kind of house structure, as well as a class structure, in a school cannot be over-estimated. I believe that a teacher who is not the child's academic teacher should be the housemaster or housemistress.

I am a little worried to know what we ought to do with these children who do not take the G.C.E. or the C.S.E. at the end of their course. This C.S.E. is the response to a demand by employers and parents for some sort of certificate to show what their children are like when they have not been able to obtain the G.C.E. It will be better, I think, than the R.S.A. or College of Preceptors examinations; but it can have a bad backwash, because the lower one pushes the examination structure the more the child who is not able to take the exam gets the feeling that he is not up to much. In America every child graduates from secondary school and receives a piece of paper—a sort of internal leaving certificate. We may perhaps come to that. There is something to be said for it, provided that is stresses the child's positive achievements and not the negative failures. Graduation means no more than grading; and, if that is what they want, perhaps they should have it.

I agree with all that was said about the need to improve the general quality of teaching. School teaching, properly done, is both tough and rewarding. I think that my noble friend Lord Silkin said how much was to be done in the sphere of school teaching. But they are wonderful people, the good teachers—and there are very many good ones. There are, however, some bad ones. For a person who likes to be lazy, who is one of the "nine till four" types, teaching is "a piece of cake". There are a certain number of lazy teachers and, worst of all, they tend to accumulate in teaching seventh and eighth stream children in the problem areas in our great cities. It is the toughest areas that have the worst school buildings; so we get a further vicious circle set up.

I am sure we need more teachers who come to teaching later in life after experience of other work. But the drop in wages can be considerable. If you come from, say, engineering, where after having obtained the Higher National Certificate you have been doing a fairly senior managerial job and earning perhaps, £1,200 a year in a factory, you are faced with a salary of £760 if you want to become a school teacher teaching engineering. That is a very heavy and substantial drop. I must say that in the one or two cases I have come across people have said they would face a £250 a year drop in order to do something they felt they had a great desire to do, but a drop of that sort was more than they could face at that time of life.

My Lords, I am discussing what is being done in very good schools, but even they are pre-Newsom schools. The Newsom Report says that schools will not be based on a series of classrooms but on a lot of small, multi-purpose rooms; and we must face the fact that Newsom-designed schools are going to cost more. But we do not need to wait for the buildings before we adopt the Newsom principles. If we are prepared to spend money on partitions and painting, on furniture and, above all, on staff we can have Newsom-type schools in an environment like a slum area, which really is not very exciting at all. But the proposal has to be attacked with imagination and people must not say, "We will not spend money, because the schools are coming down in five or ten years' time". There must be no more slashing cuts in local education programmes.

I hope that we shall beat the Govern- ment to it by the simple process of voluntary staying on, and that we shall achieve an 80 per cent. or 90 per cent. staying on long before 1970. In industrial medicine and safety work we talk about "engineering out" the dangers, the processes and hazards and causes of accidents. In the same way, in applying and carrying out the Newsom Report, in the building and the machinery needed for Half our Future, I think we shall be "engineering out" a great part of the social defects of our society. That is one of the reasons why I so warmly welcome this Report and this debate.

5.20 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add my contribution to the tribute that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, has paid to the speech we all so much enjoyed from my noble friend Lord Belstead. My noble friend, I understand, used to teach the boys of a preparatory school. From what I remember of that age group, when I was a member of it, I would hold anyone who could hold his own with boys of that age in the highest respect; and when I know that my noble friend is a farmer as well, then my admiration for him is unbounded.

I am very glad indeed that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, put this Motion down. I also had it in mind to do so, but the noble Lord beat me to the post and I have no quarrel with him on that account. It is true, as he was good enough to say, that I had the privilege of being Chairman of this Council, for, I think, about four months. Therefore, I should like somehow or other to launch a claim to some of the credit of their Report, if I could. I calculate that the most I should be entitled to would be 11½ per cent. of it. But I am afraid, as Sir Francis Drake said, In any great undertaking it is not the beginning, but the continuating thereof until it be utterly finished, that yieldeth the true glory. So, I am afraid, that bowls me out.

When I had the invitation from my noble friend Lord Eccles to preside over this Council he sent me a letter saying how much he hoped that I would do it. He said that he wanted the Council to look into the education of the below average children. There were a few more words and then the letter continued, . a task for which you are uniquely suited. I am very much afraid that when my obituary comes to be written, it will say that the best services I rendered to the country were in giving things up or in not being there. I remember when my constituents once laid on some function for me, and when the time came and I could not get away from the House of Commons I sent a telegram of apology. I read in the local paper next day: The highlight of the evening was the receipt of a telegram from Mr. Amory regretting his inability to be present. That seems to follow me through life.

Nevertheless, I was extremely disappointed when, owing to another assignment, it was necessary for me to leave this Committee. I have seldom been offered a job on which I entered with greater enthusiasm. But I did render a service in handing over to Mr. John Newsom, whose background and talents made him exceptionally suited for that assignment. I think that we were all glad to learn of the honour he received in the Birthday Honours. Indeed, all the members of that Council, it seems to me, were highly qualified, through practical experience in the field of the subject which they had under study.

In the last few years we have had the benefit of three major Reports, which together seem to mark out for us the line of advance in education for the future. If one tried to comment on all the aspects of this Report, it would involve a very long speech, so I am going to pick out only one or two points which seem to me to be of salient importance. The first thing is— and I think that your Lordships will agree with me in this—that the picture disclosed, as a result of the investigation of 6,000 individual cases, does not present us with a record of frustration and failure, but is really a success story. The story of the last twenty years or so is a story of great educational progress and of improvement in the quality of teachers and their tools, and of an increase in the interest of children and parents and of greater response from them. The Council tell us that the number of rebels, as it were, that they have discovered is really a very small proportion indeed, and the same applies to the total failures. Therefore, it is not a question of our having to go into reverse or of making any drastic change of course, but simply of identifying the lines of success and reinforcing them. And I think that that is a very agreeable thing to do.

It cannot be claimed, I think, that secondary modern education has been neglected over recent years. The Minister reminded us in another place that the cost in real terms per head in our secondary schools has been increased by more than 30 per cent. over the past decade. And in this Parliament £200 million have been approved or put in hand for the improvement of schools and equipment, of which the greater share has gone to secondary education. At the risk of bringing blushes to the cheek of my noble friend Lord Eccles, I think that we have been exceptionally fortunate in the specially gifted Ministers we have had in the Ministry of Education over recent years.

Now I come to what I think is of the greatest single importance in this Report—that is, the recommendation for the raising of the school-leaving age. I think that that is basic to all the other progress mentioned and I rejoice that the Minister has now said that it is planned to raise the school leaving age by 1970–71. When I was in Canada, 1 took what opportunities I could of learning about what they are doing there in the field of education. There, of course, a far higher proportion of children stay at schools to ages far greater than 15—to 17, 18 and so on. I am sure that 15, though better than 14, which it was, must be an absurd age to terminate one's formal education. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, here. One has only to think back to one's own experience to realise that. If education is, or should be, a preparation for life and if equality of opportunity is to mean anything, I think that that is a fact about which there can be no argument at all.

Indeed, as the Council point out, the slower pupils need longer to develop, and if they leave earlier, in a very competitive age, they are likely to go under quicker. Sixteen, I hope, will be only a stage on the road to a higher leaving age in due course. The policy of gradualism, of voluntarily staying on at school, is, of course, an attractive one, but I think, as the Council state, that it is really too slow to get the solution we need here, though it is excellent that to-day the number of those who do stay on beyond the age of 15 is double what it was even five years ago.

The next thing that I would mention, because I think that it is very encouraging, is the evidence that the Council produce demonstrating the tremendous influence and potency of environment for good or ill. Again, I believe that this ought to be a source of great encouragement and satisfaction to us, because this is something about which we can do something. Is it not true that the most important single factor of all, in regard to environment, is the personal influence and example of the teachers themselves? I am sure that the Council are right when they point out the greater maturity of young people to-day. That is a fact. And as they grow up, they become more realistic and more pragmatic, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, mentioned, it may be that some pupils have wider experience of life than some of those teaching have.

I think there are two things that flow from this. First, as the Council say, these young people must be treated rather less as juveniles than perhaps they have been in the past; and from my observations on the other side of the Atlantic, I believe it is the case that in Canada they are treated in this way. The second thing which flows is that we must try to make school life seem rather more real to them and more connected to life outside. One has sometimes observed activities in school that may be quite all right for younger children. but seem so out of step with the practical world outside that they may prove even a positive disservice to the youngsters of the ages we are considering, who will be so shortly emerging into life in the world outside. I like very much the sound of the recommendation that the last year of school life should be more outwardlooking—I think the word used is "outgoing". It is interesting that nearly half these children appear to have some kind of part-time paid job at present, and I think the Council felt that, provided that it was not overdone, there may be positive benefits to be de- rived from part-time work. Again, I believe that would be the Canadian experience.

Then the next cheering thing was the evidence, to which noble Lords have already referred, that many of these academically less bright young people may well be capable of far greater progress and achievement than they have been attaining under existing conditions. I am sure from my own limited experience that this is right. There is always a spark somewhere, if only you can find it, to flame up if it is fanned. I am sure that is borne out by the subsequent careers of many of these children. If we look, as we have recently, at the evidence of the restraint with which our soldiers, sailors and airmen have been conducting themselves in difficult police operations abroad, it must make us proud of the individual capacities and decency of these young men, some of whom were members of the section of the school population which we are considering to-day. There is clearly much waste occurring under this heading to-day, and I believe that will become still more important when the school-leaving age is raised. All this, I believe, is a great encouragement and stimulant to us in raising our sights, as the Council hope we shall do.

I should like to say a word about the chapter on spiritual and moral development. I find myself here completely in agreement with what the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London said. I found myself deeply impressed and moved by that chapter, which I thought very finely written, too. The value of the collective act of worship is reaffirmed; the importance of positive guidance on sexual morals is emphasised. I agree with the right reverend Prelate that these are brave words, but they are right words; I found that chapter as valuable as any in the Report as a guide to us in our future policy.

On the structure question, affecting things like segregation according to intellect, the separation of the sexes and so on, there is a remarkable absence of dogmatism. The impression I got was that, in the opinion of the Council these are not fundamental questions, but in that field flexible experiments should continue, and we should learn over a period of time by the best test of all, that is to say, practical experience.

On curriculum, rather more and better use is recommended of practical subjects and it is recommended that greater use should be made of the natural interest of these young people in the kind of work that they may eventually undertake. But even more than that, underlined everywhere is that in their case there should be a more practical approach to every subject that is taught, whatever it may be. That seems to me very good sense. It is not suggested that everything that is taught should necessarily be agreeable or just the momentary choice of the pupils concerned, though unless their interest is attracted little will be achieved. I am sure that in any matter like that we must eschew a particular course just because it is the easy course, for there must surely always be an element of challenge in education if it is to mean anything. We have moved a long way from the days when the old Scottish dominie said: "It does not matter much what you teach the little blighters, as long as they hate it." We clearly have moved away from that, and rightly so. But it is also right that we should not be led to move unthinkingly without limit in the opposite direction.

The suggestion that children in the age group we are considering, particularly between 14 and 16, should have a longer educational day is an interesting one. It is noteworthy, too, that the Council said that, whatever changes are made that affect the school curriculum, these young people have as great a need of out-of-school youth services as any other categories; and, I would venture to suggest, even more than any other category.

Lastly, I would refer to the quality of the teachers, which is of fundamental importance. Our teachers are clearly doing a tremendous job, and the best of them are manifestly successful. There is as great variation between them, no doubt, as there is in the quality of the buildings and equipment they have to use. But I have always felt that it may be a drawback if a teaching career means moving from school through a teachers' training college or university and straight back to school again, and that is all, with no experience of any other job. If we want to avoid the danger of the school becoming an unreal backwater and rather remote from real life, then it must be of great advantage if teachers can get some experience—it does not matter so much of what it is—of some other job. I have heard it said that the most successful teachers are often those who have had other experience; it may be a few years' war service, maybe National Service or simply other work in the civilian field. In passing, I think it is very good to know that there are more married women teaching to-day, and one hopes that this trend will go on.

Though there are many other needs, such as better buildings and equipment, it is clear that the Council felt that a great deal of the progress must fall within the responsibilities and powers of the teachers themselves. The question is: how can we help our teachers, who are doing a splendid job, to equip themselves even better for their great responsibilities? It seems to me that it would be a great advantage if we could find ways in which most teachers could spend a year or two doing something else before they start on their teaching career. A movement that I am interested in (I must declare an interest in it) is called Voluntary Service Overseas, which gives young men and women an opportunity of giving a year's service in some underdeveloped country of the Commonwealth. I believe this is an example of the kind of preparation—it is a preparation for any life—which would he invaluable. But, if not that, then just work in a factory, a shop or anywhere else. I have an idea that this happens more in Canada than here, because with their long summer vacation most people who are going to become teachers will have had something like six years of summer vacations in which they will have done some work or other. I fancy that that stands them in very good stead.

Secondly, the other matter in which I should hope we could do rather more is in giving more encouragement (this has been mentioned already) to late entry into the teaching profession. I believe that at about the age of 25 or 30, perhaps, many people who have been in some other job, after they have had a few years' experience of something else, will feel a vocation for teaching. suggest that we may be missing excellent material at present for want of some direct encouragement to people who feel like that to transfer into teaching.

Two incentives have been mentioned, and both seem to be important. How can we devise a better incentive for teachers who feel that they have the gifts to tackle the most difficult jobs; and how can we devise incentives for more teachers to go and live in the areas which their schools serve, when perhaps the attractions of that area may not be superficially attractive to them? I believe that a teacher is in a better position to serve the children, and to understand their needs, if he or she lives in the area concerned. I am very impressed by the words of the Report that, Teachers teach by the way they behave and by what they are. The force of personal example will always be the strongest of all influences for good or ill. Perhaps the greatest single impression one gets is of the tremendous responsibilities and the tremendous opportunities for service that fall on our teachers, particularly on the "heads" of our schools. Fortunately they are usually tenacious and enterprising types. I liked the headmaster who said: "I well instill a spirit of cheerfulness into this school if I have to thrash every boy to within an inch of his life." That is not what I am recommending, but it is an example of an enterprising and resolute spirit.

In conclusion, I think we can see how right my noble friend Lord Eccles was to set up this inquiry. We have the benefit of an excellent Report from a group of wise and very experienced people whose advice we should be very silly to ignore even if we wanted to, and I do not think we do. It seems to me, if I may say so humbly and respectfully, that the Report gives us a comprehensive, balanced picture of our problems and of our achievements, and agreeably free from dogma, excessive emotion, or exaggeration. It indicates the road ahead. Most of us are convinced that the potentialities of our young people to-day are as good as, or better than, ever before in our history. I think it was Oliver Cromwell who said something like—I cannot remember the exact words: The least he hath a life to lead As much as the greatest he. If we believe that the aim of education should be preparation for life, and if we believe that the two things that older folk owe the young are opportunity and encouragement, then I hope that we shall push ahead on the lines recommended, with faith that in doing so we shall ensure a still fuller use of the greatest asset our country possesses, which is, I believe, the steady character, the inherent decency and the practical capacity of its people.

5.44 p.m.


My Lords, it is with diffidence and not without trepidation that I shall try to say something on this vital subject of the education of the average and below average children. Not only is it the first time that I have spoken in this House, but also by no stretch of the imagination could I conceivably be called an educationist. I felt rather envious of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, when he was making his maiden speech. At least he can speak as one knowing what he was speaking about. Your Lordships will excuse me if I feel it right to try to say something, if only from the point of view of one who has the rather special concern for all the young people in my diocese (which any Bishop must have), whatever their religious denomination, or whether they have any allegiance at all. From this point of view I agree with very many things that have been said about how much we welcome the Newsom Report and how much we must be glad that it is being thoroughly discussed in your Lordships' House, and I also express the hope that, whatever Government is in power, its recommendations will be implemented.

There is one point which I feel has perhaps not quite fully been appreciated, and it is to this that I should like to address my brief remarks. The point was made to me by one headmaster, a headmaster who seems to me to be already anticipating a good many of the things suggested by the Report. For instance, a most interesting local survey of the area has been made by the children from his school, and it has caused quite a storm in the city. He said, "We aim to offer something of the cultural and recreational background which we normally associate with a university". It was the use of the word "university" in this connection which seemed to me to be so significant. I think it puts the whole matter straight into the right scale of values, at any rate speaking from North of the Trent.

The problem with secondary modern schools, and with the children who must go to them, is not simply a matter of buildings, not simply a matter of study, not simply a matter of curriculum, vital as these things are, but a matter of the esteem or lack of esteem in which these schools are held by the general public. How often does one still hear expressions like, "Blackboard jungles", "Dumps for the failed 11-plus", and "Breeding grounds for juvenile delinquents"? What we want is a change of heart in our country. What we want is as much value put on these children, with their particular aptitudes, as is put on those for whom we provide what we call higher education. It is not a lower education which is wanted; it is a different education, one which calls for different skills in teaching, different arrangements of buildings, a different kind of programme, just as good in quality, of course, and not just less in quantity and lower in standard.

This, to my mind, is what is so impressive about the Newsom Report and what it says. It does not say to us that we must have x more new schools, y more teachers, and, therefore, z more million pounds to pay for it all. It says to us that this is the kind of education which people, who will not ever necessarily be much good at books, probably need in order to become fully developed up to their capacity and, of course, prepared, not just for their working life but for a whole life. The school must be for them what the sixth form and the university is for their contemporaries who are born with the capacity for that kind of education. And we have only until they are 16 to play with.

In some cases, of course, the school also has to try to provide some of the things which the educated family gives to those children who, in consequence of the kind of home from which they come, qualify for grammar school, public school, and, eventually, the university. How significant from this point of view is all the Report says about helping these young people to become articulate! The greatest handicap that some of them feel—as your Lordships will remember the Report says—is that inability to express themselves which soon convinces them that they have nothing to express. The Report then goes on to say that there is no gift like the gift of speech, and the level at which people learn to use it determines the level of their companionship and, therefore, the level at which their lives are lived. That is finely said.

It is from this point of view also that we can appreciate the very imaginative plans in the Report for the layout of new schools and the adaptation of old buildings. When I think of some of the old buildings in some of the towns in the West Riding of Yorkshire and in the North East of England that I have gone to over the last fifteen years—and too many of them still exist—I realise that it is impossible to put the new wine of the Newsom philosophy into the old wineskins shaped to the old philosophy which was behind the old elementary schools.

My Lords, of course there must be a basic education; of course there must also be training in those manual skills appropriate to those who are going to be the craftsmen, the technicians and the home builders on whom the nation depends; but there must also be rooms in which to make music. How I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, said about music! May I digress for a moment? No doubt many of your Lordships will remember the way in which C. B. Fry, when he was teaching boys to be sailors, insisted upon their all becoming a member either of the choir or of the orchestra. His conviction was that when a boy really found himself at home with his instrument or able to take his part in the chorus, then everything else, his mathematics and so on, was tuned up. Rooms in which to make music—how inadequately these are provided for in so many schools!

There must be grounds available for all the different sports in which these children, just as much as any others, should be expected to join. Then, of course, there must be libraries, generously stocked, with their subjects of research in mind: not the same things as the grammar schools but equally well provided. For their kind of university—if one can use a headmaster's expression— at their level, just as the other normally accepted kind of university, is to prepare them to play their part in the whole life of the community, not just for their working life; and it needs to feed its neighbourhood's social, recreational, cultural and worshipping life as much as its commercial and industrial life.

It goes without saying—and it has been said several times and much more authoritatively than I can say—that the provision of teachers for the development of the programme which Newsom envisages is crucial; and now that the date for the raising of the school-leaving age to 16 has been announced, it has become hard necessity. But it is not only the number of teachers that is wanted; it is graduates and non-graduates, trained to give education which is really secondary modern in its own right and to bring out and develop those particular capacities which these invaluable children have.

This is where one of the weaknesses of the present position lies, in that the provision in the 1944 Act for the training of graduates for secondary modern schools has not been adequately put into force. Neither has there been anything like enough research into the philosophy, the art and the method of teaching this kind of child. The natural result is—on this I do speak from personal observation—that too many heads are having to put up with what amounts really to makeshift staffs. Here again, on the question of the esteem in which these schools are held, there has been too much acquiescence by public opinion in what is supposed to be good enough for these children. This must not go on. Nothing but the best of its kind is good enough for them. And one has to remember that the teacher at these schools has to be what, on the other level, the don or the tutor is in the university, and is more than ever in loco parentis to many of his pupils, because so many of them come from inadequate homes. On top of that, he has to be a mixture of friend, welfare officer, confessor and nurse. It takes some doing; and how magnificently many of these teachers are doing it!

My Lords, one last word. As I go round the schools in my part of the West Riding, I am aware not only of the underestimation there is in many quarters, but of how much I myself have underestimated what is at stake here. I find that also in other people. I believe that the spiritual battle for the soul of our country—and, forgive me, my Lords, for using what may sound rather inflated words—is very largely being fought here, where "half our future" is and always will be. It is fatal to underestimate their significance. It will be tragic if we fail to take this opportunity of "thinking really big" about their education, spiritual, moral, technical and physical.

In certain areas—and they have been mentioned again this afternoon—those who know this to be true and who know what is being fought for, know that they have their backs up against the wall. If the young men and young women who go from these schools to the work on which the nation depends for its prosperity, go confident in their ability to participate in that prosperity at every level and, of course, to contribute to it, then we shall be rich indeed, rich in the true sense, rich in the personal fulfilment of our people and rich in community living. If, on the other hand, numbers of them go and take their places in the adult world with the conviction ingrained in them that the best, even the second-best, is not for the likes of them, not only they but the whole nation will be unnecessarily impoverished. It seems to me, looking at it from this non-professional point of view, if I may so put it. that the question people are asking is, are we going to invest in this "half of our future" as much as we possibly can, or are we going to be misled into spending so much on so many other things that, as has happened before, these schools and these children have to go to the back of the queue and put up with the crumbs which fall from the rich man's table?

6.0 p.m.


My Lords, I am very pleased from these Benches to congratulate the right reverend Prelate on his maiden speech. He says that he speaks from a non-professional point of view, but there was a time (I admit that is a longish time ago) when it would have been unthinkable for a Temporal Lord to have been literate at all; when the only people who were considered intelligent enough to be literate were clerks. Clerks in Holy Orders are, of course, represented here by the Lords Spiritual; and, if I may also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, on his most thoughtful speech, I think it indicates how far the Lords Spiritual have brought us, the Lords Temporal, in this particular respect. If the once illiterate Lords Temporal have been brought to being literate, who knows what else we shall achieve as well?

I confess to being very disappointed that the Government have chosen a date later than Newsom. I cannot see why the date of Newsom could not have been chosen. Surely the problems of staffing, of building, and of the child "bulge" figures were the same for the Government as for Newsom. And it was the Government's assessors who supplied Newsom with all these figures. It was only three months ago that Newsom recommended a date, and the Government now suggest a date two years later. I cannot see what information the Government have that was not available to Newsom; and if they have information, why was it not supplied to Newsom? The situation cannot have changed since October, and if Newsom suggested certain figures what information have the Government got that invalidates those figures? That is a point on which I hope the noble Earl who is to reply will say something, because I did not feel that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, was very convincing on this particular subject when he explained why the Government had chosen that particular date.

Exactly the same applied to the date recommended by the Crowther Committee. Crowther estimated that the trough in the bulge—if a bulge can have a trough; I see that the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, is not here to correct me on this point; at any rate Crowther suggested that at the end of the '60s there would be a time when the staff worsening difficulties would be nil. Now the Minister says that we must expect a short period of these staff problems which Crowther suggested would not be existing at the end of the '60s. I admit that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, said that certain actuarial figures were out of date at the time the Crowther Report was published; nevertheless, it still is a mystery to me why we did not accept the Crowther date then, and why we do not accept the. Newsom date now.

I think that the point has been missed in this connection, by suggesting, as the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, did, that we might catch up with these figures before in fact we reach it. This is not the point. Even if pupils do stay on voluntarily, and even if by 1970 everybody was staying on voluntarily, this would still not solve the problem Newsom suggests; that is, that the present educational system is geared to a four-years course. One of the disadvantages of having people staying on for a fifth year for a course that is designed for four years is that it does not satisfy them. Both the noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, suggested that it does not matter that the Government are putting back the date recommended by Newsom because we shall catch up with it. I think the point has been missed here in this question of the difference between a four-year course as it now exists, and the five-year course which Newsom recommends should be devised for the people staying on.

I have another point which I do not think has been made to-day, and about which I feel a little disappointed. The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, said it was the best Report of its kind he had ever read; and I agree. But I am sorry that it did not tackle the organisation issue. I wonder whether the Council had the wrong terms of reference here. I am sorry that the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, is not in his place, because I should like to hear what he has to say on this: he is to speak later in the debate. After all, it was he who set the terms of reference for Newsom. I wonder whether the reorganisation of secondary education could not have helped with the whole problem. Several examples occur to me. For instance; the 11-plus was based on a leaving age of 14. That is now irrelevant. Secondly, the whole question of the building programme is a very complicated and very long-term one. Would not this problem have been made easier if we had considered the whole problem of the organisation of secondary education at the same time? Again I feel that a reorganisation embracing comprehensive schools would help teacher status, which is something so very important.

I definitely feel that here is a danger of different commissions of inquiry with imperfectly related terms of reference seeing the different aspects of the whole problem of education in isolation. For example, we are shortly to have the Central Advisory Council's Report on primary education. What effect will this have on the pattern of secondary education? For instance, they may well recommend that we fall into line with other countries and start our primary schooling at six years of age instead of, as now, at five. All this is going to have a profound effect on secondary education. Secondary education is quite definitely the key to the whole thing and the pattern established here has implications for the whole range of education right up to university level. If we have an effective and enlightened secondary education, that will be the essential basis of a liberal society—I use the word "liberal", of course, in a non-partisan sense here.

I think there was another very interesting point which Sir William Alexander raised in a paper the other day. He pointed out that some time after the First War a research into the correlation between health and wealth (if I might put it generally) showed that it was very directly related to the education given to all people, and that this was not altogether true of higher education. We Liberals definitely want a comprehensive principle as a basic pattern. I should like to see a transfer to secondary education at 13-plus on a basis of continuous selection from the age of 11—that is to say, the same two-tier system as is adopted in the private sector of education and now being followed in Leicester, only enlarged to embrace the whole population—mass secondary and higher education leading to a classless society, which seems to me would achieve the sort of object that we are all aiming at. I believe that Newsom should have tackled this problem.

I see that the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, has returned to his place. I hope he will say something about the terms of reference that were given to Newsom, as to whether they could not have been enlarged so that the Council could consider this whole problem of reorganisation with regard to comprehensive schools in particular, or whether they themselves were right to shy off it. They make fairly strong observations as to the reasons why they have not discussed reorganisation in comprehensive schooling, but I myself feel unconvinced by this argument. I feel that it is a great pity that they did not deal with the whole problem.

Everything that Newsom says is, of course, absolutely true and valid, even without dealing with the problem of reorganisation. Nevertheless, I believe that the answers given by the Council to all these questions would have been better and fuller if they had tackled this problem. For instance, can the correlation of Robbins and Newsom be effected without reorganisation? In this particular connection I want to see one Minister of Education, not one Minister for Higher Education and another for, as it has been called, lower education. I think most people seem to be agreed on this point. Newsom spoke of the danger of radical change. I agree. Gradualism is the essence of developing our educational system into a good one. Nevertheless, I feel that Newsom might at least have aired this problem of reorganisation, because I believe that most people feel that the time is right for reorganisation on this score. As there is now going to be a need for a much more closely co-ordinated plan, it seems to me that that sort of planning would be much better for having had the benefit of Newsom's advice on the reorganisation of secondary education if he had been able to give it, or if he had felt he could give it.

I think that all speakers have said how much this Report is welcomed, and how greatly they hope the Government will implement it. Although the noble Lord who introduced this Motion did so in a non-partisan manner, I feel that I must introduce some slight partisan mood here. The whole of this matter was debated in another place on a Motion of Censure. We are definitely not doing that, but I want to know where we stand vis-à-vis the Government in this respect. I repeat that we had no action on Crowther as to the raising of the school age. We have had action on Newsom, but on a date that is two years later. Again, only last March the Government rejected the University Grants Committee's recommendations, yet they are accepting, or say they are going to accept, the much more bold proposals of Robbins. Similarly, so far as we on these Benches are concerned, we made certain recommendations last year as to the sort of expenditure that ought to have been involved. These recommendations were described in another place by Mr. Macleod as "irresponsible and glib". Now the Government are proposing to do exactly what we suggested.

Similarly with regard to staff: we had a debate last summer on the question of Ministers' interfering with a negotiated settlement with regard to teachers. This again is the sort of thing that makes people feel unhappy about the record of the Government. I do not think I am alone in this view. Crowther, Robbins and Newsom have all called in question the Government's sincerity and their rather late conversion to caring about education at all. It seems to me that there is a certain failing in all Conservative thinking in this matter. They feel it worth while to give good quality education only to a narrow academic élite. All the statements that have come from members of the Government have tended towards this. Now, everybody is agreeing that this is not the right approach. Now that Newsom has blown it sky-high, as it were, everybody is agreeing on the other side.

The kind of "Stop—go" economic policy which the Government have followed has had its repercussions on education. I admit that some of the successive cuts have in part been made good, but only in part; and I cannot feel entirely convinced by the defence the Government have made as to the amount of the national product which is now being spent on education. It seems to me that if they had their heart in this matter the proportion would have been much larger. For instance, what about the cuts that are proposed in this year's programme and in next year's programme? Is anything going to be done about this? Nobody has said anything. The question was asked in another place, but, so far as I can see, it has not been answered. Therefore I cannot feel that I am being unreasonable in suggesting, as indeed many other people have, that the Government's record is slightly suspicious. That is why I want to urge the Government to embrace the whole of this Report in such a way as to show that they really mean business.

My Lords, we have had two most important Reports coming out at the same time—those of Robbins and Newsom. As it seems to me, both have to be implemented together. We are shortly to have a third Report, dealing with primary education. If the Government are returned to office—I personally hope that they are not—I hope that they will mend their ways and show willing.

6.18 p.m.


My Lords, the intrusion of three Bishops into this debate relieves me of any necessity for saying how much we have welcomed the Report which is under discussion this afternoon. I think I ought not myself to abuse that gift of speech which the Report refers to by taking up too much of your Lordships' time on certain questions upon which I would have dwelt more fully had they not already been dealt with. I believe that the wide welcome which this Report and its proposals has received, as evidenced by the constructive and, in a welcome way, non-partisan approach in this House this afternoon, may obscure some of the real dilemmas of decision which lie before us. There is, first of all, this plain dilemma: if the educational resources of the country in terms of its manpower, its money and its energies, are limited—and though they certainly are not as limited as we have supposed in the past, there are some limits somewhere—where should we apply them most? Where should our pressure be? Where do we spend most? What are our main objectives?

The Robbins Report has recently, and quite naturally, hit the headlines. It deals more with the brains of the country in a specific sense—with the potential leaders, captains of industry, professional classes, Cabinet Ministers, and the like, and the development of them is something which has an obvious national urgency about it. But then, within the clamour of that rather glittering prospect, there comes Newsom, like a "still, small voice", pleading for quite a different section of the community, a much larger one numerically, and on quite different grounds. It deals with almost the largest section, the average man and woman of the future, the kind of people who are prey for the cartoonist as "Mr. Citizen". Their average ability is rising, but it will still be average relative to the rest. Their future may not affect the prosperity or the success of the community quite so visibly as other sections.

In their cause, therefore, there is something else involved, a social question, which we have to look at not in terms of academic opportunity, but rather of justice and equality of opportunity in other ways. Moreover, as we advance in education we may tend, if we are not careful, to widen the unequalities between different groups. The present disparity between the gifted and the ordinary, great enough as it is, may be extended. It is even happening at present in secondary education itself. Some of the new secondary schools which we have to-day are a pride and a joy, and when one visits them they fill one with hope. But in the process they have left even further behind a large section of the school population which is poorly equipped, in mean surroundings, and whose pliaht, in contrast with what is happening elsewhere, is worse than ever before. And our very successes in some fields of education may obscure this growing disparity.

Newsom has done a real service in exposing this situation and placing us in this dilemma. It has very justly been called a very humane and enlightened document. Who are these children of average ability or less? They are ordinary men and women of the future. The Report commendably stresses just that human nature. The objective here is not the national investment—which is in some ways, and certainly educationally, a horrid term; it is not the national advantage which will accrue from their development, though that certainly will be great. It is the claims of boys and girls to have the chance to grow up fully as human beings. I think there is no better comment than a quotation from the Report: Their greatest services to the community will be as men and women who can be relied upon to make a success of their own lives, and by the quality of their living to bring up their children to do the same. That does not sound very ambitious, but it is an important estimate of ordinary human values.

Our first dilemma is clear: whether we believe sufficiently in this human claim, quite apart from any social or economic advantages, to throw a fair weight of our resources into it. In fact, it is bound up with our conception of society itself. Because the Newsom Report is so humane in its approach to this, it is also a very fine educational document. It has tried to relate the not very studious or bright boy or girl to the kind of education that will make sense for them. It is bound to stress first the need for better equipment in terms of buildings and plant. I suppose that for this range of pupil equipment matters far more than for any other type of student. These children need to be interested in satisfactory activities and achievements in quite other ways than the intellectual. It is not so much classrooms as workshops, space for physical education, all the visual aids of radio and television—the things that so often do not come first. These children may not acquire very much knowledge, but they want to learn how to read and to enjoy it. If one looks at the Report one sees how many schools have very poor or barely existent library provision. No doubt some of these children will be hard put to it to keep up their reading, but at least let them taste it to start with.

In assessing what secondary education for them should be, they are in fact calling for quite a new, almost revolutionary, attitude; no longer something that either looks like an extension of primary or a pale imitation of what secondary has always meant, that is, the grammar school system with its bias towards examination and tested results. This defines secondary education in terms of what tends towards adult life: personal judgment, discrimination, and the relation between school life and the world outside ahead of them. All too soon these boys and girls of average ability will be expected to behave as adults, and I doubt whether we can realise what that must mean to a boy or girl in our kind of world. It means having to exercise choice and moral judgment when they are at a very young age, when they are exposed to every manner of pressure, commercial and personal. The sensitivity and imagination which this Report shows as to how school subjects can be used to train them in common sense, judgment and responsibility is perhaps its finest quality.

Here it poses another dilemma. There is a great deal of conflict in moral values and ideas in society as a whole to-day; they were illustrated in a debate in another place not many months ago. In normal times (as we regarded them) when the patterns of ordinary behaviour were fairly well-established and accepted in the community, then the range of decision which any individual had to make was a relatively limited one. We do not have to think out each move in such circumstances because society has given us an answer. But when there are no accepted or established patterns of conduct then the range of action before the individual is all that much larger. Almost everything is doubtful for him. Everywhere he is faced with a query. That is what is happening to-day, and it is into that world that these semi-adults of 16 are to be pitched.

We ask ourselves, as does the Report: how can the teacher prepare them for such a world? Here is the dilemma. On the one hand there is the integrity of the teacher. Teachers have a right to their own convictions, and I am sure we should agree with the statement of one association of the National Union of Teachers that it is not reasonable to ask that teachers and officials should all have the same opinions. On the other hand, the children should be offered (as the Report asserts) firm guidance. Neutrality leads them to think that all answers are equally true or equally false, and we may simply project our own uncertainties upon them at an age when they cannot bear them. Part of this is a moral issue. Part of it, as the Report points out, is a religious issue. This is something into which the Churches must rightly feel themselves drawn and committed.

The Report has pinpointed the issues here. First, it has stressed the need for competent teaching in religion and the difficulties of obtaining sufficient numbers of good teachers. The answer is not to do it badly—it might even be better not to do it at all than to do it badly; it is not to accept the standards that we have had in the past. If, indeed, there are situations where the teacher in religious instruction is so thinly spread over the ground that he cannot have any personal contact with his pupils, then here is a situation which, as the Report itself says, would not be tolerated in any other subject. What the Report is saying is: why should it be tolerated in this subject? There are answers which must be sought not only in the world of education, but from all those who are concerned with this particular body of human inquiry and knowledge.

It was rightly said by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, I think when he was dealing with the matter of Civics, that it might become "woolly" and the best motto was, make it tough and make it real. I think that might well apply equally in the teaching of religious knowledge or the drawing into a religious inquiry. Make it real! This is precisely what the Report is calling upon us to do. It is partly a question, as it suggests, of revising the syllabus, but behind that surely lies an infinite amount of research. We are only at the beginning of this problem. How do we present in contemporary terms and contemporary situations a faith once delivered to our own people as they can understand it? This is something, surely, into which not only teachers and local authorities, but ministers of religion, the Churches as a whole, must be drawn, and there are bodies of research going on, which I hope will not be overlooked when this thinking time ensues upon this Report.

I suppose I ought to refer, since I was expected to do so by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London, to a subject which he has kindly left rather on one side. I do not speak about the teachers with great skill or adequacy, although I have been for many years in the past, like him, a teacher, though uncertificated, in the classics, and I share in the sympathy which quite clearly underlies this Report for the difficulty of their situation. The community will say of the school: what is all this adding up to? It is like the parent who, on viewing his school bills for the year, murmured to himself, "Two hundred quid pro quo". I do not know whether it is £200 per person in the secondary school, but it is, if we are to do it properly, an expensive operation. The community may say: what does this add up to? Surely, we have a right in our turn to say to the community, first, that it is the whole of society, that it is part of the process of education, and not just a school. Some parts of it may, like Queen Penelope, be undoing at night the pattern that has been woven during the day. It is right, as the Report says, to bring in those other influences upon young lives: the welfare services, housing conditions, industrial situations and the like. If we really want a fuller education for "half our future", then we must face the implications of this.

I think one of the most moving references is to the home. Here is the comment of one teacher: Parents are fond of their children, but it is not generally their custom to he with them. Being with them (and I do not mean that in a modern and colloquial sense) in an understanding way, ought to be the natural way in which education goes on, in which an older generation shares and passes on its experience to a younger generation. Something is really wrong with society when there is such an aggressive cleavage as there seems to he to-day between the two generations. Is it our laziness, is it our bewilderment at what is happening, is it the economic conditions which are keeping parents away from being with their children? It is perhaps one of the ironies of our day that many mothers go to work to provide money for better amenities at home, and in the process deprive that home of its chief amenity, which is themselves.

I hope that the whole community is called upon to study the implications of this, and that when we deal with the quality of the teacher, which has been so much stressed, it will remember that, after all, the teachers come out of the community and it is up to us to provide them. Quite clearly, the main burden in the developing education, as Newsom has envisaged it, rests with the teachers. They are being asked for new kinds of teaching. The teacher must be able to care for the average pupil as if he were of supreme interest. He must see him in his social setting and not just as an individual in the classroom. He must understand why he reacts against formal education. And in all kinds of problems, which he hopes he will bring to him, the teacher must be able to give the pupil some kind of positive counsel or guidance. All this requires very considerable dedication to the job on the part of the teacher. Will he be there? It may be partly a statistical question, but I hope we do not reckon too much in terms of the number of teachers.

I hope we do not reckon too much in terms of sheer professional qualifications, for as the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, said, many of the teachers who are most effective with this group of boys or girls may have come from some other experience of life than that of the ordinary teacher training ladder. Is our training of the teacher to be mass production in vast colleges, or may there not be something to be said for the smaller unit? Ought we not to be elastic in our conception of how he or she is to be called into this job? And, in his turn, he can rightly ask us to value the office of the teacher and see that it is reasonably esteemed as well as remunerated.

Perhaps in the end our children get the kind of teachers we deserve. If there is something in the claim made here, that the teaching career lacks "a sufficiently attractive professional image", then I think we have to ask ourselves why this is true. Is it a matter of past history, or is there still something in us, a hangover, a patronising and superficial idea of what general, national education really can be, that is militating against the esteem and the encouragement we are giving to those whom we are going to call into extremely difficult and sometimes very uninviting surroundings to do this major work? If the Report stirs us into a new look about that, then I think that will be not the least of the services which it has rendered.

6.38 p.m.


My Lords, like other speakers I thank the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, for opening the debate on a Report which I had to wait a long time to commission, because I thought it was better that the secondary moderns and the comprehensives should get over the worst of their teething troubles before we put them under a microscope. It was indeed a great day for the Minister of Education when my noble friend Lord Amory accepted the chairmanship of the Central Council for Education charged with this Inquiry; though shortly afterwards, as your Lordships have heard, he had to resign to go to Canada. Having heard him speak this afternoon, you will realise how very sorry we were to lose him. But our good luck persisted and Mr. John Newsom, as he then was, was persuaded to take the chair.

My Lords, I think that a man would have to be very hard-hearted not to be moved by this Report. It tells us, as we have never been told before, what we can do, if we care enough, for the education of the 13 to 16-year-olds who are of less than average ability. I can assure your Lordships that the Minister of Education had to have advice on how to teach this age group before it was safe for him to announce a date for raising the school age to 16. He now has that advice in full measure, and I should like to add my congratulations to Sir Edward Boyle for the decision which he announced on Monday in another place. If he thinks that it cannot be done before 1970, I am prepared to accept his advice, because I know that his heart is in the right place.

On the merits of this reform I have not much to add to the convincing arguments put forward by those noble Lords who have already spoken. For myself, I have never met parents who took their son away from a public school at 15 and sent him out to work. Parents who can afford fees keep their children in full-time education until the age of 16 or 17; and they do this because long experience has formed their judgment about the value of spending these years in school rather than in gainful employment. What is right for the children from one kind of home is surely right, in an important matter of this kind, for all children. And that, of course, has always been the essence of the case for raising the age as soon as it was practicable, in terms of resources and teaching methods, to do so.

There are one or two special reasons why the Government are wise to take the decision now. We have to remember that the children who are staying on at school of their own choice are very unevenly spread between the North and the South of England. In fact, for the age group there are many more in the South than in the North. This is not surprising. When families move out of an area where employment prospects are not good, those who pack up their homes and face the risks and the expense of moving are likely to be among the more enterprising and ambitious, and more of the children in the expanding areas to which they move are encouraged to stay on at school than is the case with those from the families who remain behind in the areas of less economic growth. Of course one can find an expanding population in the North: Blackpool, for instance, is said to have over 60 per cent. of its children staying on after 15. But this is exceptional.

One result of the persistent attractions of the Midlands and the South-East is that the children in these areas are academically drawing ahead of the children in the North. The present figures are bad enough—30 per cent. stay on in Surrey against 13 per cent. In Durham—but this divergence is going to get much worse. As the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, reminded us, a new secondary school examination below the level of the G.C.E. is about to be introduced. This exam, the Certificate of Secondary Education, is to be taken only by children who have had a five-year course in their secondary school. To-day, this means only by those who are staying on voluntarily. Now I am assured that this exam will very soon be popular, and will reinforce the trend for greater numbers to stay on in the South as compared with the North. My Lords, if this happens it will not go unnoticed by employers, who will consider these certificates as valuable evidence of the young workers' progress in school; and the greater number of passes in the South will further increase the attractions in this area. The only remedy is to raise the school-leaving age for all children, so that wherever they live—North, South, East or West—they will have an equal opportunity to enter for the C.S.E.

The introduction of this new exam is a strong argument in support of those experienced educationists who say that the children who to-day leave school at 15 are, contrary to what is often said, precisely those who would benefit most by staying on. This seems to me to be proved by the studies made by the Newsom Council, which show the value of the fifth year of a secondary education more clearly than we have ever seen it before. They show, too, how great is the influence of the conditions in which a boy or girl is first brought up at home, then taught at school and then employed as a young worker. Indeed, as I read the Report I saw that bad conditions—bad parents, bad houses, bad schools and bad employers—carry a much greater responsibility than I myself had recognised for producing stupid, rude and unreliable children. We see more clearly than we have ever seen before that social progress and educational progress are indivisible; and if the Newsom Report did nothing else, that would be a great landmark in our thinking.

It is of course equally true that good conditions make good children, and the New Towns provide the best illustration of this, where the families who have moved in soon establish higher standards of living than they left behind in the old, crowded, city districts. Here is the proof that, if we have the will and repeat the conditions of the New Towns, we can get rid of what Newsom calls the problem areas. I should like just to say a word or two about these problem areas. I have seen for myself how, in some of the slums, the grammar schools find it quite impossible to recruit their intake from children who are anywhere near up to the national average of passes at 11-plus. They have to accept many children who are not at all suited to a grammar school course. Then, what happens to the secondary moderns in those areas? They are deprived of the boys and girls who might have stood out academically and encouraged the others. These schools, my Lords, may be forgiven if they wilt under the strain.

Yet some very good schools can be found in districts where the homes from which a great number of their children come are anything but a help to the teachers. Given exceptional teachers, almost miraculous results follow. But these schools are exceptions, and in the less successful schools the teachers arrive and disappear at a disastrous rate—in some schools much faster than the worst example given in paragraph 60 of the Newsom Report. Indeed, if the better-off families are steadily leav- ing the district, the conditions are bound to become more and more depressing: the teachers become more reluctant to teach in the schools; the local authority becomes more reluctant to make any major improvements to the school until a scheme is in hand for the redevelopment of the whole area; more children suffer, and a vicious circle of deteriorating conditions turns bad into worse. The analysis of these problem areas is, in my judgment, the best thing in the Report, and if your Lordships endorse the proposals for action in these areas then I think you will be anxious to hear from the Government, I hope this evening, how these—and, indeed, the other recommendations in the Report—are to be carried out: by what administrative machinery? I think the noble Lord, Lord Henley, was anxious to hear about this. Also, in what spirit must these programmes be undertaken if they are to have a reasonable chance of success? I should like to confine the rest of my remarks to a search for answers to those questions.

My Lords, we all know how often a Report of this kind is greeted with praise, debated in Parliament, approved in principle, and then nothing much seems to happen. That gloomy impression is not always right. It is not right in regard to the Crowther Report. But it is a fact that, even when much does happen, it is usually very diffused and does not get any consistent publicity. It seems to me that that could easily be the fate of the Newsom Report, for a special reason: that, apart from raising the school-leaving age, nothing much will be seen to happen. Most of the recommendations relate to what goes on inside the schools. Chapter 20, on the organisation of the schools, is a remarkable chapter but it concerns only the head teacher and his staff. Other recommendations relate to research and experiments which could be carried on by a very wide range of authorities. Therefore the responsibility for action on the recommendations is extremely widely spread. The Ministry, the local authorities, the universities, the training colleges, many other outside bodies and, above all, the parents and teachers are all involved if these recommendations are to be carried out.

How, then, can the Government see that the recommendations are taken seriously and that effective measures are adopted? I think some special machinery is needed. I put forward the suggestion that the Newsom Council be now asked to elect a number of its members to serve on a follow-up committee. The Minister could nominate other members, one or two from his own advisers, one or two from Her Majesty's Inspectors; and he himself, or his Parliamentary Secretary, could take the chair. This committee could hear regular reports on the progress made on all the recommendations accepted by the Government. And they can only accept them in principle, since they are not strictly under their own authority; but they should say that they wish to see them carried out. This committee could find ways of co-ordinating and speeding-up the work of all concerned and it could issue a bulletin of progress—something that would certainly be widely appreciated. I have cited all this because it is just what we did after the Government accepted the Albemarle Report. We set up a Youth Service Development Council; and we issued a bulletin. I think that that has been a powerful agent in seeing that the recommendations of the Albemarle Report did not drop out of sight. What we are dealing with now is an even more important matter, but perhaps one could learn from the experience of the Youth Service.

I turn now, my Lords, to the spirit in which the recommendations must be carried out—and here I shall traverse some of the ground covered by the right reverend Prelate who spoke before me. Can we count on the public to support the measures needed to help the less able children? I do not think so. We cannot take it for granted that the enthusiasm is there, ready-made and equal to the task. The wish to back winners is very strongly implanted in human nature, and the children we are thinking about look much more like losers. Most of us who have been concerned with education have at one time or another felt the pull to give our best endeavours to the education of the clever child. For many years all Governments have spent much more on the grammar school child than on the secondary modern child, and much more still on the university student. Society as a whole, having an instinct for survival, awards its prizes to the ablest and the fittest.

The Education Act of 1944 calls for education according to ability. This leads directly to selection either by type of school or by streaming. But while selection is manifestly useful to the community—indeed, I would say it is essential, as the Americans are now discovering—solicitude for the clever child can be overdone. There is justice to be considered as well as utility; and in the pursuit of equal opportunity to what extent should the able be asked to make sacrifices for the less able? In one department of life we have accepted this obligation. We pay a graduated income tax which takes more in proportion from the better-off in order to provide services for the less fortunate. This we can arrange by law; but we cannot arrange by law that able people should give more of their brains and time to the less able, or that the pursuit of success should no more be a dominating passion.

Your Lordships might like to consider one or two examples of this fact of life drawn from secondary education. First, parents naturally try to get their children into the best schools in their district. These schools are thus able, to a greater or lesser degree, to select their entry, and others have to take what is left over. Again, if I were a teacher my first preference would be to teach in a new, well-equipped school in an attractive district. I should prefer that to teaching in an old school in a problem area; and even if I were willing to teach in a school in a problem area I am not sure that my wife and family would be willing to live there. Thus parents and teachers, for perfectly respectable reasons, make the good schools better and the bad schools worse. The children who suffer most are the children for whom the Newsom Report was written.

When we look inside the school we find that the staff are well aware of the extent to which their prestige is tied up with the number of successes their pupils can gain in examinations. Can one wonder that teachers, to some extent at any rate, concentrate on the examination candidates? I was very interested in the school so well described by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. When one hears the good things that were done by that head teacher it is an encouragement, and one can only hope that that example can be swiftly spread. But the fact is that, according to my observations, the larger the secondary modern or comprehensive school the more likely the able children are to get more than their fair share of attention. Here I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Henley, that the terms of reference would have permitted the Council to give their views on the structure of secondary education, though I can understand why they did not. I did not have it from them, but I suspect that by keeping politics out of this Report they were able to produce a Report which was unanimous, and moves us more than it would have done had they introduced that very controversial subject. None the less, I agree with the noble Lord that it ought to be looked at. and perhaps the time has come.

I can say this: that in some comprehensives the desire to prove quickly that the school is a worldly success leads to straining every nerve to achieve academic distinctions. One has to remember that in these schools where, by definition, there are a number of 16-and l7-year-olds, the majority of children who are going to leave at 15 can easily become a depressed class. They cannot get the places of distinction in the school hierarchy and very seldom on the games field. This is actually happening. I am not blaming the teachers for this, or the local authorities, or even the Minister. It is the natural result of very large schools and of the desire to back winners. My point is that to keep this very human desire in its place requires an exceptional effort.

The Newsom Report recognises this, and it has some interesting things to say about the effect of examinations in separating the sheep from the goats. In paragraph 251, it says: The more pupils who enter for examination, the greater the risk of creating a sense of rejection among the dwindling numbers of those who do not. The number may appear to the Newsom Council to be dwindling, but it will remain substantial—40 per cent. I should say—for many years. This point is made again in paragraph 261: The more pupils there are who acquire examination certificates, the more squarely the schools are faced with a duty to deal faithfully with the rest—a very substantial number of boys and girls.


My Lords, I am sorry that I did not hear the percentage the noble Lord said. Was it 40?


My Lords, I can only make a guess—20 per cent. G.C.E.; 20 per cent. C.S.E.; and allowing another 20 per cent. who intend to take examinations, that leaves at least 40 per cent. who are at present behind the C.S.E. standard. That makes it rather doubtful whether any examination that is of any value to an employer can be presented to these 40 per cent. This is a vital and important subject, about which the noble Lord knows a great deal.

In my last quotation, the key word to me is "faithfully"—"to deal faithfully with the rest". Thank God!, it is true that there are many teachers who, under trying conditions, do serve faithfully the "also ran" among their pupils. But we should not assume that such service comes easily to them, any more than it does to the majority of us. A man cannot be compelled to work with patience among children who are backward or otherwise below average. I do not believe that monetary incentives will achieve what we want. In my view, if a teacher is to do this well, he must do it for love. We have in this country a very fine tradition of service to others. We stand very high among the world's voluntary workers. But we can seldom have been called upon to tackle anything on the scale of the young people to whom the Newsom Report is directed. These 13-to 16-year-olds are not sick or hungry or lonely. Their appeal is not dramatic. It is not easily expressed in headlines or pictures, such as portray the miseries of starvation. The boys and girls we are thinking about—"our children", as Newsom affectionately calls them—are all to some extent below average, slow to learn, often stupid, sometimes maladjusted, occasionally dirty and downright awkward. Yet these hundreds of thousands of young people constitute the underdeveloped territory within our own shores.

Newsom tells us what to do greatly to improve their education. The Government, I hope, accept all these recommendations, as they have accepted the raising of the age. The money, we may presume, will be found to carry out the proposals. But unless a missionary spirit informs the whole enterprise, can we have any confidence that the physical resources will achieve these objectives? Surely we have consciously and deliberately to go against our primitive instinct to look for winners to back and, instead, to accept the duty to serve faithfully the ugly ducklings, among whom a surprising number of swans will be found.

7.7 p.m.


My Lords, we are grateful to my noble friend Lord Silkin for initiating this debate. My gratitude has increased as I have sat here throughout the whole afternoon, for I have not heard a speech which made me feel that it was time to slip out for tea. I welcome particularly the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles. Somehow, in the more rarefied atmosphere of this House his speeches have more and more a philosophical content, and a knowledgeable one, which we always welcome. If he did nothing else as Minister of Education, he did a marvellous job by appointing the Newsom Council, and we are grateful to him for that.

I must admit that I started out to read the Newsom Report as something of a chore, as something that ought to be done by a politician who wants to keep in touch with the major Reports that might be discussed in your Lordships' House. A little of my reluctance stemmed from the fact that I had read the Robbins Report and listened to our debate upon it, and it seemed to me that about all that was necessary had been said to bring education in this country up to the standard that the future required.

The full blaze of publicity had been directed on the Robbins Report. A tremendous amount of space had been devoted to it in the more serious newspapers and weekly journals, comparisons with the United States and with Russia had been stressed and overstressed; while, by comparison, it seemed to me, the Newsom Report had attracted little attention. All that seemed to be necessary to secure our future was that the bright ones should have all the opportunities we could possibly provide to make them brighter, and the others could very well be looked after by making classes a bit smaller and clearing the black-listed schools.

The Newsom Report, I thought, must be the same essential but dreary old stuff about the size of classes, squalid schools and the like. Instead, I found myself immediately caught up in a wave of enthusiasm and reading on with the excitement that one never looks for in a Report of this sort. When I had finished reading it, the outstanding impression remaining on my mind was of a tremendous optimism; of its faith in that group which the Report calls throughout "our children"—a happy phrase, which I am glad to have heard the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, refer to as being used throughout the Report.

I must admit that I found myself being "choked off" by the Report; and that is sometimes good for the soul. In paragraphs 331 and 332 I read: One point cannot be made too soon or too strongly. An exclusive diet of the 'Three R's' just does not work. Boys and girls brought up in this way disappoint their teachers by failing at the end to have acquired the equivalent, so to speak, of even one R. But in fact restricted teaching of this kind is not what most schools do, though it is what some older people would like to see. I must admit that I have felt that the modern tendency is to overload the curriculum with too many fancy subjects to the exclusion of the absolute essentials. After all, when I left school at the age of 13, having been a half-timer since 12 years of age and having passed the labour examination of those days which judged that I had received a sufficient formal education to enable me to face the world, I could read, I could write and I could do simple sums. I had the essential tools of thought, and all that was required still was to sharpen them with further reading, writing and arithmetic. But I had the inestimable benefit of a mother who had a feeling for words and who encouraged me to use the handiest book on our shelf—namely, a dictionary.

What the Report makes clear is that too many of our children come from homes of which Newsom writes: Many boys and girls may well appear to be much more stupid than they need be simply because of the inarticulate homes from which they come. If there is any one single subject to which this Report reverts in every chapter, and on almost every page, it is this fact that somehow the schools for this "half our future" must remove the great handicap imposed on so many of our children by their inarticulate homes: homes in which 500 or 600 words make up the total vocabulary of the parents. That limitation imposed by the homes inevitably increases the handicap of the children who come from them. Somehow the schools have not only to teach children the words, but their regular use must be encouraged. Otherwise, through disuse they will soon be forgotten. Words that do not come trippingly from the tongue are soon discarded, and particularly it the child on leaving school enters a field of employment where such words do not form part of the normal conversation.

If it is humanly possible, teach them to read with enjoyment, and go on from that to hammer out what they decide is worth while on the anvil of their minds—as Sir Winston Churchill urges, strangely enough, in his book on painting as a pastime; but what good sense it is! I think I have read thousands of books in my time. I have hammered out all too few on the anvil of my mind. If I had my time over again, that is something I should certainly have to do. But I am not likely to have my time over again, and all I can hope is that some of the little words of wisdom I have read in my time have somewhere stuck.

My Lords, I must admit that I am somewhat of a convert to the wider curricula advocated by Newsom: perhaps not so much for the subjects themselves as for the broadening of the vocabulary that they necessitate, although, of course, many of the subjects themselves are first rate. Tools of thought are becoming more and more essential to a modern Britain, and I am not here thinking so much of the Prime Minister's matchsticks, which I gather he uses to help him solve economic problems, but more of words as tools of thought.

Unlike the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London and the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, somehow I found the chapter on spiritual and moral development the least satisfactory of all the chapters of the Report, but I find it hard to say why or, indeed, to supple- ment it with anything worth while. Of its very nature, it is the most difficult subject to teach. It is said that Hellenism and Christianity are the spiritual bases of our civilisation, and their influence seems to be declining with every passing year. Professor Whitehead has said that: Moral education is impossible without the habitual vision of greatness. It is a great thought. But whence are we to get that habitual vision unless something takes the place of declining Hellenism and Christianity? And by Christianity I am not talking about the sort of religion that fixed The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate", but the greatness of a philosophy unsurpassed in its beauty.

Sir Richard Livingstone, whose book Education for a World Adrift is outstanding in this field, said in another book, The Future of Education: The only force which in the past supplied the ordinary Englishman with clear standards and a view of life has lost much of its influence. Fifty years ago nearly everyone, through readings from the Bible, in prayers, and sometimes in sermons, heard once a week a great philosophy of life expounded. Much of the seed fell on stony places, much among thorns; yet, whatever the defects of ministers and congregations, it was something to have listened, even with half-shut ears, to the sacred Book of the purest and greatest of religions; and the hearers learnt, if not to speak, at least to understand, a common language in thought and conduct. The tragedy, my Lords, is that no adequate substitute has taken its place. One must be found if we cannot get back to that one. I am hoping that something will be done that will enable us to get back to that one. But if not, like the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, I hope that some way of teaching it in contemporary terms will be discovered. But perhaps it is my lack of knowledge of this subject which makes me feel a little dissatisfied with this chapter of this great Report.

Perhaps as a politician I have wandered too far away from what I may call the bricks of this Report, and I come to them now. The first point I would make in this connection is in support of the Council's first recommendation—namely, that of raising the school age to 16 from 1965 onwards. I must say that I was delighted to learn on Monday night of the Minister's firm declaration, although Newsom suggests two years ahead. But in saying that I support the Council's point, I have some reservation. I would say to the Minister—and, of course, he understands this, I am sure—please do not do it unless all the preparations have been made for adequate teaching staff, school accommodation and the provision of adequate equipment for use in the final year. Unless that is done, we shall have to go through the sort of period which followed the raising of the school-leaving age to 15, when it was impossible to make adequate preparations. The result was a feeling among so many boys and girls and their parents that they were just wasting their time—and of course to some extent they were.

Our needs for the future will be for fewer hewers of wood and drawers of water. I believe that if we implement the Robbins Report we shall achieve the numbers of scientists and technologists we require, but they will be of little use to us unless they are complemented by sufficient technicians and people trained in the necessary skills. When the M1 was being built, I was told by an engineer that to build it in the allotted time in the days of picks and shovels would have required 1 million men and a capital equipment of somewhere round about £30,000. M1 was built with a capital equipment of £30 million, and 1,000 men were employed, most of whom were skilled machine minders and users. The figures might not be precise, but they are an indication of what is happening, and will continue to happen in our future, of which this Report speaks.

As Mr. Harold Wilson said in a speech at the week-end: We must not lavish all our care on the 15 boys and girls out of 100 who can hope to get a place in a university. I agree with so many who have said this afternoon that that final year will have to be a year in which they are learning how to do the jobs they will do when they leave school. To some extent it must be a specialised year. Not always will it be possible to specialise in the exact skill the boys or girls will follow. But to learn how to use tools, to learn how to think about tools, will help them enormously to acquire skill in any trade. If men are used to handling tools, I find that they can almost invariably go to another trade and handle the tools in that trade. To some extent, of course, we shall have to revert to this when we come to discuss the Industrial Training Bill next week.

The second point I would make here is about teachers—and it is not the general one of more of them of a higher standard. That was so well dealt with on Monday in another place, and has been stressed over and over again today. I want to support all the words that have been spoken about the teacher problem in the so-called bad areas, from which teachers tend to move as quickly as possible. In the education of a child there is, or should be, a partnership of parent and teacher. If one partner fails in this, the task of the other is made heavier and more demanding. If there is to be a choice between the enthusiastic and the less enthusiastic, the bad areas need the teachers whose sense of vocation and enthusiasm will to some extent overcome the problem of the missing partnership in the education of our children.

The chapter on "The Teachers Needed" deals with this point, and by implication condemns us as Members of Parliament and Ministers when, at paragraph 277, it says: This problem of uneven distribution of highly qualified and experienced teachers will not be solved merely by increasing the general supply of teachers". The Crowther Report of four years ago drew attention to the serious difficulties and made a recommendation. It said: The bad areas, which pay much more than their fair share of the price for a shortage of teachers, need a direct attack upon their problem. There should be an attempt to discover by experiment whether financial incentives to teachers to serve in difficult areas would be effective". Like the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, I should like to hear the Government's reply to this point, and the point which has been made in Newsom, because Crowther ended this part of its Report by saying: The problem has remained unsolved and still largely unrecognised". That it should have remained unsolved and unrecognised is disgraceful, for the boys and girls from the worst environment ought not to have added to their environmental handicap that of a lack of continuity in their teaching. This is a problem about which we have all spoken this afternoon. Last week the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, talked about this problem in relation to doctors. This is exactly the same type of problem, and we have to take steps to overcome it.

There is so much more that could be said about this Report that one could go on and on, but time will not permit. There is not one of these sixteen recommendations that ought not to be implemented straight away, or the necessary preparations put in hand. In this age of automation, education must increasingly be directed towards the skills necessary to use it. It must also prepare minds for the use of the greater leisure which automation must bring. I must say I regard this as of some importance. I do not want more leisure if it is to mean more bingo halls and the shocking waste of human minds that that sort of thing can bring about.

I end where I began, by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, for initiating this debate, and by thanking the Central Advisory Council for Education for an exciting, stimulating Report, which has reminded us all that in this "half of our future" there exist capacities, often unrealised, undiscovered and unrecognised, that are worth the pains of discovery. There is gold there for the digging. The noble Lord, Lord Craigmyle, somewhere tells this story. A rich and forceful American, a tenant of a shooting in Inverness-shire, demanded from an aged ghillie as they stood looking down upon the now infrequent cottages that could be discerned in the length and breadth of the glen, "In the name of God, what can you grow here?" to which the old man, taking off his cap, made the reverent answer, "In the name of God, we grow educated men". It is our job to ensure that we in this country grow educated men.

7.29 p.m.


My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, whose maiden speech delighted us, I am an old school teacher. Those days are long ago, and I would not presume on that experience. But there are two factors which bring me a little more up to date with the profession. In the first place, I am the proud father of a teaching nun. In the second place, I let four flats in my house, and they are now, and for some time have been, all tenanted by school teachers—and very satisfactory tenants they are. So I am able to see something of the profession as it is to-day, and there is one aspect on which I want to dwell—the aspect of the disappearing spinster.

When men of our age hear the word "school-mistress" we are inclined to think of a maiden lady wedded only to her profession. Some of them are still left, including, I hope, my daughter. But, on the whole, the spinster school-mistress is becoming extinct. The noble Viscount, Lord Amory, welcomed the coming of the married teacher. I am glad he liked this, because that is what he is going to get; and the problem of the teacher situation, as the Minister of Education is very well aware, is how to get married women back into teaching.

On page 66 of this admirable Report a group of school-leavers give their opinions about the young teachers under whom they suffered, and the opinions are not very complimentary. There was always a change of teachers in my form. That's the reason most of us were uninterested and glad to leave. By the way, judging from the quotations from young people in the Newsom Report, the inability of school-leavers to express themselves in clear and forcible English seems to have been greatly exaggerated.

You cannot very much help the young teacher who is going to leave to get married. After all, however much she has learned at her training college, a certain amount of skilled teaching has to be learned the hard way—hard for the teacher and hard for the pupils. But what is important is that we should get the teacher back into harness as soon as possible. For the first year of married life, when she is settling down in her new home and having her first baby, your young teacher is out of the market, but it is very important that in the second year of her marriage she should receive every help and encouragement to return. That means, not giving her bigger pay, but giving her the conditions in her work that a married teacher needs.

I was very glad to read in Monday's Hansard the Minister's declaration [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 688, (No. 39) col. 56]: My line on that is that where an authority, by providing nursery classes in an existing building, can release a number of teachers to go back to teach in the schools, I am quite ready to approve those classes. In recent speeches I have done my best to publicise this fact, and I am disappointed that, so far, Huddersfield and Kent are the only education authorities which have taken advantage of what I have said. Many of your Lordships are influential men with your local authorities and, of course, the right reverend Prelates are very influential indeed with their authorities, and I hope that they will do their best to make provision for the young woman trained teacher who wants to go back to her profession, because she has two things that a teacher needs: youth and the authority of her married status. She is also an invaluable influence on her girls.

The right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Wakefield, mentioned the excellent school plans that are included in the Report. But when we look at school plans we ought to ask, "Where is the room for the nursery class? Where is the room for the crèche, so that the married teacher may come back here and give us her help?" If circumstances do not permit a school crèche or nursery then baby-minders of some kind should be found for the solution of the problem.

My Lords, I want to turn from that to Chapter 7. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Champion, I liked it very much, and for this reason. All kinds of hard names are given to our system of education, and by far the hardest name that any system has been called is the "rat race"; and it is only by stressing the spiritual side of education that the "rat race" can be repudiated. If our children are engaged in a "rat ", then they will grow up as dirty as rats, as thievish as rats and as destructive as rats; and in the crises of the ship of state they will leave like rats. It is of vast importance that that spiritual development should never be absent from our minds.

I am glad to see that the Report recognises that this is not solely or even primarily a matter of the periods of religious instruction. Spiritual development comes with all subjects of the curriculum. I am glad to see that such praise was given to the act of worship in State schools, to which I attach great importance. As regards religious instruction, I am very glad to hear from the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London that the syllabus is being revised. Of course, no Church—and I certainly include my own Church in that—should ever be content with the syllabus that it has. Theology is a progressive science and child psychiatry is a subject in which new discoveries are continually being made; and the readiness to revise religious syllabuses is a condition for keeping religion alive.

But, my Lords, there is one point which has not been mentioned which concerns me very much: that in the average county school I understand that only one period a week is given to religious instruction. My family friend and Devonshire neighbour, Sir Richard Acland, has written a book under the title We Teach Them Wrong, with most of which I wholeheartedly and vigorously disagree, but I welcome the book and commend it to careful study for its vigorous interest in the question of religious instruction and, above all, for Sir Richard's advice to the teacher of religion to demand at least two or three periods a week for his subject. A subject that gets 35 minutes in the week is frankly not going to be taken seriously by the children.

Chapter 7 also deals with moral development, and I am very hopeful that the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, will be able to give a strong declaration in reply to the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London, with whom I entirely agree on that point. In the debate on the Address I was glad to see that the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, gave a reassuring, though very brief, statement on the matter. That statement did not obtain as much publicity as I could wish to see. I hope that very much more publicity will attend the reply which I expect from the noble Earl. In these days it is not enough to say that we want good morals taught in our schools, because to-day new systems of morality proliferate and there are daily more and more to choose from. But the morality that should be taught in our schools must always be the morality acceptable to the bulk of the parents, and I particularise the morality that they want their own sons and daughters taught. For a man may have very liberal views indeed on morality in general, while remaining exceedingly traditional and positively "square" when it comes to the question of the time his own children come back into the house or the avoidance by his children of promiscuity.

I beg that teachers will remember that in this matter they have not the right to speak for themselves, but they must speak as the trustees of the parents, who are, most of them, represented by the Minister. And it is a matter on which members of the school staff, who may differ in their views, have a duty to subordinate their opinions to the official view of the school. Believe me, I know, and the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, knows, that very often a school master's duty is to subordinate his own view and teach the view of his headmaster and of the school in which he is working. And here is emphatically a matter on which schoolmasters must act together. I do not know whether Lord Belstead had the experience—I certainly did—of the bright faced boy who comes up to you and says, "Sir, I want to ask you something. Is it all right to do this and that? "At that point let the young pedagogue watch his step pretty carefully; for if he starts airing his own views the boy will come back at him: "Thank you, Sir. Mr. Smith says something quite different"; and then you know that you have not only let down poor old Smith, who has probably been kind to you, but you have started a bad school row. Therefore, I maintain that it should be a point of loyalty for every schoolmaster to support the doctrine of his school in this matter.

It must be a matter of national policy, and we want the Minister to give a very firm lead indeed to local authorities on this issue. We know that the Minister's powers are very much limited in this matter, but he has the right and the duty to give a lead. I have sometimes wondered whether our administrative set-up for education is quite the best one. On occasions like this I wonder whether the Minister should not have rather stronger powers over the local education authorities than the Acts give him. Nevertheless, that does not excuse him from the duty of giving to the L.E.A.'s the firmest guidance on matters of supreme importance such as I have mentioned.

7.45 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to the problem that will be facing the voluntary youth services as and when the recommendations of the Newsom Report come into effect. I would remind your Lordships that the oldest of those organisations go back some 80 years, and that in their original work they were occupied with the boy or the girl who was in employment when the school-leaving age was 12 or even under. They have through the succeeding years adjusted their methods to the requirements as the school-leaving age has been gradually increased, and I am sure that the voluntary organisations, brigades and scouts and clubs, will welcome this Report and will be prepared again to modify their methods so as to supplement the advances in the secondary schools.

In this connection it is important to recognise that careful arrangements must be made for liaison and co-operation between the local education authorities and the youth services, as indeed the Report recognises. But what some schools do not at present recognise, and what all schools of the future must come to recognise, is that the voluntary youth services are a definite part of the total education resources of this country—and, incidentally, a very cheap part. Already the youth organisations are feeling the draught of the extension of the training offered by schools. May I give two examples? One is the extension in school excursions, particularly abroad, which means that the youth organisations do not require to have those excursions. The Report quotes one school which in six years has had 16 school holidays abroad and 26 in this country. But, as the Report shows, while pupils of every grade of ability have taken part in these holidays, it is the able pupils who have participated the more. The other example I would give is that of the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards, particularly in the higher, silver and gold, standards. Certain of the training, such as handicrafts, can be much better accomplished by "half our future" at the schools. But other training for the Award—the adventurous side—will normally be better done, I submit, by the voluntary or youth organisations. One can see here the possibility of close co-operation between the school and the troop, the company or the club.

In Chapter 6 of their Report the Council have stated that it is the last year at school that is the peak year for juvenile delinquency, and that the school day is too short for teachers to undertake all that they know to be profitable. Stress is laid on the importance of extra-curricula activities. This leads to what the Report recognises: that some pupils need contacts of a different kind from those they can get from either the conventional or the projected secondary schooling. The value of the youth services is especially great when they are dealing with those boys and girls who have not felt themselves particularly successful at school (the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, described them as the "depressed classes"), and this will apply to quite a number. The Report emphasises the desirability of a number of secondary school teachers of the future being trained in youth service and in the social and welfare services. This is all to the good, but I believe that a word of warning is required as to whether the pupil who has been at school all day will want to carry out his voluntary activities with the same teachers.

The opening chapter of the Report, while recognising the existence of "a basic genetic endowment" of the child, stresses that the kind of intelligence measured by the tests is largely an acquired characteristic—and the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London has drawn our attention to this. This is to be expected, in a way, from a Council constituted as this one is, with 15 out of 26 who are, or have been, schoolmasters. But we must recognise that the half of the school population with which this Report deals is, by and large, composed of those who have been so aptly described by the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, as "academically less bright". They are academically less bright by reason of a lesser basic genetic endowment. However, what a child may not have inherited in the way of I.Q. may well be made up—and for the majority of them is certainly made up—by inheriting certain other qualities.

The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, in his most arresting address, gave an excellent illustration of this as regards musical ability, which is quoted in the Report. There are, of course, other artistic abilities, as well as those of aptitude, of brawn, and perhaps also of diligence and imagination. All these talents can, if properly developed, more than compensate for any relative deficiency in academic talents. Indeed, where these talents are properly developed the boy or girl will not think of himself or herself as being in any way inferior to his or her school-mates who pass the classical examinations and win scholarships. Different, he will realise he is; but not inferior. Furthermore, if the recommendations of this Report are carried out, I would venture to hazard that the half of the nation described in it will lead happier and more contented lives than the other half not dealt with in this Report, so many of whom will find themselves entered for what the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, has described as the national "rate race", since, because they are academically clever, there is a tendency to push them beyond their natural capacities. I would end by congratulating the Council upon an intelligent and lively Report which confronts us with the fact that this "half of our future" can, if given the chance, contribute every bit as much as the other half to the wealth of our nation.

7.55 p.m.


My Lords, we have all listened with much interest to the noble Lord, Lord Balerno. He will forgive me if I set off along a different line. Our esteemed Deputy Leader, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has many styles, all of them effective. To-day, he was a non-partisan statesman, and he has initiated a debate in which there have been many speeches full of deep understanding. Perhaps I may be allowed to single out those of my colleagues, Lord Taylor and Lord Champion. Perhaps noble Lords opposite will also forgive me if I remind them again of what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, reminded them of at the beginning: that it was only two days ago in another place that my Party put down a Motion of Censure which they pressed to a Division. They voted on that after the announcement of the Minister of the raising of the school-leaving age at some distant date. I mention this lest there should be some growing suspicion in this House that we were less ready to censure noble Lords opposite and their Government than our colleagues elsewhere.

I shall not dwell long on these aspects. I think that all of the speakers have tried to be non-partisan, but inevitably the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, who is more fair-minded than any other Minister—which does not mean that he is any more fair-minded than a free citizen—defended the record of his Government; and other speakers close to the Administration tended to follow suit. I cannot share their enthusiasm for the record of their Government in the last few years. We are told that this is a great decision that they have reached: to raise the school-leaving age in 1970-71. We have been given various reasons why that could not be announced before. We were told (at least the noble Earl surmised) that the Election had nothing to do with it; it was just that everyone else assumed that there would be an announcement close to an Election. But we were given to understand that the two things were quite coincidental.

The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, who speaks with great authority and great acceptability on these matters, informed us that the Minister had had to wait until he received the Newsom Report before he could make up his mind. I do not feel that this is the reason. But at any rate, the Government are going to raise the school-leaving age at a date two years later than that suggested by the Newsom Report. We in this House have not been given any reason as to why they could not accept the date of the Newsom Report. If the Newsom Council are so wise on all these matters, one would have thought that they would be wise on this one. But no: the Government say that we must wait another two years from the date suggested in the Newsom Report. The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, announced that what was good enough in this respect for Sir Edward Boyle was good enough for him, and he gave no other reason for waiting all that time. We regard this as a shocking admission, that the Government have had to postpone so long the raising of the school-leaving age.

We were told by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, though he did not apply the moral, that in 1945 the Labour Government of the day decided to raise the school-leaving age to 15, and carried it out two years later. But this Government were requested by the Crowther Committee four years ago to raise the school-leaving age, and they have been able to decide to do it only now, albeit not before 1970–71. I suppose the first generation will stay until age 16 in 1971–72. Why should they take so long? Well, we have not been given any clear reason, except references to the wisdom of Sir Edward Boyle, whose wisdom I applaud highly on other grounds, but I cannot regard him as infallible. I would ask the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, even at this late hour, to tell us why the Newsom Report cannot be carried out in this respect. Was there some factor which had escaped the Newsom Council although they published their Report only this year?

One reason brought forward from the other side tends to be that of teacher supply. We are told that teachers will not be ready before then. What a wretched story that is from the Government's point of view! I am sorry that the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, is not here at the moment, because this involves a criticism of his period as Minister, but we have had debates in this House, which were referred to by the noble Earl, about the Crowther Report. We did our best to criticise the Government for their attitude on that Report in 1960; and we have had other debates.

We were told in 1960 that the capacity of the teacher-training colleges would be raised from 28,000 to something like 51,000. That was held out as a tremendous step forward. Last year we were told that the training colleges would find room for 80,000 by 1970. We are bound, in view of past statements by the Government, to connect this failure to raise the school-leaving age much sooner with the failure to take a far-seeing view of the teacher requirement. So that we are simply not going to join in any kind of vote of congratulation to the Government on this matter. If there were a Vote of Censure available to-night, we should join in it with gusto. I need not pursue that matter further, but I should not like the noble Earl to be under any misunderstanding or to be able to say, when he winds up, that he found the atmosphere altogether agreeable. I hope that I have dispelled any possible illusions on that point.

There is one other topic raised by the Report, which to me is the gravest. It has been dealt with authoritatively and inspiringly by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London, the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, and very powerfully not long ago by my noble friend Lord Iddesleigh and other speakers. I refer to what is to me and to some other speakers the most important chapter in the Newsom Report, Chapter 7, on spiritual and moral development. After all, spiritual and moral development, whatever one's religion, or even one's lack of formal religion, must in the last resort take precedence over intellectual development. I think no one would dispute that proposition. Not that one wishes to argue that there should be any conflict between the two. In a good system of education, of course, they go forward hand in hand.

I am not one of those who find it easy—although I am always on the verge of falling into this kind of audacity—to pronounce confidently on the question of whether the young people of to-day are better or worse than their predecessors. I certainly do not think the delinquency figures, which apply to a very small minority, are any kind of conclusive proof. There is no doubt at all that the young people of to-day are better fed and better educated, intellectually speaking, than any previous generation in this country. That has been said before in this House, and I join in the welcome given to that development. But, on the moral side, I would risk no general opinion as to whether there has been an improvement or the opposite.

I would submit three opinions which I cannot prove, and which in fact nobody could prove, but which I sincerely hold. First, I would say that our young people to-day are more concerned with the welfare of those outside their immediate circle, whether at home or abroad, in the underdeveloped countries, for example—where the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, is working so hard to provide opportunities—than any preceding generation. The social concern of our young people—which is not universal but very widespread, and which seems to be growing—must be counted to them most emphatically for righteousness.

Here I venture to disagree, respectfully, because I admired his speech very much, with my noble friend Lord Champion. I do not myself believe that it is correct to-day to talk of a decline in religion. There may have been some golden age in this country when our people were religious. I am not sure when it was. There was much more church-going, but I have never been told when was this moment when the whole country was religious and everybody believed implicitly in the simplest forms of the Catechism. One hundred years ago we had Huxley and John Stuart Mill—and George Eliot, leading a very curious life, and yet widely admired. I do not myself feel that in the last 100 years we have seen any obvious decline in belief. The Victorians were full of doubt, just as our own generation is. At any rate, I will not embark on a comparison going too far back, but I myself am sure that our young people to-day are more interested in religion than the young people of my own generation. I feel that that must be the experience of teachers. Their interest is brought out very strongly in the Report, and any university teacher will agree with that. When I was a young undergraduate there were no religious debates I can ever recall at the Union. Now they never seem to stop debating religion—or perhaps those are the only ones I am asked down to speak in. At any rate, there is a great interest in religion among the young to-day. Therefore, I cannot agree—although I cannot stop to argue it out fully with the noble Lord, Lord Champion—that we are now in a religious decline. I would say that there are some small, still, tender evidences of a religious revival in this country. I agree that it is a very arguable matter and should not wish to dogmatise.

Thirdly—this is a graver matter—I am sure the view of the present generation about what is sometimes called premarital intercourse (I would call it pre- marital fornication, but I know the Press would be reluctant to print that word; although I do not think one should disguise the subject under some euphemism) has grown more lax in recent years. If we are looking for a weakness among the young in comparison with their predecessors, their parents, it would lie here and not in some general decline in conduct. One must not exaggerate this particular point. The parents, if I remember them rightly, were not exactly angels of chastity, particularly the men, nor were the grandparents—though I was never able to examine that aspect of things too closely. Parents were not angels of chastity, and it is still possible, as I know myself, to find a large majority at the Oxford Union—and it may be at the Cambridge Union—in favour of Christian morals. So do not let us say that the whole of the youth have declared for pre-marital fornication. That would clearly be a mistake. Nevertheless, there are disquieting factors. If we are concerned about the young, then it is this particular side of their views and their life about which we should be most anxious.

I realise that the percentage of illegitimate births is not a conclusive index. Like crime, it affects only a small minority on paper; and immigration and other complicating factors must be allowed for. But, still, the figures for illegitimate births are very disquieting. The percentage before the war was, I believe, something under 4 per cent.; it was still under 5 per cent. in 1955. Now, having risen steadily, it is over 6 per cent., which is the highest percentage ever reached in peace-time. Seeing the trend, I do not think that one can laugh it off and say it is a symptom of nothing. Can one doubt—because I cannot doubt—that there is, at any rate, some connection between this rise in illegitimacy and any weakening that has occurred in the support for pre-marital chastity? In each case no doubt there were physical and economic causes at work. I would say a major cause is the higher earning power of the young and the lightening of parental authority that has gone on. That development may well have come to stay. Whatever the cause, I feel sure that this weakening of the older attitude to chastity before marriage has gone hand in hand with this increase in illegitimacy.

Now, my Lords, if I am anything like right in this assessment, a greater responsibility than ever before must fall on all those concerned with the education of our children in the schools—and, of course, I am not forgetting the parents; and that means everybody. It falls on the teachers, particularly the head teachers, and, of course, on many teachers in a large school; it falls on the local authorities; it falls, as the right reverend Prelates will be the first to agree, on the Churches; and it falls not least, and indeed very obviously, on the Government. And it is to the Government that I venture to address these last remarks. The Government and other public men must play their part—and the public men have played their part to-day.

The noble Viscount, Lord Amory, has to-day spoken out strongly, as has the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, in support of the Church leaders. But the Government surely cannot take up the attitude that other public men can speak on this question but that as soon as one becomes a Minister, one's lips are sealed. That would be a ludicrous position, and I do not for a moment wish to associate the noble Earl with that. But the Government must assume their share of responsibility and they cannot shirk their task of providing firm moral guidance. I hope that the noble Earl will not come and say that he declines to dictate. He can say that if he likes, but he must go on to say whether he is prepared to give moral guidance. I am not asking him to dictate; I am asking him to provide moral guidance on this matter, as he has been asked by a number of speakers before me.

I reject entirely the argument that this is just a private matter between a young man and a young woman. What about the illegitimate children who may well follow an affair of this sort? What about the broken home that is so often the outcome of a marriage entered into by those who have this view of morals? And what about the children, so often delinquent, who are the ultimate fruit of the broken home? In an earlier debate I asked the Minister—but I am afraid I did not give him very much notice—to attend to a powerful passage in the Newsom Report which runs as follows: …we are agreed"— it has been quoted more than once this afternoon— that boys and girls should be offered firm guidance on sexual morality based on chastity before marriage and fidelity within it. That is the quotation from the Newsom Report, and I think the noble Earl has it available. I was given an answer which sounded better than it was. Indeed, I find myself in Hansard actually saying that I was obliged for it. It was not until I read it that I understood how little it meant, and I then saw that it was drafted by an old hand. I hope we shall have something very much more satisfactory to-day.

The Minister said this—and I agree he was speaking without much notice—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 253 (No. 5), col. 430]: Lord Longford…drew attention to Chapter 7 of the Newsom Report which, of course, is a serious and thoughtful discussion of the problems that confront teachers in giving religious or moral instruction. I am sure that my right honourable friend would wish to commend it to teachers for careful study. I believe that the advice given in that chapter will command general support. But so charmingly did the Minister say that, that I thought he was saying that what I put to him would command general support. But I was referring to this particular passage and, of course, he was giving a sort of general blessing to the whole, which is a very different thing and which would leave him free, shall we say, to argue afterwards that he was not committed to any particular sentence.

I have given the noble Earl a little notice this time. I think he knew this matter was coming up, and other speakers have laid it fairly and squarely before him. So I must ask the Minister whether he is going to-day to be able to say anything which will give any leadership to our young people. With all their very splendid qualities, they are desperately in need of help in this matter, more than in any other; and any Government who kept silent or treated this as an open question, or in any way evaded the straight issue which is being raised in this House to-night, would be shirking their ultimate duty. I think I am entitled to say that I know the noble Earl too well to suppose that he would do that with any readiness.

8.15 p.m.


My Lords, we have all expressed our gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, for having put down this Motion for debate in your Lordships' House, and the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, has expressed our gratitude as well. I do not know that there is anything further that I should add there, except that it is very fortunate that there are noble Lords on both sides of the House who put down Motions which seem to Members of both Houses, and indeed to the country as a whole, to be on those subjects which really require discussion and which can best be discussed in this very place. Certainly at this late hour there is very little that I can add to what the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, said at the outset of the debate, nor can I very well add much to the speeches of my two right honourable friends in another place in the debate which took place on Monday.

I fear that I have no dramatic announcement to make about advancing the date of the school-leaving age still further, nor in regard to the many other important recommendations—sixteen of them in all—in the Newsom Report. Nor, therefore, I fear, is there anything I can further usefully say about the Government's undoubtedly impressive, and some of your Lordships have described it as massive, record over recent years. The main problems of increasing the teacher supply, stepping up the building programme and changes in the curricula or revision of the syllabuses have all been dealt with, and my noble friend covered them, in my view, more than adequately. They have been very fully discussed, and I am sure that the Government will pay close attention to all the suggestions which have been made by noble Lords this afternoon.

The Report itself is one to which many of your Lordships have paid tribute, and I personally find it one of the most readable publications of its kind. The case histories, in particular, bring it very much to life, and in that respect the style is very different from some of the Government publications to which we have become accustomed or which we have been obliged to read. I have no further announcements of a very important character to make this evening, and therefore I do not wish to detain your Lordships for long. But of course, I shall certainly be answering the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and also by the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh; and there are one or two other points that I do not intend to skim over.

I feel that at the outset I ought to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, on a most remarkable maiden speech. It has already been described as one of the finest that we have heard in this House, and we all fervently hope that he will on other occasions give us in this House the benefit of his views on these, and perhaps other matters, including agriculture. His personal knowledge will be most valuable to us here. But I was glad that he thought that the Government had been courageous—and I underline the word "courageous", because, as a schoolmaster, he must have chosen that word carefully—in raising the school-leaving age. But he referred to the continuing problem of teacher supply and the problem of modern buildings. I am sure that my right honourable friend will study his remarks with great interest. He made good points in regard to raising the standard of written and spoken English and on the importance of extra-curricula activities. He also spoke—and this went to my heart—of the importance of more music in schools. There were other things he said, but, of course, I cannot review the whole of his remarks this evening.


My Lords, may I ask the indulgence of the noble Earl to express, on behalf of my colleagues, our collective congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead? I had intended to refer to him, but I omitted to do so. We are all full of admiration for his speech.


The noble Earl who wound up, and who has added his graceful tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, made, I think, a very fair-minded speech, even if he him- self said that he was perhaps going to make the atmosphere not quite so agreeable as I had hoped it might be. But he was fair-minded, and he made one of his usual lively and stimulating speeches. The noble Earl has an unrivalled knowledge of educational matters, and I, for one, found his last contribution illuminating. It was a very sincere contribution. My own concern with these matters is, on the whole, of much more recent date, and I know, therefore, that I have a great deal to learn from the noble Earl.

When I told my 14-year old daughter this morning on her way to the French Lycée that I was to wind up for the Government for the first time on a subject for which I had had no previous responsibility, she replied, "Oh, Daddy, it will be quite all right provided you always remember to say 'My Lords' and not 'Sir'." If I remember rightly, the noble Earl also has a daughter who, according to the Press, makes some stimulating remarks. I think I read that she said the other day that "Daddy is mad about education". I do not think that I could fully endorse the words of the noble Earl's daughter. The noble Earl is certainly not mad in the sense that I usually use the word. Indeed, as I have already said, he gives us the benefit of great wisdom when he speaks so fluently in our debates.

In his speech the noble Earl referred specifically to this question of pre-marital chastity, and to whether I would, in a sense, endorse the words in the Report. First of all, perhaps I should just finish the paragraph the first part of which the noble Earl read out. It began like this—and he read this part: For our part we are agreed that boys and girls should be offered firm guidance on sexual morality based on chastity before marriage and fidelity within it". It goes on to say: We believe, too, that this is predominantly the standpoint of the schools. It is also important that boys and girls should realise that 'going off the rails' does not involve Christians losing the fellowship of the church, still less of forfeiting the love of God. There are other, and often graver, sins than those against chastity. I think it is well worth reading that passage more than once, and I hope your Lordships will forgive me for having read it again. No doubt, if all their Lordships had thought that we were going to have a debate on sex this afternoon, they would have been present in considerably greater numbers than they are in fact present. But in answer to the noble Earl's question, I feel I should tell him that I appreciate his remarks very deeply, very deeply indeed, and am certain that they were very well worth making, and making very often.

But I must say also that I do not consider it to be my function in this debate to make any moral or spiritual pronouncements on such matters, however much I may feel about them personally. I think I should leave that to the right reverend Prelates, three of whom have spoken this evening, and maybe to the noble Earl himself. All I would say to the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and to the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, is that I, too, have read Chapter 7 with very great interest. I think the recommendations at the end carry a great deal of weight, but they are of course, like a great many other recommendations in the Report, matters for the teaching profession itself rather than the Government.

My own experience of education in these matters was especially frustrating. When I used to ask my father questions, he would reply that he was certain that my housemaster would discuss these matters with me when I was confirmed, and give me the answers. However, when I asked similar questions of my housemaster he gave, mutatis mutandis, a similar reply, to the effect that he was sure that my parents would be fully informing me about these things. Like others of my generation, I therefore remained in considerable and regrettable ignorance until I reached years of maturity.

In view of what the noble Earl has said about the observations of my right honourable friend the Minister of Education, I feel that it is only right that I should refer your Lordships to his speech on this subject on November 18 last in another place. On that occasion, my right honourable friend said that knowledgeable and thoughtful men and women do not all think alike on these questions, and he added [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 684 (No. 5), col. 772]: …I cannot see either moral or educational advantage in trying to impose outward conformity where honest differences exist. Why that should be described …as standing up for the moral integrity of the nation, I cannot understand. I cannot believe that imposing outward conformity where there are honest differences can be right. My right honourable friend also hoped that the House would bear in mind the position of the Minister if such a responsibility were forced upon him. Many of those who advocated that the Minister should lay down the law on issues of sexual morality were really saying that the Minister, whoever he might be, must be ready to commit himself to a public position on this question—a public position of which they themselves have approved.

My right honourable friend went on to say—and with this passage I think the noble Earl will probably be in full agreement—that he believed that intelligent men and women could be helped in their search for truth and for a sense of values only by having their own and other people's ideas run the gauntlet of serious criticism and discussion. His belief—it is mine, too, and I think it is the belief of the noble Earl—is that there has never been more serious criticism and discussion of the human love relationship than there is to-day.


My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Earl, does that finish that passage?


If the noble Earl would bear with me for one moment further, I want also to quote a very interesting passage from a pamphlet called Citizens Growing Up, which was published by the Ministry of Education more than ten years ago. The epilogue ran as follows: In a free and educated community there must be absolute tolerance of religious belief. This pamphlet has not concealed its own conviction that temporal and eternal values are interdependent, but it has no wish to thrust these beliefs on those who hold other views. Many of the views called Christian still commend themselves to liberal-minded men of many different persuasions, and any plea for truth, honest dealing, kindness, tolerance and courage in our public and family life still meets with general goodwill. If there is one truth mom than another which this epilogue would press, it is the sovereign importance of the free individual human personality.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl? I am most grateful to the noble Earl for quoting those passages, but I was not in fact referring to the Minister of Education when I mentioned "the Minister": I was referring to a Minister in this House. The Minister of Education happens to be a gentleman for whom I have a particularly high regard, but I am afraid the answers which the noble Earl has supplied out of the mouth of the Minister of Education or from the pamphlet do not meet my point in any way. Surely it is not too much to ask any Minister, but particularly a Minister of Education, to say that premarital fornication is evil. That is not an open question. I am simply asking the Minister and the Government to say whether they think this is right or wrong. The argument the noble Earl has used could just as easily be brought in to support a defence of homosexuality. This is not the only moral question; but that argument would justify any defence of immorality or treat any immorality as an open question.


Personally, my Lords, I can fully endorse what the noble Earl has said; but, after all, as a member of the Government, I am not here to speak as a Christian—even if I am an Anglican. I might, as a member of the Government, be a Moslem or belong even to some other more obscure sect. I do not think I can go very much farther than I have; but I appreciate what the noble Earl has said.

The noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Henley, criticised the Government for choosing a date two years later than Newsom. If the noble Lord will read the speech of my right honourable friend on Monday in another place, I think he will find the reason was fully explained. The first reason he gave related to staffing. The effect of an earlier date would have been to increase the severity of the initial setback in staff standards and also to prolong its duration. The second concerned school building. My right honourable friend pointed out that the necessary buildings for the raising of the age could be provided by the later date without their disturbing any of the programmes covering the years 1965 to 1968, for which local authorities have just worked out their proposals. Finally, the Minister referred to the educational preparations needed for the change which are extensive and will clearly need a great deal of time.

My Lords, if I may pass on to certain other points which were made, I should like to say how much I appreciated the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. It was a most agreeable contribution to the debate, particularly as he started by saying that he, personally, believed in the hereditary peerage. But what I found even more illuminating was the discussion of the differences between conditions in the mining areas in the North and conditions in the South where parents want their children to stay on in school. I learned a great deal from the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, and, as I said, from reading that excellent Report. He made a good point when he said that a proportion of the best teachers should also look after the more backward children. This, as we have heard from several other noble Lords, is not, in fact, so very much the case, although it has been done in certain schools.

I was also interested in the point he made about young people being taught to drive at an early age. My own daughter, who is 14 years old, is being so taught. I will not go into his various other most interesting remarks about the new Secondary School Certificate which was also discussed by other Members of your Lordships' House. In addition to speaking of the G.C.E. and of the new C.S.E., he asked a question about whether there should not be a school-leaving certificate. I think this is a matter that I shall go into with interest as to its possibilities.

I have already referred to Lord Iddesleigh's contribution. He, as a former school teacher, like the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, had something to say which really came to the point. His most interesting comment was on the puzzle of the disappearing spinster. I am afraid it is obviously rather difficult for the Government to do very much about this. I agree about the desirability of getting the married woman back into the teaching harness. I am very glad that he approved of my right honourable friend's views in regard to further nursery school provisions, and I am sure the Minister will be glad to read those remarks.


My Lords, may I interrupt just to say that as a timid bachelor I was rather alarmed at what the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, said when he said that a married teacher was what I was going to get.


My Lords, I did not realise that the noble Earl was also trying to be a matchmaker. But I congratulate him on his speech. I thought he made a good point about there being only one period in the week given to religion. Speaking personally, I should have thought that that was fairly low. He made also an interesting point about the Minister's powers over the local education authorities. I am quite sure my right honourable friend will read those remarks also with interest.

Then we had another maiden speech from one of the three right reverend Prelates who spoke this afternoon. It was very remarkable that on the Bishops' Benches I could see no fewer than nine Bishops at the outset of the debate, and I am glad to see that two of them are still here. This is very remarkable considering all their duties. But the Lord Bishop of Wakefield, in his maiden speech, made an important point about how the recommendations of the Newsom Report were to be implemented. He said that the Newsom Report showed the kind of education which people who are not much good at books probably need. He also made the same point as the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, about there being room to make music. Other noble Lords asked for room for a library, room for the new audio-visual aids and room for other equipment. These were very good points but, above all, the right reverend Prelate spoke about this spiritual battle for the soul of this country to which the noble Earl referred on winding up for the Opposition.

Finally, my Lords, the right reverend Prelate urged us to "think big". We must think big. I entirely agree with what the right reverend Prelate said. I congratulate him once more and hope that he will often address us in the future. In a way, it is difficult to think of the right reverend Prelate as a "maiden": he has no doubt made speeches from other places, and I can never quite think of him as a "maiden".

But we had two right reverend Prelates who were not "maidens" also speaking this afternoon. There was the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, who made a notable contribution. I naturally listened with particular interest, as did the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, because we both live within his diocese. As an Anglican, I feel obliged to endorse a great deal of what he said. He spoke of those dilemmas—and they are dilemmas—of the disparity between the gifted and the ordinary parents; of the dilemma between the integrity of teachers and the necessity to give guidance. These were very good points and we are as grateful to him as I know we are to the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London for his observations regarding equality of opportunity for all children. He spoke, too, of the reserve of ability in all children, whether they were "with it" or "without it". He, as noble Lords will know, cares for education as a whole, not only for the Church schools. Indeed, all three right reverend Prelates certainly gave me that impression; that they are concerned with the state of the country and not only with their own affairs.

From the Liberal Benches, the noble Lord, Lord Henley, was disappointed about the date of raising the leaving age. I have given my answer on that point, and I do not think that I need go further. His other point was well answered by my noble friend Lord Eccles, who is much more qualified to answer it than I am.

My noble friend, Lord Amory, that inveterate bachelor, who indeed was first Chairman of the Council (I think we must all greatly appreciate his 11½ per cent. contribution) was certainly not a below-average child. He made a highly witty speech, which a below-average child would not have been able to make. He well described the Government's efforts as a success story, and described it, too— and I think this was a non-partisan, non-political remark—as a success story of the last 20 years. I think that this went to all our hearts. He spoke of his experiences in Canada, a country which I also love, and made the point that children stay on much later at school in Canada than they do here. I suppose that, as one gets a community which is more equal and less the subject of class distinctions, undoubtedly the nation as a whole benefits; and I am one of those who would certainly feel that this general levelling that has happened in Canada is a most admirable process, although, of course, we do not want to lose all our traditional heritage. My noble friend also spoke about the admirable work of Voluntary Service Overseas and the importance of work during vacations, something he also saw in Canada.

One of the remarkable contributions came from my noble friend Lord Eccles. Having made one of the greatest speeches in his life during the course of the debate on the Robbins Report—and I am not alone in thinking this—he again made it plain to us that we are in his debt for his remarkably successful tenure of office as Minister of Education. He accepts, I could not quite make out how enthusiastically, the arguments which his right honourable friend and successor has put forward, and agrees that the raising of the school age could not be done before 1970. He recognised that my right honourable friend certainly had his heart in the right place. He spoke of special machinery being necessary for a follow-up and proposed the formation of a follow-up committee. This is an interesting suggestion, which I am sure my right honourable friend will very seriously consider. He also made the point, which was fairly generally made in the debate, that the children who are suffering most are those in the problem areas, to which teachers are not attracted.

Towards the end of the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Champion, praised the optimism of this Report, and made a special point about the schools for this "half of our future". He said that they must overcome the handicap of inarticulate homes, and that passage in which he spoke of words as the tools of thought was especially moving to me. He referred to the connection between the Robbins and Newsom Reports, and perhaps I may add this point, which I do not think has so far been made: that the teacher-training recommendations of both Reports are very similar. My noble friend Lord Balerno made the important point that schools should recognise that the youth services are a part of the school system, and his remarks about the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and about voluntary youth organisations were especially helpful.

Before concluding, if your Lordships will bear with me for one more minute, I should like to say something on a subject which has been very dear to my heart and which has also been referred to in some detail in the Newsom Report—that is, the question of educational television. As your Lordships know, this subject was referred to also in the Robbins Report, which had some interesting observations to make on it. But, in the context of this debate, I would just say how very intelligently the Newsom Committee dealt with this matter. This was no doubt largely because they had an admirable representative of the B.B.C. on the Committee, in the person of Mr. John Scupham. Undoubtedly the categories of children with which the Report deals—that is to say, those of average or less than average ability—are the kind of young people who find themselves particularly fascinated by television, and it is for this reason that I personally hope that the medium will be used to the maximum possible extent for educational purposes.

Undoubtedly a number of excellent instructional programmes are already put out by the B.B.C. and the independent companies, but I still think that a good deal more could be done by extending such programmes and putting them on, so far as possible, at peak hours. I do not know whether it will in the end be practicable, but I should have thought that to achieve this end it might ultimately be necessary to have one or more channels devoted exclusively to education, as has happened in America and Japan. This would not mean that the B.B.C. or Independent Television would do fewer educational programmes than they are now; on the contrary, the number might be increased. But there is such a wide range of subjects susceptible to visual treatment that I think it will be very difficult to include them all in general services, which at peak hours must, more often than not, put on mainly entertainment programmes. Indeed, I understand that it will be only on certain evenings in the week that B.B.C. 2 will be putting on educational programmes at peak hours. However, these matters are the concern of my right honourable friend, the Postmaster General and I must not wander too far into this field.

All I wished to say was that I find the Newsom passages very interesting, and that I am sure that the Government will take them very fully into consideration. I hope, too, that closed circuit television may play a greater part. A secondary school almost on my doorstep, on the Hampshire-Sussex borders, is so equipped, thanks to the generosity of one of the companies, and I was glad to read, in the conclusions to their interim report on the first year's experiment, that school staff who felt some scepticism at the beginning have now become keen participants and the interest of pupils has been stimulated by the use of the new techniques. As the Newsom Committee say, the powerful visual media have at their best much that is valuable to offer, particularly because communication in the twentieth century is becoming increasingly visual.

In conclusion, I would say only that all depends on the teachers—the faithful teachers, as my noble friend Lord Eccles described them. We must be thankful that they are with us. We must be thankful that they are to be responsible for "half our future". I, too, wish to pay my humble tribute to them.

8.50 p.m.


My Lords, there are just three things I want to say before withdrawing my Motion. First, I should like to express my appreciation of those who have taken part in the debate. I have rarely listened to a debate in this House where the speeches have been so well-informed and of such a high quality. It would be invidious to mention individual speeches, except the two maiden speeches, which I thought were of outstanding quality. Then I wish to express my disappointment at the speeches from the Government side. I deliberately made my own speech as non-controversial as possible, but I did not expect that in return I should get such complacent speeches expressing glorification of what the Government have done but leaving out all their failures. If this had been a debate where we were going to assess the achievements of the Government, I could have said a good deal more. I deliberately set out not to make that an issue in the debate but to discuss the Newsom Report as it is. I was a little disappointed—I say this in all friendliness to the noble Earl, Lord Dundee—that he did not respond to quite the same extent but went on to discuss the wonderful achievements of the Government.

Thirdly, I should have liked to hear from the Government speakers what their attitude is to the specific recommendations of the Newsom Council other than the one regarding the raising of the school-leaving age. We had general remarks about them. But have the Government no mind on these particular recommendations? I know that some of them require further research, and I hope that such research will take place, but I am somewhat disappointed that it was not possible to express a view about any of the recommendations that have been made. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.