HL Deb 08 March 1972 vol 329 cc110-201

2.55 p.m.

LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY rose to call attention to the Report Teacher Education and Training; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, my colleagues and I have chosen to lay this subject before your Lordships' House this afternoon as a contribution to the debate which will inevitably, and rightly, take place as a result of the publication of this Report. I have been in correspondence with the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, who has courteously explained to me that the Government would have preferred that this debate should have taken place later, when they had had more time to consider a constructive approach of their own. But I personally am glad that it is taking place when it is, because your Lordships now have a chance to make points arising from this Report before the Government have made up their minds; and we all know that this is a much easier time to influence a Government than when they have been in any way publicly committed. Therefore I am not addressing any of my questions to-day to the Government; I am merely hoping that your Lordships will put to the Government the points which arise in your minds as a result of reading this Report, so that the Government may be fully informed by the wealth of expertise in these matters which resides in your Lordships' House.

The first thing that must be said, and must never be forgotten even if, during the course of this debate, there are quite a lot of criticisms—and of any Report, there are many criticisms—is that this is an incredibly fine piece of work. We are immensely indebted to the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, and his colleagues for what they have achieved. To present such a detailed and imaginative blueprint for the future of teacher training in such a short time is in itself a tour de force. When you add to this that it is a pleasure to read, it is a very rare product indeed. When you think that it is unanimous, words begin to fail.

It is a Report of immense significance. If it were merely about the training of teachers it would be of maximum importance in its own right, but it is more than that; it is probably the first major document in the beginning of a very wide-ranging debate about the structure of higher and further education in this country. Although this was not within the terms of reference of the Committee, neither they nor we can avoid it. It is on the effects of the recommendations of the James Report on Higher Education rather than on their effects on teacher training, as such, that most of the controversy will rest, which in itself is a tribute to how thoroughly they have done their work on teacher training.

Beginning at the end of the training cycles, as the Report rightly and logically does, we start with the recommendations for in-service training, although the Report makes the point, in passing, that for a large, complex field this is a misleading term. For the Report, so far as it goes on this particular subject, there can be nothing but praise and indeed much praise has been heaped upon it. It is not just a question of giving teachers the opportunity to refresh their knowledge. There is a real, imaginative approach here towards flexibility within the profession and in teaching methods. Indeed, I see flexibility as one of the major keynotes of this Report.

Although one or two of the criticisms that I may make stem from a wonder as to whether flexibility has been taken far enough, it is obvious that it was in the minds of the Chairman and his colleagues all the time. In cycle three, in-service training, we are dealing with flexibility about teachers who want to change the subjects they are teaching; flexibility about methods and types of teaching; flexibility between forms of school and further education; flexibility about entry into the profession and, particularly, about the re-entry of people who have been out of it, especially married women; flexibility in education, so that at any time in his or her career every teacher can increase, deepen and widen his or her own education. In passing—and I am afraid that this may have to be a rather "bitty" speech, because there are so many small points that one wants to take up and comment on or question—I should particularly like to commend the paragraph dealing with the adequate and systematic preparation for the posts of heads of departments, deputy heads, deputy principals, heads or principals in schools and colleges. Proper training for the demanding jobs in education, and particularly for the administrative jobs, is absolutely essential.

If I have a criticism of these recommendations in the third cycle, it is to wonder whether a minimum of one term in-training in every seven years should have been mentioned even as a preliminary figure. One term in five years, which is what the Committee really want to see, and they say so, appears to be a bare minimum. Even if the Government respond to these suggestions about the third cycle as quickly as the Committee hope, the pressures on teacher-supply are, as we know, to a certain extent easing and by the end of the first five years—which is the end of the first five years in which every teacher should have had a single term —I should have thought we would be at the point where we could implement that recommendation and not bother with the rather lower aim of one term in seven years. As we all know, if one starts with a rather inadequate goal it is not unknown that one sometimes gets stuck with it, instead of moving on to a higher goal. We shall come to an interesting example of that later on.

I also raise the question, without urging the point, whether in-service training should not be made compulsory. The Report states: It would be undesirable, at least initially, to make inservice education and training compulsory. I am interested in that qualification, at least initially, and wonder whether the Committee thought that in the end it might be important. I see many reasons for not making it compulsory, the main one of which is that, as a Liberal, I do not think more things should be made compulsory than have to be. But it has been pointed out to me by one of my colleagues on the Liberal Education Panel that this means that those teachers who most need in-service training are the ones who will not get it. The Committee recognised the necessity of in-service training for further education teachers, and that, too, must of course be welcomed. Although it was outside the terms of reference of the Committee, let us hope that that will lead people to think more about the need of in-service training for higher education teachers.

The Open University is mentioned as a possible important tool in the third cycle. I think it could certainly form an extremely important aspect of this part of education. Another might be if real consideration was given, as we have sometimes urged, to the development of the fourth television channel as a completely educational channel. I see this Report as marking a considerable advance in the whole educational policy and theory in this country, and I think we are going to need a television channel which is largely devoted to education. In finishing with the third cycle, I would urge the main point that I wish to put to the Government to-day: that, certainly for our part, we join with the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, in the strong emphasis which he and his colleagues have put on implementing these recommendations as soon as possible and on devoting sufficient resources to them.

It is in the second cycle that we reach the first main problems. It is one of the objects of the Committee and of the Report to do away with the formal distinctions between the two main existing types of training teachers: three years of concurrent training for non-graduates and one year of consecutive training for graduates. All the way through the Report it is the aim of the noble Lord, Lord James, and his colleagues to break down these divisions. The question which I think we must ask is whether they have succeeded or whether, in fact, they have merely replaced one kind of distinction with another. A small point which arises in consideration Of the second cycle is to be especially commended. More and more educationists, as well as others, are seeing the value of at least a year being taken off at one stage of people's education if they are taking education right through to a high standard. This is particularly so if they are going back to teaching.

People who go from school to a college of education or university and straight back to school again probably need a bit of a break from the academic cycle. It is not particularly healthy. Possibly the complaints which we have recently had from leading industrialists about the quality of graduates have more to do with maturity and experience than with academic qualifications, so perhaps a break here is important. Therefore it is particularly to be welcomed that the noble Lord, Lord James, and his colleagues have said that they would: … see advantages in its becoming a known practice of regional bodies to advise professional institutions to give preference, other claims being equal, to those who have not proceeded straight from school to higher education or indeed from the first to the second cycle. That is a recommendation which should be considered in many other fields, way outside teacher training.

I return to the question of divisions within the teaching profession. The fact is that there is still going to be a division between those who have taken an academic degree and those who have taken a professional degree. It may be that one of the ways of getting over this division is that it should be blurred by a multitude of titles; and the co-existence of a B.A.(Ed.) and an M.A.(Ed.), with a B.Ed. and a B.A. and an M.A., may be one way of so baffling people that the division becomes lost. I think there is something to be said for this, although my first reaction is that something simpler might be necessary and that possibly the professional qualifications should become a B.Ed., with the present B.Ed. being adapted to become an M.Ed.

Many of my colleagues on the Liberal Education Panel, and some with a very great deal of experience not only of schools but of the whole educational system, have commented on whether the second year of cycle two is very practicable in a lot of schools. This is a question on which the Department of Education and Science will be spending a lot of time, and I bow to their superior wisdom for they have practical experience and I do not. But I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord James, and his colleagues were absolutely right to say what they thought ought to happen, and that it is now up to us and to the D.E.S., and up to the teachers and the schools, to see that what ought to happen does happen and that the resources are found to meet the needs.

As I have already said, I am impressed by the way the Committee have left loopholes all the way through the Report. But I wish they had been slightly more flexible about cycle two. Concurrent education—the learning of a subject with learning about how to teach that subject—has a real value which the Committee hardly touch upon, and I should have thought there was still room for some teacher training which comprised three years of concurrent training plus the second year of cycle two. I think that this should be very much limited, so that no one should have to go in for it who is not quite clear from the beginning that he is going to make teaching his career. As we all know, one of the troubles at the moment is that teacher training is an alternative form of higher education, and in this concurrent training many people learn how to teach who really do not particularly want to do so. The great virtue of the Dip.H.E. is that it will stop the original entry into colleges of education from being a monotechnic qualification. I am sure this is important. I do not want to underestimate the importance of the two-year Dip.H.E., but I just wonder whether there is not room for some concurrent training, particularly possibly for the mature student who has made up his mind and knows exactly what he wants to do.

I now come to the first cycle, and here I should like warmly to welcome the new Dip.H.E., but only with certain provisos—the same provisos as I have about the organisation of teacher training as outlined in Chapter 5. If the effect of all this is going to be to provide a third sector of higher education separate from the other two and as firmly divided as they are, I do not want it. If the universities are not going to accept the Dip.H.E. as a credit towards their degree courses, if indeed they are not going to regard it as part of their business, I do not want it. But if, on the other hand, as is envisaged particularly in the Note of Extension (which is extremely important, and to which I shall refer again later), the Dip.H.E. is going to become the instrument of flexibility in the whole realm of further and higher education, making it much easier for people to move from one sector to another, and indeed blurring the differences between the sectors, then I think it is not only important for teacher training but a most valuable and important weapon in the whole field of education.

Lastly, I come to the organisation. The Committee, again, have done a really thorough job on their plan. One can only wonder at the immense amount of detailed working out of the plan that they have done. But it is here that I do not think that their plan is good enough, and it is here that my one major criticism would rest. My colleagues and I do not like the binary system of higher education. We certainly do not want a third sector. To my mind, almost the most fascinating piece of the whole Report is the note on the situation in Wales. I hope some of your Lordships have noted this, and, if not, may do so in the course of the debate, because there a situation exists where the university, through its special position in history, will take the Dip.H.E. and the colleges of education under its wing, where it can validate their degrees and brood over the whole complex of higher and further education. That is what I should like to see in England, and that is what I think we could see if we had what some of us want; that is, a provincial federation of higher and further education—a federation which would include universities, polytechnics, colleges of further education, colleges of education and, indeed, all education coming under the D.E.S. beyond school-leaving age. I grant that it is common knowledge that many universities have not really done their duty by the colleges of education under the present system; but some have, and where this has happened there appears to be no doubt in anybody's mind that it was worth while. I doubt very much whether the Dip.H.E. will be validated by universities unless they feel that they have a rather bigger stake in it than they will in the regional councils for colleges and departments of education proposed by the Report.

Here, in talking about provincial federations, I am of course on tricky ground because what I am suggesting could not possibly have been recommended by the James Committee, since it went far beyond their terms of reference. But, nevertheless, I think it is an answer. The universities have a part to play as the guardians of academic standards. That may sound dangerously elitist to one or two, but I think it is the right approach. Universities have something to offer to education of enormous and lasting importance. This must not be destroyed, either by doing away with the universities in their present form or by allowing them, or indeed by compelling them, to retreat into ivory towers. An on-going responsibility for all education is one of the best ways in which universities can be outward-looking and outward-reaching.

I should like at this point, just before I close, to quote to your Lordships the conclusions of the McNair Report of 1944 on this subject. Paragraph 179 of that Report reads: We make this proposal for a major constitutional change at a time when fundamental reforms are being made in our educational system, when we are within sight of full-time education for every boy and girl up to 16 years of age, with compulsory part-time education up to 18"— that was 26 years ago, and your Lordships will note what I was saying before about how, if you start off with lower aims, you may get stuck with them for rather too long— and when it is necessary to attract to the profession of teaching men and women of high quality and potentialities. We believe that in years to come it will be considered disastrous if the national system for the training of teachers is found to be divorced from the work of the universities or even to be running parallel with it. We are not looking a few years but twenty-five years ahead, and such an opportunity for fundamental reform as now presents itself may not recur within that period". The fact that that reform may have been rather botched does not mean that those words are not true, and it is now, 25 years later, that we have to consider whether they are true or not.

My Lords, there are many other things I could say. My noble friend Lady Seear will be talking about qualifications for entry to the first cycle, and other matters. I hope I have not seemed to your Lordships to be too critical of the Report because I have tried not to be. The Committee were unanimous. What might have been in less skilful hands a Minority Re- port is now justifiably termed a Note of Extension. My criticisms are really also notes of extension. I welcome this Report. I hope that, although the Government cannot comment on it at this moment, they will accept the tone of urgency put forward by the noble Lord, Lord James, and his colleagues for cycle three, and realise that they must devote very real resources, not just a reorganisation of the present situation. The rest of the Report is important and good, but I go further: I go with the Note of Extension. I want to see this organisation tied up with higher education. I think that not the least important parts of the Report are the Notes of Extension and the paragraph on Wales, and I commend to your Lordships a study of these particular sections.

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to have been allowed to introduce this subject into your Lordships' House, and I should like to express, I know on behalf of all your Lordships, our thanks and pleasure that the noble Lord, Lord James, is going to speak this afternoon. I am also pleased that, for once, we appear to have got equality of the sexes, and have about an equal number of women and men speaking. I am also particularly pleased that the Bishop of London has been able to attend to add his wisdom. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.19 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, for his splendid introduction to this debate on the Report, and if I do not entirely follow him in every respect I am sure he will not by this time be surprised. Indeed, with three distinguished ex-Ministers taking part in the debate, a number of university professors and the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, himself, my contribution can be brief. I notice that the Minister will not be replying until the end, and I take this as a hopeful sign that the mind of the Government is still open on the question of the Report—because my approach may well be a little different from that of some of my noble friends. I speak to-day as an ex-teacher and as one who maintains close contact with the profession and with students. I should like to try to convey to your Lordships some of their views. These are the people who are described in Antony Sampson's Anatomy of Britain as being in a difficult situation: underpaid, taken for granted, yet required to be the main agents of the great character change of the British people. If "there is nothing constant but change", as we are constantly told, we certainly have plenty of changes in the methods of handling State education. One Report follows another, all from Committees headed by distinguished chairmen; each Minister in this Department likes to make his or her mark by the introduction of some rearrangement or change of the system. An old friend of mine, a headmaster in an East End school, once said to me that all these changes in education are part of a deep-rooted plot to keep the working classes illiterate. Certainly no other profession is subjected to so many opinions and outside advice on how to carry out its job. How many Commissions or Reports have had to deal with doctors or with barristers, with architects or with accountants, and so on? I suggest that there have been not half the number of those which have dealt with the education profession. How much change has taken place in the older universities? How much change has taken place in the public schools, or in the medical schools, or (dare I mention it?) in the Inns of Court? The noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, may say that this is an argument which shows that we are concerned about education. But we must not fall into the trap of saying that all change is good and that all suggestions for change must automatically be accepted. At the end of this debate some of the more Left-Wing publications will undoubtedly declare that I am the most reactionary of the Members on this side of the House.

My Lords, the Report, in its Introduction, says: This report describes the reform in the education and training of teachers which we wish to recommend. Its argument for fundamental change is not based upon any false assumption that the present system has, in some total sense, failed or is in imminent danger of doing so. On the contrary, the history of the colleges of education, whether L.F.A. or voluntary, and of the departments of education, in the past 20 years of expansion and adaptation and the widely acknowledged achievements of the schools into which young teachers have taken their knowledge and skills demonstrate how much has already been achieved. Nevertheless, there is abundant evidence that the system is no longer adequate to its purposes. We have not had the opportunity of examining the evidence—which, incidentally, does not appear to be embodied in the Report. I noticed that the Committee membership included one woman (we have come to expect the "statutory woman") with seven males, although in the colleges of education the number of women in training is well over double that of men. One other interesting figure is that full-time undergraduate students form the lowest percentage of those taking education as principal fields of study. This is very relevant.

As we have heard from the admirable introduction of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, the Report proposes three cycles of education in the training of teachers. I was interested to note that the noble Lord, Lord James, used the word "cycles". In my lifetime I had watched cycles of almost everything—even in the feeding of babies. I had my babies at a time when they were removed from the mother and returned at four-hourly intervals. The next cycle was of three-hourly intervals. In the next cycle the babies were returned to mother much more frequently; and now we have reached the cycle where they are fed "on demand" which is rather like following the advice of the Edwardian grandmothers. So the word "cycle" seems to be a suitable one. Using the words of the Report, the three cycles in the training and education of teachers are: one, personal higher education; two, pre-service training; and, three. in-service training. It is significant, particularly apropos the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, that of the first cycle, the Report says: For some teachers university or C.N.A.A. degrees or certain specialist qualifications would be suitable first cycle awards but for others in both primary and secondary schools a more broadly based higher education is thought to be more helpful. My Lords, this is the kind of suggestion that has been fought off for years: the curious idea that to teach infants it is not necessary to be so highly educated as it is to teach adolescents. But the "educated person", in itself, is a very desirable thing. I should like to see a situation where we have educated dustmen in the sense that they, too, had attended university having wished to do so. Surely professional qualifications are something that comes after the opportunity of university experience. This first cycle appears to be taken in a liberal arts college—a new name—and it would carry a new award, the Diploma of Higher Education. This would have no honours. The point made here is that students would not have to make up their minds so early and—this is a phrase used in the Report— "feel trapped intoteaching". But I am not quite certain which profession would be interested in a student who emerged with this Dip. H.E. after two years' training. The first cycle is put forward as an opportunity for non-teachers to study with teachers; but in the present system of colleges of education, students follow different vocational subjects and come together for instruction in professional techniques. This would not be very greatly different. I ask this question. Do we really need the introduction of a new degree? I am saddened by the thought that we always feel that if we muddle things enough we shall perhaps achieve something that everybody can enter. I believe that people of some nations even have the qualification, "B.A.(Failed)". Perhaps we might even reach that!

My Lords, in the second cycle, the teacher will study teaching. Then he or she enters a school as a licensed teacher. I have no doubt that another stratum will appear if we have licensed teachers. Those in it probably will be known as "non-licensed" teachers. I remember that we used to have certificated and uncertificated teachers, supplementaries and pupil teachers. The supplementaries, I recall, were described as having to be "over 21, British"—and, presumably, sound in mind and body. At the end of the fourth year the qualified-teacher status would come, the Report suggests, with the award of the B.A. (Ed.) degree. The suggested change, that of licensed teachers entering schools, is said to be as a result of the criticism of the present probationary year. But I have been reading, as many noble Lords may have read, the results of the surveys carried out among probationaries. From the Report, I see: What seems to be peculiar to the beginning teacher is that he has to cope with so many problems simultaneously and that particularly in the classrooms situation, he has to do this, for the most part, by himself. How different will the licensed teacher be? He will still have two years' general education, still only one year of professional education and, in the fourth year, he will surely be in a situation comparable to that of the present probationary teacher.

Industry has a name for training: "Sit next to Nellie", and in the end one can only complete one's learning on the job. What we really need is to have closer contact with the colleges of education and with the advisers at L.E.A. so that they will be able to talk to probationary teachers and come back to the colleges and find out what is going wrong so that there is advice and help at this level. Despite current trends of thought, I still believe that all jobs have special techniques which can be handed on. Your Lordships will not be surprised to know that I include in these simple techniques things like, "You do not turn your back on the class when you are writing on the blackboard". This does not come to you instinctively. You may learn it the hard way or you may have it handed on to you from the college. As the noble Lord, Lord James, is sitting here, I feel that I must fall back on the technique used in a certain television programme where they say, "We have bad news and good news". Having given him the bad news, perhaps I may now give him the good news. When I come to the third cycle mentioned in the Report, of course all educationists will agree with the idea of in-service training and education; but along with the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, I suppose the proposals are intended only as a starter because one school term in every seven years of service is not really going to he of much use as recreation.

To operate this cycle of course means that more teachers would be needed, as a substantial term could not be granted if the teacher could not be spared. The figure estimated as required to reduce the number of children in primary school classes from 40 to 30 is still very large, so I am sure the writers of the Report must have recognised that they will need more teachers if they are in fact to operate what I would call the "sabbatical term". Perhaps it is contained in the words in the Report: the ratio of supply which would be regulated at the point of entry to the second cycle could be sensitively adjusted to the schools needs. My Lords, I think I have said enough to show that I do not like the suggestion of differing levels of teachers. At present we have two—the graduate and the nongraduate—and despite all that has been said, this seems to work quite well. The figures just issued by the Department of Education and Science show that the proportion of teachers holding degrees is increasing and that the proportion of college student entrants having G.C.E. "A" levels is also rising very substantially. The changes in the colleges of education should, in my humble judgment, be to integrate them much more closely with the universities, as suggested originally in the Robbins Report, for they are part of higher education and no separate regional or national councils or colleges of liberal arts can bestow the same status as an acceptance within the total structure.

My Lords, in one of her recent speeches the Minister said: We must avoid becoming pre-occupied with systems and structures to the detriment of the actual content of education. Schools are for children and what goes on in them is what matters. The role of a good system is to see that schools are built, equipped and staffed so that the pupils have access to specialised knowledge, to liberal-minded teaching and to general education of high quality. I feel that having said that the Minister will follow out her own words, and I hope that she will listen to those who teach and who love the children they teach.

3.34 p.m.


My Lords, all who are interested in education must welcome an opportunity to discuss this very important Report on the education and training of teachers and must therefore very much welcome the opportunity presented by Lord Beaumont of Whitley to-day. This is a subject which is absolutely fundamental to the quality of the education that our children receive. I think it is still quite soon after the publication of the Report to give all one's most considered views because there has not been time to consult all the people whom one might have wished to consult, and so to-day the thoughts that one has must necessarily be first thoughts.

My Lords, I think, however, that all educational opinion is united in welcoming the imaginative and far-reaching proposals contained in the third cycle of training—that is, the proposal that one term in every seven years' teaching should be what I would call a sabbatical term's leave, The case is most cogently argued. Like all other professions to-day, teaching practices are changing very rapidly and teachers need retraining and the opportunity to re-think their work and their purpose in life. Not only are there all the new aspects of curriculum, such as Nuffield science; team teaching; the introduction of French in primary schools; teachers who suddenly have to teach a mixed ability class where before they taught only a class that was either streamed or set; those who must teach pupils who will be staying on over the age of 15 for the first time and may not be at all willing pupils at the end of this time; but I would add also, the whole world of educational technology. Sometimes when I have been into a language laboratory or a room of visual aids I feel that everybody needs to be a mechanic as well as a teacher.

I would add yet one other reason for sabbatical leave. Most of us in education know the teacher who has been in the same school for 20 years—not that splendid father-figure "Mr. Chips" but the man or woman who is still grinding away at the same old subject in the same old way. He will not leave the school and cannot be asked to do so. But he could go on a course or have a term's leave and have a look at the outside world and perhaps have wider horizons opened up to him with possibly the opportunity to move sideways, if not upwards, in the profession. Finally, there is the opportunity for teachers to sit back and consider their teaching methods, because in the rush and bustle of school life it is all too easy to see the wood and not the trees.

But, having said that, I think it is going to be a very expensive project and to many people in local authorities it appears to be a little unfortunate that very little has been said about costs except in two paragraphs. It may be thought that in an education debate it is inappropriate to mention the question of money at all, but local education authorities will want to know how they are expected to meet this expensive project.

It is generally reckoned that teachers' salaries are about 60 per cent. of an education committee budget and that the education committee is the biggest spender of all local authority committees. The cost of sending a teacher on a course, certainly a residential course, would be quite considerable. The cost of sending a teacher to a course at a local teachers' centre too would have to be considered, quite apart from the cost of replacing the teacher on leave, and of course the administrative costs. And the costs of replacing the teacher on leave might well fall on authorities possibly least able to bear them, because if one is fortunate enough to be an authority which has and can get a plentiful supply of teachers, as my own is, where all our schools are fully staffed and where perhaps the absence for one term could be spread over in other schools where this is not the case it would be very difficult to release one permanent member of the staff without finding a satisfactory replacement.

It has been suggested to me that the cost should be pooled. But there are two reservations that I have about that. It does not help local education authorities to pool the cost unless there is some adjustment on the rate support grant. Furthermore, pooling itself is an expensive way of administering a service, as those of us who have had experience of the advanced further education pool know to our cost. It means that no individual authority has sole responsibility for the cost or for the services provided. So that I think it would be helpful to have something said about the cost of this proposal in the third cycle.

I turn now to the first and second cycles. I have heard so many completely contradictory opinions on both of these that I feel it is only fair to set out what seem to me to be the arguments in favour of them and some of the difficulties that I foresee. As to the proposal for the Diploma of Higher Education, there seem to be three very good arguments in favour of it. The first is that it provides a general course of further education for those leaving school who want more education but who are not going to a university. As someone said to me, can you not see the sort of person who before the war might well have gone to "Oxbridge", not because he was a scholar but because his parents thought he could get the benefits that a university has to offer. It is a form of education somewhat similar to that in many liberal arts colleges in America, where many people who wish for further education cannot really be considered as "Oxbridge" scholars. It provides, secondly, an opportunity for mixing those intending to be teachers with other people, unlike the colleges of education where everyone is an intended teacher. I know the question is asked, "Who else would take the Diploma of Higher Education?", but possibly there would be people interested in social work; possibly people interested in administration, either in local government or the Civil Service; possibly people interested in going into, say, library work, or museums. It is not even impossible that they would be going into hospital work of one sort or another. Therefore one sees that there is this educational advantage of mix.

Thirdly, it means that, unlike under the present system, those taking the Diploma of Higher Education are not committed to teaching at the age of 18. I think there are some people, particularly girls, who go to colleges of education because there is no alternative. The moment they leave school they go into a college of education where they are trapped into teaching, and they do not have this longer time in which to make up their minds. Therefore I think there are a great many educational arguments for having an extra two years to consider all these points. The great criticism is the one which was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, about the future relationship with the universities. At present the system of training teachers is in one of two ways: either three years and a university degree plus the Diploma of Education, or three years at a college of education, which completes it, or plus a Bachelor of Education degree which could be taken alternatively at university or a college of education. In either case, the relationship between the universities and the colleges of education is fairly close and there is quite a bit of cross movement between the universities and the colleges.

My Lords, if you look at this point of trying to improve the quality, particularly of the primary school teacher, you will see that there is a great deal to be said for having this cross-movement all the time, so that those who have gone straight into a college of education meet university graduates, and vice versa, because the latter, too, have a great deal to learn from the others. As I understand the proposals, the present position would be either three years at a university plus the second cycle—one year professional training and one year teaching—or two years for the Diploma of Higher Education plus the second cycle. Whether or not we shall keep this same close relationship with the universities, which I feel to be of value, depends very much on the attitude that the universities will take to the Dip.H.E. Will they validate it? Will they use it as a part of a university degree? How employers will look at it is another point. But certainly it would be a pity if, in looking at a new, interesting and imaginative idea, we lost the value of what we have at present; and I think there is something to be said for looking rather closely at this proposal.

The dilemma is, in a way, well reflected when one examines the part of the Report which discusses the qualifications necessary for entry into the Dip.H.E. Many people to-day are worried at the very low qualifications with which it is possible to enter a college of education. One can do so with perhaps five or six O-levels and one of them need not be mathematics; so one may take them in a whole variety of subjects. On the other hand, the suggestion that no one could do a Dip.H.E. unless he had two A-levels might well preclude a number of school-leavers who would derive no particular benefit from taking two A-levels but who would make extremely good infant teachers. Because the qualifications necessary for teaching, say, A-level physics and chemistry are, whatever anyone may say, clearly quite different from the qualifications which make a superb infant teacher. In saying that they are different, I do not mean in any sense to disparage infant teachers. I come from the academic world and I know many very clever people. But clever academic people are not necessarily those who are the best with young children. I well remember discussing this point with the head of a college of education who said that one of her cleverest pupils was quite unable to see a class of 40 five-year-olds across the road. It is perfectly true that the qualities that are required, of charac- ter, personality and sheer competence in coping, may not necessarily be those which go with two good A-levels, and it would be a great hardship to the teaching profession if such people were automatically to be ruled out. But, of course, once one makes this statement, one makes it more difficult to give a very high qualification to the Dip.H.E., and that makes for a real dilemma.

My Lords, I turn to the second cycle. It seems to me that all teachers will welcome the proposal that professional teachers will have a major part to play in the training of teachers. The whole idea of professional tutors coming in to teach, particularly in the second year of the second cycle, means that those engaged in teaching will have a real part to play in the training of teachers. Like everyone else deeply interested in education, I could go on for a long time; there are so many points on which I should like to touch. But may I conclude by just saying that there are, I think, three practical points that ought to be considered? The first is that with all the statistics given at the end, little is said in the Report about the very important statistics of the numbers of future teachers that we need in relation to the future school population. This is an important point that ought to be looked at when this matter is considered.

The second is the time scale. There is a tremendous amount to be said for looking at the third cycle. I am not absolutely convinced that the first and second cycle could be brought in in 1975. I do not know whether anybody who is not connected with local government can imagine the turmoil which is going on, with reorganisation in sight in 1974 and the fact that every local education authority will be different in about two years' time from now. I believe that to bring in a major reform requires thought and money and a proper administrative organisation, and I am not absolutely convinced that everybody in education has the time and energy—with everything else with which they must contend at this moment—to do this by 1975, the first full year in the new reformed local government. I think that this matter, too, needs looking at.

The last point I would make raises again the whole question of the cost of supply teachers. In the second year of the second cycle, if it is intended that teachers will teach only four days a week, there will clearly be need, in rough and ready figures, of a 20 per cent. increase in supply teachers to make up for the gap caused by those who at present would teach for a whole teaching week and who in future will teach for only four days. I say these things, not as criticisms but, I hope, as constructive suggestions on points which I think need to be looked at with great care. I would conclude by thanking the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, for giving us such an interesting, important and valuable Report on the training and education of teachers, and by once again thanking the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, for giving us the opportunity to debate it.

3.49 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that we have all been very much impressed by the knowledge and experience displayed by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. I think that she has put some extremely important points in relation to this Report, one or two of which I had hoped to mention myself, but she has done so so cogently that I will try to omit those parts from my own remarks. I, too, would join in the congratulations both to the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, and to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, for providing us in their two different ways with the basis for this debate. With the noble Baroness, Lady Young, I feel that we have not had very long in which to digest the actual Report. I know there were many leaks, but I prefer to see the authentic text myself, and I must say that I should have liked to have a little more time for consultation. I have not even had the opportunity of doing something which I should very much have welcomed, which is to talk with the Welsh representative, Professor Webster, with whose notes of reservation and extension I am entirely in accord.

It seemed to me that one of the first —shall I say?—"gimmicks" of the Report referred to the putting of the third cycle first. I am not quite sure what the intention of Lord James and his colleagues was—there is perhaps a touch of mischief in this—but it has been suggested that this particular proposal of the very wide extension of in-service training was a "sweetener" which ought to come fairly early on in the Report, because the more contentious matters were contained in the other two cycles. There is no note of criticism that I have observed anywhere about the proposals for greater in-service training; but there are some questions that one has to ask. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, that it is difficult to say that this should be obligatory. On the other hand, if it is not obligatory, then the keen, active and enthusiastic teachers will go for courses and so on, and the others, who may need the stimulus more or who may be working for education authorities with less resources and fewer teachers, may find greater difficulty in taking advantage of opportunities that they really need. There is the very difficult question of who pays and what the costing of this will be. I have a horrible apprehension that this quite excellent and noncontroversial proposal may founder on the rocks of economy. Therefore it seems that the least we in this House can do to-day is to put all the weight of authority that we can command behind these proposals, at any rate, because I am quite certain that the quality of the teaching profession in the country as a whole would be vastly improved if the kind of extension of in-service training contemplated in the Report could be implemented.

I welcome it particularly because of some of the remarks which are made in other sections about the confusion and overloading at the present time of the initial stages of training. One cannot cram in everything in the earlier stages so as to cover the personal education and training of the teacher concerned, the professional skills and teaching practice which are necessary, and the wider basis of personal culture which is very desirable. Everyone, as Lord James and his colleagues rightly pointed out, has his or her own particular enthusiasm and feels it to be essential that this should be covered somewhere during the teacher's early training. Quite frankly, I have my own, which is that I believe that no teacher should leave any training college—I betray my generation by using that term—or college of education without some thought being given to the multi-cultural society in which we live. I was sorry that in the earlier part of the Report the phrase "multi-cultural" was used but then degenerated into "multi-racial". That is one of my own strong and passionate convictions. We had an interesting debate on this matter a few months ago and the suggestion that this subject should be covered only in colleges of education which happened at the moment to be in areas of racial tension seemed to be quite inadequate, because nobody knows where a person will be teaching later in his or her career. But, having said that, I recognise that there are many other subjects which one cannot hope to get into the curriculum, even in a four-year, two-cycle course, and that they should be pursued at a later stage in one's teaching career.

I should, however, mention, by reference to the practical problems which the noble Baroness, Lady Young, touched on, a suspicion which I know is current in some circles, that if you combine a considerable expansion of in-service training at the later stages with this notion of licensed teachers at an earlier stage, the licensed teachers may be used as a form of cheap labour in order to fill the gaps left by those who are away from school to fulfil their in-service training. I am sure that Lord James and his colleagues were well aware that this suspicion would be aroused in the minds of professional organizations, and I hope that the Minister may be able to say something to allay such suspicions.

May I now turn to the more contentious aspects of the Report? Among them is this proposal for a diploma—the Report says "in higher education" but I agree with Robin Pedley in thinking that it is better phrased as "Diploma of Higher Education". That seems to me slightly more accurate—I grant that it is difficult—but these people will not after all be studying higher education. This is a contentious proposal, because although at its best it might be an exciting and constructive development, at its worst, as the Economist pointed out, it could become a cheap way of mopping up the demand for higher education. It depends very much on the attitude of people in the world of higher education in general as to which of these two forms this particular new qualification might take. It worries me very much that Lord James and his colleagues did not come down quite firmly in favour of either the universities or the C.N.A.A. validating this particular qualification. It seems to me quite a wrong concept that this proposed National Council on the Training and Education of Teachers should be responsible for validating the qualification. I can understand the arguments for such a body for the organisation and administration of teacher training, but it seems to me that if you have a qualification which is not in the hands of the universities or of the C.N.A.A. then it is very difficult indeed to expect those other bodies in the field of education to accept it.


My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Baroness, but may I say that if she reads the Report she will find that most of us hoped that it would be validated by the C.N.A.A. and the rest of us hoped it would be validated by the universities.


My Lords, I have of course read the Report and I had read that remark, but it seemed to me that just to express a pious hope and to leave the possibility of its being done by another mechanism was not good enough. That is really the gravamen of my accusation: that they should not have allowed this loophole at all but should have come down quite firmly on one or other. I know that one cannot coerce autonomous universities, but it seems to me that it should have been expressed quite emphatically that if one were to have a qualification of this kind its validation should be in the hands of those bodies who now validate qualifications in higher education and that it should not be left to a new organisation which I do not believe will have genuine parity of esteem, whatever is said about it. I do not think that we should delude ourselves about that. That was for me a major disappointment. I saw reports of the Press conference which was attended by the noble Lord, Lord James, and his colleagues. It was said there that they could not be specific as to how far the Dip.H.E. would be accepted or would rank as a credit towards a degree. One can understand that in all the circumstances, but it just underlines the doubts that many of us feel about the wisdom of this suggested possible form of organisation.

I thought there was a very interesting suggestion made when the Report by the General Secretary of the Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education appeared, in which he suggested that it might be better to have a two-year pass degree (which I know has been discussed in educational circles) as the first stage, to be followed by a diploma which would be a qualification in education. It seems to me that this is at least worth considering, because the other point which worries me about the Dip.H.E. is that the intention, as I understand it, is that it should not be confined to intending teachers; that there would be an effort to break down what is called the "mono-technic isolation" of training for education by allowing others who may not have any intention or wish to teach to take this particular qualification. But if that is so it would be very unfortunate if this qualification could be taken only in colleges of education; it ought to be available in other establishments and institutions. This is possibly the hope and wish of Lord James of Rusholme and his colleagues, but if this is what they wish I do not think they say it sufficiently clearly. I should have thought that one could have a two-year pass degree. There could be a break and then you could build it up to an honours degree, or take professional training, not necessarily in teaching, but possibly in social work, hospital administration or some other branch of service, such as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, mentioned. This would be a better proposition than a Dip.H.E. to be taken in colleges of education and validated exclusively by the special body concerned with education, if you do not have any luck with the universities or the C.N.A.A.

If one wants to turn the colleges of education into liberal arts colleges, or something of that kind, this can be done satisfactorily only if they are woven into the general fabric of higher education and are not left as the even more junior partners in the partnership. This is one of my fundamental regrets about the James Report. While I think it has the best intentions of trying to break down the tripartite system in which we have the universities, the polytechnics, and then the colleges of education very much behind, I do not think their practical proposals are going to achieve the end, which is close to my heart, of breaking down some of these distinctions.

That brings me to the point about relationships with the universities. I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, drew attention to the note on the position in my own county in Wales where, quite frankly, whatever our other drawbacks may be, I think we are less snobbish than other parts of the United Kingdom. I was not persuaded by the much too facile conclusion on page 55, paragraph 5.20, of the Report in which the noble Lord, Lord James, and the majority of his colleagues, said: … most of the criticisms"— that is of the relationship between the universities and the colleges of education— are in effect comments on the system itself rather than on the spirit in which it is operated … I do not think that is true. I do not think the system is wrong. I think in some places it has been the spirit in which it has been operated. I do not want to apportion blame, particularly because I know that these things are not always easy and that they depend very much on local circumstances and personalities, but I would go very firmly with the Note of Reservation on the preceding page by Mr. Porter and Professor Webster, who were also the authors of the so-called Note of Extension—a new phrase for a Minority Report. They say: Two of us do not share the view expressed in paragraphs 5.16–5.19 of the influence of the universities on the colleges. Our experience of teacher education suggests that any examples of false academicism or enervation that may exist have far more complex causes than merely the nature of a college's link with a university. In other words, it is the people as much as the system.

It seems to me that although one may well criticise what has happened in certain Area Training Organisations based on universities—and we have Sir Alec Clegg's comments on "the dreadful little cabals which exist in certain places",—to accept that as being necessary or even the norm seems to be defeatist, and I therefore warmly support the pattern which we have managed to work out in Wales and I hope that some people in other parts of the United Kingdom may feel able to reach a comparable relationship. If we do not, we are likely to take steps which will at least seem to be diminishing the status of those who teach the majority of our children.

I have not been in touch very recently with those concerned with these matters. It is some years since I was a "Shadow" in another place on the subject of education and had a great deal to do at that time with those who were in charge of the colleges of education. I know how much they valued—and I believe they still value—their links with the universities. I do not think that there has been much support from the colleges of education for breaking those links. If one did so by setting up a different form of organisation, one would be re-dividing the profession, the two wings of which, graduate and non-graduate, have at least been beginning to coalesce. I do not think that calling something a B.Ed. or a Dip.H.E., or whatever, would really make up for that.

I do not much like the proposed regional organisations. I do not go quite so far as Professor Brian Simon who called them, "rootless organisations", "16 Kafka Castles", and suggested that they would be a rather nondescript collection of representatives backed by a powerful bureaucracy. I do not go so far as that, but I do not feel that they are as satisfactory as something on the lines of the Area Training Organisations could be, even if the hopes for them have not always been realised. I am rather worried about the proliferation of regional organisations which we are now having put before us before we have had the benefit of the studies of the much lamented Lord Crowther and his colleagues which have not yet been placed before the public or the Government. I know that universities regard themselves as without such organisations, but at least that could be discussed.

I am glad to see that the proposal is that in Wales we shall be left much as we are and not be interfered with. I repeat that I am not very happy about the proposed regional organisations in the way in which they are being expected to work, people coming together just for that particular occasion and then dispersing to their own avocations in different institutions which will have no necessarily organic connection with the training of teachers.

Finally, I think I should refer again to the suspicions that have been aroused in certain areas. One ought to voice them in a debate of this kind without necessarily subscribing to them. It has been put to me quite strongly by those who are closely connected with the teaching profession that they regard some of the proposals in the James Report as a veiled method of economising on teacher training, or reducing the facilities for teacher training. For example, if one is going to take into colleges of education a number of entrants who have no intention of teaching one will reduce the number of places available for those who wish to teach. How well justified this is I do not know, but I think it should be mentioned because it is a quite widely held view of people in authoritative positions. They are suspicious, also, that some of these proposals could lead to higher education on the cheap, with inferior facilities in a third tier of colleges firmly placed below the existing university and polytechnic structure. I am with the "extenders" in their note at the end, and because they were a minority of two that makes me look on some of the rest of the Report with some hesitation and some slight suspicion.

I strongly believe that national policy for higher education should be directed towards unifying rather than dividing the system. Whatever its intentions, I am not satisfied that the Report makes for the kind of unifying forces that I myself would wish for. I felt it only right and proper that with the warm congratulations which we must all extend to the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, and his colleagues for the intensive and expeditious work which they have undertaken, we should let them know that we have these question marks in our minds. This is a first debate, an early debate, and one does not wish to be dogmatic in any way, but hope that our function this afternoon will be to put forward the points of difference, as well as the points of accord, which we may have.

4.11 p.m.


My Lords, it is no form of words to thank the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, for the very kind things he said in opening this debate, and I am very glad that some of my colleagues, who after all did most of the work, are in your Lordships' House to hear him pay such a generous tribute to their labours. It is obviously very difficult to speak briefly about a subject, the training of teachers, that has occupied a great deal of one's thinking for over a year and has been in one's mind for a much longer time. I find myself, too, in a curious personal position. In your Lordships' House at this moment is someone that I once taught, and someone who once taught me and who I am delighted to say is going to take part in the debate at a later stage. I am the middleman, which is a curious position for me to be in.

Your Lordships must forgive me if, in an effort to be short, I select only a few of the topics covered by the Report and try to clarify in the baldest possible way some of the ideas that were in the minds of the Committee when they made their recommendations. May I make two initial points. The first is to admit the difficulty of the subject. It is a difficulty illustrated by the McNair Report. Many people—and we have heard this even this afternoon from the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley—speak as though in that Report there was an agreed series of recommendations on which, in some way, we have gone back. May I remind your Lordships that the McNair Committee were split exactly equally, and that the then Government accepted the findings of that half of the Committee which included neither the Chairman nor. I may say, the noble Baroness, Lady Stocks, with whose ideas on organisation my own Committee found themselves on the whole in greater agreement.

May I also remind your Lordships that it is difficult to speak of the education and training of teachers as a whole, for no profession includes within itself a greater spread of purely academic abilities and qualities of temperament. It is right that it should do so for the variety of tasks that he or she is called on to perform makes nonsense of the idea that there is in fact a single entity called "the teacher". As the noble Baroness, Lady Young, has reminded us, the range of gifts required by the teacher of 4-yearolds or 5-year-olds, the teacher of the average boy or girl of 13 or 14—one of the most neglected areas of the whole educational scene—or the man or woman who seeks to instruct and inspire a group of gifted historians or scientists in a highly selective sixth form, means that a very heavy burden is laid on anyone who seeks to legislate for what is called the teaching profession. Yet it is a variety of which we must always be aware, must always seek to encourage and must allow for in our education and training.

With these words of explanation and apology, or as the Report calls it "exegesis", may I turn to the Report itself? The chorus of commination that greeted the Report before it was published, or indeed even before it was written, was mainly concerned with some of its anticipated administrative proposals. Our greatest fear is that these aspects, important though they are, will obscure points which we believe are much more important. As has been pointed out already, the Report begins with emphasis on the third cycle, as we have called it—that is, on in-service or post-experience training, or whatever the fashionable phrase may be. Our actual suggestion is that as a first step every teacher should be entitled to one term of refreshment and further education in every seven years.

My Lords, you can see the kind of difficulty we were up against, because already this afternoon, in the short time we have been discussing this subject we have been castigated, on the one hand, for not making it once in five years, while on the other hand the gravest queries have been raised as to whether we were not over-optimistic in making it one in seven because of the cost. You can see how difficult it is to serve on a Committee of this kind. To us this is of the most crucial importance, not simply because of the advance of knowledge which leads to almost every teacher becoming out of date; not simply because important changes in the curricula and methods are often failing to make any impact felt in the actual classroom; not simply as a gimmick, but because of the effect that a planned expansion of in-service work could have on the initial training of teachers. If we are to consider the initial training properly we have to put the third cycle first. We have seen and heard abundant evidence that too much has been crammed into this training, much of it material that requires greater intellectual experience and greater practical experience than the student teacher possesses and that could possibly be omitted could we be sure that the teacher would have an opportunity of pursuing it later in his career

A second more controversial and, I think, misunderstood aspect of the Report is that it comes out firmly in favour of a consecutive rather than a concurrent pattern. We have, that is to say, proposed two or three years' experience of higher education, followed by two years of specifically professional training. But it is necessary to be clear that the distinction between concurrent and consecutive courses is not so rigid as is sometimes supposed and as I think, the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, if I may say so, gave the impression that he thought. It cannot be too often emphasised that the proposals of the Report make it perfectly possible for what the cliché calls "the committed teacher" to study subjects related to the actual work of teaching, including practical experience, throughout the entire course. It will indeed be possible for some whole colleges to concentrate entirely on such students. What we hope to gain is a greater variety of career prospects for the students in the colleges who are not committed in this way and, of course—very important—a more rational use of teaching power. The staffing ratio of the colleges is not ungenerous: it is often more favourable than that of some universities, including, I may say, my own. Yet the uneconomic arrangements of teaching practice, coupled with the desire to offer a very wide range of subjects in a concurrent course, or a B.Ed., lead to situations in which one can quite literally find a class of over 200 students being lectured to on the value of teaching in small groups.

The second of the two years of professional training which we propose would be devoted to work actually on the job, supplemented by day release; and I would emphasise—again I cannot do this too often—that this is something in addition to the present training. The licensed teachers of the Report are as fully trained as the teachers now entering the schools. We propose, in other words, to make a reality of what is now called the probationary year, at present one of the sickest jokes in the whole of education. It is suggested that this can in time be im- proved out of all recognition, first by the designation of professional tutors in the schools, whose special responsibility it would be to act as helpers and advisers to their new colleagues; and, secondly, by day or block release to a professional centre in a college, a department, a college of further education or developing from one of the existing teachers' centres. These will he places where the available expertise of the neighbourhood, expertise of every appropriate kind, can be mobilised for the help both of the new teacher and for in-service training.

The Report has been criticised for being Utopian in these suggestions. But, my Lords, we do realise that staffing ratios would have to make allowances for these new obligations. We do realise that not all schools are suitable for first appointment, and that there are sparsely populated areas where day release would be difficult. But if the need to make special arrangements for special cases is to be a reason for doing nothing, then we must give up our attempts at reforming almost anything at all. There comes a point where a mere enumeration of difficulties becomes regarded as a substitute for creative action; and some of our critics seem to have passed that point.

Let me say a few words about qualifications. We have, as your Lordships well know, suggested this two-year qualification, the Diploma of Higher-Education, based on an element of general education coupled with the more specialised study of two elective subjects. Among the demands made to us, one of the most insistent was that the work of the colleges should be diversified so that others besides professional teachers could be educated in them. We did not set out deliberately to accomplish that end. We aimed at providing, as we were told to do, an education suitable for intending teachers. But, of course, we were always aware that it could be a valuable prelude to other professional training, and would also have effects on the whole of higher education by providing something at present conspicuously lacking, a two-year qualification.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, whose speech I am listening to with the most intense interest, but I wonder whether at this stage I could coax him into telling us why he did not take the bull by the horns and call it a degree rather than a diploma, thus forcing the hands of the universities.


My Lords, I shall have to think whether it is better to bring the actual reasons in our minds into the light of day. If I decide in the affirmative, I will bring them into the light of day at an appropriate point later in my speech. Perhaps it is the kind of matter on which in another place it is said, "I will write …" But I will do my best.

As I was saying, what we proposed would provide a two-year qualification; and it would become, moreover, a qualification not confined to colleges of education but capable of being taken in other places of higher and further education. Our hope was that it would be validated by the C.N.A.A.; but, of course (if I may answer the noble Baroness, Lady White), we are not in a position to dictate to the C.N.A.A., any more than to universities, as to what they shall validate; we can merely hope. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, it might conceivably be that, because unconsciously we felt there was less likelihood of getting a two-year degree, entry to the course for which would necessarily for some years be only five "O" levels validated by the C.N.A.A., we put it the other way round, for (shall we say?) a future of twenty years. I do not know whether the noble Lord. Lord Robbins, shares the kind of thinking that went into that decision. But the door is also open for a university to validate it, if it felt it appropriate, or for a new examination machinery to be established if this were decided. The existence of this two-year diploma would of course add a dimension of choice to the sixth-form leaver, for it could, we should hope, discharge four functions. It could be a basis for the professional training of teachers in the way we describe; it could similarly be a foundation for other kinds of professional training; it could be an important terminal qualification leading to careers in industry, business or Government; and lastly, for some students, it could be the basis for specifically academic work, sometimes in the college itself or sometimes in a university or polytechnic.

Finally, we have affirmed our belief that after two years' study for the diploma or three years for an academic degree, and after two years of professional training, the student should have a degree based partly on his professional competence, and on the award of which teachers themselves should have a significant voice. The conception of an all-degree profession is one that we accept. What we reject is that the degree should be a university degree as we now understand it. The good university graduate who turns, say, to infant or middle school teaching can be superb if that is what he really wants. But if a graduate, merely because he—or she—is a graduate, in any subject, at any level, whatever his sense of purpose or qualities of personality, is to be preferred to a skilled and dedicated teacher with another qualification, say our Dip.H.E., then we must ask ourselves very seriously of whose interest we are really thinking. Of the children, who should be our main concern? Of the prospective teacher, forced through what is very often for him an inappropriate and frustrating course of study for the sake of a label? Or are we thinking simply of securing a spurious prestige for our profession?

My Lords, I have spoken too long. I have left myself no time to discuss any details of administration and on that I would simply say that the Committee regarded the present university-administered and university-dominated A.T.O. structure as inappropriate for the new and very much expanded system (for example, as regards the third. cycle) that we envisage. It is totally misleading to speak of destroying the university connection, tenuous though that often is. That universities will play a continuing and creative part will be as right as it is inevitable, not simply because they themselves will continue to produce and train very many teachers but because, in the new regional bodies into which we hope the A.T.O.s will develop, it is collaboration between interested parties that we wish to see in a structure flexible enough to establish links with all forms of higher education, and capable of adaptation to changing needs and evolving policies.

Whether the whole or any part of this Report, if it is implemented, will be successful in its primary aim of improving the quality of teachers, or in any of the other tasks which may emerge from it, clearly depends on a number of factors. It will depend on whether the necessary means are provided by Government. We gave no detailed costings, and have been criticised for not doing so. But they depend upon a number of imponderables and on decisions of policy about which we felt we were incompetent to decide. Nevertheless, such sums as we did for ourselves seemed to indicate that our proposals are not in fact impossibly expensive. They do not, we believe, involve greater expenditure than would be fully justified by the necessities of reform; and we have been encouraged (and perhaps the noble Baroness, Lady Young, also, with her experience of local government will be encouraged) that as keen-eyed a participant in local government as Sir William Alexander has given a wholehearted welcome to the Report, including specifically this section.

More important to those proposals are the questions whether the universities and polytechnics are prepared to enter into a new kind of partnership in teacher education, and whether the colleges are prepared to seize imaginatively and enthusiastically on what can be, for them, a greater independence to experiment with what in some cases can lead to a new and valuable kind of higher education. That is the responsibility of the colleges. But most important of all, of course, will be the attitude of the teachers in the schools to proposals which give them a far greater role at every stage in the preparation of their successors. Here, my Lords, both my hopes and my fears are greatest. I simply cannot believe that the majority of teachers are so lacking in faith in themselves that they will reject proposals which give them much of what they have long demanded and rightly desire; proposals which have as their aim to raise the status of the profession by preparing people better to enter it, by giving them more control over it, and by providing greater opportunities to develop both as teachers and as people throughout their careers.

My Lords, the new responsibilities on the teaching profession may be heavy; the rewards may be such that they will altogether enlarge the teacher's vision of his task. I feel that the Committee can legitimately ask, not that everyone should agree with their proposals but that the Report should be carefully read before it is criticised, and that those who criticise it must be prepared to suggest alternative solutions which remain within the realm of the possible yet are inspired by some new vision of what the profession of teaching can and should—and I would say must—become.

4.35 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, for introducing this debate. I was very diffident about intervening in the debate, and now, following the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, who is such a distinguished educationist, I am doubly diffident. But I hope that the House and the noble Lord will bear with an intelligent amateur, for the only qualification I have for intervening is that I have a strong interest in education—though that hardly seems to be a qualification.

Having read the Report carefully, I feel that I have earned the reward of a few brief comments, and here I must say that I disagree in a small way with the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, who found it so easy and so pleasurable to read. I found this a very difficult Report. I only wish that I had been able to listen to the persuasive speech of the noble Lord, Lord James, before we had this debate.

The Report was not made easier by its presentation or its style. Its prose is just opaque. However, one cannot deny the effect that it has had in stimulating public debate, nor the effect it has had on the necessity of reviewing teacher training seriously and logically. The Committee proposed, as we heard this afternoon, a complete reorganisation of teacher training and this needs a really concentrated analysis by all experts and all organisations in the educational field. We have heard what the noble Lord, Lord James, has said about the division and the training and the three cycles. Personally, I see little merit in using the word "cycles" and substituting it for the familiar word "courses"; and it really does not make explanation easier when the cycles are deliberately described in reverse order. For me, trying to follow the arguments was like completing a jig-saw puzzle. It is all very fine for the noble Lord, Lord James, and other great educationists to put their case in this way, but it has to be put for quite ordinary people. What first struck me was that many of the recommendations did not really need a complete restructuring of the present-day pattern of teacher training colleges. It seems to me that by a change in the curriculum of courses one could do some of the good things that the Report suggests.

I find that the usual criticism about colleges of education is, in the case of some of them, quite correct and I sympathise with it, but I cannot accept their wholesale condemnation. As with teachers, colleges, schools and universities, some are better than others, some good and some indifferent. I accept that the present three-year college-based course does not always sufficiently educate or train our prospective teachers. There is a widespread criticism about too much theory and very little practical teaching, which too often makes the new teacher's probationary year such a traumatic experience. I felt that the Report had swung too much away from academic and intellectual education by reducing the period to one year. Even the excellent idea contained in the Report of a teacher tutor in every school to take charge of the raw recruit might still leave him or her "halfbaked". I do not think the one year is sufficient.

The first cycle is described as personal education of the student and is the most ingenious proposal, but it does raise serious doubts. It is in essence a two year course of higher education with an award at the end. More education is very desirable for all our young people, and some students would see the James colleges of education as means of gaining an award at the end. However, no declaration of intent to embark on a teaching career is required, and this makes it doubly attractive. But is this really a way of increasing the number of teachers? Already many of our teachers go into teaching rather reluctant about it as a career. This has nothing to do with the virtues of a period of uncommitted education. But why should the Ministry of Education pay for such an idea? Here I absolutely agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Young, when she talks about the cost. I wonder whether any Secretary of State will jump at this. One can see the loophole in this if it is applied to other professions; for example, supposing we apply it to medicine, having training without commitment.

A great deal has been made of the proposals of the third cycle which apply to serving teachers' "in-service training". It has been hailed on all sides as if it were a very original idea. But is it an original idea? It would hold out great promise if it were made compulsory. So long as it is voluntary it would show only a marginal improvement on what exists already in the profession. Intelligent and forward-looking teachers take advantage of any facilities that are available for further self-education and training. The courses vary all over the country. In some local authorities they are encouraged and even tempted to attend courses. In others, as I have said, it is left to the individual teacher to be progressive and keep in step with new thinking and new methods. There is, however, everything to be said for the Report's stress on the systematic retraining of working teachers, re-education of working teachers. But personally I am not exactly overwhelmed by the generosity of one term's release in every seven years going up to one in five years. After all, what does one think of one year's release in twenty years of teaching? I do not believe that this would be the quickest and most economical way of improving the quality of education. Here again, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Young; I think it would require a lot of money, not a little.

There are a few more points that I wish to make before I close. I am not convinced by the Report's claim that colleges of education will become less isolated. I think the proposal to divorce colleges from contacts with the universities will increase their isolation and even lower their status. In fact, some educational bodies have accused the Committee of inaugurating a three-tier system in the teaching profession. We can only hope that constructive action will follow the Report, and in asking for speedy implementation I believe that that is the one thing that should be avoided. I have always thought that we make too great demands on our teachers, and as parents often delegate many of our own responsibilities to them. The fact that we underpay them underlines our lack of gratitude.

We expect them to be saints and psychologists and able to maintain discipline by remote control, something called personality.

I will end by referring to a Fabian pamphlet written before the James Report was published. I will not speak of the anxieties that the author expressed about the Report's predicted recommendations because they were rumoured recommendations. That would be unfair. I will refer instead to the author's plea that the Department of Education, the local education authority and voluntary bodies should consider analytically the likely effects of the recommendations upon existing philosophies and practices before either accepting, implementing or rejecting this Report.

4.45 p.m.


My Lords, I am able to make only a very minor contribution to this important debate, partly because my knowledge of the subject is indeed very limited and also because, only too obviously I fear, I am rapidly running out of voice. I want, however, with certain safeguards and some explanation, to speak in strong support of a part of this Report which has received this afternoon only tepid praise so far, and that is the proposed two-year Diploma in Higher Education.

The safeguard that I should like to see is a guarantee from the universities that satisfactory completion of the Diploma of Education will carry exemption from some part, at any rate, of the subsequent degree course; that it should he possible, and indeed easy, and should become the common practice for people who have completed the Diploma of Education to move on, either through the machinery of the C.N.A.A. or through mature entry into the universities, and complete degrees in a shorter period of time. This in itself would do a great deal, if it became a widespread and commonly accepted practice to integrate the Diploma into the university scene. Your Lordships may say—and my colleague the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, was I think implying—if it is important to have this contact, why not make it a two-year degree course and work to get it into the universities straight away? I think the answer to that is that it would not happen, and I think the noble Lord knows it would not happen, for a variety of reasons, not least the existing pressure on the limited resources of the universities, which are not likely, despite the pressures from many sides, to be increased to the extent that would be necessary to introduce these two-year degrees on a large scale.

But I believe there are other reasons why a two-year Diploma in Higher Education has much merit in itself, and these reasons are not so much their contribution to teacher training. One reason why I hesitated to intervene was because my interest in this Diploma is, frankly, less in the contribution it makes to teacher training than in this new experiment in higher education, which I think can be used to open opportunities of higher education to a great many people who would not get it unless we had something of this kind. There are up and down the country a large number of people in middle life who did not, for one reason or another, get the opportunity of higher education, and a new, flexible diploma of this kind, leading for some people to teaching but for other people to a wide range of professional and semi-professional and technical jobs for which they would not otherwise be qualified, seems to me to be something we greatly need at the present moment.

We have on the one hand a considerable number of older women, in their middle thirties, who want to get into full-time work, with 20 years' work ahead of them and who are not qualified for the kind of work their innate abilities would enable them to do. If they could take these two-year diploma courses, it would open up possibilities which at present it is very hard indeed for them to obtain. Even more important, in my view, is the fact that at present, and increasingly as the years go on, there are and there will be a large number of men—many of them at present in manual-working occupations—who, when they left school, never thought of going for any kind of higher education, but who are perfectly capable of doing it. These men, with flexible entry into this diploma, might find themselves both getting educational opportunities and moving into careers for which there will be a demand for their services but which they in the past never thought would be open to them.

May I give one illustration of the kind of person I am thinking about, which made a deep impression on me? In the 1970 General Election I had, in the constituency in which I was fighting, a decaying mining town. I talked at considerable length to a man in his early forties who had come out of the mines. He was a man of obviously high intelligence and with a deep interest in current affairs and in the affairs of the nation as a whole. This man, through lack of educational opportunity and lack of career guidance, had taken a job as a school porter. I would swear that that man was capable of being a school teacher rather than a school porter, if the opportunities to be found in a Diploma of Education of this sort had been available for him to take.

If we are going to look at this two-year course and the way it can be used for people of this kind, it means that we have to look at the sort of entry qualifications we are going to ask for from people, for them to take the Diploma in Education or Higher Education. There is reference in the Report to "A"-level qualifications. May we ask ourselves just how important it is that we should insist on "A"-level qualifications? Can we not discover equivalents in people's experience and achievements that can be taken instead and in lieu of "A"-level qualifications? What do we want "A"-level qualifications for? For some kinds of study we want "A"-level qualifications because we need to know that a person knows as much about a subject as an "A"-level implies. Where this is the case, then indeed you must keep the "A"-level qualification. But in the main we want an "A"-level qualification because we want evidence that the person has the intelligence and capacity to take the course. The point at which you ensure standards—and I am second to none in my determination to ensure standards—is at the end of the course, not at the beginning. Can we not direct our attention to finding ways in which there are substitutes for "A"-level qualifications which will give us the guarantee that the individual taking the course is capable of pursuing that course of study and completing it satisfactorily? Then we can open up the opportunities which this proposal puts before us to these vast numbers of people—people who at present have no hope of getting any form of higher education—for that higher educa- tion which leads to the jobs which they want and which society needs them to do.

It is for that reason that I think this experiment in higher education, just because it is new, can have a flexibility of approach, both in terms of entry and in terms of content, which I do not think realistically we should get if we tried to put this diploma inside the universities. If it were completely divorced from the universities, then indeed it would come to be regarded undoubtedly as very much a second best; but if it is linked with the universities, both administratively and because of a growing practice of people with the two-year diploma to move on to universities, then it seems to me that it is a creative suggestion in the field of education which is long overdue.

4.55 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has just made a very moving and extremely good plea for widening and opening our methods of admission to higher education. One might also say that she made about the best "plug" for the Open University that I have heard for a long time, because this is exactly the method that is employed by the Open University for admission. She is perfectly right in saying that when one is dealing with admission to higher education for the whole range of people within the community, one must not restrict oneself to the "A"-level. The "A"-level may be very appropriate at the point of leaving school, and it may be very appropriate, as she has justly said, for those who are going to study science and very professional subjects. This afternoon we are discussing something which is on the one hand narrow, and on the other hand extremely wide. On the one hand, it is narrow because we are dealing with teachers' education; on the other hand, it is wide because it necessarily concerns the whole of our higher educational system. Our higher educational system in the past 15 years has been completely changed; first, by the major piece of engineering carried out by Lord Robbins and his Committee, and now we are having this time-bomb put under teacher education by the noble Lord, Lord James.

When one looks at this subject one has to ask whether we are trying at this point to do everything, or to do one particular thing. The James Report is concerned essentially with the training of teachers, and I think all of us would agree that in what is termed the "third cycle"—if the noble Lord, Lord James, were here I might make a quip about the use of the word "cycle", but as he is not I will refrain from doing so—his Committee propose that there should be an in-service training of teachers. That is something with which we all agree, although I think some doubt whether it can be afforded. The noble Lord, Lord James, has pointed out that almost certainly from the analysis that has been made this can be done, and others have suggested that one term in seven years is inadequate. I served in a university for 40 years, and I got six weeks off in the 40 years. Nowadays, people talk about sabbatical leave. If I had had a sabbatical year off I should have had nearly six years off in that time, but I never got the six years. I would say that one term in seven is at least a start. It may not be enough for going on, but I think we ought to accept it as a good way of beginning this scheme. Unless we begin it, we shall find that it is only carried through accidentally, here and there.

I have had a slight experience of this subject, because when I first went to the University of Newcastle 25 years ago, we started running refresher courses in chemistry for teachers. To my great delight and pleasure, the first year 20 teachers turned up. We did not hold the course for another three years, and three years later we advertised the course and 20 teachers turned up, of whom 18 were the same as the ones who had turned up the previous time. We advertised the course three years later, and once more roughly 20 teachers turned up, and I think there were now 16 of those who had attended the previous two courses. As the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, suggested, one of the difficulties—he was rather trying to shatter his Liberal principles—was that compulsion might be necessary, because the fact is that the people who come to these courses are those who would in any case go and study the subject some way or another and advance their understanding, and unless one makes it at least compulsory on the local authority to make provision, if not compulsory upon the actual teacher to attend, then one will find that no provision is made for attendance at these courses. So I think that for the in-service training some degree of compulsion must be brought in.

I now come to the other part of the James Report which is essentially concerned with the first cycle. A great deal of reference has been made to the two-year course, and some analogy was drawn —I think I am right in saying by the noble Baroness, Lady Young—with the liberal arts college in America. But it is not really analogous with the liberal arts college in America, because that is a four-year college. This is a two-year college and one must realise that the comparison is with the two-year colleges in America. The two-year colleges are run in several States. The two States which run them most are the States of California and New York. I have examined the New York one very closely, and I spent several weeks looking at the whole of the New York university system. I found that the two-year college has grown enormously. It is not a college which gives a degree; it gives a preliminary qualification which allows one to go on to a four-year college. I am very sceptical as to whether we ought to introduce the two-year college system into our teachers' training specifically. It is, I believe, a good thing to do but not for teachers, because I think the inevitable result of associating it with teachers' training is that one degrades teachers' training.

If we said that, at the start, we were going to have a two-year college for medical training and that students who did not want to go on could slip out and get a diploma, would one get the same number of people wanting to go in for medical training? The same question applies to dental training, engineering training or agricultural training. After all, these are all technical subjects. They are all subjects which require special technical training.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? Before the war there was an ordinary degree in several subjects. People used to go on after matriculation, and the higher schools certificate was regarded as an intermediate examination in that degree course. If people who have taken their A-levels are going to be put through two years of a rather intensive academic course, will they not be at more or less the same level as the people who took the simple ordinary degrees before the war, many of whom became extremely successful teachers?


Certainly, my Lords; but the position is totally different to-day. In the first place—it would lead me too far away to answer the whole of the noble Lord's arguments—before the war admission to most universities was on an entirely different basis. It was not at all on the basis of advanced levels and they were taking this sort of course. It was a three-year course for a pass degree. That is perfectly true. But practically every university has dropped that three-year course for a pass degree; so we are now discussing something quite different.




My Lords, it will really become a little difficult if we are now going to start a complete discussion of higher education. I was merely pointing out that there was going to be an isolation of the teachers from all the other professions if, simply in teacher training colleges, one were to have this two-year course. I think a two-year degree course can be a good thing, but it must apply throughout the whole of higher education and not specifically to teachers. It must also be thought out separately. My complaint about the introduction of this aspect into the James Report is that it is brought in specifically for teachers' training, and that the rejects will then just go out with a diploma. That is the wrong approach to something that is very important; that is, finding a better way of dealing with a large number of people.

In the State of New York, the importance of the two-year colleges has been widely recognised. In 1961, in the public sector of New York State University there were 61,000 students engaged on the four-year courses—that is, the liberal arts and other courses—and 21,700 on the two-year courses. In 1966, the figures had grown to 102,000 on the four-year courses and 53,800 on the two-year courses. This is a perfectly good thing, but it is done within a carefully worked out system, and not within a system which is devised simply to form a fallout from teachers' training. That is the part to which I object.

The question whether one should necessarily link this with the universities is another matter. I am entirely in favour of a degree being given for teachers' education. But unless someone goes through a normal university course and then puts in his year's training, as teachers who work through a university course do, the universities do not find it too easy nor are they really too fond of fitting them in. If that can be done, then well and good, but I am sceptical about the universities doing it. It may be that it can be done through the polytechnics and the C.N.A.A., but one has to remember that the C.N.A.A. lays down its own standards. It lays down very clear and firm standards for a degree, as firm as those of a university and it is not prepared to be dictated to by any other body.

I was interested in looking at the educational system of another country which I visited; that is, the Soviet Union. I have here a little booklet which explains what happens there. I think it is wise, when we are talking about changing our system, that we should pay some attention to what is done in other countries and not work entirely in vacuo. Referring to teachers, the booklet states: As a rule, teachers' colleges graduate teachers in two specialities. A student majoring in history, for example, will choose singing or gymnastics or the like as an optional subject, or he may combine Russian or another national language and a foreign language, mathematics and physics, mathematics and technical drawing, etc. A teacher thus equipped will be able to use his energies to the full, even if the school is small. Though a teacher who graduates from a university has a better scientific background, a teachers' college alumnus has had better training in teaching methods and other educational subjects. Then they make a distinction, which I think has applied in this country, between those who have been trained in the methods of teaching more than in specific subjects, and those who have been trained in specific subjects more than in the methods of teaching; and, as the noble Lord, Lord James, pointed out, there is such a spectrum in our educational system that we need both.

In conclusion, there are two points which I should like to make. Reference has already been made to the first, and that is the matter of multi-cultural training. Reference is made to this in paragraph 2.10 of the James Report, which states: An understanding of the multi-cultural nature of society should feature in any general education". I think we have to go beyond just a statement of that sort. We have to realise that this is now a very essential part of our whole education. Therefore, this must be emphasised very clearly. Secondly—and, surprisingly, the noble Lord, Lord James, who is himself a distinguished scientist, has not very specifically referred to this—except in specialised ways, our teaching of science throughout our schools is abominable, and most of our school teachers are untrained in science. I do not know what the figures are to-day, but when I inquired into this aspect about six years ago, I was assured by a professor of education that not more than 10 per cent. of our elementary school teachers had any training in science at all; and not merely were they not trained in science, but they had no exposure to science. If this is true, then it is really quite devastating. How can we run a modern society if we are running it with an educational system which is not geared towards science? So I would say that this becomes a matter of extreme importance in any planning of the training of teachers.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but would he not agree that it would be a good thing for society if we knew a little less about science and a little more about ethics?


I think that to have little knowledge of science to-day is one of the most devastating inadequacies to which any human being can be subjected. I would say that it is absolutely essential that everyone should learn something about science. I do not say be a scientist. I hope that the noble Lord does not apply the same argument to music.

5.11 p.m.


My Lords, I am very reluctant to get caught in a cross-fire between science and ethics. It was the subject of heated debate in 1697, at the time of the Battle of the Books, which I was lecturing on last week, and I am sure that your Lordships do not wish me on this occasion to repeat my well-worn lecture on that occasion. As your Lordships can tell from those remarks, I am professionally a lecturer, and, following a professor like the noble Lord who has just sat down, I am put somewhat in the position of a subaltern talking after a field marshal, and accordingly your Lordships will of course take my remarks with a pinch of salt".

I searched round for experience other than my own to bring to bear upon this, as I found, fascinating and, pace Lady Gaitskell, very readable Report; and so I rang up a friend, a girl, who has just graduated from a college of education, and said, "Can you tell me something about it?" She was a graduate of Cambridge, and she felt somewhat at a loss working alongside those who were engaged in the three-year diploma course. She had a kind of "tacked on" feeling. She also found it difficult to relate (though she is a very intelligent and well-educated person) some of the philosophical, psychological and sociological theory she was given with the practical tasks ahead of her in teaching at primary schools. She wanted to teach, as I have said, at primary schools, but she found at the end that by some departmental oversight her diploma covered only secondary schools; but I believe she has now put that matter right.

However, she did profit, she found, from what the noble Lord, Lord James, called the great sick joke of the educational world. She found her probationary year illuminating and exciting. But the moment she left the college of education she was dropped by them. They did not keep up with her; and she was even discouraged afterwards from using the library on grounds of there being too much pressure. So she was "dropped in at the deep end". Her headmistress, under whom she is working, told her that she, the headmistress, had, of course, with any new and young teacher, considerable powers of interference but that she would not indulge them; and the headmistress, in language which almost exactly mirrors that of the noble Lord, Lord James, and his colleagues in their Report, said that she would on no account violate her professional integrity. My friend would not have minded a little of her professional integrity being violated if it was to help her become a better teacher.

My Lords, mention of this case is not of course anything to do with a criticism of the James Report as such: it is simply to say that it is out of this kind of atmosphere, this feeling of something not being right, that the Report has come. I think it is ingenious and brave of the Report not to have shirked the implications for higher education as a whole which are raised by the more specialised problems, urgent as they are, of teacher training. If 1 may briefly give my own experience in this, when I was hired by London University a few weeks before term was due to start I was asked if I should like to attend—it was quite voluntary—a conference run by the university's department of education on teaching techniques. This was a three-day conference, and we walked about, as one does now at conferences, with little name tags attached to various parts of our bodies, to try to get to know each other, and we sat through quite a lot of lecturing about the techniques of lecturing. The worst part of it was that we were supposed to give a three-minute lecturette on any subject, and I do not think that any form of public speaking has ever scared me quite so much as that. I cannot remember at all what I said or how it went, but at the end of it the instructor said, kindly but slightly reprovingly, that I should not exude so much breezy self-confidence, and that this might be rectified if I could learn to speak without folding my arms across my breast. Since then, I have not had any in-service remedial training or criticism, and I expect I am due for some. However, recently at University College, where I work, we have instituted a kind of "bull-session" between staff and the student body, in which we can answer criticism and learn from it. This pleases me very much, because when I was an undergraduate myself I happened to work on Isis magazine, at the time (I do not know if your Lordships remember) of the great furore of reviewing lectures, which brought the national Press (to our great glee. I might say) down about our ears.

My Lords, I should like to come to the Report. I have praised and mentioned its courage in tackling the wider issues of higher education, but your Lordships know what these are, and I am not going to take time to go into them this even- ing. It seems to me that the Report is slightly too kind to the teaching profession's general obsessions with questions of status and the nomenclature of degrees. I think that here one must be a little indulgent towards the teaching profession. Your Lordships will know what happens in this House when we are engaged in Committee or debate about procedure. It is almost impossible to bring the discussion to an end; and the same is true of any vocal group of men engaged in talking their own professional "shop". At some point a guillotine is going to be far more urgently needed on the James Report than it is ever going to be needed on the European Economic Communities Bill.

One of the members of the James Committee, in an interesting piece in The Times Educational Supplement (which I understand, its not being Hansard, I can quote from) says: The Report outlines a new relationship—never exclusively defined—between universities and colleges of education, and examines alternative methods of awarding and recognising degrees and diplomas. In the volume of words already devoted to these two questions the English have once again demonstrated their unrivalled capacity for reducing every argument to the levels of status and snobbish recognition: the university 'problem' is not central, several solutions to it are offered in the Report, and even if the Government decides that the universities should be required to maintain the links in their present form within an inevitably changed system, all the rest of the key proposals still survive undamaged". I am not myself uncritical of some of the rest of the key proposals, but I think that was a courageous and clear thing to be said by a member who signed the Report, and it needs attention.

My Lords, anyone who teaches in the humanities, at any level of higher education, is absorbed at the present time particularly about what the value of the piece of paper he gives to his students at the end of their careers is going to be, and what sort of job they are going to get. I must add my doubts to those already expressed by other noble Lords about whether the diploma of higher education is really going to suit employers. Lord James called for imaginative solutions to this problem. If the solution I am suggesting is imaginative, I must hasten to say that it does not come from my own imagination, but an imaginative idea at least twenty or thirty years old, connected with Dr. Leavis. (I am glad, since the noble Lord, Lord Snow, has left the Chamber, that he is not here to tell me any nonsense I may be talking.) My Lords, if you remember the essence of the Dr. Leavis's case it is that the study of English, English studies in literature and communication, should provide a core of general humane education in our culture, similar to that of the Classics earlier on.

From Mr. David Frost down to the most humble Member of your Lordships' House we are all in the communications business and there are very few aspects of trying to negotiate the reefs and shoals of a pluralistic society which do not involve communication skills. I would argue for a programme roughly from "O" level up to diploma or degree or graduate level where English studies are required and not simply the historicist questions or questions of criticism but those of rhetoric and communication. I say this with some urgency for, although I am not myself a gadget-minded man, we seem at the moment to be on the verge of a major technical revolution and one which will hugely change the processes of teaching and self-teaching. I am referring to T.V. casettes, and the revolution of programmed learning. The knowledge that the teacher imparts will increasingly be packaged and the way in which he imparts it will therefore need more personal sensitivity and professional training than ever if the great opportunities offered by the new educational technologies are not to lead to sterile, mechanised dullness. The James Report is a little thin as to how greater communication skills might be given to teachers.

My last criticism of the James Report is that it seems to me—and I recognise how tailored it had to be to educational "shop"—to be too distant from considerations of subjects. The universities themselves are not guiltless and we have been well served recently in your Lordships' House by the debates on these questions. I unashamedly followed my boss, Lord Annan, when he talked about the Rothschild Report and defined himself as a producer/consumer man. I believe that our education has got to get a great deal more vocational if we are to continue improving the situation vis-à-vis employment. Absorption with status and the nomenclature of degree-giving should be under-played at this time.

I come at the end to the question of cost. I have not engaged (nor have I the skill to do so) in a cost analysis of the James Report, but I am aware of the criticisms made by my noble friend Lady Young in this respect. I would say that while any teacher is greatly liable to be on the side of periods of in-service training, I doubt whether one needs a "term off" for this. This is controversial, so I should like to elaborate it a little. If your job conditions are good, if your pay is reasonable and if you are not struggling to survive, as we know many teachers are struggling to survive, it seems to me that you can keep pace not only with your subject but with changes in communication skills or techniques at the same time—and not only that you can do so but that you would very much want to. Therefore, it seems to me that we must put our energy towards attending to the general economics of education in its already parlous state and not add to the economic problems. In spite of this, I must end with very strong praise for the Report and the great interest and eloquence which it has generated. It is a long time since it was obligatory in your Lordships' House to make jokes in Latin, but we all know the tag, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. I am personally very happy to be in the hands of so able and lucid a custodian as the noble Lord, Lord James.

5.25 p.m.


My Lords, one of the hardships of being a member of the Government is that you are not free to say in public what you think about the work of your colleagues; that is, if you disagree to any extent. I am not querying this system, for collective responsibility must prevail; but I am bound to say that I took a very dim view indeed of the temporary aberration of my own Party in Government when it lent itself to the concept of the binary system. If the binary system in higher education is (in my judgment, anyway) undesirable, to have a three-tier system seems to me to be just so much worse. Among all those who have to be educated —for medicine, for the law, for architecture, for whatever you choose—to select the education of the teacher to be placed "below the salt" seems to be something that we must avoid at all costs. I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, who I see is in his place. If I understood him correctly, he intervened at one moment to ask: "Why not two years at university?" It seems to me—


My Lords, I did not go so far as that. That was not my motive in asking the noble Lord the question. I asked him why he did not call the diploma a degree, leaving for further reflection the question whether the degree should be validated by the universities or by the Coucil for Academic Awards.


My Lords, I am grateful for that because it bears out what I am seeking to say: that we are all avoiding the stigmata of the training of the teacher appearing to be on a lower level than the training of other professions. I think that we should all wish to agree on that. Also, the teachers of the future are going to have a very different relationship with their pupils, whether they are teaching fiveyear-olds or post-graduates, than the teachers of the past. We are now in the transitional stage. The facilities available to teachers are going to be very different. The noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, was talking about T.V. casettes. Of course we know in the old days of the loneliness of the teacher, of the classroom door closed. He may have had a book or two, but sometimes these were scarce. The child was completely at the mercy of the individual teacher who might be a superb teacher; but who might be lacking in many respects.

When we are considering how we are going to teach our teachers, what their relationship is going to be with the rest of the community and with their pupils, there are two important factors which must not be overlooked: first, that we are living in the age of mass media; and that the highest levels of learning over the fields of science and the arts and technology can be communicated through the mass media, through radio, television, films, casettes, just as nursery school education can be helped. The child going to school is now seeing more of television than of the teacher, for good or for evil; and the teacher becomes, in many respects, the leader of the discussion. We must take all these things into consideration. The second factor is that teachers are faced now, in my judgment, with as profound an age of transition as we had in the days of Erasmus. Once again we are at a time when almost all the values in society are being questioned—and we know that the teachers are facing a special problem when dealing with a child from what we call the deprived home. But the majority of children are coming not from deprived homes but very much from questioning homes, and if the father in industry is saying that he is no longer going to be a cog in a machine, that he is going to participate, he is going to seek to understand and be consulted about the working of his industry and the working of his country, so too in the training of our teachers, they are going to have to know how to work with youngsters, with students of every age, who come in very much a questioning mood.

Because that is so, I am alarmed at the idea of the teacher being put almost into a kind of educational ghetto, and I do not think it makes it any easier to say that these two-year colleges would be open to others, even though they did not intend to teach. To be able during those years to mix freely, in parity of esteem, whether accepted into a university for a course or working in a community where there would be the facilities for libraries and for taking part in sports or debating societies—all the things that make up the life of the young—is essential. Surely the student teachers must be given the maximum encouragement and the maximum opportunity to mix with other students of their generation, whatever objectives they hope to reach in later years. So I am wholly opposed to the segregation of the teacher. I am wholly opposed to anything which lowers the status of the teacher. It is no good denying that things like status count a very great deal.

I would also venture to say that I am not convinced that it is necessary for a teacher to have a university degree in order to be a good teacher. Indeed, I think what matters is the standard of education once the teacher has been on the job—and not just for one year or two years but maybe for five or ten years. It is then that one begins to get the test of the quality and standard of the teacher. I believe that those who seek to improve their qualifications ought to be given proper recognition and reward, financial and otherwise.

I listened with great interest to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, when she talked so eloquently and with such deep feeling about those who had been deprived of education. She mentioned a miner of 42 who had had no opportunities in his youth; but I wonder how many miners of 42 would be able to leave their jobs and go to college for two years? Who is going to keep the family in the meantime? Who is going to pay for it all? It is not just a case of tuition. The noble Baroness also talked about the housewife. Very often we have a woman of keen intelligence who has given a number of years when her children are young but who wants to qualify and go out into the world again. Certainly there may be some who would be able to leave their homes, leave their growing families or their grown-up families and go off to attend college—probably in another part of the country—for two years; and those who are in that favoured position, good luck to them! But one of the problems that I had to consider when I was asked to give some thought to this problem of higher education was how the highest levels of scholarship—not the second-best or the third-best—could be brought within the reach of many people who had not had opportunities earlier in their life; how that could be done without in any way debasing the standards of scholarship.

That was difficult, because one is always oppressed by people who say, "A little bit more adult education, just a little bit more, but not too much". I was wholly opposed to the concept of facing the future by merely a secondary patchwork job which would offer the crumbs from the rich man's table, in the academic sense. There are Members of your Lordships' House who know that one thing on which I was inflexible was that if we were going to give opportunities to those who had been deprived or those who wanted to improve their standards, it must not be the second-best; it had to be impeccable in its academic standards. That is why the Open University is an independent, autonomous university. That is why its students have the security that they are not being given a level of teaching less than that of "Oxbridge" or the red brick universities or anything else. What I am saying now is not just an idle hope but is already being demonstrated, even at this very early stage.

How does this apply to the training of our teachers? It means that a teacher, perhaps more than anyone, needs refreshment. We ask a very great deal of a teacher. Many teachers finished with their training a generation and more ago and are now being asked to teach subjects they themselves were never taught. They have to know how to keep up-to-date, particularly in teaching scientific and technical subjects where I am told the textbooks are changing almost every week. This is the problem that has to be faced. What we have tried to do—and this is the whole concept of the Open University—is to marry the highest levels of scholarship with the mass media, but at the same time to give the teacher an opportunity to meet with others in the community, because there are the local study centres where those who are qualified in one particular subject meet together. One can have the young plumber, the young civil servant, the young engineer, the young bus driver, the young teacher and the older teacher mixing together. This is good for them, not only in an academic sense but also certainly in a social sense. Surely that is the kind of broad education in the broad social context which we want for our teachers.

Now one thing more. My noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones was asked, "What about the good old system of getting your ordinary university degree?" Certainly in Scotland we got our first degree by taking seven subjects—three, two and two —and built up to a degree. Once again the Open University does a great deal for the teacher because it is not necessary to go through to a full degree. One can take one credit for one year in one subject and then go on. Therefore I suggest that the last thing I had in mind when planning the Open University was that this was a way of getting higher education on the cheap. I would not have lent myself to that, if by "cheap" it meant it was going to be an inferior substitute. If we can use the mass media and if we can use the technical resources of modern times to bring the best in any field of education within the reach of literally thousands—and it will be going on to hundreds of thousands before long—whether they want it for the enrichment of their private lives or whether they want it to promote their capacities in a particular job, so much the better.

I just want to say one thing more and I hope I will be forgiven if I seem to be leaving the subject slightly, but since I have been talking about the facilities of the Open University in relation to the training and refreshment of teachers at later stages I would also say this: I hope we have got beyond the stage where there are people talking about the Open University as if it were a working man's university, a rich man's university, a black man's university and a white man's university, because that was never its philosophy. Its philosophy was not to insult people who were poor or people who were in any way deprived by offering them something that was other than the best. So it was in the very nature of things that in the first year teachers, more than anyone, have taken advantage of its facilities. I hope they will go on taking advantage of its facilities.

I would just say in conclusion that I hope that the noble Lord, Lord James, does not think that I have been ungrateful for all the hard work that has been done. There are many things I like in his Report. I like the flexibility. I like the way the Report stresses the fact that some training in teaching and a good teacher is better than merely the highest academic qualifications. There is much in the Report that I commend. I am grateful for the immense amount of work put into it. But I say that I am wholly opposed to the three-tier system in higher education. I would be opposed to it if it had been doctors, lawyers or politicians who had been segregated; but it is even worse that those whom we are going to entrust with the training of our teachers should be put in this dubious position.

5.40 p.m.


My Lords, I would not go all the way with the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, in his prognostication of the probable length of time of the debate on the Report that we are considering this evening. It is a Report which raises issues of far-reaching importance. They need to be discussed; indeed, I had thought that perhaps this afternoon's debate, for which we are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, would be in the nature of a curtain-raiser, but not one that was going to last for the next ten years. But as we are in the process, as I understand it, of contributing to the evaluation of the Report, it may be helpful if something is said from these Benches, particularly in regard to the position of the voluntary colleges of education in which the Churches have had a stake from the very beginning; in fact, some 30 years before the State ever thought about training teachers. They have contributed at considerable expense in the expansion of teacher education following on the McNair Report.

Your Lordships may well be aware that, of the 142 general colleges of education, 25 are provided by the Church of England; 2 by the Church in Wales; 15 by the Roman Catholic Church and 8 by other voluntary bodies. We have gone on doing that, and we hope to go on sharing in this enterprise of teacher education, because we are bold enough to think that the existence of these colleges as communities, sharpened and judged by Christian insight, contributes to the health of the whole national system of education, and because we are concerned not with religious education alone, important though that is, but also with education in the widest sense.

Our initial response to this important Report is to say that we want to cooperate so far as we can in enabling teacher education to take place in what I think the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, called a richer context. I think that I speak at least for the whole of the Church of England Board of Education when I welcome the way in which the Report seeks to make provision for divers needs in ways which are realistic and seem to be practically possible, whatever may be the financial implications.

It is not easy to devise a scheme that takes into account the problem of providing an education appropriate in the closing years of the 20th century to those who are going to teach the very young, and to those who are going to teach young men and women who in law are already adults. I welcome the way in which the task has been approached, and I welcome, too, as I believe we must all do, the desire to give all teachers equality of status. I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, who said that we have to get rid of the idea that a person who was going to teach the lower forms, or the infant classes, did not have to be quite so well educated as someone who was going to teach the sixth form. Having spent a great deal of my time as a teacher, I can only say that I would much sooner teach the sixth form than put my nose inside the classroom of the 7-year-olds because I have not been educated to their standards. This is an important consideration which I believe that the James Report tries to meet, and I am sure that it is right to make it possible for would-be teachers to embark on higher education without a prior commitment to teaching. Nevertheless, I share some of the hesitations and doubts that have been expressed in your Lordships' House.

My Lords, I wonder whether there is not a danger that the diploma in higher education will not have real validity outside the teaching profession. It would be disastrous if it were only something which you took if you were going to be a teacher, and if nobody else bothered to take it because it did not seem to carry much weight or was a piece of paper that was not worth having. My mind had even toyed with the idea of the various ways in which one might meet this danger. I personally, though I speak entirely as an individual, should like to think that some of the theological colleges might very well take the diploma in higher education as part of their whole system and of their curriculum. But will the universities be willing to take it into their system? Will they accept a diploma given in a college of education as exempting students from part of a degree course? There are many other questions of this kind to which I suppose it is impossible to expect an answer at this stage, because one cannot say what all the universities will do. One hopes that sufficient will be enlightened enough to see the importance of the contribution that such students can make.


My Lords, may I ask the right reverend Prelate whether he is aware that in many parts of the university world the merits of a two-year degree are being very energetically discussed at the present time?


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for reminding me of that. I did know it, and it is a pointer in a direction which is very welcome.

Secondly, is there not a danger of fragmentation, the very fragmentation which the Committee seem to be trying to avoid, if cycle one, cycle two first-year and cycle two second-year, can be taken in different institutions? Of course there must be flexibility and the possibility of movement, but I should be rather happier with this part of the proposals if I felt that a great majority of teachers would have been in the same institution for at least cycle one and the first year of cycle two. I cannot see how a small college confined to cycle one can develop as it must do for the scheme to be the success that one would want it to be. On the question of organisation I still think—and here I have to say that the Church of England Board of Education was very strong in its opinion expressed to Lord James's Committee—that the future of the colleges should lie more with the universities and not in isolation from the universities. I hope that if the universities were willing perhaps to accept a greater degree of responsibility, the rather elaborate structure of proposed Regional Councils and National Councils could be looked at again.

There is another point, my Lords. The Committee's proposals have some serious implications for the voluntary colleges, for if they were adopted, they would, in some respects, change the character of these colleges. The Committee recognised this in Chapter 5 where they say: It is to be hoped that the voluntary bodies would agree to a widening of functions for their colleges so that all could share in the same advance and play their full part in the new system. Financial arrangements for these colleges would continue as at present. There is a bit of a sting in that last sentence to which I will refer in a moment. For the voluntary bodies to agree, as Lord James and his colleagues hope that they will, will cause them a certain amount of heart searching. They found the various colleges for the purpose of training teachers. Under the proposals, the colleges would be taking part in higher education in general of others than those who were going to be teachers.

Now I do not think that anybody in this century would seriously advocate that we should establish an Anglican university in this country. Some years ago the Church of England decided in principle that it would not have Anglican halls of residence in any of the newer universities because it was not felt right, as it were, to detach and isolate those who were of a particular religious affiliation from the rest of the university or of society. If these colleges develop into liberal arts colleges (and this is really what I believe is intended) the Churches will have to ask themselves what degree of control such as they have at present do they want to carry on into a system which I would myself in principle support without any hesitation. I believe that the widening of the context within which would-be teachers receive their own general education could do nothing but good for them and might do a great deal of good for some other people. In fact we—and I speak for the Church colleges—have already been moving rather in this direction in that two of them now have youth work as a main course and several others offer it as a subsidiary course, quite clearly hoping that they will be training future youth officers alongside future youth leaders, who should be allied with each other in their professional work.

I should like to see that work go on from there to a much wider spread; but, as I said, there will be some questions of principle for the Churches and if a college has to be enlarged to enable it to take in a wider variety of students and if the existing financial arrangements remain unchanged, as Lord James suggests, there will be a few more headaches for those who are responsible for organising and financing the voluntary colleges. Our hope is that at any rate we shall be able to share and co-operate in the working out of the working drawings of what I may perhaps call "the architect's plan" that Lord James has given us. There is certainly one area in which we should like wholeheartedly to co-operate: the Report suggests that there should be rationalisation of the special subjects offered by the various colleges. This is obviously sound and right. We would hope that in every college perhaps one of the special subject options would be religious education; but certainly the Church colleges would be ready to make the fullest possible provision so that, in the words of the Reports, they would be "centres of excellence".

My Lords, there is a lot still to be argued out over these proposals. They are imaginative, far-reaching and extremely important. They are timely; they raise problems for the voluntary bodies. But I think I am quite safe in saying that we would want to associate ourselves to the fullest possible extent in the planning and implementation of a policy for the future which aimed at giving more to the children who are our future.

5.54 p.m.


My Lords, some of your Lordships have been declaring an interest during the debate, and perhaps I should start by admitting that I was a university teacher myself for about the same length of time as my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones; that is, 40 years. I should say also that—perhaps this is even more important—I have been very closely associated with the Association of University Teachers for a very long time. This Association, which has over 22,000 members, represents the great majority of university teachers in this country and in Scotland. I mention this because it is the sort of topic which is of very deep concern to the A.U.T.; and although I am no longer actively engaged in its operations I am still closely in touch with it and have seen all the papers relevant to this particular subject, including the draft of a letter to the Secretary of State, in which the Association expresses how disturbed it is by some of the major proposals in the James Report. Although I do not agree with everything in that letter, I find myself very much in sympathy with it as a whole.

We seem to live in an age of controversial reports and this Report, which we all call the James Report, of course is at least as controversial as the one we were discussing very recently and which is associated with the name of the noble Lord, Lord Rothschild. On the whole, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, that this Report is couched in more persuasive language, and as a result I think it has acquired a substantial number of adherents. The noble Lord, Lord James, and his colleagues on the Committee played their hand very skilfully.

In all these Reports there is a good deal of what one can accept—and of course one does not want to talk too much about what one agrees with—and naturally there are parts of it which one may feel doubtful about or which call for one's attention. What Lord James calls his third cycle has been pretty well accepted by everybody, and certainly I would not want to strike a discordant note in relation to that because I am very much in agreement with it. I agree also that it is perhaps more important for teachers to have what one might call this "refresher" than any other group. The object obviously is to give opportunities for refreshment and refurbishing to those who have been engaged for a substantial number of years in teaching. That of course was found necessary in the universities long ago. I think that the sabbatical term was introduced into this country by my old chief Lord Beveridge, when he was Director of the London School of Economics. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, is present, and perhaps he will show his dissent if I am wrong about this, but I think it was Lord Beveridge (who had a wonderful capacity for finding money in odd places) who introduced the sabbatical year and this was afterwards taken up by the U.G.C. and is now generally granted in all the English and Scottish universities. It has been a splendid thing. I mention this because the teacher in a school is even more in need of this kind of refresher than is the university teacher. He is more isolated and is not moving among colleagues in the university world. Not only the techniques referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, but also the content of the actual subjects, especially of scientific subjects, have changed more, as the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, indicated, over the last few years than at any other period in history. Therefore this sort of refreshment is particularly necessary and indeed quite essential. It seems strange to me that the school-teaching profession have been allowed to go without it for so long. It is high time this was put right.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Young, indicated, it is going to cost a lot of money and if at the end of it all the Secretary of State finds that there is not enough money to carry out all the recommendations of the James Report then I hope that this is the one she will fix on and spend her money to the last shilling.

I should like to quote from a later chapter right at the very end, one that I think has not been referred to this afternoon. It is the summary chapter, in which the Committee emphasise this even more strongly than in the chapter which deals with the subject, and they say this: To commit energies and resources to a development of the third cycle along the lines envisaged here would be the quickest, most effective and most economical way of improving the quality of education in the schools and colleges and of raising the standards, morale and status of the teaching profession. That is a very strong statement and it shows that they put this before everything else. All the proposals for diplomas and semi-university courses come after this third cycle proposal. That is quite right. If the Committee had done nothing else, that would have justified its existence.

There has been a great deal of criticism, and many of the critics have suggested that there was no need to have a Committee going into the problems at all. I do not agree with this. Although there has been a great deal of committee work on education over these past years, very little of it has dealt with the subject of educating and training the teachers. The Robbins Report deals with it, and the McNair Report deals with it, but most of the other work has been on education generally. In any case, it is very valuable to have, once in a generation at least, a number of knowledgeable and shrewd minds looking at a national institution. This is emphatically so in the case of teaching in schools. For that reason I particularly welcome that this Committee should have been appointed and got to work; I agree profoundly with a great deal of what appears in its Report, and disagree equally profoundly with others of its proposals.

I do not think there is any need to dot the i's and cross the t's in regard to the third cycle. I should like to turn to the main proposal, because although the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, puts the third cycle first in the argument, I do not agree that that is logical. What he was doing was to play his best card first. It certainly makes a very good introduction to the Report and puts one into a favourable humour for being converted to some of his other rather more heretical views. He may well have thought, as he knows perfectly well, that money is always short and that if he put this first it would attract the attention of the powers-that-be and the money might be forthcoming for what he and his colleagues regard as the most important of all the proposals. You do not begin to have this in-training until first of all you have educated your teacher and then trained him in the technique, so that logically it comes last; and until you have that on a sound basis you cannot do very much about your third cycle. It is here that I begin to find myself in difficulties with the James Report. The weakness of the Report seems to stem from a failure on the part of the Committee to think through at the very beginning to the fundamental requirements for teaching in schools. What are these? The Report does not indicate what they are. They plunge in medics res.

The situation in the teaching profession is very similar to the situation in other professions, or most of them. I was a law teacher and have a foot in both camps in a way, as a teacher and a lawyer. In the legal profession we have been going through a similar heart-searching. We have had a splendid Report from Mr. Justice Ormrod, in which all the university law schools have been very much concerned. Not only among the lawyers but also among the doctors and the other professional people it is now generally agreed that the best introduction to a profession is a thoroughly sound education in that particular academic branch of knowledge. After that you go on to the techniques which are required by every professional man if he is to put his knowledge at the service of his fellow citizens and thereby to earn his living. It is very much the same in education, but it is even more important to have the preliminary education in a university, because the teacher in a school is concerned first of all to have a good and, indeed, deep knowledge, if possible, of some particular branch of academic knowledge.

But that is not sufficient because in his case he should have also a good grasp of the theoretical background of education which is a big subject in itself.

The idea that a lawyer should have at least three years in the university is now accepted, whereas that a man or woman who is to teach in a school need have only two years at a teacher training college seems to me absurd on the face of it. It needs an extra year, rather than a year less. I am very disturbed that the James Report seems to be uninterested in what one might call the theory of teaching, and wants to hustle the man or woman on into the practical techniques before anything has been done on those lines. This is on the basis that until the would-be teacher has been working in a school he or she will not have the capacity to understand the theoretical principles on which the whole matter is based. This is the reason why I and my colleagues in the A.U.T. are very much opposed to this proposal for a two-year academic course, to be followed by a diploma of higher education. This is not only for people who are going to teach in the schools; it is for anybody who wants to go in for it. There are people in the universities who seem to think that two years is a sufficient period to study a big branch of knowledge. There are heresies about all over the place, and this is one of the most obvious of them. England is almost the only country in Europe where three years is regarded as sufficient to study a subject like history or mathematics, or any of the other subjects studied in universities. In other places, four or five years are regarded as the necessary time for this study, and to try to reduce the period to two years strikes me as being worse than disturbing—indeed, very dangerous.

I have been in the United States, and heard a good deal about their arts colleges. That is something which is entirely different. It seems to me it is a fundamental mistake in this Report to mix up these two things. If we are to have an arts college, as was referred to by the right reverend Prelate in his speech, then let us have an arts college as such, and not mix it up with the education and training of teachers. Let us not divert them back from the universities to which of recent years there has been a strong trend. My noble friend Lady Phillips made this point. Over the past years the trend to take degrees from the teacher training colleges has been growing stronger and stronger, and to-day a substantial proportion of all those who enter the colleges are taking degrees. It seems to me that one of the weaknesses of the James Report is that it would reverse or might very well have the effect of reversing this very important trend.

Of course if you look at this matter from a practical point of view there are only too many people looking for soft options. It is astonishing how clever students are at finding them even within a degree course in any particular subject. One or two Papers in the law course at the University of London had the reputation of being soft options, and it is interesting to notice how the weaker students put themselves down for these subjects. They may not be good as students of law but they are often very shrewd and intelligent; and this, I am afraid, would attract many such people, especially the tuft-hunting type who thinks, "It is doubtful whether I am ever going to get a degree but, after all, a diploma in higher education is a nice sort of document and I would have a good chance if I can pick up one of those". Students are very interested in these pieces of paper. I am not blaming them; it is very natural that they should be; but I do not think the authorities should go out of their way to provide them with easy routes to get round the discipline—and discipline it is—of going through the necessary study and work which is involved in obtaining a degree at a university.

I could say a great deal more about this, but as it is getting late I will not take up your Lordships' time but will turn to my final point, that of the position which the James Report allocates to the universities in this matter. It is a very slender one. I think it is not too much to say—and this is certainly the view which is taken by my colleagues in the A.U.T. and has been referred to by more than one speaker this afternoon —that it looks, on the face of it, as if a cheap way was being found round what would obviously be a much more expensive approach to the teachers' profession; that is, a two years' course instead of the full course in a university.

I agree very much with what has been said by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, and also by the noble Baroness, Lady Lee, that people who are going to be responsible for "half our future" should be given by their fellow citizens the highest kind of education which the State can provide. Yet the effect of the James proposals would, I think—and this is certainly what disturbs my colleagues in the A.U.T.—be to cut the colleges of education out of the university world and make them second class citizens. It is all right for the noble Lord, Lord James, to say that there is no reason why the university should not be brought in and help, but it is quite obvious from his own Report that he and his colleagues realise that this is a "radical innovation". They actually use the expression "radical innovation" at one point in the Report. Chapter 5, paragraph 14, reads: Although all universities would therefore be involved in the new system, it would be disingenuous to deny that what is being proposed must represent a radical change in the present relationship …". "A radical change in the present relationship" I think is a very serious thing. As I have said, there has been a strong trend over the last ten years towards university education in the teacher training colleges. That trend is in grave danger of being reversed. That is the most disturbing aspect of all.

I listened to what the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said about the out-of-work miner. The Workers' Educational Association provides for this sort of case at a pretty high level. We can have the arts colleges. But we should not try and mix up completely different things. When the noble Baroness, Lady Lee, referred to the University of the Air, she was indicating her view that this is completely different, too. The Report attempts to justify this on the ground that the universities have been falling down on their job. But they have not really been given this job. The noble Lord, Lord Robbins, and his Committee tried, without success, to persuade the Secretary of State that the universities should have this job.

The reason why the results of the McNair Committee were so successful was that for the first time they brought the universities into the field of teacher education and training. It is ironical that in the James Report the success of the McNair arrangements is referred to with a rather patronising pat on the back, and it goes on to say, "Well, of course, this is so successful that it is now out of date". "Nothing fails like success", was what I thought to myself when I read this paragraph. It is perhaps worth reading it to your Lordships. It reads: The present system"— that is the A.T.O., the McNair system— is at fault because it has been outdated not least by the consequences of its own success. Well, as the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, argued so cogently, if it has in fact been such a success there is obviously no great urgency to bring it to an end; and I hope with her that the Secretary of State will think long and not be stampeded by the suggestion which appears from time to time in rather exaggerated language in the Report that very urgent action ought to be taken at once.

This is a matter which is going to affect "half our future" for a very long time and I am sure that your Lordships would all agree with me that it should be thought out very carefully and chewed over very thoroughly before a decision is reached.

6.19 p.m.


My Lords, this is a rather precious occasion for me. The noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, was a pupil of mine 50 years ago. I hasten to add that any success he has attained in his brilliant career is due to the other masters at the school at which he was educated. I warmly congratulate the noble Lord and his Committee on so important a Report, admirable in so many ways, but I wish to criticise one of its most serious suggestions. My Lords, I have always been troubled by dichotomies in education. To me, education is one; it is a unity. No part is less important than another. When we remember that all our university graduates, all the members of the professions, all other leaders of society—or nearly all of them—begin their education in the nation's primary schools, in the nation's infant schools, we realise just what that unity means. It is in the primary school that the twig is bent.

To me, those who look after the seed-corn are as important as those who teach the high-flyers at university. I am therefore glad that the Report pays tribute to the work of those who train our teachers. They have had some very difficult tasks to face since the war: the raising of the school-leaving age; the complex demands of modern society; the tapping since World War II of ability which we did not believe was there in the 70 per cent. of our schoolchildren who received only elementary school education before the 1945 Act; the emergence of new teaching techniques and new subjects; the impact of a tremendously dynamic technological age; the need to preserve moral and spiritual values in a mass culture which threatens them; and now our most recent national decision to educate every child in the land, however handicapped mentally or physically it may be. All these factors have presented tremendous challenges to the training colleges of this country. On top of it, they were faced with the sheer physical task of providing accommodation and instruction for a vast expansion of the teaching profession. And, on top of that, they had to meet the splendid reform which not so long ago secured for all our teachers for the first time a three-year course at training college, instead of a two-year course. The Report pays tribute to the teachers of the colleges of education for the way they have met these problems, and indeed (and it has been quoted just now) strangely says that the college of education system is out-dated by the very consequences of its own success. Any criticism that the Report makes it says it makes of the system, and certainly not of the skill and the spirit of those who operate it.

During some 50 years, 30 of them as a teacher, 20 as a member of an education committee, almost as many as a visitor to the colleges and the universities of this country, I have noted two features. One is the steady improvement in the quality of the work done in our colleges of education. I have found in them no uncertainty of aims; a steady improvement in the academic and educational qualifications of those who teach there, and indeed a striking increase in the academic qualification of those who enter there—two "A"-levels are becoming almost the norm to get into a college of education; and especially into our colleges of education in my lifetime the infusion, as into Her Majesty's Inspectorate, of men and women who have taught themselves before they go to colleges to teach the teachers. The other feature I have noted is the steady improvement and steady development of good relations between the colleges and the universities, both formally and informally, and all are very valuable.

The Robbins Report welcomed these contacts and these associations between colleges and universities and hoped indeed that they would develop much more rapidly than they have done. But this Report, in the minds of many of us, seems to move away from what I believe is an inevitable march of the colleges of education towards parity with the universities. It is true that the Report, when it ominously calls for "major modifications" and "a radical change" in the relationship between colleges and universities, also says that it would be folly to dissociate universities from teacher education; but that I take to mean that they intend to preserve the Diploma of Education at universities for graduate students. The Report also says that the reason for the proposed change is the undoubted advance in quality and status of the colleges—a curious argument. But it concedes that there has been some enhancement of prestige by the association of colleges with universities. I quote: The colleges rightly see themselves as places of learning … the universities are the highest manifestation of the life of learning … it seems right for the colleges to work under the auspices and ultimately under the guidance of the universities. But having set out this argument, it knocks it down at once and comes down on the side of two separate institutions, one for teacher education and one for university education.

The old academic pride, which some of us combated years ago when we were making claims for the status of colleges of technology, seems to be still with us. The Report indeed says that some colleges have striven for what it calls "the wrong kind of excellence", and uses the weirdest of expressions when it criticises the colleges of education for having become too academic, adding, "in the bad sense of that word". I seem to remember a similar fear 25 years ago, when we gave secondary education to all our children, that the secondary modern schools would copy the grammar schools, when the truth was that what was good in the grammar schools we wanted for all our children in all our secondary schools. And the notable achievements both of secondary modern schools and of comprehensive schools, and indeed the grammar schools, go to show that this education is one and is dynamic. All that is good in the universities we seek for the colleges of education, and the universities cannot lose in the process.

My Lords, if I may digress for a moment from my main theme. I note with interest the Report's criticism of the tendency of the colleges of education to "overteach"—the word is a good one. When I taught sixth forms many years ago I told my pupils that once they had left the sixth form and gone to university the intensive teaching would be over. At the university, while lectures are important, students would have to stand on their own two feet, if I may coin a phrase. The university student succeeds less by the work of the faculty than by the use of his own faculties. But as I have been to colleges of education recently I have found there too the students working independently of their tutors, realising, as a good university student does, that it is his business to get the most he can out of his college or university education.

The aim of the teaching profession, the policy of the National Union of Teachers, of which I am privileged to be an honorary member, has been throughout this century to press for the goal of a graduate profession—every teacher a graduate. They fear that this Report could be a step back, rather than a moving forward towards the fusion of places of learning. They fear that education for teaching, surely about the most important education of all, is going to be given a second place, or even a third place, in the hierarchical structure of further education. So I support the view expressed in the Minority Report—or, rather, what is called a Note of Extension, since its distinguished signatories accept, as I do, most of the rest of the Report. They want the association of colleges and universities to continue and to expand. They claim that this view has the support of the majority of the teaching profession. I gather from the noble Lord who spoke last that it had the support of the Association of University Teachers. I can certainly confirm that it is true about the teachers in our schools.

The Minority Report wants the colleges themselves to develop in the direction they have already begun, and provide four-year courses leading to a degree. They say, in what I think is the most magnificent sentence in the Report: We think it entirely feasible that within a decade all intending teachers should have the opportunity to pursue higher education courses of the same length, sufficient to attain that breath of knowledge, creative skill and awareness which is needed for the teaching of children of all ages. I do not myself believe that the Report can prevent such a development, even if it wishes to, which I doubt. I believe that ultimately, because of the dynamic nature of the colleges themselves, they too will become what the Report, speaking of the universities, calls "the highest manifestation of the life of learning".

Having said that, my Lords, I agree with almost everything else in the Report, especially the vision of a third stage for every teacher, with a return every seven years to research into new developments in his profession; also the prospect of a second cycle in which, as the young teacher embarks on the most precious of all vocations, he is guided and encouraged by older members of the profession. Turning these two proposals into reality will undoubtedly enhance the quality of the profession. But implementing them will demand the fullest consultation and cooperation between the Government and the teachers themselves.

The Report emphasises the need for specialised teaching—I would say especially into methods of teaching the backward and the mentally or physically handicapped. I am glad that it emphasises the importance of research and practice in the teaching of reading, and especially the teaching to read of children who, for any reasons, find this highly sophisticated accomplishment, with our most difficult orthography in the world, exceedingly difficult. I hope that much more attention will be paid to the teaching of teachers to teach to read. Incidentally, my Lords, I welcome the tribute to Plato. I have often thought that the Republic might be part of the basic course not only of every student in every college of education but of all university students too.

The Report rightly points out that its great proposals—especially those of the important chapter on the third cycle—can be carried out only with a much more generous staffing ratio. It hopes that generous ratio will be provided as we now reach the peak of teacher supply. There will be difficulties in carrying out the idea of the third cycle in the smallest schools, especially in schools with two or three teachers. My Lords, I believe this Report is a landmark in the development of teacher training. It is the beginning of a new epoch. As one who admires just how much the colleges of education have achieved since the War—and indeed their predecessors before them—I was glad to hear the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London pay a tribute to the work of the Church training colleges for over a century. The old training colleges did a wonderful job. I am confident that the colleges will meet the challenges of this Report, but the fears that I have expressed are real ones. They will have to be sorted out in consultation both with the teachers in the schools and the teachers in the colleges and with the teachers in the universities. My Lords, it gives me special pleasure, both for personal reasons and because of a lifelong interest in education, to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme.

6.34 p.m.


My Lords, this has been a good and well-informed debate and we are all, I am sure, grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, for giving us the opportunity to discuss this very important Report. At the beginning of the debate I thought, and I know that some of my noble friends thought, that it was probably too early to have a debate on this subject so soon after the publication of the Report. But I can see that there is some force in what the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, said: that perhaps it is as well to let the Government know our point of view at the beginning rather than when the whole thing is a fait accotnpli.

We have been fortunate this afternoon to hear the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme. I know from past experiences in meetings with him that he is a very persuasive speaker; but he knows, too, that he is sometimes not sufficiently persuasive for me to accept all his points of view, and I am sorry to say that to-day his speech did not altogether allay my fears of the outcome of this Report—indeed, in some respects it even increased them. The Report has been completed speedily enough, and I am sure that we all pay tribute to the enormous amount of work that this must have entailed for the members of the Committee. Sometimes Royal Commissions and Committees of Inquiry take so long in publishing their Reports that they are overtaken by events, but this one was produced very speedily. I have a feeling that there was pressure from the Government on the James Committee to produce this Report very quickly, and I do not blame them for acceding to that request. But perhaps the Report would have been a little better if a slightly longer time had been taken.

First, I should like to say something about the presentation of the Report. I agreed with my noble friend Lady Gaitskell when she said that she found the Report rather difficult to read and to understand because it seems to have been written, as it were, back to front, with the third cycle before the second, and the second before the first; and it did not help matters when, in describing cycle three, it referred to things in cycles two and one which were first, chronologically speaking, but which the reader had not yet read.

My second criticism of the presentation is that the Report lacks facts and background information which many of us would have liked to see included. Reports of this kind usually contain valuable information, but on page 2 of the Report in paragraph 1.5 we find the statement that it, does not include the statistical and factual information already available in the reports of the Select Committee and the A.T.O.s". I do not want masses of statistics, but I believe that the Report would have been better had it contained some background and factual information. Apart from the tables of R.C.C.D.E. areas, which are not particularly interesting, the only figures we get are in Appendix 5, and they are very scanty. My third general criticism of the Report is that it has not faced up to the practical problem resulting from the policies in the Report. There are some parts of the Report with which I wholeheartedly agree, but I recognise that if these are carried out there will be practical problems and, like the noble Baroness, Lady Young, I feel that perhaps we ought to have heard more, not only of how the whole thing is to be financed but also of some of the very practical problems that implementation of the Report would mean for the colleges and the schools.

Cycle three has received universal welcome. A great deal of in-service training takes place now, but it varies and is spasmodic. I finished teaching in 1945 and went back to the classroom as a Minister in 1967, with only occasional visits in between. In 1967 I found in the schools a completely different world from the one I had left in 1945. There had been a veritable classroom revolution, especially in our primary schools. Indeed, in some schools there are no classrooms at all, and I must say that I felt in need of some in-service training in order to talk intelligently to the teachers I was visiting. But it says much for the adaptability of teachers that they have taken these changes in their stride.

This is due to various factors. It is due to a certain amount of in-service training; it is due to the Inspectorate; it is due to the efforts of the organisers of local authorities; it is due to the influence of the schools council (which has not been mentioned to-day) and to the initiative and hard work of the teachers. But, my Lords, it is a sobering thought that many teachers who were in school in 1945 when I left are still there to-day and have probably never had any absence from school for in-service training. Some, no doubt, have visited, in their own time, teacher centres which have been doing valuable work. The school life of someone who starts teaching at the age of just over 20 could be 40 years, yet it is possible for such a person to spend the whole of this time in school without release for further training. So I welcome these proposals, and I should like to go further with regard to cycle three. I should like eventually a sabbatical year for teachers, not just to enable them to become more proficient in teaching but to encourage them to get out into the world. Like the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, I sometimes think it is a great pity that teachers go from school to college and from college to school, with no other experience of working in the world.

My Lords, we must look here at the practical considerations of what is being proposed. It is proposed that all teachers should have a period of one term in seven years out of school, and eventually one term in five years. The Report calculates that this would mean 3 per cent. of the teaching force out of the classroom at any one time. Since the teaching force in the country is nearly 400,000, I calculate that this means that 12,000 teachers would be out of the classroom on in-service training at any one time. This is one of the facts we must face—and I shall come back to this later. It is proposed that this period away from school should be an entitlement and written into the contract of the teacher. I agree with those who to-day have said that it ought also to be the other way round, and that it ought to be written into the contract that the teacher should be willing to undertake this in-service training. I should like to see it done in this way.

Now I come to cycle two, the first year of which is practical experience of teaching and theory of education based in a professional institution, and the second year is a year partly in school and partly out of school as a licensed teacher. I am not quite clear what the status of the licensed teacher is to be. Will such teachers be part of the teaching force, or will they be regarded as a kind of student? They will be out of school for one-fifth of the time. They will be paid as teachers, though not qualified, and they will have advice from experienced colleagues. As my noble friend Lord Maybray-King has just said, there is going to be very great difficulty in small schools, the smaller schools with a teaching force of a headmistress and probably only two assistants. If the licensed teacher is regarded as part of the teaching force of that school, there will be a very great practical problem, but Lord James, when he spoke envisaged that these teachers might all be put into the bigger schools. I have calculated that by the mid-'seventies under these proposals there will be some 35,000 to 40,000 licensed teachers in the schools. If we are going to put those in all the large schools it could mean, for example, that in a large comprehensive school with a staff of 60 some six or eight would be licensed teachers; and again I see great practical difficulties. They can probably be overcome, but I do not think the Report has really faced up to the difficulties of what is proposed.

I find it very difficult to discuss the second cycle in isolation because that is only relevant if the first cycle is accepted; so we must discuss them both together. The whole basis of this Report is that the decision to become a teacher will not be taken until the end of the first cycle and the acquisition of the Diploma of higher education. This is where I personally think that the Report is fundamentally wrong. The first cycle is to be completely divorced from the second and third cycles. It is true that in paragraph 4.13—and again Lord James referred to this—it is mentioned that some students could, if they wished, in the first cycle study subjects which might be of use to them in teaching. But it is also stressed throughout the Report that the diploma could be taken by anyone completely divorced from teaching. I agree very much with my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones on this point. I believe that a case can be made out for a diploma in higher education. I think the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, made a case for some kind of diploma which is perhaps not quite a degree. But where I part company from the Report is that this diploma is tied completely to teacher training. Teacher training is something quite different, and I think it is completely wrong to suggest that all teacher training should be put into this one basket of the diploma in higher education. I think the two things are something quite distinct and quite apart. The 1944 Education Act created a dual system of secondary education, and there is also a dual system of teacher training. This Report accentuates the divisions, and I think even makes matters worse.

The noble Lord, Lord James, said to day, and I agree with him wholeheartedly, that it was wrong for somebody with a university degree to be preferred to a well trained person without one. Of course it is wrong, but it happens. I read in the newspaper only last week of the headmaster of a big secondary school that was to become comprehensive who could not even be considered for headmaster of the comprehensive school because the local authority in that area had a rule that only university graduates could be heads of comprehensive schools. I believe that this practice will continue if this Report is accepted. We are not getting rid of the divisiveness in teacher training, and perhaps are going to make it worse.

There are also arguments in the Report that a student ought not to be pressurised into teaching but ought to be able to keep the option open and not make up his mind at 18. I am against early specialisation in schools, but I think this is taking things a little too far. I know that I might not carry all my noble friends with me in this, but I believe it is not unreasonable to expect adults, as they are now at 18, who are going on to higher education to have some idea of what they intend to do. I know that some students enter universities without a thought of what they are going to do, but this argument about teaching is not applied to other professions. It is not applied to doctors, it is not applied to lawyers. Intending doctors enter a medical school and they study to be a doctor from the word "Go" in the universities. Is it because teaching is regarded as a sort of last resort? Is it that we still have hanging about us the old adage that "Those who can, do; and those who cannot, teach? One of the most revealing sentences in the whole of this Report is on page 68, paragraph 7, when it talks about students being "trapped into teaching". I do not think anybody would ever say that a doctor had been trapped into medicine or that a lawyer had been trapped into training for the legal profession. This is an attitude to teaching which I deplore.

It is argued in the Report that some will take the diploma not intending to teach but then become attracted to teaching. Of course this would be a good idea, and it may be so. But the implication in the Report is that this will increase the teaching force. But this is completely naĩve and just not true. Where will the students study for the diploma? They will study chiefly in the colleges of education, which are now full with intending teachers. So unless the training facilities in colleges of education, in universities and polytechnics are greatly expanded, this Report will reduce the supply of teachers because, as I said, places in colleges of education will be filled by people who are not going to be teachers. It will reduce the supply of teachers because of the in-service training, and it will reduce the supply of teachers because of the year's licensed teachers. I am not saying that I am against these things, but we have to look at the implications of implementing them.

The supply of teachers has increased rapidly in the last decade. The total number in training to-day is three times that of 1960. I think we ought to praise the colleges of education for the way in which they have accepted the challenge of this great increase in their numbers over the last decade. But at the Department of Education and Science for three years I, along with the Secretary of State, was doing my best to increase the supply of teachers because, although there has been this great expansion, we still want more. We want more to enable us to reduce the size of classes; we want more because of the raising of the school-leaving age, and the fact that more children are staying at school after the school-leaving age. We want more for an expansion of nursery education. How many more do we want in the next ten years or so, especially if the Report is to be implemented? The Report is strangely silent on this matter. There are no forward projections. We just do not know what is happening. We do not know what the problem is. I fear that this Report will reduce the number of teachers, unless the Government are prepared for a great expansion of training facilities.

I come back to the first cycle and the diploma. It has been said that those who take the diploma and study for two years might be attracted into teaching. I do not see how two years unrelated to teaching can help a person to make up his mind. I think it is significant that the "Note of Extension", as it is called, is by the two members of the Committee who are most concerned with teacher training. I have been a little critical, and I know that people will say, "Well, what would you do?" Quite frankly, I would prefer the status quo to the proposals in this Report. I should like to see closer links with the universities rather than more divisiveness. Ideally, I should like to see us progress towards a three-year course degree awarded by the universities or the C.N.A.A.; a three-year degree course for teaching, the education service, and other related professions, and a course which would combine academic studies with a knowledge of teaching techniques, and this to be followed by practical work and training. I know that there is the problem of what happens when the graduates from the universities wish to teach. Until comparatively recently it was possible for a graduate to become a qualified teacher with a degree and no training as a teacher. During our period of office we stopped this for primary schools, but it is still possible to do this for secondary schools. But I welcome in the Report the new trainings for graduates which it has recommended.

I believe that in this debate we have been forgetting the receiving end of all this—the children. After all, we are talking about people who are to teach children. What makes a good teacher? I am sure that everybody has his own list, but my list would be this in order of priority: first, a sympathy with, and an understanding of, children. In a Northern town which had a lot of immigrants, I came across a teacher who was going out to Pakistan for three months in order to find out how the children, the immigrants, lived in their own communities. I think that there should be much more of this concern with regard to children living in our own country as well. There must be this sympathy with, and understanding of, children, and a desire to see what their home backgrounds are and to understand them. Second I would put the power to communicate; third, a knowledge of the skills of teaching; fourth, an understanding and a knowledge of what is going on in the world outside the school; and fifth, academic knowledge. You will notice that I have put this last, although I would say that it is very important indeed for some teachers. I left my teachers' college some years ago with a distinction in advanced mathematics, and I must say that of all the things that I learned during my period of training this was the least help when I was in the classroom.




It may be a shame, but my advanced mathematics was of no use when, for six months, because of reorganisation, I was teaching children of six or seven. It might have been of some use to me. I believe that this Report falls down because its priorities are wrong. This debate has shown that there are many misgivings, particularly with regard to cycle one, to which is attached of course cycle two. What we decide now with regard to teacher training will affect the education of the children in this country for the next 20, 30 or even 40 years, and it is important that we get it right. I hope, therefore, that the Government will pause, take heed of what has been said to-day, listen to what is being said outside, and not rush into this without adequate thought and preparation.

6.57 p.m.


My Lords, the role of the Civil Service in education has been compared with a man who, at one and the same time, must gaze with fixed attention and with eyes upraised to where the "high priests" of the educational world consider their theology, where the "philosophers" spin their theories, and where the educational "grand masters" contemplate their next move, while at the same time one ear has to be firmly glued to the ground to hear what is being said at the grass roots of the educational world. If then, this afternoon, the listening attitude of the Government spokesman has undergone a series of rather rapid changes, this is because the House has received advice from a variety of sources; successively from three former Ministers, including the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, who I think is speaking for the first time in this House on education from the Front Bench, and who combines practical teaching experience with her former position as Minister of State.

We have heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, who also has practical experience of teaching young children, and from my noble friend Lord Gowrie, who is a university lecturer. The noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, is a distinguished pro-vice-chancellor, and we have heard from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, whose presence this afternoon reminds us of the effective contribution to this subject which is made by the voluntary bodies.

The noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King— who is not only a teacher but this afternoon rather a special teacher—gave us his knowledge on a variety of aspects of education; and of course we have had the benefit of the advice of the noble Lord who is the architect of this Report.

To the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, we are indebted for the very thoughtful manner of his introduction, which my right honourable friend will certainly read with great care, and for giving the House this opportunity to hear the wide range of views that have been expressed. However, my right honourable friend has made it clear—indeed it is in print in the foreword to the Report —that she would wish this extremely important Report to be the subject of wide public discussion as an essential preliminary to the consultations which she intends shortly to initiate. This is the answer to what several noble Lords have said this afternoon, and also to the noble Baroness herself. In these circumstances, I must make it crystal clear to your Lordships that you must not expect me at this stage to enter into detailed discussions on the points raised or on the substance of the Report itself.

I trust that your Lordships will not think I am being either evasive or discourteous in saying that; but were I to do so it would be seen—and I think would be seen quite rightly—as a prejudgment of consultations. In the context of this debate, I regret this for one reason. I regret it because so many interesting points have been raised on, for instance, the diploma of higher education and the value of the second cycle. Most important of all, there were two outstandingly interesting speeches, one by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, on the first cycle, and the other by my noble friend Lady Young, who, to my mind, made one of the most interesting and comprehensive speeches on education which I have heard in this House. I was glad that the noble Baroness, Lady White, expressed warm appreciation of it.

May I immediately associate the Government with the congratulations which have been extended to the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, and to his colleagues on the vigorous and speedy completion of their task. The noble Lord himself has reminded us this afternoon that there can be no doubt about the difficulty of the task which he and his colleagues were set. The education and training of teachers had already been the subject of wide discussion and detailed examination, and that examination had already generated a mass of evidence. Much of the evidence consisted of statements of opinion, often widely divergent and sharply conflicting.

For it is true to say that underlying the discussion of teacher education for many years there has been a conflict between two views. One view would have the teacher a well-educated person able to adapt to the varying challenges of a teaching career. In its extreme form, this view would be consistent with the notion of the schoolmaster or schoolmistress as a distinguished amateur—one who is born and not made. The contrary view would hold that the complexity of the task in the modern world leaves no room for amateurism: the teacher must be a highly trained professional and, even at the very start of his or her career, must already be equipped with the essential basic skills needed in the first teaching post. This dichotomy—a word which has already been used this afternoon—reflects itself of course in distinctions between education and training and between theory and practice. Clearly, what is needed is a framework within which to achieve a balance and a reconciliation between these two aspects of the problem.

The education and training of teachers impinges in one way or another on all the other educational sectors. But it would have been neither desirable nor possible for the Committee to have ranged over the whole field, and their terms of reference were deliberately designed to indicate the areas to which they should direct their attention. I think the noble Lord's Committee can fairly claim to have dealt thoroughly with their central theme —the education and training of the teaching profession—while, at the same time, not neglecting to indicate possibilities which did not fall fully within their terms of reference. Indeed, the Committee showed great restraint in merely putting up signposts, as it were, to whole areas of very great interest which it would not have been right for them to explore in greater depth.

May I say at this stage that I am sure that my right honourable friend will read with great interest what has been said to-day about the proposals in the Report for a diploma of higher education. Many of your Lordships, including the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, my noble friend Lord Gowrie, the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, in his interventions, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London and the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, have referred to this. Perhaps this is not quite so straightforward a subject as the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, made it appear when she referred to the difficulties which she saw in the diploma of higher education being available outside the teaching profession. Anyway, all of your Lordships have canvassed these varying questions—to what award it should lead; who should validate it; what will be its currency; and how will the universities treat it? These are all important questions which I entirely concede will need to be pursued, and pursued again during the consultative process.


My Lords, what the noble Lord has said leads me to believe that he misunderstood something I said. I was not quite sure of the point he was making about my saying that I had doubts about other people taking a diploma of higher education. What I thought I said was that perhaps there was a need for a diploma in higher education but not within teacher training; and that I did not like very much people who were not going to be teachers taking places which had hitherto been reserved for intending teachers, unless the colleges of education were greatly expanded.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness. I had taken the rather simpler line that she was saying that it was virtually impossible for the diploma to be taken outside of those who were intending to be teachers, and it was on that that I was saying the consultative process would need to operate.

May I say a quick word about the machinery of this Inquiry? This was a new kind of Inquiry. It was a small expert Committee working full-time to a fixed schedule, and some public comment on the way that this new kind of Inquiry was carried out has revealed a certain misunderstanding about the Committee's role. Incidentally, it has also conveyed some novel and somewhat interest- ing implications. There has almost been the implication, for example, that it would have been proper for the Committee to conduct a kind of opinion poll among interested parties, and then to have constructed a new system from those components which had, as it were, attracted the most votes. It may indeed have been theoretically possible to proceed in this way. But there can be little doubt that the result would have been more bizarre even than that relatively homely creation, the camel, one definition of which is too well-known to bear repetition.

I think it is fair to say that another implication of some public comment has been that the Committee was some kind of judicial body analogous to a tribunal —and to a secret tribunal at that; hence the fulminations in some quarters about the so-called "leaks". In fact, the analogy with a legal process is entirely false. No one was on trial. As I have said, the Committee was composed of people of knowledge and distinction who were given the time and the opportunity for a process of study, discussion, analysis and the formulation of advice.

The Committee's method of work was their own choice. It was to examine afresh the mass of evidence already available, as well as to study the new evidence submitted to them; to seek the widest possible informal discussion and then to form their own judgment; and to reach conclusions on which to base their recommendations. There could be no guarantee that such a painstaking process would lead to a substantially unanimous Report. None the less, substantially, it has done so. Nor could there be any assurance in advance that by such a method the Report would be produced on time. In the event, it was submitted well within the year. On both these counts, also, the noble Lord and his Committee are most certainly to be congratulated.

When the noble Lord spoke in this House over eight years ago in the debate on the Robbins Report, he said: I have worked for most of my life in schools". If I may say so, many of the points in the Report—points which are most easily seen in Chapter 2 on the third cycle—are eloquent of the knowledge and insight of the noble Lord (who has of course been in the university world for some years) and his Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King, referred for instance to paragraph 2.7 of Chapter 2, which draws attention to the need to continue to improve understanding and competence in language development for illiterate or semi-illiterate pupils. Your Lordships will be aware that my right honourable friend has expressed her disquiet about the size of the slow-learning problem and when the local authorities are responding, as we hope they will feel able to do increasingly, to the offer of additions to teacher quota to attend to these pupils.

The noble Baroness, Lady White, and the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, drew attention to the Committee's recommendation that the need for a teacher to develop or up-date skills with immigrant pupils can be met in the second year of the second cycle, or of course in the third cycle. I think I am right in saying that, speaking purely statistically, it falls to only about one teacher in every six to work with immigrant pupils. But, of course, when this occurs special skills are often required to bring out the true ability from a child who has—


My Lords, I do not like to interrupt the noble Lord at a late point in his speech, but I had hoped that from our earlier debate on this subject he had grasped that we are not so much concerned with skills for teaching immigrant pupils, important as they are, as with the attitudes of the indigenous pupils.


My Lords, I think that what I am saying to your Lordships would apply equally to both. I am agreeing here with the Report that, wherever it may come, in whichever cycle —but I am mainly confining my remarks to the third cycle—special skills are often required to bring out the true ability from either the immigrant child, to whom the environment may be new and who needs a working knowledge of what is probably a new language, or, I would agree with the noble Baroness, from the indigenous child, who needs precisely the same special care. During the past year, reports by Her Majesty's Inspectorate have been published drawing urgent attention to the need to assess the ability, and the educational needs, of younger immigrant children, and to continue to attend particularly to the language problems of secondary pupils, whose abilities, and therefore their opportunities, may well be dependent upon what we call this "second phase" work.

I was particularly interested to hear the noble Lord refer to the part of the Report where the Committee spoke of the need for "managerial" courses for many of the teaching profession to-day. To me, it is always remarkable how little we still know about the effects of the size of a school. Indeed, this uncertainty is perhaps reflected in the statistics, which show some evidence of a move away in the last six or seven years from the establishment of very large schools but a slight rise in the average size of comprehensive schools during the same period. My right honourable friend is always ready to encourage moves towards relatively smaller schools, but in the comprehensive sector I think we shall always be talking of numbers which are relevant to paragraph 2.15, which says that heads, deputies and heads of department will have to lead stalls whose combined knowledge and experience is far wider than their own, and will have to co-ordinate and direct the talents of these teachers to the best advantage of the schools. They will need to develop a clear idea of the aims and functions of their schools or departments and to assess the present and potential contribution of those serving under them. For this role—managerial as well as professional—the right kind of training is of great importance. If I may just pick out two quick last examples, looking through the recommendations of Chapter 2 I was heartened to note that the Government policy is, I would submit, already very much on the same track as that of the James Committee in a couple of other respects. The paragraph on flexibility, in the third cycle courses, recommends possible new approaches to courses for careers teachers. At this moment, members of the Inspectorate are conducting a survey into careers guidance in schools, and I believe it is an urgent necessity to discover, as this survey is seeking to do, the best methods already in use, and from them to attempt to draw conclusions on this crucial stage of a pupil's education.

I was interested also to read, in paragraph 2.19, these words: A language teacher might benefit most at some stage in his career by residence abroad …", because two months ago the Government were able to announce target figures for teacher exchanges with France and Germany of 200 for next year, rising to 500 in 1973–74, and with a target figure of 1,000 exchanges thereafter. My Lords, the third cycle recommendations are relevant to teachers who need to respond to an existing situation and to those who, of their own initiative, move into a post demanding new skills or a fresh approach. The raising of the school-leaving age is the most topical example of the former requirement, and I would take this opportunity to express appreciation of the considerable national effort which the teaching profession has mounted to work out new curricula and fresh ideas; and to say how glad I was that the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, with her experience, mentioned the Schools Council in this respect.

The latter point, where one moves perhaps to a different environment or to a different sort of school, was illustrated in the Report by the Committee drawing attention to those who discover their vocation to teach handicapped children after having qualified. Over a year ago I had the good fortune to visit an educationally subnormal school in South-East England, and I noted that almost every man on the staff had transferred into the school from primary or secondary teaching; and one factor was common to every single one—a desire to teach these particular pupils, and, in some cases, a wish to become involved in the education and training of the mentally handicapped. Now within the immediate future the new three-year courses for teachers of the mentally handicapped should be training more teachers than the excellent two-year diploma courses which are now being phased out; but my experience on that day a year ago has taught me that here again is an example of the Report's foresight which I think we should do very well to heed. If the proposal for expanding teachers' opportunities for in-service training—a proposal which has attracted a wide measure of support from your Lordships this afternoon—were adopted, then it is clear, both from reading the Report and from this debate, that the Committee's recommendations would involve the release of teachers on a scale which would need to be phased in with the continuing increase in the total teacher supply; that the pattern of courses would need to be built up over a period of time; and that there would be major organisational problems to be overcome —matters to which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, referred as meaning a very real allocation of resources.

In this connection, may I just say that I think the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, was perhaps inadvertently a little less than fair to the Report when she queried the changes which the second cycle would or could effect and when she omitted reference to, for instance, the professional centres and the professional tutors. This, I think, is also the answer to Lady White's warning of the danger that licensed teachers might be imposed upon by making them fill the gaps for those absent on third cycle work. My reading of the Report leaves me in no doubt—this is not my opinion: I am saying my reading of the Report leaves me in no doubt—that this is a danger which the Committee would have been united in opposing, but doubtless this again is a point which will be fully discussed in the consultations during the coming months.

It may well be, therefore, that the timetable for action suggested by the Report is going to prove to he more speedy than can in fact be accomplished, and this view is strengthened by the time needed for the consultative process; by the fact that local government will not be reorganised, of course, until 1974; and by the temporary effect on the pupil-teacher ratio which will be a result of the raising of the school-leaving age. Behind all these factors lie the words on cost of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and others of your Lordships, including my noble friend Lord Gowrie. The noble Baroness would have liked some words actually in this debate. My right honourable friend has told the House of Commons that she will provide very broad estimates of the cost involved when our study of the Report has been completed. At this stage, that, I am afraid, is all that I can say.

My Lords, the factors which I have just enumerated suggest that if major changes are to be made, a transitional period is going to be needed, with new proposals operative, not at once but needing to be introduced over a period. For instance, the proposal to raise the minimum entry qualifications of intending teachers to two "A"-levels could not, as the noble Lord, Lord James, himself has recognised this afternoon, be fully operative at an early date if damaging effects on teacher supply were to be avoided; nor could the introduction of a new two-year higher education qualification be achieved in a day. On the substance of tile Report, I have confined the remarks that I have submitted to the House to the third cycle, but the question of whether it would be desirable to adopt the proposals of the Report, and, if so, the extent to which this should be done, and the timing of the necessary action to make them operative, are all clearly subjects to be covered in discussions which my right honourable friend will hold with those concerned and which will doubtless proceed through a good deal of the summer. Your Lordships will forgive me if I repeat that I must not pursue any further at this stage topics which might seem to prejudice the outcome of these discussions. My Lords, in a debate of this kind, on a definite and fairly technical subject, it is clearly almost impossible for any speaker to say anything very original. I know only too well that most of what I shall say has been said or will said probably a great deal better." — [OFFICIAL REPORT, 11/12/63; col. 1284.]

Those were the opening words of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord James, in the debate on the Robbins Report in this House in 1963. They did not apply to his speech on that occasion and they certainly do not apply to his Report for which we are grateful to the noble Lord and to his Committee. Their work has provided an admirable basis for most important national discussions to which your Lordships have contributed this afternoon by this debate on the issues involved.

7.21 p.m.


My Lords, I rise first to thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I think it has belied the implications in the remark of the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, that we are all communicators, from David Frost down to the most humble Member of this House. I think that the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King, and the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for instance, rate probably higher. It would not be right for me to attempt to answer the debate in any way. I understand the position of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead. He has made it clear why it would not be right for him to answer the debate—although for someone who told us that he had nothing to say, he managed to say quite a lot. I feel that in a way the greatest pity is that, owing to a recent change in the Standing Orders of this House, it is not possible to ask the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme to speak a second time in reply to the debate. It would have been fascinating to hear his comments on the speeches which came after his, particularly some which possibly ignored some of the qualifications, reservations and exceptions that he and his colleagues were careful to make all the way through tile Report. I should also have enjoyed hearing his reply to the extremely cogent and well-argued criticisms of the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon.

One or two noble Lords, and particularly the noble Baroness, Lady White, have suggested that this debate was perhaps held too soon for us to summon our resources. I apologise if this is so. I thought that if the impoverished, understaffed Liberal Party could organise a one-day conference addressed by three professors of education, the chairman of the Schools Council and the Director of the International Baccalaureat, with proper background papers, and could have produced reports between the publication of the James Report and this debate, then other Parties could do the same. If I was wrong I apologise.

I turn to one or two comments on educational matters. It is part of the Liberal Party policy to take education off the rates and put it back on central finance. I do not fall into the trap of believing that that solves the financial problems; I am aware that it only transfers them. But I think it is a point that I should have mentioned earlier, before we began talking about the problems for local government. I think that probably a number of noble Lords underestimate the demand for the Dip.H.E. which may come not only from people who are not in higher education at the moment but from people in the universities who may prefer to go for a Dip.H.E. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, I did not think that that was a bad thing. I believe that it is better to have people taking the courses they want to take, even if they are a harsher discipline, than those they do not want to take. I take, and I hope the Government will take, the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, when she said how many more places we should need for Dip.H.E. if this were to happen. Nor do I believe that cheapness is necessarily an insult or a bad thing in itself. I thought that frequently in this debate cheapness was equated with badness without the point being proved. No-one who has anything to do with the allocation of resources in education can possibly do anything but approve when things are done cheaply, provided that they are also done well.

My Lords, I would close by repeating the thanks that we all owe to the noble Lord, Lord James, not only for his speech but also for the immense work that he put in on the Report. I should like to apologise to him if by this debate at rather short notice we have upset his diary and to say how grateful we are that he found the time to come to talk to us. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.