HL Deb 29 March 1973 vol 340 cc1195-312

3.27 p.m.

TEE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCE (LORD BELSTEAD) rose to move, That this House takes note of the White Paper "Education: A Framework for Expansion" (Cmnd. 5174). The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move that this House takes note of the White Paper Education: A Framework for Expansion. Anyone who happens to know East Anglia at all well will be familiar with the abbreviated solution to almost any hypothetical situation which is usually contained in the brusque use of the one word, "Do". "Do that rain I'll go and hoe the turnips, do that don't rain I'll go and mow the hay" is an admir- able solution to the vagaries of the weather in East Anglia, and to the politician eternally wrestling with objectives and priorities this example of such obvious decisiveness is an attitude of mind which is also decidedly attractive. And it is attractive not least to those who are involved in education, the service which claims over 55 per cent. of local authority spending and which presents such a formidable annual bill to the British taxpayer. But there the attraction of instant decisions on educational priorities has to cease, because education is a continuous process and should be available to young and old alike, and inescapably every Secretary of State becomes aware that to parents the important stage of education is the one which their sons and daughters happen to have reached at any particular moment.

So the Government's aims are of necessity broad. In number they are three, and to them all the detailed proposals in this White Paper are related. Our first broad aim is to try to extend the whole process of education over a wider span of years. The second is to secure an improvement in the quality of the service. As well as more, we want better education. Thirdly, we wish, wherever we can, by a greater diversity of provision, to try to enlarge personal choices and to make them, if possible, less irrevocable. But on these three broad fronts decisions have still got to be reached according to where the need is greatest. Here I think the White Paper has established a new perspective in forward thinking in education by planning over a ten-year period. By this my right honourable friend has constructed in this White Paper a framework within which choices can be made in a sensible relationship to each other and to the resources available.

The White Paper deals with five vital sectors of education which should push us forward on our three broad fronts. Those sectors are nursery education, school buildings, staffing standards in the schools, teacher training, and higher education. Nursery schools are not only social centres of training and up-bringing for the children, but have a real educational value and are often centres of adult education for the parents themselves. Therefore I hope we shall see a healthy development of nursery schools or classes where they are more expedient, and that we shall find that they buttress and support home life and make no attempt at supplanting it. With those words, during the Second Reading of his Education Bill, my noble friend Lord Butler described the scope of what was to become Section 8(2)(b) of the Education Act 1944. Twenty-nine years later, I do not believe that anybody would want to change one of those sentiments. The educational and social benefits of an early start are now widely recognised: increasingly it is accepted that the involvement of parents, particularly mothers, can indeed be what the noble Lord so strikingly called, "adult education". The trouble is that, over a quarter of a century after the 1944 Act was passed, we have moved so painfully slowly along the way which the noble Lord directed.

Six years ago, Lady Plowden's Committee reviewed the case for children under five and concluded that parents of 90 per cent. of four-year olds, and 50 per cent. of three-year olds, would probably choose nursery education for their children if it were provided on a part-time basis, but with full-time provision needed for 15 per cent. of both age groups. My right honourable friend now undertakes to fulfil the Plowden targets. The White Paper has estimated that, after allowing for the adaptation of some primary places as primary numbers begin to fall, about 250,000 new places will need to be provided. At current costs, that is about £90 million worth of building starts, and a further £15 million will be needed for adaptation. Local education authorities have been asked to say by May 18 how much work they feel they can undertake in 1974 to 1976, when £30 million—that is some 75,000 new places—will be made available. Before the end of the summer, we shall be able to start making allocations and just exactly a year from now the work can begin.

May I quickly refer to two particular groups of children who will be affected by this programme? In a debate before Christmas initiated by my noble friend Lady Brooke, many of your Lordships expressed considerable interest in the needs of the very young handicapped children—and, indeed, of their parents. In a recent circular on nursery education, we said that the less severely handicapped can be educated along with others, if conditions and staffing are right. How- ever, on Monday we wrote to chief education officers asking local education authorities to identify any special units for the severely handicapped under five which they propose to provide in the first two years of the programme, and we shall reserve a small part of the £30 million specifically for this purpose.

In addition, the White Paper has promised that a measure of priority should be given to deprived areas—rural as well as urban. I think it was Winston Churchill who, on first going to Manchester to fight the General Election of 1906, is supposed to have said: Fancy living in one of these streets, never seeing anything beautiful, never eating anything savoury, never saying anything clever. I do not know whether those words would have been spoken if he had known Manchester better, and they are not words which we would use to-day. But although the causes and the symptoms of cultural deprivation may change, their effects can remain as uncompromising as ever. In areas where the need is greatest there will, as the Plowden Committee recognised, be a heavier claim for full-time provision, and with this in mind we shall see that a substantial part of the £30 million available for the first two years is allocated not only by reference to the shortage of existing provision, but also by reference to other indices, such as income and housing.

To some extent this is uncharted territory but we shall, as we have promised in the White Paper, undertake a programme of research and much of it will be mounted after consultation with the Department of Health and Social Security, who are responsible for day-care facilities and with whom we share an interest in play groups, which are specifically mentioned in the White Paper and for which we envisage a continuing need. Finally, may I say that precise allocations will take account of the size of bids put in by L.E.A.s because my right honourable friend has said that she hopes that every authority will make a start in the next two years to provide a basis for future expansion.

The subject of school building, which is the second sector of the White Paper, is one which I suppose has long been controversial, but may I submit that the simple facts are these. Despite all the resources committed by all Governments since the war, a large part of the building programme has been taken up with providing "roofs over heads". The margin left for improvement has been pretty narrow, but, none the less, I do not think we need be too apologetic After all, it was the Labour Government in 1947 which remained true to the intentions of the 1944 Act, by raising the school leaving age to 15 at a time of unprecedented shortages. My noble friend Lord Eccles, as Minister from 1954, launched a systematic drive for the reorganisation of all-age schools by building secondary schools, first in the countryside and then in the towns. This work was supplemented afterwards by a special drive for better science facilities and by a special £300 million programme for the early 1960s and then, in 1964, my noble friend Lord Boyle announced more substantial sums for further secondary improvements, to be followed by a special programme which was planned for 1968–71 for the raising of the school leaving age to 16.

From this catalogue, the House will see that almost all the money for improvements since the war has been directed to secondary schools, and it is a fact that in the last two years we have discovered that one pupil in every five in a primary school—that is over 1 million pupils—is in a building dating from before 1903, which needs either completely replacing or very large scale improvements. So it was that, within four months of taking office, my right honourable friend announced a record programme of nearly £50 million for the financial year which we are just finishing, for the replacement of old primary schools. This is a programme which we shall continue and we have already approved the replacement of about 2,000 old primary schools. This gives us the opportunity now to announce a resumption of the secondary improvement programme. We are seeking to carry forward the work which has gone before, by launching a £10 million programme in England and Wales for 1975, and again for 1976—a programme which is planned to have a rising curve thereafter.

On Monday, the details of the projects on which work will start were released affecting 54 secondary schools, two-thirds of them in Greater London, the Midlands and the North, but not neglecting such rural areas as Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Herefordshire—and including projects as far apart as Cornwall and Southend. All this comes on top of the continuing programme to provide extra secondary places where numbers are rising, to the tune of well over £200 million in the next three years immediately following the special programme for the raising of the school leaving age, which alone has cost £150 million. May I add that my right honourable friend very strongly takes the view that the improvement of buildings must include more and better provision for children who are in special education. It is for this reason that, if your Lordships will glance at page 12 of the White Paper, you will see that it includes a little table showing the rapid acceleration in the special school building programme from £11 million this year to £19 million in five years' time. This will enable new places to be provided amounting to over 30 per cent. more per annum on average over this and the next four years, compared to the average provision of the three years which have gone before.

In this programme we intend to start about 5,000 more new school places for the severely E.S.N.—those who came within the education system in April, 1971—and in addition to new places we shall be able to double the resources for replacing old and inadequate special school buildings. In these ways, more scope will be given for a variety of things, not least the improved and more flexible staffing standards which have been recommended in Circular 4/73 which was sent out only a fortnight ago. Staffing standards and the training of teachers—the third and fourth sectors of the White Paper—stand together, in a sense, because it is the improvement in teacher supply which gave my right honourable friend the opportunity to invite the noble Lord, Lord James, to report on teacher training. It is from the work of his committee that the recommendations in the White Paper on training are mainly derived. Many of these proposals are, I think, of the greatest significance for instance, the huge expansion of training for the newly-qualified and for serving teachers, which is going to cost about £50 million a year more when it comes fully into operation. These were two matters particularly which were, I think, very notable in the Report, and I regret the absence owing to illness of the noble Lord from our debate this afternoon, which he had intended to attend.

As one who, on first ever passing an exam, received the rather dry comment from his headmaster that it was "triumph for teachers and taught alike", I believe very strongly that the quality of education depends on an adequate supply of teachers and on the quality of their training and retraining. We intend to work towards the achievement of a graduate teaching profession, and to this end we have proposed the introduction of three-year courses incorporating educational studies which will lead both to the award of a bachelor of education degree and qualified teacher status. But there are many young people who on leaving school do not wish to commit themselves to a particular career, although later they may wish to teach; and we agree with the noble Lord's Committee that they should have the option of entering the teaching profession without being virtually obliged to commit themselves at the very outset of their training. After all, many graduates go into teaching in this rather more circuitous manner, and the new diploma of higher education will introduce an additional element of flexibility in this respect.

For those who complete courses leading to qualified teacher status it is important that they should embark on their first job—what the noble Lord, Lord James, called "induction"—with more care and consideration than has often been the case in the past. We want them to receive proper support and some immediate in-service training during their probationary year, and to facilitate this we accept that they should normally be asked to undertake no more than three-quarters of a full teaching load. This is not all, for we also accept the widely welcomed recommendation of the noble Lord's Report that all teachers, as of right, should have access to continued education and training during their careers. Our target is taken from the Report: 3 per cent. of the total teacher force on in-service training in any one year, roughly a quadrupling of the existing secondment. Our method will be to begin an expansion of in-service training next year, working through to our target of 3 per cent. release by 1981. One consequence of the plans flowing from Lord James's Report is that another 20,000 teachers are going to be needed to avoid a drop in staffing standards within the schools. But we must not stop there. By 1981 we aim to secure a teaching force 10 per cent. higher than the numbers needed to maintain the staffing standards in the schools reached in 1971. To achieve this for the bigger 1981 pupil numbers, another 110.000 teachers are needed: and an extra 15,000 are also needed for the under-fives. So altogether we see a broad requirement of some 510,000 teachers in 1981, and your Lordships may be interested to hear that this compares with the 1971 figure of 364,000 and the 1961 figure of 276.000.

For the remarkable increase in numbers hitherto we have to thank all those who have been involved over the years in teacher training. For the basis of the majority of our training proposals in the White Paper we are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord James. Paragraph 57 of the White Paper describes what is our goal: It is no less than building a body of teachers well prepared, academically and professionally, to sustain confidently the formidable task to which they are called: to guide each generation of children into a full appreciation of our culture, to quicken their social and moral awareness, to enhance their intellectual abilities to the highest standard of which each is capable, and to develop their practical and human skills so that each may be enabled to make his or her contribution to the health, wealth and harmony of a democratic society". If, through our proposals, that goal is brought closer, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord James, will consider, as indeed we consider, that the work of his Committee was very well worth while.

My Lords, I have seen it said that this White Paper concerns itself exclusively with the fortunate minority who proceed to post 'A' level education". But better teaching in better buildings, an earlier start and a full five-year secondary course are matters which I think it is fair for me to claim that my right honourable friend has proved she cares very deeply about; and the Government are not neglecting those who, after school, do not happen to enter higher education. Two large F.E. building programmes are being planned for the next two years. Moreover, the implementation of the Haslegrave Report, covering as it did the whole band of technician education has been carried a stage further by the recent setting up of the Technician Education Council. It is true that the White Paper had little to say about adult education, because the Report of the Russell Committee had not then been published. It was published two days ago, and it is, I am sure, now being studied with considerable interest by all concerned with the future development of adult education. The Committee were faced with a formidable task, and I should like to pay tribute to Sir Lionel Russell and his Committee for the remarkable Report which they have produced. It is, in a sense, a landmark: the first major Report on adult education for many years. It needs, and certainly deserves, careful study by the Government and other interests concerned.

My Lords, in laying our plans and setting out our targets for higher education—the final sector of the White Paper—we have kept the principle which was laid down by Lord Robbins very much in mind, and it is our intention to continue to make higher education available to all who are qualified for it and who wish for it. It is particularly difficult to forecast trends in these respects, but we judge that a total of about 750,000 full-time and sandwich course places by 1981—and this is a figure for Great Britain as a whole, including Scotland—will take account of the prospective increase in numbers of qualified leavers and will meet the likely demand for higher education from qualified applicants. I would emphasise that we are thus planning for a further significant extension of opportunity. Whereas in 1961 about 7 per cent. of l8-year-olds found places in an institution of higher education, in 1971 the proportion had risen to 15 per cent., and in 1981, if our plans go ahead, it will be 22 per cent. Of the prospective 750,000 places, we should intend that about half would be in universities and the other half in polytechnics and in colleges and institutions outside the university sector.

May I just add this about the settlement for the universities' 1972–77 quinquennium, which was announced in the White Paper? We plan that the number of full-time students should grow from 236,000 last year to 306,000 in the final year of the quinquennium—an increase of 70,000, or nearly 30 per cent. This compares with a considerably smaller increase in the previous quinquennium of 51.000 students, or 27.5 per cent. However, during that quinquennium the number of post-graduates went up more than one-a-half times as fast as the number of undergraduates. We have decided to restore the balance by slowing down the growth of post-graduate work and giving preference to new entrants, of whom school-leavers, of course, form the great majority. The recurrent and equipment grants to finance these developments, which are dealt with on page 38 of the White Paper, now amount to no less than £1,790 million, which now includes nearly £280 million which has been added for price increases since the White Paper was published. By 1976–77 the recurrent grant per student will be 98 per cent. of the comparable figure for 1971–72. This difference of 2 per cent. should not rule out all possibility of improvements and new developments, and I would submit to your Lordships that it is to be expected, surely, as universities expand at the rate which I have described, that there becomes greater scope for economies of scale.

Our aim is to enhance the variety of the courses and patterns of study that are available, so that they may always he relevant to the needs of young people as these change over the years. Our aim is also to help candidates see what is available and to judge wisely how to choose within higher education for their own individual needs, and thus we hope to further what the 1944 Education Act called "the progressive development of institutions devoted to that purpose", since it is upon the higher education institutions themselves that the responsibility for the quality and diversity of higher education rests. It is here, I suggest to the House, that the new Diploma of Higher Education can also afford new elements for flexibility and choice. In future, school leavers will not have to commit themselves to a minimum of three years higher education before they can hope to obtain a qualification. Instead they will be able to enter two-year courses and decide later whether or not to continue further either full or part-time. If the plans for unit based courses now being developed by many institutions come to fruition the choice of subject matter and combinations of subjects can be wider and students will be able to change the direction of their studies as their interests or career aspirations develop.

Because the teaching force is currently growing at the rate of 20,000 teachers per annum we shall not need so fast a rate of growth to attain over half a million teachers by 1981, and account has been taken of this in our plans for higher education when looking at institutional changes. My Lords, this week a Circular No. 7/73 has been issued which carries higher education planning outside the universities an important stage further. It is addressed to local education authorities and asks them to consider the future development of the higher education institutions in their area in consultation with the voluntary colleges, the regional advisory councils for further education and the Area Training Organisations, and we have asked for final plans after local government reorganisation has come into effect. The fact is that a net expansion of 130,000 places is going to be needed in the English and Welsh institutions outside universities by 1981, but at the same time there will need to be a major reconsideration of the role of some of the colleges of education and their relationship with the universities, with polytechnics and with other colleges of further education. May I on this occasion recognise the wish of the voluntary colleges to see whether they can participate in the developments outside teacher training.

Finally, my Lords, I mention just three quick points which arise from the circular, and they are worth stressing. The first is the need to continue to plan in such a way as to secure the fullest economies of scale, and this will set some limit to the number of colleges which will be able to offer advanced courses. The second concerns the problems which arise, partly over residence and partly over transport, from concentrations of very large numbers of students in one area, and we hope that authorities will be able to avoid planning solutions which intensify these difficulties. Finally, we want to try to improve the distribution of opportunities for higher education so as to meet the needs of part-time students within a reasonable distance from where they live or work, and to do something to reverse the tendency of full-time students to choose to study away from home.

My Lords, taking the schools and higher education sectors together, the White Paper shows that over the 10 years up to 1981–82 expenditure could rise on these five educational sectors from £2,100 million to £3,100 million, an increase of about 50 per cent. And if we take total public spending on education throughout Great Britain, the last White Paper on public expenditure showed that this is planned to take a rising share of all public expenditure during the next five years. Perhaps it is fair to claim that in this country we have always had a suspicion about gearing our education to specific manpower needs. A good general education, with quite a lot of specialisation as well, has been the aim of our system and this is an objective which still remains firmly embedded in a great deal that our schools, colleges and universities seek to do. But perhaps it is also fair to claim that of all generations, those who have grown up since the war have come to see more clearly than ever before the importance of the education services. For this country, not rich in raw materials and no longer the centre of a great empire, has none the less limitless possibilities if we will cultivate and enhance the qualities which we know that as a people we possess.

By concentrating on the five sectors of education covered by this White Paper, my right honourable friend has sought to construct a framework for the expansion of the services for which she is responsible and we will now work with our partners in the education service to fulfil this expansion in the interests of the service and for the future of us all.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down could he clarify one point on which he touched? What facilities are to be given to existing non-graduate teachers to acquire the Bachelor of Education degree?


I am sorry, I think I must answer that later on. I am not sure that anything I said was relevant to what the noble Earl said. May I think this one over and reply to it at the end of the debate?

3.56 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for introducing the White Paper with such clarity, and also, thinking of my Norfolk father, for using an Eastern Counties definition, because there they certainly have a very colourful turn of phrase. May I at the outset explain to the House that I shall not attempt to cover the whole area of the White Paper, as my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy will be taking up various points, and with such a distinguished list of speakers, all experts in their own field—including a maiden speaker whom we are delighted to see making his debut in the House to-day—I feel that I shall do justice better if I single out certain sections of the Report. This does not mean in any way that I am not concerned about the whole of the White Paper. As your Lordships will have noticed—the Minister repeated this—the White Paper is entitled A Framework for Expansion, and I think it is kindest to consider it in just that way. It is just that—a framework. In my book that is an outline on which to build, and therefore there are gaps that need to be filled.

I think that perhaps this accounts for the very small mention that the White Paper gives to the special schools. The Minister mentioned them again to-day but there is very little mention in the White Paper itself of schools for the mentally handicapped who come under the control of education, concerning the problems of the voluntary schools, the education and the social needs of youth as distinct from the schools, the transition from school to work and many other related aspects of the education service. These will be the gaps which will have to be filled in on the framework. On the general philosophy of education, I would repeat what I have said many times before and shall probably say many times more in your Lordships' House, that until we as a nation are prepared to contribute enough to the community pool our health and social services and our education will not really get the resources to which they are entitled.

The debate in the other place I thought seemed to get bogged down with too many pros and cons of expenditure. I do not intend to go into that question; but I would say to the Government that if the total money given to this great service is not going to be sufficient, then the White Paper may well try to spread the resources too thinly and, in the end, we shall get neither splendid colleges nor comfortable nursery schools. I was at one of the Midland universities last week and being taken round by the wife of the vice-chancellor. At the end of my tour she said to me, "What do you think of it?" I said, "I find it rather depressing, no less this one than other new universities". The small box-like rooms of the students, the bare brick walls and the plastic tables all seem to me to suggest that these were people who were not going to be able to enjoy the grace and elegance of living which should go with that part of one's life in higher education. Her answer was that we had to use the money as best we could. This is my point. If we have to spread resources too thinly, then we may not get exactly what we want in any one sphere.


It will be tawdry, my Lords.


My Lords, the Minister when speaking to the Schools Council said that when the Education White Paper talked about expansion it meant expansion and not contraction. For many education will start earlier, and for more than in the past it will go on longer. That is the expansion of the service at both ends. This the noble Lord has enlarged upon this afternoon. Unfortunately, when one studies the White Paper carefully—and I have been fortunate enough to discuss it with many peope on the job in schools and colleges—one is forced to the conclusion that the view expressed by the Inner London Education Authority is the correct one, that the White Paper sadly belies its title because while it does expand in one source, it certainly contracts in other angles of the service and may well provide stagnation for some.

As a campaigner for many years for the pre-school child, I welcome the development of nursery schools. Anyone who has seen the small child in its own environment and not that of the adult knows how the child blossoms socially and educationally. The need for this part of the education service has never been more acute than now—with the changing pattern of living, high-rise flats and mothers forced to go to work because of the cost of living. I often wonder whether the figures in the prices and incomes discussion that we had really revealed the fact that many mothers do have to go out to work in order to maintain a reasonable budget. For the small child in the areas of social deprivation to which the Minister referred we must give nursery places high priority. I take the Minister's point when she said that the main purpose of providing these is to enable children to learn; it is not to provide a day care service. I applaud the involvement of the parents as advocated by Plowden, picked up in the White Paper and—and we must pay tribute to this—already shown in the preschool play groups who have not waited for the White Paper or for any nursery school advancement but have been established by enterprising parents.

With all these glorious prospects in view, I looked at the heading in the nursery schools section, The Under Fives, entitled, "Resources". I read: … more nursery places already approved under the Urban Programme will be brought into use. Even so a substantial programme of purpose-built accommodation will be required, and … the Government propose to authorise special building programmes of £15 million each in 1974–75 and 1975–76. The effect will be to increase … expenditure on the under fives from £42 million … to … £65 million in 1976–77. I know that if we talk about millions it is very difficult for most of us to comprehend the amount of money involved. I would only say that the school of which I am a governor, at the moment under the ROSLA scheme, is spending £90,000. For this it will get only five and a half class rooms. This is in an old building, with their not having to purchase any land, not having to make all the facilities necessary for purpose-built buildings. I would question whether the amount of money laid down in this part of the programme will produce the number of nursery places we want. I do not feel that it will in London and in the big cities. I am not wishing to detract from the proposals for expansion for nursery schools, but if hopes are built up they must be fulfilled.

Let us look at the staff who are going to care for the children, the teachers—the kingpin of the whole operation; because no matter how good the building and how good the equipment and how good the surroundings, there is no substitute for a good teacher. I recently read a definition of the good teacher, in the year 1614, as laid down in one of the Southwark schools. The ideal school-master—we must remember that women were not included then— shall be a man of wise, sociable and loving disposition, not hasty or furious, nor of any ill example: he shall be wise, and of good experience to discern the nature of every child, to work upon their dispositions for the greatest advantage, benefit and comfort of the child, to learn with the love of his book. I would suggest that that still remains a pretty good definition of the good teacher. The White Paper emphasises over and over again the role that the teaching profession will have to play—indeed, in the induction process to which the Minister has referred. Yet I understand that no real attempt has been made by the Secretary of State to consult with teacher organisations on matters on which consultation has already taken place with the L.E.A.'s. Unless you gain the support and assistance of the people on the job, the White Paper plan will not come to fruition. These organisations believe that the long-term proposals for the size of the teaching profession fall short of the true number which will be required by 1981 to staff the schools adequately. Replying to the debate in the other place, the Minister, Mr. St. John-Stevas, said: Honourable gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite seem to be obsessed with the question of quantity of teachers, whereas the White Paper is concerned with their quality. These are splendid sentiments and I should be the last to suggest that we do not want quality but if we do not have smaller classes there will not be quality of education. So we must be concerned with the reality of numbers. This must come into the discussion. The Minister dismissed the N.U.T. estimate by saying: … it is not realistic simply to add together all the possible demands. am not quite clear how else you can discover what are the staff numbers, and I should think that any industry which did not add together all the possible demands would soon be out of business.

My Lords, for years, smaller classes both in primary and in secondary schools have been promised by successive Governments, but not too far from this very building I could take your Lordships to a scene where children are being educated in groups of 40 in very old buildings. It is no wonder that we are turning out a frightening proportion of non-readers and semi-illiterates. Where are the teachers to come from? This is a very relevant point. The White Paper, in the section on Colleges of Education, has this paragraph, which the Minister referred to to-day: Many of the … colleges are … comparatively small and inconveniently located for development into larger general purpose institutions. Some … will … be needed exclusively for purposes of teacher education with increasing emphasis on in-service rather than initial training. This one appreciates is very important, as in-service is one of the splendid sections in the White Paper. But it goes on to say that some of the colleges may find a place in the expansion of teachers' and professional centres. I am not quite clear what that is. It continues: Some must face the possibility that in due course they will have to be converted to new purposes "— These purposes are not specified. It continues: … some may need to close. I find this paragraph very disturbing. What is this strange obsession that everything that is large must be good and everything that is small must be inferior? The fashionable word is "viable". These colleges were those which responded to the original call not too long ago to expand to meet the teacher supply problem. I can remember talking to principals and staffs in colleges where the premises were being used for the whole period in order to meet the appeal of the Government. Are these now to be converted to some unnamed purpose or are these going to be closed? At its highest it seems ungrateful; at its lowest it is unwise planning.

Is it correct—perhaps the Minister will reply to this—that the authorities have to submit their plans by November, 1973? In London, for instance, this would certainly make it practically impossible to consult all the colleges of education, the voluntary colleges and all the other higher educational institutions which will be affected by the diversification. The unions feel—perhaps they are wrong about this; I hope that they are—that this insistence by the local education authorities on plans being presented at this speed will actually jeopardise the supply of teachers. What we all know is that there is nothing more destructive to morale or quality of work than uncertainty. A friend of mine was an architect in the employ of the then Middlesex County Council and he said, "For four years we all underwent the trauma of knowing that Middlesex was to disappear. The younger men left the service; the older men feared that they would be declared redundant or retired. But, totally, the quality of the work suffered". My Lords, we must not let this happen to the colleges of education, because of some measure of uncertainty which the White Paper will produce. So I ask the Government to think very carefully before they interfere with the colleges.

I feel that many of the figures about teacher supply are based on the assumption that more graduates will come into the profession. How can they afford to do this? In London we are suffering a really serious decline in the number of teachers of graduate level, heads of departments, who just cannot afford to live in London. Each time we have an appointments board we interview people who accept positions and then later have to write to say that they cannot afford to buy a house in London. If they sell a house in Manchester for £9,000 what will that sum buy in London, where my own small terraced house would sell for £33,000? They have to refuse a post that otherwise they would take. It is idle to prepare a White Paper on grand future plans if at the same time the Government do not look at the practical element of dealing with something like the London allowance for teachers. I noted that the contribution to the teaching of mature students is widely valued and again the Minister made reference to this. I can certainly vouch for their quality and contribution, but will this supply be maintained? We learn that some of them exist—I emphasise the word "exist"—on grants of £600 a year. Can your Lordships imagine trying in London to buy books or the necessary things a teacher has to have? And remember, you have still to supply your own materials for use in the schools and find lodging, transport and food, all on £600 a year. There is no uniformity of grant from one authority to another. Again I am disappointed that the White Paper did not deal with that matter, although I appreciate that it is only a framework.

The section on the induction of teachers has my unqualified support, but I was not quite clear what the Government are saying in the White Paper about the licensed teacher—a term which I very much deplore and which we discussed during the debate on the James Report. The White Paper says the Government do not support the alternative proposal, so I am not clear whether that means conversely that they accept the licensed teacher. No proposal must be accepted for the provision of new courses and qualifications for teachers which falls short of the standard regarded by the profession as essential. This is a profession which too often in the past has suffered from attempts to dilute it. Look at the phrase which the noble Lord himself selected, which I thought quite dramatic—we are talking about the teachers: This goal is no less than building a body of teachers well prepared, academically and professionally, to sustain confidently the formidable task to which they are called. I thought those were splendid words. But against this I have to quote the words of the President of the Headmasters' Association in a speech last week. Himself the headmaster of a large London school, he said: Within the education system we have, I think, attempted changes and innovations which have proved beyond our capacity for adaptation. I have great reservations about some of the changes envisaged in the White Paper. Expansion in education—yes. But this must never be dominated by reasons of expediency.

4.15 p.m.


My Lords, I cannot say that I regard this document we are discussing as a very inspiring one. But then, I do not regard the Government as being very inspiring either, and the products that we have had from the Department of Education and Science since 1970 have not filled anyone with much enthusiasm. So I suppose that it is some little advance that we have in this framework something for which we on these Benches can at least give a modest cheer. I think that what the White Paper says is more or less right, although I have considerable reservations about some parts of it. What I am very depressed about—I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, was too—is the amount that is left out; the fact that it is only a framework; that we are not getting any lead from the Government on the more important matters of education. The White Paper starts with the most colossal non sequitur on this particular line. In the second paragraph it says that since the Government took office more than two years ago they have been reviewing the direction in which the service is growing, its objectives and its priorities. It goes on to mention several topics and then, at the beginning of paragraph 3, says: It is therefore on matters of scale, organisation and cost rather than educational content that attention is mainly focused in this White Paper. In fact, this does not follow from the argument. If the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, doubts me, would he like to try substituting the following sentence: It is therefore on matters of scale, organisation and cost, as well as on educational content, that attention is mainly focussed in this White Paper"? If it had been drafted in that way we should have had a far better White Paper. Therefore, although I hope that I shall not trespass on your Lordships' time for very long, I am going to trespass a little outside the bounds of the White Paper as such and talk about some of the things which seem to me to be major topics—and minor ones too—in the education field to which we should be paying attention at this moment. Also, I wish to touch on the work of the Labour Party's Study Group contained in the Party's Green Paper, Higher and Further Education. Since the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, omitted to give her Party's Paper a "plug", may I say that I think this a very interesting piece of work. Although I have reservations about some parts of it, I think it is a positive contribution to the debate about education.

I do not propose to say much about pre-school education. We have all talked about it for a long time. Many of us have urged the expansion which the Government are now giving and we very much welcome that expansion. I should like to make one minor point in connection with this, and particularly in connection with the major topic of education in communities, which I think is one of the major discussion points about the future of education. There is very little about it in the White Paper and it is something upon which we should be concentrating. I think it quite possible that, with the expansion of pre-school education, we might be able to save some of those small village schools which otherwise are due for the axe. If we can use the space and have pre-school education there, we may be able to keep some more of these schools which foster such a valuable sense of community, particularly in the countryside.

Regarding special schools, we welcome particularly the new building programme and what the noble Lord said about it to-day; and indeed, integration, where possible, into normal schools is something we want to see a great deal more of. But, still, I must say that I regret bitterly that we have as yet no special Commission or inquiry into handicapped children in general. We have had these arguments in this House before. The noble Lord knows well that the continuing Departmental Committee, which, incidentally, was set up by the last Government, is not the special Commission which Mr. Heath pledged before the Election: that is one Election pledge needlessly and sadly broken.

On secondary schools, we are pleased again to see the building ban raised. It should, I think, never have been put on, particularly since I feel that the Department of Education and Science, and especially the Secretary of State, has a very ambivalent attitude to this business of freedom of choice of education. I will say a little more about that later. I should have thought that one thing the local education authorities were uniquely qualified to do was to make up their minds how the money that was given to them for bricks and mortar for expansion or the bringing up to date of schools, should be sent. That is something which could usefully be devolved further. We on these Benches want to see the further growth of "comprehensivisation" and the right model for a given place. Comprehensive schools have been done a disservice in some places by the introduction of comprehensive schools in a model which does not particularly work, but I, for one, do not believe there is any place where, if the resources are pro- perly worked out, some form of nonselective education cannot be made to work, and to work extremely well. That is what parents want. As I think the noble Lord knows, I did a survey at the time of the 1970 Election, and of all parents of children under 16 in this country 56 per cent. were in favour of comprehensive schools and 36 per cent. were against: and I should think that the majority in favour of comprehensive schools would, if anything, be rather larger now, three years later.

I wonder whether the Department of Education and Science gives enough positive help to local education authorities in devising suitable schemes. They are quick enough to turn down schemes which they regard as unsuitable, sometimes rightly, but sometimes, in my view, wrongly. But I wonder whether enough help is given if the local education authority comes along and says: "This is our situation. What do you advise we should do if we wish abolish selective education and to do away with the 11-plus?".

Another point on which we should be concentrating (I have listed it under "secondary schools", but it applies to all schools) is working conditions in the schools. This is a most important point and one about which the teachers' unions feel extremely strongly. I see no reason why schools should not be brought under the same conditions which apply to factories, offices and shops. At the moment, as noble Lords will probably be aware, there is only one room in the school which, by law, must have basic minimum standards of one kind or another, and that is the room in which the school secretary works. For teachers and children there are recommended standards, but there is no legal enforcement.

Moving on to further and higher education, I very much welcome, as I always have since the James Report first came out, the diploma of higher education. I am delighted to have seen recently in the papers that more and more universities are thinking of running courses and of validating them. I think the fears of those who thought that it would be used only as a sort of second-rate course for teachers are being proved wrong. I am delighted that this is so, because it seems to me to be a useful method of making the whole field of higher and further education more fluid, so that people can pass from one section to the other with greater ease.

I think we ought to be a little worried, as is the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, about the possible disappearance of the smaller colleges of education. Some of them have done magnificent work. For instance, there is a small college up at Alnwick which has producedan extremely good and forward-looking form of concurrent teacher-training. It would be sad if experiments of this kind were to go by the board. I am indeed a little worried about the whole control of our teacher-training. It seems to me that we are rearing a bureaucratic structure for the training of teachers which would not be tolerated, and is not tolerated, in any other profession. I think we need to have a close look at this. I also want to say (I know that this is going a little outside the brief) that we ought to be paying attention to the problems confronting the colleges of art and design at this moment: the questions of staffing, which have been raised and discussed fairly recently in another place; and the problem of the new qualifications of entry levels, about which I have an Unstarred Question down under "No Day Named" on your Lordships' Order Paper. This raises the whole question of whether we are not making the qualifications for entry into too many of our educational establishments more and more rigid at a time when they should be becoming more and more flexible.

My Lords, I think we ought to look at the whole question of grants for students, particularly married women, the disgraceful situation with regard to the failure to raise those grants, and the abolition of parental contribution and the means test. I should like to make one particular plea here. I am in favour of student grants and against student loans and I was delighted that Mr. St. John-Stevas said, as reported in the paper today, that there was no thought at the moment of producing student loans instead of student grants. However, there is one small field where there might be a case. If the Government are going to continue saying that it is too expensive to do away with parental contributions and the means test for student grants, I think they ought to produce a scheme which allows them to grant interest-free loans to those students who genuinely cannot get their parents to help them to pay their contribution and are therefore being robbed of higher education. There are only a few cases, but there are some very hard cases indeed. A solution must be found to this problem and I think that is a possible solution which the Government ought to examine, if they have not done so already.

Those, my Lords, are a few of the minor points which, over a period of time, in discussion, in correspondence and in debates, have been raised about the whole education scene at the present time. I hope that there will be room at some time in the near future—though maybe it is too much to hope—for the Government to issue a Green Paper or a White Paper dealing with some of the more important subjects which are not being touched upon: the democratisation of education; the rights of governors and managers; representation of teachers and parents on boards of governors and managers; the powers of headmasters, and the length of tenure of headmasters. All these matters, I think, need to be talked about. We are trying to educate people for a democratic society. I do not think we can do that except in some form of democratic structure.

Then, my Lords, there is the whole European dimension. I will not talk about that now, except to say that there appear to be a large number of questions which going into Europe raises in the education field and which we are not debating sufficiently, though, thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, we shall have an opportunity of debating at least one facet of this subject in the near future. I think the whole question of education and community, of integrating schools in communities and communities in schools; of using resources for the benefit of adults as well as of children; of what kind of democratic control a community should have over the schools in its areas, over the relationship between a community and a school, should be fully debated. We should be talking a lot more about choice. I am not at all clear that the Secretary of State is very logical on questions of choice. She talks a lot about parental choice, choice of schools, but, as I have said before, there is a degree to which local education authorities have been cheated of a chance to use responsible choice in using the resources which are allocated to them.

It seems strange that a Secretary of State who goes on about choice in such a way should have used such an immense hammer to crack the nut of school meals and school milk, thus taking away choice in an extremely small but rather valuable portion of the educational system. We may see an attrition of choice in the plans for the colleges of education, particularly the fact that many of the smaller ones are possibly to go by the board. There is room for a debate on this subject.

Another subject we ought to be talking about slightly more than we are is that, although I am thoroughly in favour of raising the school-leaving age, I do not think the adaptation of the curriculum and what goes on in schools should be entirely devoted to what happens in the last year. The fact that the school-leaving age has been raised to 16 should make us look again at the whole area between 13 and 16, 13 being roughly the moment in the school life when there seems to be a strong revolt against schools and the school curriculum as it is at the moment. There should be a rethinking of the curriculum during those three years as a result of ROSLA. A more flexible pattern is being thought about in connection with the 16 to 19 age group, and particularly in the Labour Green Paper that I mentioned.

Another subject that we should be looking at is a whole new look at examinations: this is not just "bashing" examinations as forms of assessment, but asking what is the place of examinations in the whole educational system? Is it right that entrance qualifications to universities should dictate the whole course of the school curriculum below that level, even though a very small percentage of people are going into the universities? What is the relationship of education to the pieces of paper which are more and more demanded by various professions as being absolutely essential? I have mentioned the problem of the colleges of art and design in this particular context, where we should be making more flexible what in fact we seem to be making more rigid. I hope that in the course of this debate noble Lords who produce such a wealth of expertise among them, as one can see by the names of the list of speakers, are not going to confine themselves entirely to the White Paper, but are going to talk about some of that expansion for which the White Paper rightly says it is providing a framework.

4.34 p.m.


My Lords, the White Paper has been attacked as being a dull Paper. I doubt whether White Papers should be anything else. I want to try and suggest some reasons why this might be so. I think it is so because the White Paper is really the issue of the last battle orders for a crusade which began 15 years ago. I say "15 years ago" though of course it is a very old crusade. It is a crusade which was a drive through education to create a greater equality of opportunity. That is why at the beginning of this century a system of secondary state education was conceived as a ladder to hard-working boys and girls of talent from whatever class they came. That is why scholarships, bursaries and free places were awarded in grammar schools and universities. That is why the school-leaving age has been progressively raised.

Conservative, Liberal and Labour Parties have all marched in this crusade. But towards the end of the 1950s the crusade changed its character. Until then most people had accepted that what mattered most was the chance to go to school. Progress consisted in lengthening the time they stayed at school and improving the teaching there. That was the philosophy behind the Act of 1944. But suddenly people began to doubt whether this created greater equality of opportunity. They did more than doubt: they argued the reverse was taking place. They argued that the country had created a system which, far from promoting, in fact obstructed equality of opportunity. It was a system of two nations separated by the 11-plus examination, 30 per cent. going to grammar schools and 70 per cent. to secondary modern schools.

How had this come about? It came about because of the immense influence in the 1940s of Professor Burt's psychological theories. Professor Burt believed that by using intelligence tests you could determine not only how intelligent a child was, or that one child was more intelligent than another at any given time, but that you could also classify a child for life. Professor Burt thought that he had proved that a human being's I.Q. remained constant throughout his life. This Platonic theory inspired the Spens Report. Just as Plato thought that children should be classed as gold, silver or bronze, so Spens recommended that children should be placed in a grammar school, a secondary modern school, or a technical school, at the age of 11, according to their I.Q. Few people in education any longer believe in Burt's theory of intelligence. Most of us believe that the final decision about the child's ability to develop should be postponed for as long as possible—certainly longer than the age of 11 and, if possible, as late as 16.

There was something else that happened in the late 1950s. Some of us argued that higher education was grotesquely inadequate for the numbers who were coming out of the new sixth forms. As a result of this the famous Commission of Lord Robbins was set up. The Robbins Report concentrated on convincing Parliament and the public that a massive increase in numbers of higher education was needed. When one looks back to that time the fact of setting up the Commission changed people's minds, and that particular battle was won even before the Commission reported. Even so, there were many people who then, as now, thought that the scale of expansion in higher education which was envisaged in the Robbins Report was grotesque. I remember a Labour Party study under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, which was inspired by the brilliant work of Professor John Vaizey, which reported six months or so before the Robbins Report came out. The Taylor Report predicted that by the 1980s there would be 80 universities. The Report was dismissed as Utopian. There will not be 80 universities by the 1980s, but if you add up the number of university institutions, and add to those the numbers of polytechnics which, by the way things are going in terms of their expansion and the expenditure envisaged in the White Paper, will be the equivalent, at any rate in cost, of universities, you will find that you have just about 80 institutions catering for full-time students. In the field of higher education the White Paper has carried up to the 1980s the implementation of the Robbins Report.

In the White Paper there is another echo of that crusade in the fifties: the emphasis on nursery education. Time and again it has been shown that disadvantaged children start in an elementary school three or four years behind their contemporaries in their abilities to learn. The nursery school programme is yet another institutional attempt to redress this balance. Everyone concerned with education must congratulate the Secretary of State in giving this area priority, however much it may restrict the expansion of whatever particular field of education he is interested in.

To sum up, what the White Paper celebrates is the creation in this country of education in abundance. From nursery school to higher education, all along the line there is now to be an abundance of education; and by the 1980s we shall have established a pretty satisfactory structure in nursery, primary and secondary school education, and indeed a very great expansion in higher education. I recognise that there is bound to be a Party conflict on the issue of comprehensive secondary education. Actually I believe that quite a sizeable part of this dispute is shadow-boxing, because schooling is determined to a far greater extent by buildings than most of us like to imagine and we cannot transform alt secondary schools overnight into all-through 2,000 place comprehensives. But I think we have something more important in the bag than the actual structure of secondary education. Thanks partly to Lord Boyle but mainly to Mr. Crosland, who expanded the colleges of education beyond all recognition, we now have an abundance of teachers. When people say seriously to me, "What is to become of all the graduates churned out by higher education?" I reply, "They are going to teach in the schools, I hope". Far too few graduates have been going into teaching in schools during recent years. This, I think, with the expansion in graduate numbers, will be one thing that will improve. Now we are getting reasonably sized classes in our primary schools as well as in our secondary schools. Examples could be cited to the contrary, of course. Naturally, there is room for improvement, and always will be; but we have in sight an abundance of education for all.

Having celebrated the triumphs of the White Paper, I should now like to turn to its deficiencies. It is deficient in thought and in vision, for it does not recognise the very serious doubt which is arising in the minds of those who took part in the crusade to which I was alluding earlier. The doubt is this: how far in fact can inequalities in our social system be remedied by educational reform? Many of us are beginning to feel that schools and colleges are being asked to perform an impossible task if the full burden of this inequality is put upon their shoulders. We find ourselves doubting whether comprehensive education or nursery schools, or widening the range of opportunities in higher education, are in themselves going to increase materially the opportunities of children in the working class. We find ourselves asking whether all improvements in education do not have one consequence—the improvement in the conditions of the middle classes. That is why I think we have now to begin to think in terms of a new philosophy in education. I would call it a philosophy of extremes. It is at the extremes of the system that we need to do most.

Let me try to expand on this. I am disappointed to find no reference in the White Paper to educational priority areas. We have a crisis in our urban centres. In our country there are half a million children who come from very poor parents and who suffer from malnutrition—a malnutrition which begins in the womb; hence they perform badly in school. In every great city, and particularly in London, the size of the trouble and the proportion of the disadvantage rises as richer families move out of the centre of the cities. These are the multiple-deprivation families that I am referring to, and they suffer from multiple handicaps. They are not always the same people, of course; but the families and individuals who break out of this system are replaced by others who fall into it. They are usually large families; families which no longer have a wage-earner, or who have a wage-earner with a bad record or one who belongs to a declining work group. They live in areas where the housing is sub-standard and where the libraries are badly stocked, so that cleverer boys and girls do not get the books they need. The performance of children at school is determined to a large extent, as research has shown, by their home conditions and the schools cannot alter the home conditions which create the children.

People often think of large families as being very jolly groups in which the brothers and sisters help each other, but the more siblings you have older than yourself the greater the disadvantage you suffer, because the less time parents spend with each child, and the less food each child gets, the more he falls behind his contemporaries. It is not as if the schools have not got the resources: in some difficult schools there is a 1:14 teacher/pupil ratio, and 1:20 is not uncommon. But the disadvantaged hardly ever catch up at school. Equality of opportunity simply recreates inequality. Our educational system becomes a static system and not a liberating one.

Some of our younger teachers, faced with this reality, put forward a radical plan. Why not, they argue, have open access to every institution? Why not abolish all examinations? Why not let children do just as they like instead of imposing middle-class values upon them? In my view, these teachers have forgotten the first purpose of education, which is more basic even than creating a greater equality of opportunity. They have forgotten that we attend and endure education in order to have our minds trained —trained in the skills required by the society in which we live. These teachers, in their idealism, have forgotten that we need examinations (the examinations which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, was asking us to reconsider) not only to certificate doctors and lawyers but for the innumerable skills which an advanced society needs. I would, on the contrary, argue that now is the time, when abundance of education is in sight, to start raising educational standards. We may well need to change our educational methods, but let us not deny the children of the working classes the skills which could be theirs if they could acquire them. Let us not kick down the ladder by which most of us have risen.

There is another reason for pressing for even higher standards. No advanced industrial society, as we know it, is able to operate without an élite. There are all sorts of ways in which we can make this élite more open, more receptive to public opinion and more aware of the need to balance one kind of good against another; for instance, to balance the growth of the economy against another kind of good, the need to preserve our heritage in town and countryside and to preserve a humane way of life. But there has to be an élite. There have to be some 10,000 people at any given time in the most crucial positions and a further—shall be say?—50,000 employed in important positions in the country. We cannot sacrifice the intelligence, the cleverness and the efficiency of the minds of this elite in order to pursue what may well appear to be questionable theories of obtaining equality simply through educational reform alone. That is why, when I was speaking of the value of educational priority areas and about the philosophy of extremes, I suggest that far more resources should be poured not merely into the schools in these areas but into these areas themselves as a way of redressing balances. You cannot isolate education from the social system of the country, and it is precisely because people have been doing that in recent years that we have had some distortions in our national institutions. Somehow—and it has always been difficult, and never more so than now—we have to reconcile the need for equality of opportunity and the type of education appropriate to the mass of children with the need to train to the highest point the skills of a few children.

Many of your Lordships will be asking this afternoon a disturbing question: will in fact the students be forthcoming for the next massive expansion in higher education? Your Lordships will probably ask: what do universities make of the fall-off in applications? Is it not true that there are empty places in science departments? It is indeed true, and we in the universities frankly do not know whether we shall hit the student targets that have been set; nor, I imagine, do our colleagues in the polytechnics. It is too early to say yet whether the statistics of applications show a genuine downward trend or whether they show merely a hiccup. But even if it is downward, the new birthrate bulge which will emerge in the late 'seventies may well reverse the trend.

But the universities are facing a problem which they have never really had to face before. It is this: they have an exceedingly inflexible staff. You are appointed to teach physics at the age of 25; you are on probation for three years, and at the end of that time you are given tenure, which in normal universities is expected to last until the age of 67. But the student demand is the very reverse of inflexible; it is highly volatile. In the 'fifties there was a rush towards science, and the U.G.C., quite properly, built a large number of laboratories and other accommodation for science departments. It is now difficult to fill these places because there has been a flight from science. Let me give another example. Last summer, the year in which this country was going into Europe, 10,000 fewer children took "O" levels in European modern languages. One can easily guess what effect that will have on the intake into our modern language departments in two years' time. I therefore deduce that quite a number of dons have to be prepared in middle age, as people in other professions have to be prepared, either to re-train or to be made redundant, and I also deduce that universities have to modify their curriculum.

This I think is far truer of the old universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London than of the new. For, whether we like it or not, it is Oxford and Cambridge and a handful of other institutions which take the cream of our students, and it is they who have made the fewest modifications of what they teach undergraduates. Of course they do not need to make any modifications: they have only to offer what they are offering now; they have only to teach what they teach superlatively well now, to find that their places are filled. It is perfectly true that the old "crack" against universities that they are ivory towers, out of touch with modern civilisation, out of touch with the needs of industry, is absolute, total rubbish. You only have to pick up the Universities Handbook and you can see the vast variety of courses which are of great vocational value. But how many of those are in the older places, and how many of the older places have been modified just slightly to bring in some of these new techniques and these new ways of studying old problems? How often have they done this?

I think of the study of politics. If you go to the university at Brunel, you will find there a young ex-Treasury official teaching from the very start how government "cuts up the cake" and the political problems, the social problems, the organisational problems, the administrative problems and the in-fighting on the Front Bench which is an integral part of government. You will find that as part of the curriculum in the first year, and you will find introduced at once the quantitative techniques which show how in fact modern government works and how the Treasury relates in a practical sense to the other Departments. I sometimes wonder whether we have quite got rid, in some of our older departments of government, of the study of what are called "Second Chambers"—namely, your Lordships' House and other comfortable institutions.

Sir Eric Ashby once said that more does not mean worse, but more does mean different. I ask myself whether we are going to be able to organise higher education as it is now, when the expansion envisaged in the White Paper is completed. We should then have 750,000 students, nearly half of whom would be in universities; that is to say double the amount there are now. One in five of that age group will be receiving full-time higher education, and for every job that graduates now consider to be the sort of job that someone with a degree should get, there will be two graduates available to fill that job.

So by the end of the 1980's we shall be spending over a thousand million pounds on higher education. I venture to think that we shall soon find great pressures upon us for organisational change. Some people will urge us to turn the U.G.C. into a Commission to cover the polytechnics as well as universities. If that were done the committee as it is now would be a very different organisation; it would be able to give very much less personal attention to the needs of any one institution and it would be compelled to impose even more inflexible norms than it does now upon universities.

I think it would work, but what would not work would be a committee in which all institutions of higher education were put under the same umbrella, and that may be why the Labour Party study group has just come out with its notion of regionalising higher education. They urge this on the grounds that scarce resources could be rationalised. I myself am not really convinced that any major economies would take place. And let there be no doubt that regionalisation without safeguards would arouse the very strongest opposition within the universities. They would fear that their standards would be eroded. I must confess that I do not quite see that it would be to anyone's advantage if Cambridge simply became the largest institution in the higher education system of the region of East Anglia. But regionalisation could have one advantage: there could be a certain number of recognised élite institutions which could concentrate on work of the highest excellence.

There is one astonishing omission in the White Paper, if I may insert a barb into the noble Lord's flank. It is that there is no reference of any significance to the Open University, nor, I think, did the noble Lord make any reference to the Open University. We all know that this is an institution which really is despised in the Department of Education and Science—a cuckoo in the nest—and yet here is an institution which has made a remarkable introduction into the higher education system of the country and which is producing many new methods of looking at assumptions. May I say that the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals has recognised this and that tomorrow the Vice-Chancellor of the Open University will be attending his first meeting as a full member of the future Vice-Chancellors' Committee.

I should like to finish by saying this. If we are to have a philosophy of education for the future which would inspire that remarkable band of civil servants who have served education in Whitehall from the days of Sir Robert Morant to those of Mr. Toby Weaver, may I commend the Government this evening to my philosophy of extremes: extreme help not only in education but in every sphere of the areas of gross deprivation in our cities; extreme solicitude for raising standards now that we have abundance of education in sight.

I raise these questions simply because those of us who have pressed for greater educational opportunities are to-day in a quandary. The immense sums of money spent on scientific and technological information have not yet paid off in terms of greater productivity in industry. I think it was Sir Alec Cairncross who had some harsh words to say about whether our great investment in pure science was not a way of "keeping up with the Joneses" by way of Nobel Prizes in America. Again, the increased sums spent on increasing student numbers are not yet paying off in giving working-class children a greater opportunity to improve their lot. If two of the three main reasons for extending education are suspect, only the third reason remains. That third reason is a religious faith: a faith simply that education is a good in itself; the faith that inspired Matthew Arnold to believe that it was worth studying for its own sake, the best that has been thought of and known in the world; a faith that purely the study of how scholars work is a good thing to understand; a faith that in fact the great marvels of science should be understood by those who can penetrate their mysteries. But how long will Governments go on paying for faith? We have to think of new ways of coping with those first two problems that I raised: the preservation and the increase of excellence, and again a new way of looking at how we can turn equality of opportunity, partly through education, into a reality. May I apologise to the noble Lord if I am not here at the winding up, but I have a headmasters' conference in the University this evening which I must attend, although I hope I shall be able to be here for the end.

5.1 p.m.


My Lords, may I start by thanking the Minister, my noble friend Lord Belstead, for introducing this debate. I have been very well briefed by my noble kinswoman, Lady Masham of Ilton, on what I ought to say on this occasion and on what I ought not to say. She took time off from thinking up supplementary questions on serum hepatitis B to tell me that above all I must not be controversial. I am sure your Lordships will appreciate that it is extremely difficult to say anything about education without appearing controversial to somebody at some time, so I beg your Lordships' indulgence on the occasion of this my maiden speech. It is not my intention to be controversial and I hope that anything I say of that nature your Lordships may consider rather as constructive comment. Some noble Lords may consider education to be an inappropriate subject for a maiden speech for that very reason, but I hope that as vice-chairman of the Education Committee of a medium-sized county which has both rural and urban areas, something of what I say may be of interest to your Lordships. I should like to stress at the very outset that what I say about my own authority, I do not say in the form of some parochial pleading, but simply because I can speak of my own authority with first-hand experience. I am quite certain that there must be other areas of the country which have the same problems as we have.

May I start at the very beginning of a child's schooling? I agree with all that previous speakers have said in giving a welcome to nursery education. I do not think that I need go into the reasons for this, as they are obvious to everybody. I am sure that the Secretary of State is right in coming down in favour of part-time nursery education for the majority, although provision for children in special need to attend full-time has also to be made. I am equally sure that the idea of nursery classes rather than nursery schools is preferable. That seems to me to be sound both educationally and in the use of resources. Nor have I any quarrel with paragraph 28, to which the Minister alluded in his opening speech, about disadvantaged children. I am glad to note, as he said in his introduction, that areas of social deprivation can now include rural as well as urban areas. I am certain in my own mind that a child who comes from some isolated farm or cottage, miles from anywhere, who may be the only child of his age, a single child, or who has elder brothers and sisters who may be at school all day, and who does not see another child of his own age from dawn to dusk may be as equally deprived as children who come from slum areas. Not that these children "from up the Dales" are quite so slow as some people may think.

I am reminded of the apocryphal story of a small one-teacher village school in our area where the headmistress was taken ill and a substitute teacher was sent out from the local town. She found it very difficult to get much out of these children, and there was one child in particular who seemed to say nothing to her all day long. In the end she found a picture of a sheep in one of her textbooks and showed it to little Tommy. Pointing out the sheep to him she asked him what it was. Whereupon a look of great puzzlement came over him. His eyebrows were furrowed in concentration and he said not a word. So again she asked him what it was and he looked equally bewildered. Then she said, "Come along, Tommy, you must see them all over the hills on your way to school, all over your farm; it's a sheep." He looked at her with a look of amazement. "Nae, miss, of course it's a sheep; but I can't reckon as to what sort it is. It has horns, so it can't be a Wensleydale. But they're straight, so it can't be a Swaledale and it don't look like a Masham. I give over, miss, what sort of sheep is it?" To which of course she had to look blank in her turn. The other day I went to one of our remote village schools, miles from anywhere, and there was considerable indignation there. The children were learning to read and one of the things they were reading was "G" for goat; and one little boy had noticed that the goat in the drawing had four teats whereas everybody knew perfectly well that goats only had two.

There is a third group of deprived children I should like to see added to this list; that is, the children of Service families. They in the nature of things are moved very much from school to school in the course of their career and I feel that full-time nursery education would benefit such children enormously.

Paragraph 29 of the White Paper refers to the role of parents. That, too, I welcome. Circular 2/73 of the Department of Education and Science was sent to all local authorities and enlarges on the provision of nursery education. This has a paragraph on the very same subject from which I should like to quote. It says: Authorities are asked to do everything possible to extend opportunities for collaboration, particularly through the provision of amenities which make it easier to welcome parents into schools and which enable parents to participate in their work. That struck me as being an admirable ideal and my first reaction was that one perhaps could provide extra car parks for parents' cars, cloakrooms, and extra rooms in which parents could sit out and teach or play with the children. However, on reading further in the same circular, paragraph 21 draws the attention of the authorities to the present cost limit of £305 per place. That, I am afraid, knocks any such schemes on the head.

There will be difficulties with nursery education, particularly in the scattered rural areas. Here I should like to disagree with something that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, said, namely, the opportunity of keeping small village schools open by reason of having nursery classes there. Again I am speaking of my own area, but I am afraid that this would be impracticable since schools in our area seem to number up to about 60 children on roll which gives an age range of some eight children, though parents do not always manage to produce a child every year and you get some age groups which are larger than others. If one takes that as an average, which means you take 100 per cent. of the four-year olds attending 50 per cent. of the time, you are left with four children and half as many three-year olds leaving you with a class of six or seven children and it would be difficult to provide either the staff or the necessary adaptations to do that. This is obviously something for authorities with a rural population to think of. Another problem is that of transport. I notice in the White Paper and in Circular 2/73 that there is no mention of transport. I am aware that the Secretary of State has a Working Party at the moment considering problems of school transport, and I hope that this matter will be considered along with the other matter of school ages.

The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, was worried about the butter being spread too thinly. I hope that while nursery expansion goes ahead, it is not at the expense of early provision of satisfactory buildings and other necessities for children of compulsory school age. Paragraphs 5 and 35 of the White Paper refer to the lessening problem of basic needs, or "roofs over heads", as the noble Minister said earlier. We have not found this to be the case in our area, and at the moment we have reason to doubt whether basic needs are being met, particularly in the secondary field. I understand that is the experience of some other authorities. We are not entirely the scattered areas of the Dales; we have a huge growth area on the borders of Teesside and the industrial areas of the West Riding, with commuter and dormitory growth, which is giving us grounds for great concern. The overcrowding in some secondary schools in this area is of the region of 18 per cent. to 25 per cent. I have always greatly welcomed the emphasis put by successive Governments on the replacement of outdated primary schools, and that emphasis became particularly apparent in the building programme scheduled for 1973–74. I wonder if this impetus is being maintained.

In my authority we still have over 100 pre-1902 primary schools to be replaced, and I am sure this must also be the case throughout the country. I want to make it plain to your Lordships that I am not complaining about the slice of the cake which my own authority receives; in fact I think that recently we may not only have received our slice of the cake but also have got the single cherry which sat on top of it. It is the fact that the overall cake is not large enough of which I complain, and I hope that not only may the cake be larger but that it may be covered with cherries for all the authorities.

Paragraphs 41 to 43 of the White Paper refer to special schools. I was pleased that the noble Lord the Minister said that these buildings were going to go on, and I am delighted that these schools, too, should qualify for replacement and renewal. But I hope that local authorities with a child who is physically handicapped may feel that whenever possible that child should go to a normal school, wherever small adaptations can be made, rather than to a special school. My admiration is unbounded for the teachers in schools for the mentally handicapped, and especially for those who are now teaching children who not so long ago were considered as ineducable. I was very glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, raised the future of some of the smaller colleges of education, and I have no doubt that staff in these smaller colleges are very concerned about their future. In my authority there is a college of education which was once regarded as temporary. It was then provided with permanent extensions and its future seemed assured, in spite of its very small size. Now the future is in doubt again.

I am glad that the Secretary of State is examining the detailed provision of full-time teachers in training, and I wonder whether it might be possible for some of the smaller colleges mentioned in paragraph 153, which the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, quoted, experienced in the training of teachers for infants and juniors, to have a role in the full-time training of teachers for nursery and infant children and in conversion courses for qualified teachers who are not experienced in nursery and infant work.

There is much more I could say about the White Paper. My noble kinswoman, Lady Masham, said that I must time my speech to last between ten minutes and a quarter of an hour, so I see I am going to get a welcome on that account. My Lords, I should like to give the White Paper a very general welcome. It certainly puts more on to the shoulders of the local education authorities who are already very much at full stretch, not only with the work that they have to do as a matter of course, but also with much additional work because of local government reorganisation. But I am sure that they can meet the challenge. It will be a tough job. I was delighted to see that the Prime Minister recently, in addressing the Society of Education Officers, undertook that the Government would make resources available to meet expansion referred to in the White Paper. With good will and co-operation from both the Government and local education authorities, I am confident that this expansion can be achieved.

5.14 p.m.


My Lords, it falls to me to thank and congratulate the noble Earl on a most admirable maiden speech. The House has listened to it with very great interest and appreciation, and it looks forward to further collaborative enterprises between himself and his noble relative. I have never before heard anyone admitting to having his speech, as it were, edited for him by another Member of this House before he delivered it. We thank him very much, and I am sure he will manage quite well on his own in the future. I nevertheless feel that I should convey my thanks both to him and his fellow author, if I may so describe her.

We have before us a very remarkable document discussing the development of education for the next 10 years. It is, therefore, with a slight sense of nostalgia that I recall some of the other White Papers. I remember, for example, twenty years ago, long before I joined the House, your Lordships discussed a Paper in which the question of the cost of education was raised; it was about £530 million, and at that time the cost of Defence was £935 million. Since then, the cost of education has increased about fourfold and the cost of Defence has gone up by two and a half times. There was a brief period a couple of years ago when we were spending more on education than on Defence, and I find myself a little disconcerted to find that this year the cost of Defence is again greater than that of education. It was Winston Churchill who a long time ago said that a university is a more important and valuable military asset than a battleship. This perhaps is not a reason for advocating more education, but at least it may be a reason for deciding the relative merits of expenditure on Defence, as we now know it, and on the world of education.

I should like, if I may, in speaking to this Paper, to restrict myself to a few matters, particularly those concerned with the universities, from one of which I come. I was so glad that the noble Lord, Lord Annan, was able to speak before me, because many of the things I would have said he has already said to your Lordships. I think that he and I must be among the very few academics who ever discuss the problem of the redeployment of labour in an academic environment. I may say that my first attempts to introduce the concept to my own academic board met with a very unresponsive reception indeed. Nevertheless, as Lord Annan has said, it is something we have to face and something which is going to be with us more and more in the future, and it would be folly for us to assume that the problem will go away if we ignore it.

There are one or two problems which make me wonder whether the White Paper is referring to the universities as I know them at all. The problems with which we are most concerned are totally unlike those to which the White Paper has addressed itself. The first problem is the question of the expansion of the universities, which is taken for granted, and this at a time when the student body is suffering more and more from the total inadequacy of the maintenance grants. This matter has been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont. It is a matter of enormous importance, because if it is not solved soon the whole expansion programme will grind inexorably to a halt. The Vice-Chancellors' Committee made the point to the Government a couple of years ago, that the grants then proposed were inadequate; they have been eroded more and more by inflation, and it is extremely difficult for students to manage at all on the grants they have. Particularly is this true of those unfortunate students whose grants have to be made up by parental contributions. I have found only too frequently that girls find it hard to persuade their parents to support them; they come to university totally inadequately provided for, and this is a tragedy.

Furthermore, there is often a great administrative laxity in the whole question of assessing of parental contribution. It frequently happens that the contribution is assessed on one year's income, and by the time the student comes to college the parent in question may be out of work or may have been made redundant, and the income is immediately cut down. But there is a prolonged delay before the appropriate reassessment can be made and the student be adequately supported. I think everybody feels very strongly indeed that this is a matter of great importance. Unless the Government face it promptly and effectively, all their grand plans for the education of students in universities will in fact come to nothing and the expansion programme may totally cease.

The next problem which follows from this is the effect of students grants on the provision of student halls of residence. The White Paper glosses over the question of student halls very easily, and totally inadequately. There was a time when, as a matter of course, a hail of residence was built and paid for long before the students went into it. Most of your Lordships will doubtless have lived in college buildings which date from mediaeval times and which were paid for by pious benefactors of the past. To-day we find ourselves in a position where capital grants from the Government cover no more than 25 per cent. of the cost of a place in a hall, so that the university, having few funds of its own, has to borrow the cost of the hall on the open market and is then obliged to charge the students not only the cost of maintaining the hall but the cost of the mortgage on the building itself.

When one looks at the figures, they are really quite extraordinary. At present the total notional contribution which a student is supposed to make from his grant to pay for board and lodging is about £250 a year. It now costs about £1,500 per room, if one builds on a good site without extra complications such as are apt to occur in a city. Of this, the University Grants Committee will contribute about £300, leaving about £1,200 to be borrowed on the open market. The cost of servicing such a loan for about thirty years is about £140 a year, and the cost of heating, lighting and cleaning the hall is nearly another £100. So one comes to the quite preposterous conclusion that the cost of building a hall for a student to live in, and servicing the loan with which it has to be paid for, is about £240 a year, leaving the student £100 a year with which to eat. This is so absurd that the situation clearly has to taken in hand, and something dramatic must be done. It is quite absurd for the Government to pretend that, if they make enough fuss over it, a university will somehow, quite miraculously, either persuade building societies to lend them money at uneconomic rates or, alternatively, be able in some mysterious way to get unknown benefactors to contribute the cost of student halls to match those built by people such as King Henry VI, who built part of the buildings at Cambridge.

The whole university expansion programme is predicated on the assumption that there will be somewhere for the students to live. In my own University of Manchester we have about 5,000 student rooms altogether, another 1,500 are under construction, and we are planning to build 3,500 more as soon as we can raise the funds from somewhere. This gives us about 10,000 rooms which are expected to be ready in about ten years' time. By then, according to the figures which have been given to us, the Grants Committee expect us to have something like 32,000 students in Manchester among the various component parts of the great academic precinct which comprises not only the university, the polytechnic and the college of music, but all the other components of what has rather jokingly been described as the "binary system". All these 32,000 students will be competing for the same lodgings and it is quite evident that, unless at least another 10,000 or 20,000 rooms are built, the whole expansion of the University of Manchester will grind to a halt, despite anything that the Government may say, and despite any funds that may be made available by the Grants Committee for academic buildings. At a time when we are spending £5 million on a computer, what the academic authorities worry about is: first, where are the students to live; and, secondly, how are they to afford to eat? There is something very wrong and misleading about a White Paper which is so unbalanced as to assume that halls of residence can be provided in the numbers that will be necessary, without providing the funds to do it. So much for one urgent problem which must be solved and which is nowhere mentioned in the White Paper.

The second problem to which I should like to refer is the sequel to the point to which the noble Lord, Lord Annan referred—the redeployment of academic staff. I see the problem from the point of view of a university institution which for about a hundred years has concerned itself with the education of men who are to go into industry—engineers, chemists, chemical engineers, textile engineers and people of that kind. At the moment, the state of trade in some of the primary industries is quite appalling. For example, 10 or 15 years ago the machine tool trade, which is a fundamental trade which makes the tools in the factories, was one of the most important in Manchester, as it had been for a hundred years or more. There were about 15,000 people in it—it had never been a big industry. To-day, there are 550, instead of 15,000. This is the most dramatic decline that I can remember in any major industry in Lancashire. In my University, we have what is in many ways the best—it is certainly the oldest—department of machine tool engineering in England, and before long, with the new equipment which we are planning for it, it will undoubtedly be one of the best, if not the very best, in the whole of Europe. But what are we to do with a department, however well-equipped, if there is no trade to which its graduates can go? We have an enormous department of chemical engineering, and an enormous department of chemistry. Three years ago we sent twice as many Ph.Ds. into manufacturing industry in the chemical trades as any other university institution in England. Four years ago, I.C.I. recruited 560 graduates. Last year it recruited 70, and this year it proposes to recruit 80. This is like walking into a brick wall. This is not a minor change; this is quite catastrophic. Where are the graduates to go?

It has always been said—and very rightly—that a classic or a historian does not expect to become a professional classic or a professional historian when he leaves university. True enough! On the other hand, engineers have always expected to earn their living by the practice of their professional skills, and although I should very much welcome the introduction of engineers into ail branches of English society—in particular, into local government where they will be needed more and more—I still believe that if the recruitment of professionally qualified men by the industries which need them most stops, the situation is indeed serious. This situation is inevitably reflected by the failure of students to come to courses which will qualify them for jobs which do not exist to-day. For a decade or more we recruited about 120 freshmen as chemists, and about 120 as chemical engineers, every year. During the last year or two recruitment has dropped to less than half, and next year it may drop even further.

My University, which is dedicated—as it always has been—to the education of men to create the wealth upon which the community lives, is suffering as a direct result of this very fact. Students do not want to come to take courses the purpose of which they cannot see. This problem afflicts universities in other countries, too, and it is an acute and difficult problem because it takes a long time to educate a man. If he comes in now and is going to take a Ph.D. he will not be in industry until the 1980s. So we must hope that by then industry will have improved and will be ready to recruit more people again. We cannot allow departments concerned with these extremely important industries to die out. We must retain them. We must do so confidently in the hope that, sooner or later, more students will be forthcoming so that the industry of the 1980s will have a source of men who can help it.

Of course, it is the chemical trade—with the polymers, the artificial fibres and all the things that go with it—which has been partly responsible for nearly all the growth that has taken place in the national economy. For many years, that industry grew at nearly 30 per cent. compound interest, and was in large measure responsible for such overall growth as took place in the national economy. If it ceases to grow, aspirations for a 5 per cent. growth rate overall seem to me to be doomed to failure and futility.

My Lords, the problems that we have to-day in the universities connected with the professions that I have spoken of are determined entirely by the state of trade, by the confidence that industry has in its ability to use graduates, and by the confidence that young men have in their ability to get jobs after they have graduated. These are problems which afflict universities the world over, and they are the concern of Governments the world over. For example, no university in America knows what to do about, let us say, its aerospace departments. If the manufacture of aeroplanes is dramatically cut back and the cutback lasts for twenty years, evidently most of the aerospace departments in universities will have to close down or be dramatically curtailed. Some such changes are bound to occur as the economy changes its nature and the emphasis is shifted from one industry to another. This one accepts; but, at the same time, the universities have to retain a power to expand in those industries which have classically and traditionally maintained the State, and we hope will do so in the future. So, our problems are not those of expansion; they are the problems of universities intimately linked with industry and suffering from all the strains and all the frustrations that British industry is going through at the moment. All one can say is that we have managed as best we can to preserve our confidence in the future; and even as we change the nature of our courses, as we introduce new ones and allow old ones to decay, we still have to preserve a hope in the long-term viability of those great industries upon which we all depend.

So, my Lords, I view this White Paper with interest, but I feel that somehow the idea that a university is an integral part of society, that it helps industry to create the wealth upon which we live, is sadly missing from it. I would accept what the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said a few moments ago: that the correlation between science education and engineering education and prosperity is very hard to establish. It was well said as long ago as 1903, when England was by far the most prosperous country in the world and Lancashire was the workshop of the world, that we had fewer universities in England than any other country in Europe except Turkey, and Lancashire was the most illiterate county in England. There was a time when I often thought that our Government believed that illiteracy was of itself enough to guarantee prosperity. Fortunately, that illusion has now been shattered. But it is extremely hard to persuade people of the importance of The interaction between industry and the universities; of the importance of the research work done in universities, and its effect on the manufacture of goods throughout the country; and of the relation between work done in an academic institution and the ultimate production of goods for sale.

We have to believe that somehow continuity can be maintained, and most particularly that the Government's proposals that post-graduate education should be cut back should be reconsidered: for, if they are not, the problem—the most difficult of all educational problems—of the conversion of a college graduate to an engineer will never be settled. We do our best in our post-graduate schools to convert college graduates into practising professional men, much as doctors learn their trade in a teaching hospital. This is a part of the post-graduate education which few people appreciate. It is sophisticated, it is complicated, and its overall importance cannot be exaggerated. I am therefore most concerned at the proposals for the curtailment of the expansion of postgraduate education, as I am by the almost total neglect of what one might best call the ancillary services upon which any expansion programme must depend.

5.35 p.m.


My Lords, may I at the outset add my own words of congratulation to the noble Earl on his maiden speech, for its practicality and for his obvious acquaintance with the facts of educational life, which are not always in strict accord with the theories that are sometimes explained. My Lords, although I would not go the whole way with every word of the White Paper, may I say that I welcome it very warmly for two reasons. The first is its breadth of view in that it covers a wide spectrum and emphasises the conviction which I imagine we all have, that education is something which begins in the home but which must be seen thereafter as a continuous process of renewal over the whole range of human experience—and that at a time when the world in which the children will be living when they are grown up will be different from that in which we are educating them.

The second reason why I welcome the White Paper is that it reinforces the challenge to establish our priorities for educational expansion over the next ten or fifteen years. Over the past ten years or more we have had a series of very important Commissions and Reports each dealing with only one aspect of education. The Crowther Report focused attention on the needs of those between 15 and 18 and gave a fresh stimulus to secondary education for all. Then we swung on to higher education, where the Report for which we are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, opened up unprecedented ranges of opportunity in the field of education. Then we switched back again in the Newsom Report, with its disturbing analysis of the needs of children of average and less than average ability, and the suggestions of ways in which children could be given equal opportunity to acquire intelligence and develop their abilities. Then—and I do not know whether this was very far-sighted or purely accidental—we started again at the beginning in the Plowden Report, where I venture to think we ought to have begun, with the improvement of primary education. Now, at long last, it is essential that we should look at education as a whole against the background of what has been possible in the implementation of the various Reports which we have had to consider in the last ten years.

This White Paper, at least, has a wider scope than most of its predecessors and perhaps one might even say than the famous White Paper of 1943 in which the noble Lord, Lord Butler, gave a new direction to English education, but based it mainly on formal schooling. Looking at education as a whole, it is high time that we worked out what the priorities should be in a balanced programme of advance, to use a phrase of the White Paper, and took a long, hard look at the gaps in our existing provision, to some of which attention has already been called by noble Lords who have already spoken. The first gap is obviously, of course, in the early years: the period when a child is opening up as a person; when what he is learning is indistinguishable from what he has become, and the pattern of his future response to the world around him is being set. So we welcome the proposals for better provision for children in these nursery years, and with it the suggestion in paragraph 28 that in the early stages of the programme priority will be given to areas of disadvantage.

We welcome, too, the recognition of the valuable work done by existing play groups, which are already helping over a quarter of a million children under five years of age. It is vital that their development should continue and that the voluntary element which they represent should not be lost; nor that the parental cooperation which brought them into being should disappear because the local education authority was thought to be taking them over. That, of course, has happened in other spheres. What is said in paragraph 29 about the role of parents is very important, but it will not be easy to implement. It is all very well to talk about parents of children living in deprived areas helping in the nursery education of their children, but how many of those parents may not themselves be suffering deprivation of one form or another, and if they are to be involved, as they should be, in the fuller education of their children a great deal of effort and initiative and imagination as well as research will be called for. Much of it is uncharted territory, and to explore it will be more difficult than the White Paper seems to suggest. And to increase the number of qualified teachers of children under the age of five to the 25,000 suggested as being needed in ten years' time will be a formidable task, even with the full co-operation of the colleges of education.

My Lords, this development of nursery schools and the emphasis upon it as a part-time course is immensely important, but let us not be under any illusions about its difficulty. I suspect that we shall need twice as much enthusiasm for it five years from now to keep it going than we are showing now when it is something first appearing over the horizon. It is significant that in this White Paper the section dealing with schools is so short and is concerned largely with capital investment. What is said about the programme for replacing old and inadequate buildings is important, and it is welcome to the churches which have their share in education. Your Lordships perhaps hardly need to be reminded that the church aided schools, mainly those of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, constitute a very important part of the total provision. The Church of England alone has 2,700 aided schools with a total of nearly half a million children. We and the Roman Catholic Church have had plans made years ago for the replacement of our old schools—schools which are old and outdated because we were the pioneers before the State came in—so we have a backlog and we could not get on with it because we could not get into the building programme.

In normal circumstances we could have met both the replacements of our own old schools and the provision of the new buildings required for the new understanding and organisation of education. We could have done this without undue difficulty, but the rapid inflation of building costs has created an almost intolerable situation. We are grateful for the generous support of the State, which provides 80 per cent. of the capital costs, but in this inflationary situation even the 20 per cent. is going to be extremely difficult to find. May I quote one instance alone from one Anglican diocese? The site cost of a substituted school was first quoted as £60,000. When the time came to complete the purchase—and this was of the site alone—it had gone up to £240,000. That is happening in every diocese in that kind of scale. Even if costs were to be kept at their present figure and did not rise in the next few years the Church of England would have to provide at least £13 million capital for schools over and above the money we have set apart to do the job previously.

We value and we prize our partnership with the State in the dual system of education, but it should be said to your Lordships that that dual system and that partnership are at risk because of the growing difficulty of meeting the commitments which years ago some of us who were responsible were quite happy to sign for, saying that we were able and willing to take on the responsibility for replacement or rebuilding. We are still as willing as we ever were; we are not quite so able.

Before I leave the question of schools, may I welcome warmly the provision in paragraphs 41 to 43 for improvements in schools for handicapped children. In recent years the combination of skilled research and devoted teaching has shown that children with quite severe disabilities can be enabled to live happily and usefully beyond all previous expectations. May I echo a previous speaker who said that sometimes it is better to have a deprived child in a normal school than to segregate him in a special school. One cannot generalise on this matter, but I have very clearly in my mind an episode a few months ago when I was visiting a primary school where it is the policy to take a limited number of children with quite severe deprivations. They have come on in a way that surprised even those who tried the experiment; and to have been present, as I was, on that occasion when a boy of eight spoke for the first time in his life was one of those experiences which one does not easily forget and which emphasise our need to do everything we possibly can in whatever way is suitable for the development of the education of handicapped children. This I find in the White Paper rather a surprising gap.

Chapter 5 ends with some forecast of the number of teachers required to increase the staffing ratio. It is a very welcome development, although to that must be added reduction in the size of classes. Then it might be said it was logical to go on to examine the findings of the James Report on Teacher Education. But very little is said about the young men and the young women between 16 and 19 years of age. The majority of them will have left school. What opportunites for wider education will be open to them? One agrees with the Government's desire to see advances over a wide front so that all members of society may be able to learn where, when and what they want in a way that best suits them, but how that is to be achieved is not made clear on a cursory reading of the Report on adult education which was published this week.

Three years ago we debated in your Lordships' House the Report on Youth and Community Work in the 'seventies, and I had hoped to see some reflection of that Report and that debate in this White Paper; but if it is there, my reading was not sufficiently accurate to detect it. For those youth who stay on in full-time education how long can we go on with the jumbled sort of provision we have—some in schools, some in sixth form colleges, some in colleges of further education? Variety is desirable, but one has the uneasy feeling that the present situation is not governed by the desire for variety as a thing in itself but by what is opportune and practicable.

As previous noble Lords have said, a great deal of the White Paper is concerned with the future development of higher education, with particular emphasis on the changing function of the colleges of education. This is an appropriate time for change. In principle, the Church welcomed the main lines of the James Report, and within negotiations now in progress the voluntary bodies will aim at contributing all they can to the well being of the nation rather than just attempting to retain the colleges as they have existed in the past, though of course the smaller colleges—and some of them are voluntary colleges—will pose a great deal of anxiety. The Churches have a considerable share in teacher training and the voluntary bodies have made known to the Secretary of State their desire to be consulted jointly in any negotiations about the development and the organisation of the colleges in the future. They believe it is for the health of teacher education that there should be a diversity of courses and students in colleges which, by tradition, have been mono-vocational institutions.

We welcome the statement in paragraph 161 that the Government share with us the understanding that nothing must be done which will obscure the special insights which the voluntary colleges have brought to the creation of educative communities.

Within this general agreement there are a number of issues on which the voluntary colleges—and, I think, all colleges of education—have their anxieties. Uncertainty, as the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, has said, can be very bad for morale. I detect in some of the colleges with which I am concerned very real anxieties about their own future—even in the larger ones which would seem to be quite secure. I hope that a balance will be struck between too hasty decisions as to which colleges are going to be expanded and which executed and, on the other hand, a desire that the colleges should know what their future is. These are points which will have to be discussed in detail with the Department, but there is one point in particular which causes unease within the colleges.

Paragraph 154 suggests ways in which a college of education might join with a university. What is said there seems to be rather rigid. It seems to imply that the university is to take a college of education into its system; the college of education feels that it might then be swallowed up in that system and would welcome a little indication that there might be some change in the institutional life of the university as well as in that of the college of education. They want to see, in the words of paragraph 56, a wholehearted acceptance of the colleges of education into the family of higher education institutions". What they do not wish is that this wholehearted acceptance should take the form of an embrace which would extinguish the other part.

On the question of size, to which reference has been made, there is unease. Larger units may be necessary if the range of courses is to be diversified but they must not be so large that the living sense of corporate identities which I believe is part of the educational process may be lost. A college of 1,000 could be satisfactory. I doubt if much over that is not running into danger. At any rate, that point seems to be accepted by the Department in their latest Circular of which I have seen only a summary. Some of the colleges wish to advocate as part of the planning, clusters of proximate colleges in a federal association to provide for the needs of the regions in which they are placed and in which there could be a balance between the voluntary and other colleges.

In all this we welcome the proposals for the diploma of higher education. We have had our views represented in the James Report, and welcome the declaration that the diploma must be a thoroughly reputable qualification for which grants will be mandatory. It must not be allowed to be a second-class qualification. But all these plans for the colleges of education will collapse if students are not available to take up the places no longer required for teacher training. There has been public criticism that the provisions for higher education in the White Paper are inadequate; that a 50 per cent. increase in university places and an 80 per cent. increase in polytechnics will not be enough to maintain the principle of the Robbins Report of a constant ratio between the number of places and the number of qualified aspirants for those places. That is obviously of vital importance and it must be maintained.

The noble Lord, Lord Annan, has made reference to this question of numbers. He will know better than I, for instance, the Tenth Report of U.C.C.A. from which I may be allowed to quote an ominous passage: Since 1968 the annual increase in the rate of home application has been slowing down until in 1972 it not only stopped but the number of those applying declined slightly. Such preliminary information as is now available about the number of home candidates seeking entry in October 1973 suggests that no increase is to be expected over the number who applied for entry in October, 1972. If this forecast is correct, there is the risk that the colleges of education in their new form may find themselves short of students.

We are told in the latest circular that there may well be between 40,000 and 50,000 places in the colleges of education available for those who are not intending to become teachers. What will happen if those 40,000 are not forthcoming in a college which has already begun to arrange its building and alter its courses to receive a new and different kind of intake? We cannot, of course, legislate for this in advance because we do not know whether they will come or not. We do not know whether they will switch from one career which they might have considered, or whether they may change over half-way through. But it seems to me vitally important that the utmost flexibility should be used in planning the future of the colleges, from within the colleges and in their relation W other colleges; and too rapid decisions (the mention of November this year, which has been made once or twice fills me with some apprehension) may in fact cause us to lose valuable communities, which we might need later on, because there does not appear to be an immediate demand for them.

My Lords, I look at the little red object on the wall and I see that I have spoken at greater length than I intended. I trust your Lordships will pardon my prolixity, for this is an important subject, and it may be the last occasion on which I address your Lordships on a major educational issue. I would add only one more point. Over the past 15 years we have seen a quite remarkable growing together of the four partners in education; the Department itself, the local authorities, the teachers, and the voluntary bodies. The White Paper cannot be more than a blueprint. Indeed, if it attempted to cover the whole field as adequately as we would have wished we should probably have had it in about three volumes. Thank goodness! we have not, because it means that the details are now to be worked out between these four partners, and it is in their growing and developing understanding that I think I see one of the great hopes for the future breadth of education in this country to which the noble Lord, Lord Annan, referred and which is the desire of us all.

6.0 p.m.


My Lords, first of all I should like to pay a tribute to the maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton. I had the honour of sitting next to his grandfather on this Bench on many occasions. Indeed, so much deference have I for his memory that I never sit right at the end of the Bench myself—I feel that he is still there with us. It is very moving to hear his grandson making so appropriate a speech to us on this occasion, appropriate not only by its bervity but by its wit, and its appropriateness to his own loal authority. I also feel rather moved by the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. When I was engaged in perhaps the most difficult part of the framing of the Education Act 1944, which was the religious settlement, so-called, which certainly occupied the greater part of my time, while William Temple was my great help the right reverend Prelate himself, before he came to London, was a great help in dealing with the schools. It is remarkable how the religious bodies, especially the Church of England and the Roman Catholics have dealt with the secondary problems which have arisen since that date.

I generally approve of the White Paper. I think it is much better than having a new Bill. In fact, a new Bill is quite unnecessary and it is obvious from the scope of this White Paper that almost anything can be done under it. If one looks at it and the really rather remarkable financial figures at the end of it, one sees it is quite a major advance in the educational development of the country. I should like to congratulate my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, and the noble Lord, on its production.

I do not want to detain your Lordships for an undue period, but I was irritated by a phrase on page 4 of the White Paper which said there was a new policy for the education of children under five. As this policy was totally enacted with duties and powers imposed upon the local education authorities in 1944, I did not quite understand the right reverend Prelate's reference to the matters appearing on the horizon for the first time. This reform has been underneath the horizon for thirty years. No Government, not even the Labour Government who followed on my departure from office, or any other Government of any colour, have attempted to put these proposals into force. I have here not only the Act itself but also the White Paper covering the Act; and the Memorandum covering the Act says: The duty of local education authorities to maintain and keep efficient all public elementary schools et cetera in their areas …". It goes on to say: This duty will cover nursery schools the provision of which is at present only a power and special schools for children suffering disability of mind or body. And if we were to trouble to look at Sections 8 and 9 of the Act it would be seen that the words used in the White Paper, that the 1944 Act simply "had regard" to this matter, are quite untrue because definite responsibilities were placed on the local education authorities in Sections 8 and 9 of the Act, which I need not trouble to read to your Lordships.

I am only too thankful that the Secretary of State has decided at last, after thirty years delay, to give some precedence to this subject. No new powers are needed; the powers are all in the Act. All that has to be done now is to carry them out. The noble Lord was generous enough to quote my speech during the Second Reading debate in another place thirty years ago. I have nothing to add to those words. The provision of nursery education for young children is vital, not only for the mothers but also for the children, the adults who work in the schools and the teachers, and, indirectly, for industry itself. I think the expenditure which is now to be put into this subject is well worth while from every single point of view.

I approve the White Paper in its reference to primary education. I think that after the Plowden Report it was inevitable that money should be poured into primary education, and it has been done recently and will be done in the immediate future. I welcome the investment in secondary education. I notice that there is no mention of comprehensives in the White Paper, but I trust that the development of the comprehensive school is going to go on all over the country.

I listened, as usual, with interest to the speech of my noble friend Lord Annan. He is quite right that in the initial stages the developments in the Act of 1944 were governed by the Spens Report and also, I would remind him, by the Norwood Report. I did at least have the foresight to put in my White Paper of 1943, which is exactly thirty years ago, that these three types could be combined under one roof; and I have been one of the people who since that development has taken place in recent years have welcomed it because I did not think the other system could continue. There is obviously clearly much more opportunity of education in the new system provided that the comprehensive school has a proper sixth form and is not a bodged up building site; provided it is a proper school, as I have seen, especially in the London area, where I have been taken round by the Inner London Education Authority. They can be some of the best schools in the country, and I am glad to say that we are getting some pupils from them in my own college already.

The White Paper of 1943 foresaw three types of education under one roof. I am quite happy to feel that the fact that this is not mentioned in the White Paper does not mean that there is no interest in it in Government circles. I am not so happy about the parts on page 29 of the White Paper entitled After School and Beyond, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London did not seem any more satisfied than I am. There is so little about the period immediately after leaving school and that is what is worrying me. Here I must quote again from the Memorandum covering the Education Bill on page 9 of the Memorandum, paragraphs 42 and 43. This was written before 1944 and it deals with further education as follows: The present power of the local education authority to aid the supply of higher education is converted into a duty to provide adequate facilities for technical, commercial and art education"— that is an answer to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley— and general adult education", to which reference was made by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips. All these things were foreseen and legislated for at that date. Then we went on with these rather pathetic words which I do not think will give any consolation to the right reverend Prelate: Authorities will also be required to make provision in young people's colleges for the part-time education in working hours of young persons up to the age of 18. The principles of this proposal form the main elevation of Mr. Fisher's Act of 1918. They are embodied in Sections 75 to 79 of the 1921 Act which have never been effectively implemented. The opportunity has been taken here in this Bill to amend and clarify requirements in certain respects. The fact is that no Government since that day have done anything whatsoever to implement the Act of H. A. L. Fisher, or my own Act of 1944.

Following the right reverend Prelate enables me to quote from the Bible. He will remember the immortal words from Ecclesiasticus: "Let us now praise famous men." I am not thinking of the first part of this quotation when I think of H. A. L. Fisher, who, after all, was not a bad fellow—he was Warden of New College and wrote one of the best histories of modern Europe, and was a considerable Statesman who was admired by Lloyd George and others. When I think of him and myself in relation to further education I think of the later part of that passage which runs as follows: And some there be who have no memorial and are become as though they have never been born. I was rather interested when reading my Apochrypha—which I have some difficulty in finding—to read that the next stanza after this immortal poem runs as follows: Enoch pleased the Lord and was translated. I want to ask my right honourable and honourable friends on the Front Bench in another place whether they would rather that assage was construed to mean that the Greek works of the right honourable gentleman were translated, or that he was translated to Heaven or that he was translated to the Front Bench here. I will leave them to work this out, only reflecting that the works of H. A. L. Fisher and myself have, alas!, been forgotten. But it would help if the noble Lord who is to reply can tell us how much there is for after-school in this particular period. I have read the book which is referred to in the White Paper, Inside the Colleges of Further Education, and I am aware of the immense expansion of further education since what I may call my days, but I should like to ask the Minister to what extent the objectives of the 1921 and 1944 Acts have been carried out about the education of teenagers. How far do they appear in the colleges of education? I do not wish to make any further criticism. But the fact is that the teenager problem has not yet been solved, and I would go so far as to say that if there is to be further legislation I should rather seek it in the realm of the teenage, middle-school and then after-school up to the 18-year-old period than I would in any other period. So, if the noble Lord has anything to say on that subject I shall be delighted to hear it.

The next part of the White Paper deals with teacher training. I am tempted to say, very quietly and without any ostentation, that if only they would leave us alone in teacher training, especially in the Faculty of Education in Cambridge, we should be perfectly happy. We have established very close relations with some twenty colleges of education. We are on such good terms now with the Institute of Education who look after the colleges of education that we are planning a building site to take the whole of the Department of Education and the Institute of Education in together, and with one library to serve both, thereby tying ourselves closely to the colleges of education. We were therefore somewhat horrified to read the James Report. I am sorry that the noble Lord is not present to-clay, and perhaps I had better not say any more about it. All I will say about it is this: that the discussion following upon the James Report resulted in amendments which brought out the best in the Report and has made this White Paper a memorable document. I think that if we had left things entirely as they were in the James Report we might have got into greater trouble. The White Paper modifications on the James Report will improve the situation.

I gather there is to be a new pattern of awards to students of the colleges. It is hoped that many of these will take the four-year course. Most universities are presently discussing the possibility of validating their assets and awards, and Nottingham has avowed its intention to do so. The Council for National Academic Awards has stated its intention to validate such awards for students in colleges of education and in polytechnics. What makes me sorry—and here I agree with the noble Baroness—is that it now appears likely that the great majority of colleges of education will be assimilated into the non-university sector. I am one of the heretics who followed the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, in his Report, when I was a member of the Government. I believed in bringing colleges of education closer to the universities and not so much to the sector outside. I remain unrepentant in that, but it appears from this White Paper to be too late. The number of teachers in the colleges is to be decreased by about 40 per cent. by 1981. This is indeed a great change for the colleges, and I sympathise with the noble Earl and various others who have spoken on this subject, including the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, in their feeling that the outlook for the colleges and especially the small ones, is indeed rather grim. I hope—and I must ask the Minister whether he can give an answer on this point—that proper arrangements will be made for their staff and for their future.

My Lords, I did not want to speak for more than 15 minutes, and I see that number on the light, so I simply conclude by saying this. I think this White Paper forms a considerable advance in education over the whole plane. On pages 35 and 36 the immense number of students in institutes of higher education is advertised. A few years ago only about 8 per cent. of the 18 year-old group were going to be in such higher colleges. The Minister has already announced that there is not only going to be an advance of 15 per cent., but that in 1981 there will be an advance of 22 per cent. I would ask the noble Lord how those figures compare with those in the United States of America, where I gather the figure is something like 28 or 29 per cent., and with the Soviet Union, whose figures I am afraid are inexact because they bring in every single technical college that they have. If we could get exact figures of comparison of our own ratio with those of the United States and the Soviet Union, it would be extremely interesting. I must congratulate the Government that they envisage a figure of 22 per cent. by 1981, which the Minister announced in his speech.

The last thing I have to say is this. When your Lordships read the figures at the end of this document you see what an immense share of the national cake education is taking and is about to take. I do not think we are wasting our time in having a debate on education in the Upper House on this occasion, because it is of great importance not only to the national income but also to the national goodwill and good work. I entirely agree with Lord Annan's statements about the need for opportunity and quality of education. I hope that this debate will do nothing to put education back, but by this rather modest document, which I suggest should be bound in vellum to make it look more important, we may have made a great stride forward.

6.16 p.m.


My Lords, following such a galaxy of distinguished experts in this field, I wish to make only a few general comments on this White Paper. Among that galaxy, the giant of them is of course the noble Lord, Lord Butler, to whom we owe so much in this field. But first I must congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, on his maiden speech. I hope he will speak often in this Chamber, because his speech was not only excellent but was also full of expertise. I promise not to nag the Government because they cannot hand us the moon—that is, give us everything we want at this moment—in the sphere of education. We have only to think of the economics and politics to-day. The White Paper states flatly that it is concerned only with scale, organisation and cost, and not with educational content, but I cannot see how it can be discussed without referring to this omission.

We have come a long way from the narrow definition of "education" as a framework for schooling and instruction, and there is a great deal of new thinking on the subject. Here I agree with the splendid speech of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, from the Liberal Benches. We spend vast sums of money on education, though it is never enough to expand all sections from the university to the nursery at the same time. The Secretary of State, Mrs. Thatcher, has in this document shuffled her financial cards and made some welcome recommendations, particularly in increased pre-school education, as everyone has said, and in the education of the handicapped. There is now a universal recognition of the importance of pre-school education, thanks to the Plow-den Report: and that Report is now going to pay real dividends. It was a beacon, because it called for priority for areas of deprivation; and more resources for these areas, urban and rural, will help to expand all kinds of facilities for the under-fives, including more classes in primary schools, more day nurseries and help for the play groups movement.

Here local authorities can take the initiative and involve parents and qualified teachers as well. It is difficult for me to tell whether the increase in total current expenditure on the under-fives from the present £42 million to £65 million is generous or not, but the £50 million a year to be spent on replacement of unsatisfactory buildings in primary schools is greatly to be welcomed, though it shows up the inadequacy of only £10 million a year on secondary school building. I am glad the Government have not swallowed all the recommendations of the James Report. Here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden; though the Report is very good generally, I do not like all of it. It received a fairly hostile reception from the teachers' unions, and judging from the complaints about lack of consultation that come from them, accompanied by angry noises, it is unfortunate that the Secretary of State, Mrs. Thatcher, continues to maintain such an authoritarian posture.

As everyone has said, there has been a vast expansion in our education system over the past ten or 15 years, and, following on the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, one sees it is clearly more than 15 years. In the present state of our economy any allocation of resources raises important questions of priority as to whether to expand nursery education at the expense of secondary or university education. So I come to my main criticism of this White Paper, which is not so much for what it contains but for what it leaves out. I refer to the glaring omission of any reference to the expansion of comprehensive education. It is not mentioned anywhere in this document. I make no apology for including this great part of the education system in this debate, despite its exclusion from the document, Education: a Framework for Expansion. I do not raise it just in order to resume the argument with the Secretary of State, because she is the great apostle of selectivity in education and I view selection as the greatest restrictive practice in the great educational industry.

To explain, I will return for a moment to the comment in the White Paper on the James Report, on page 16, paragraph 57. This paragraph has been quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, and the Government have accepted the six objectives as their goal. I will touch on one or two of them: to enhance intellectual abilities to the highest standard of which each child is capable; and to develop practical and human skills to make the maximum contribution to health, wealth and harmony of a democratic society. No one can disagree with such bland sentiments. But, except for the Government's welcome expansion in pre-school education and the particular emphasis on the areas of deprivation, none of the other high-sounding objectives in this fanfare can be achieved without the expansion of a truly comprehensive education and one which is geared towards bringing the slow learners and the less gifted academically to the highest standard of which each is capable, and making it higher still.

The White Paper takes no account of present-day thinking about education on priorities in secondary education, or of the new thinking about new methods and the revaluation of examinations, to which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, referred: "A"-levels, "O"-levels, university entrances, the lot. We have some terrible social problems in secondary education: truancy, disorder and sometimes even violence. All these are likely to come to the boil with the raising of the school-leaving age. The noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, in a trenchant article last weekend, said that science and technology do not dictate social values. That is true; but education has an obligation and an opportunity to do just that, because it dispenses opportunities, and so the next step is to dispense them fairly. Much has been written lately by top educationists concerned with truancy and delinquency in some secondary schools. They have been urging us to get our priorities right, to give more resources to those areas of deprivation, and generally start from a broader definition of education than the one that we have inherited in a way from the grammar school tradition. In a society where young people are exposed to the temptations of advertising, if they are branded as failures from the moment they start as a failed 11-plus, or if they cannot keep up with the academic teaching which has been inherited in many secondary modern schools from the grammar school tradition, this reinforces their sense of failure. I believe this is a factor in the prevalence of delinquency because they feel that society is hostile to them.

So expansion by itself is not enough; it has to go hand-in-hand with reform in teaching methods, more flexible curricula, a shake-up for the future. I have reservations about what my friend the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said about an élite; there are great social dangers about a concentration of élitists. But that subject would need another debate. Finally, the White Paper has some good recommendations in it so far as it goes, but it does not go deep enough.

6.27 p.m.


My Lords, we should be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, for opening this debate with a masterly summary of the main intentions of the White Paper. We should also be grateful to the Secretary of State for issuing it. If I am not mistaken, this is the first occasion on which there has been an opportunity of looking at what is expected of the structure of education as a whole. Although doubtless there are many omissions of detail, although doubtless there are many matters of allocation of limited resources on which differences of opinion are likely to arise, it is very good that we should have this opportunity of looking at the contemplated structure as a concise picture. I make no complaint that it is not longer; on the contrary, I could have wished from time to time, having this purpose in mind at any rate, that it had been more concise.

This evening I do not wish to enter into the lists regarding allocation of resources which are decreed to the educational system, nor do I wish to utter any general complaint regarding the amount which is spent on education and other objects of Government expenditure. I should like to address myself to the question implicit in much of what the noble Lord, Lord Annan, has said, and perhaps in what the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, was saying; namely, the question of content, and the question whether in the existing system, or the system which is contemplated in the White Paper, we are getting the maximum value for money. By "value for money" I do not mean simply greater potential increase in Gross National Product. I do not want to deprecate increases in Gross National Product—we need all we can get in these inflationary days—but from my point of view, at any rate, the aim of education is not merely the increase of Gross National Product but the good life in general, the enlargement of the spiritual horizon of citizens, the enlargement of their understanding, their tolerance and their capacity for sympathy and for living together.

From that point of view, I cannot conceal some dissatisfaction with the present state of affairs. I do not in the least wish to go back on the noble principles of 1944 and the acceptance of all that has followed the Act—and we must surely always honour the author of it; indeed, we are very glad to see him here this afternoon. I should be very sorry indeed if anything I say henceforth were taken as implying regret for any part that I played in recommending the provision of opportunity for all who have the ability and willingness to benefit from higher education. The question I wish to raise is not one of numbers but of what is provided for numbers. Is the training provided in schools and in higher education such as to produce the results we have expected? How do we compare in this respect with educational systems abroad? Is what we are doing now likely to fulfil the hopes which we have all entertained in past years?

I begin in this connection with the schools. Here I should like to express continuing deep disquiet at the developments of the last few decades, particularly in boys' grammar schools, in so far as their sights are set on preparation for higher education. Years ago, the noble Lord, Lord Snow, warned us that we were in the process of evolving two cultures, each with a diminishing capacity to understand the other. These were the humanistic and the scientific. The noble Lord, Lord Snow, did not, as I understand him, recommend one culture as superior to the other: he simply lamented the fact that those who grew up in the one were less able to understand those who grew up in the other. He lamented the fact that there were growing up groups of persons with more or less expert knowledge of the world of natural science who had only a peripheral contact with the world of humanities; and the fact that in the world of humanities there were people growing up with equally imperfect contact with the marvellous achievements of science since the 17th century. Doubtless there may have been some simplification—it is very difficult to lecture on these subjects for an hour, let alone in a speech which should not last more than 15 or 20 minutes—but I ask you, my Lords, can anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear deny the main contention? And if that is true I ask: is it not a lamentable thing, and is it not truly deplorable, that our system should be churning out a division of this sort?—when perhaps one of the main needs of our society is that science should be informed by humanity and that the humanistic culture which we have inherited from the past should he aware of the new potentialities and the new views of the universe which scientific method and discovery have made possible.

The trouble here begins in the schools, and particularly in the boys' schools. Who of us, who is a parent or a grandparent, has not watched children, often at the tender age of 14 or even earlier, having to begin to choose whether later on to take a group of "A" levels heavily weighted on one side or the other? The choice once taken and the "O" levels business got over in a more or less perfunctory way, henceforward their main concentration must be focused on one or other of the groups. Thus the budding natural scientist leaves languages and history, and the budding humanist (including, I am sorry to say, very often the budding economist) leaves maths. and natural science, save for special talks in so-called "free time", which are notoriously deprived of the proper discipline and system of the other subjects.

I would not wish to overplay my hand. I do not deny that nowadays there is disquiet about these practices or that some attempts are being made to remedy them. But these practices are very widespread indeed, and the trouble is that for many academics they are accounted as righteousness. The so-called sixth form concentration (which, so far as I know, has no counterpart in any other civilised country) is counted a great virtue of our system; and often where it has not developed so far, as in some comprehensive schools, great efforts are made to copy it. I know there is much idealism in this—there is often much idealism behind the practices which turn out to have bad results—but I cannot regard it as anything but nationally dangerous to have a system which, unlike those anywhere else, involves the absence of systematic study of languages or history or a lack of contact with mathematics or science after the early age of 15 or 16. You certainly will not find such an absence of contact in the countries of Western Europe or in the United States. Some of the fault lies definitely with the schools and with the ideology which underlies this particular habit; but speaking realistically, most of the fault lies with the universities. Talk to an open-minded schoolmaster and ask him if he is content in this way to be out of step with the rest of the civilised world, and his reply will be—will it not?—that he has a responsibility to his pupils to prepare them for the universities and to see they get places. In the main, I would say it is the requirements of the universities which are mainly responsible for excessive specialisation in the schools.

Again, I do not wish to overstate the case. I know that in recent years some universities have begun to be less exacting in their requirements regarding "A" levels as preparation for special degrees. I know that some teachers are now alarmed at the present state of affairs, but I must say that I have yet to learn that many universities are prepared to lower their general requirements so as to provide more scope for boys and girls who do not concentrate excessively at the sixth form stage. Therefore, in my judgment it is the universities—and I must specify the universities South of the Border—against which I would bring my main indictment. It is the universities which are mainly responsible for these unfortunate developments in the schools, and it is the organisation of teaching and standards in the universities which are most in need of drastic revision. It is the continued prevalence of extreme honours specialisation in the English universities, as distinct from those North of the Border, which is at the root of what I venture to call the sickness in our middle-range and higher education.


My Lords, would the noble Lord permit me to intervene for one moment? I perfectly follow his indictment of the universities on this point and I do not want in any way to try to exculpate them entirely; but I would point out that in the many conferences with schoolmasters that I have attended it has been the sixth form masters who have begged the universities to protect their notion of what sixth form work should be, namely, sixth form work in depth. I think there are many ways in which this can be done and there are many variations on the present situation, but I would not wish it to be thought that it was simply and solely universities that were responsible for the present situation.


My Lords, the noble Lord will forgive me if I remind him that at an earlier stage I said that some of the fault lay in the mistaken ideology underlying some sixth form masters. But despite the tremendous respect in which I hold everything uttered by my noble friend I still maintain that the main fault lies with the universities. I do not wish to overstate the case. I think it is true that in recent years in some universities there have been many experiments in joint degrees. It is also true, of course, that the degree of specialisation can sometimes be exaggerated by reason of misapprehension of terminology. An economics degree, for instance, may or may not involve much more spread than appears on the surface.

But let us face it, on the whole these new experiments are not a very great success; on the whole, they do not command the enthusiasm of the professors, and it is the professors and their assistants who have the last word in this respect. On the whole, the prestige of having a flourishing honours department is for many of these people, so to speak, an addition to their pecuniary emoluments—and do not let us make any mistakes, this is realised by the student: unless very special arrangements are made for the students who take general or joint degrees they feel (and they feel quite rightly) that they will not be looked after so well if they take a broad based degree as they will if they take a degree in depth.

These are tendencies which can only be reversed by much more drive and determination than has been shown so far by many senior teachers in many universities. I think this state of affairs is peculiarly unfortunate for two quite different reasons: first, if there is to be specialisation in first degrees—and no sensible person would deny the need for some specialization—then it is all the more necessary that those who begin to specialise in the universities should have a broad background of school education behind them. The less the specialisation in the schools, the more risk can be taken with specialisation later on. The more specialisation we have in sixth forms the greater the danger of the two cultures—of our system of higher education—producing races of people such as the late Wyndham Lewis used to call "split men and women", human beings whose personalities are starved because they lack the dimension of either scientific or humanistic cultures.

Secondly, I think the intensity of specialisation at the first degree stage, prevalent in many quarters, is a bad thing in itself, at any rate for a substantial number of students. I am not prepared to deny that our honours system South of the Border has produced some splendid specimens, especially quite splendid dons or quite splendid people capable of surviving the rigours of the examination for the administrative grade of the Civil Service; though I should not be prepared to admit that the same results are not capable of being produced in saner systems, North of the Border, for instance, or in Canada. But we have to bear this in mind—and here I join forces spiritually with the noble Lord, Lord Annan—that the important work of the world is not only done by firsts; it is done by the seconds and even the thirds, and I do not believe that at the first degree, the degree of blinkered concentration involved by an English honours system is necessarily the best for them. Some may benefit, and the benefit varies from subject to subject; but some at least would be better served by a more all-round system which fosters not only expertise in a narrow field but versatility and acquaintance with a wider field.

If I take my own subject, for instance, I would far rather that the first degree student had a good grounding in history and politics, with some capacity to translate at least two modern languages, than that at that stage he should be up to all the tricks and acrobatics appropriate to high finish in the graduate school. It is no accident that elsewhere in the English speaking world it is not the extreme honours specialisation of most universities South of the Border which has been taken as the model, but rather the Scottish system with its broad base and its fine aim of training the whole man or the whole woman.

I would not wish to leave your Lordships with the impression that I deny the importance in our educational system of high specialisation. Of course it is important; of course it is indispensable in the present state of the world. We cannot have high experts, we cannot advance the frontiers of knowledge, without high specialisation. What I contend is not that high specialisation is unnecessary anyway, but that its proper place, here as in other parts of the English speaking world, is much less at the first degree stage and much more in the graduate school. It is in the great graduate schools elsewhere that are trained the experts which we in this country need if we are to hold our own in the competition of free society, and it is in the graduate school that the desire of the professors to train the high experts can be released and satisfied without damage to students who are not going to be experts in that sense.

Hence I hope, in conclusion, that nothing I have said will be held to prejudice the case (which is a very strong one) for the proper fostering of graduate studies. I admit the desirability which may conceivably be in the minds of the D.S. at the moment, of admission standards here which prevent the opportunity of graduate studies being used simply to postpone coming to terms with real life. These things are not often said, but we all know that to some extent what I refer to happens. I admit, too, an important matter—the importance of avoiding duplication of facilities for specialisation where expensive equipment or expensive libraries are concerned. I have spent most of my life as an academic, fostering graduate studies, and I should be very sorry indeed to see them neglected or allowed to fall further behind the best in the Western world than they are in many universities at present.

My remarks to-day have not been directed against specialisation as such, but against specialisation at a premature stage, to an unnatural bifurcation of study and to the absence of sufficient scope for the continuation of broader studies at the first degree stage. Noble Lords from time to time have referred to the principle enunciated by the Committee with which I had the honour to be associated. I do not want to go back on a single word that was said in this connection in that Report, as regards the desirability of expansion. But it is necessary also to emphasise that that Report said—and I am quoting from paragraph 7 of the summary, page 269: We should not recommend so large an expansion of the universities as we do unless we were confident that it would be accompanied by a big increase in the number of students taking broader first degree courses. I doubt very much whether all the professors and vice-chancellors South of the Border have yet paid nearly enough attention to that aspect of those recommendations.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down may I ask him one question? I strongly agree with what he says, but is it not dependent entirely on an increase in the length of university courses to the length which is normal on the Continent and in America, namely, four years as a minimum, and perhaps five?


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that question because it gives me the pretext for doing what I would have wished to do had I had more time at my disposal, and that is, expressing some hope of the conversion of the two-year diploma in higher education into a pass degree which can serve the purposes of those who do not wish to go on to higher studies and which, in all sorts of ways, might prove the basis for a tidying up of the present difficulties in the universities South of the Border.

6.52 p.m.


My Lords, I should first like to pay my meal of tribute to the maiden speech by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton. It was an excellent speech and I hope that he will frequently address us again. I should like also to express my admiration for the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Annan. Although I did not necessarily agree with everything he said, he certainly gave us cause for thought. I was particularly interested in what he and the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, said about the question of the redundancy and retraining of dons. I hope that the two noble Lords are expressing those sentiments with the same vigour as they have expressed them to your Lordships' House, to their respective Senates, because all I can say is that if I were to express those sentiments in the congregation at Oxford, I should be very lucky to get out unscathed. But it may be different with them.

I should like to begin by expressing in general a warm support for the main points in the White Paper. I have one or two minor criticisms, in particular over the university aspect, but from the beginning I must make clear my conviction that my right honourable friend's proposals are on the right lines. It is right to aim at a great expansion in education of the under-fives; it is right to make a major effort to replace the bad old buildings which still clog so many of our primary and secondary schools, and particularly primary schools; it is right to provide for a large and systematic expansion of in-service training—to use the words of the White Paper; and not least I would have thought that my right honourable friend had done fairly well in the amount of money she had screwed out of the Treasury.

The lion's share of expansion in the last decade went to higher education (or tertiary education as it is sometimes called) and it went mainly to the universities. I believe that my right honourable friend is quite right, given the inevitable limitation of governmental resources in expenditure, to reduce this rate of expansion in favour of the other claims to which I have just referred. After all, what it means is simply a reduction in the rate of expansion. That is not, as one might think from the utterances of some of my more excitable colleagues in the academic profession, an actual cutback on existing figures.

The same sense of proportion is needed when one moves from higher education as a whole to the university sector. Let me take one rather criticised feature, namely, the percentage of post-graduate students which it is proposed will fall in the next five years from 19 per cent. of the total university population as it now is, to 17 per cent. of the figure in 1976. But those who regard that as a blow against the universities in their capacity to advance the frontiers of knowledge, should have some sense of proportion. In fact it means, as the White Paper spells out, an increase of 7,000 over the existing figure of 45,000, a percentage increase of something like 15½ per cent., compared with the number in 1971. That is a slow down compared with the previous five years, but it can hardly be argued to be a catastrophic one.

The noble Lord, Lord Robbins, referred to one aspect of post-graduate education with which every don is familiar—at least, every don whose eyes are not fixed entirely on the stars. A considerable amount of expenditure on postgraduate work is wasted. There are too many young men and women who, having obtained what is defined as a good degree, go into post-graduate work less from a keen interest in research or an ardent desire to study, than from an inability and reluctance to make up their minds. Everybody who has contact with the actual realities knows that that is the case. I fully appreciate that comparison with the undergraduate stage can be misleading, but it would be interesting to know what proportion of drop-outs there are in that sense of the word in the postgraduate world. I wonder whether my noble friend when he comes to reply—and I have given him notice of this question—is able to give any statistics as to what proportion of post-graduates for one reason or another drop out? In respect of the undergraduate world, the record in the English and the Scottish universities is very good. But I do not know what figures there are for postgraduates.

What of the actual proposals regarding higher education? I should like to welcome one decision which is implicit in the White Paper though not specifically spelled out. I welcome it not only on its merits but as an example of nonpartisan continuity of policy. The binary system, as it is often called, propounded by one of my right honourable friend's predecessors, Mr. Anthony Crosland, has been preserved. My right honourable friend has rejected any approach towards one of the two opposite poles in the great debate on tertiary education: what in a very able address which I recently heard made by the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, Sir Alan Bullock, at a conference, he called the "comprehensivisation" of higher education, that is to say the merging of universities, polytechnics, further education colleges, colleges of education, into general purveyors of higher education, under one umbrella with a common system of entry, staff structure, finance, et cetera. That would be the end of the university system as we know it, and I was in full agreement with what the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said on that point. The opposite pole, of course, is the concept of universities as a very selective élite obtaining the principal share of the higher educational funds because they have, or believe they have, a unique capacity not only to advance the frontiers of knowledge but to train the people who will occupy the leading places in industry, politics and the professions. And it is only thus that the nation will secure the leaders that it needs if it is to flourish in a competitive world.

As one would expect, the White Paper steers between those two extremes in the best British tradition. It clearly regards the universities as having a special role to play, and there is no question of altering that. On the other hand, the plan is to reach the target of 750,000 students in 1981, and the lion's share of that expansion is to be borne by expanding polytechnics, though, of course, the universities are expanding substantially, too. The result will be that a very large share of the available funds for higher education will go into the public sector, as it is sometimes called, of higher education, rather than into the universities.

I am strongly in favour of diversity in higher education and of there being a number of different options. I thought this point was very well spelled out in Chapter 12 of the White Paper, and I welcome it. I should, however, be glad if my noble friend, when he comes to reply, could spell out a little more fully the reasons why the Government think it right to give the polytechnics quite such a large share. It really raises the question of their general role in higher education. In some ways they are not the most obvious place for major expansion on this scale compared with the universities. The White Paper anticipates the switch to some extent from science and technology to the humanities. Is there not a danger that the polytechnics may find it difficult to fill places in the subjects for which they are designed, and yet may have a glut of entrants for subjects to which they are not geared? There is just the danger that in those latter fields they may become the equivalent of second-rate universities, rather than leaders in the particular courses of study for which they were primarily intended.

It has been suggested that a motive behind this change of emphasis is the Government's desire to get higher education on the cheap. I do not believe this myself, but I think this doubt does lead one on to an important matter. As my noble friend said in his opening remarks, the cost of a unit of output in the university sector—that is to say, a student—is intended to go down over the next five years, albeit slowly; I think he gave a figure of 2 per cent. Even if one makes allowance for certain economies of scale which should be obtainable because of the build up of new universities to a more viable economic position, even if one makes allowance, too, for a higher staff-student ratio, this is nevertheless quite a lot to expect.

After all, a great many things are all too likely to go up in real costs. In many university activities, increasing sophistication of teaching methods, research, equipment, especially scientific research, research in social sciences, the cost of books—all things of that kind are likely to go up in real terms. This is recognised as far as teaching in schools is concerned; it is referred to in paragraph 45 of the White Paper. We assume—one hopes one is right—that the national income in real terms will go up over the next few years and one hopes that this will look after such increases.

I wonder what other unit of output from the social services, in the widest sense of those words, is expected to go down in real cost during this period. I have actually given my noble friend notice of this, possibly unanswerable, question. I have also given him notice of another one which may, I fear, deserve the same adjective. What is the cost per student in the polytechnics now, and what is the predicted cost over the course of the next few years—I appreciate that they are not financed on a quinquennial basis—and how does this compare with the university cost per student? It would be extremely interesting if we could have those figures, it they are obtainable. They are really rather vital figures from the point of view of planning future educational policy.

There is one last point I want to make about polytechnics. The switch of numbers to them may, if the existing state of affairs goes on, have an adverse effect in terms of drop-out rates. According to the statistics of education published by the Ministry, Volume 5, 1971, the dropouts of university students, which is the failures in examinations added to those who go for one or other reason, is of the order of 14.7 per cent. for the universities as a whole. But in the polytechnics and the further education colleges it is rather over 34 per cent., which is twice as high. I think there are implications which are slightly perturbing in that fact.

I hope no one will think I am trying in any way to crab the public sector. It has a most important part to play in education and I fully appreciate it. It is rather that I am a little anxious about the Government's attitude to the universities. The emphasis on economies of scale, on higher staff-student ratio and on reduction of residence, particularly the latter, is somewhat disturbing. It suggests, if I may put it thus, a slight measure of imperceptiveness as to what universities are about. They are not just machines for producing graduates, and I am sure my right honourable and my noble friend are fully aware of that. They exist also to advance the frontiers of knowledge. Every don who is worth his salt has a double part to play—a teacher and a researcher. And research and economies of scale do not go well together.

What about residence? Of course, this is an obvious economy, but the English universities have always had as a distinguishing feature the importance they attach to their extra-curricula life. It used to be a truism that one learned as much outside the study, lecture room, library, as inside them. I wonder how true this will be of a commuter university. I am sure of one thing in this respect: that those who come from the worst homes are going to be worst off under such a dispensation. I think there is a slight danger that the cumulative effect of my right honourable friend's proposals may be rather more harmful to the ethos and character of the universities, especially the newer and less well-established ones, than one might at first sight think. These are relatively minor matters, and my apprehensions may prove to be ill-founded.

I would end as I began, by expressing warm support for the main provisions of the White Paper and for the shift in emphasis it has given to educational expansion. I am confident that it is on the right lines. In particular, I believe that it will, if implemented, improve the quality of school teachers themselves. In the end, this is the most important factor in improving the quality of education. I ought perhaps to declare an interest, for my father was a schoolmaster. I believe it is impossible to overrate the importance of a flourishing, contented and professionally up-to-date teaching staff. For this, if for no other reason, I warmly welcome the proposals in the White Paper.

7.8 p.m.


My Lords, it has been a pleasure to listen to the noble Lord, who, despite the fact that he spoke briefly, nevertheless was able to give to the House the benefit of his vast experience in this world of education. Those of us who have had the opportunity to sit through most of the debate can be grateful for all the speeches which have been made in the debate. I am grateful to the noble Lord who spoke from the Front Bench for his introduction of this White Paper.

Before I begin my brief speech, I would pay a tribute to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who reminded the House that though some of us may be country bumpkins at least we cannot always be led up the garden path. My first village school was in a little village called Llandyssul in West Wales, where the river Teifi rippled and rolled gently to Cardigan Bay. It was in the shadow of the village church, and the grass grew in the playground; so there were not many of us. Some got to the university, some became doctors, some lawyers, some colliers; but whatever job they did, in some strange way they were gentlemen. That is one of the amazing things about country life. One did not have to have an education in depth. There was a natural courtesy, which many towns and cities seem to be losing in this brittle 20th century. If the frontiers of knowledge are to be advanced, it is not a bit of use unless they are built on the rock of wisdom. Solomon asked not just for knowledge; he asked for wisdom.

I do not know the answers to these problems. My claim to speak in this debate is that for more than 20 years I tramped the hillsides and the valleys in adult education and sat at the feet of great men like Toynbee and William Temple, who, as the right reverend Prelate knows, was one of the finest men who "got across" to the mass of the working people the benefits of education.

I was pleased to see a reference in the White Paper to adult education, and I am also glad that the Government were able to publish the Report on adult education in time for this debate. It would be slightly out of Order to deal with that in depth, but I want to refer to it in passing. I have always believed that the pyramid of education can be balanced and firm only if down below in the primary school there is the maximum opportunity for our children. Despite the fact that I am considered to be a Socialist, I have never believed that all men are equal in capacity. But I believe that society should give equality of opportunity to human beings, particularly in the field of education, and being given that equality of opportunity, initiative and individuality should be the right of each person. Consequently, I welcome the implementation of nursery education as reported in this White Paper.

I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Butler, has left the Chamber. I had the privilege of listening to him in 1944 and 1945 in the other place, and many a lecture did I give in my adult W.E.A. classes on the old White Paper of 1944. While he was in this House, I should have liked to pay him tribute for that educational report which was brought out of one of the most disgusting times in the history of man, when we were killing each other all over the world, because he had the wisdom to sit back and try to evolve an educational report that would be used one day when we had peace. Consequently, I have a great respect for the work of the noble Lord and I was glad that he reminded this House that in his own Report he referred to nursery education. I hope that the words of the Report will be fully implemented.

Everybody is talking about going into Europe. I am not enthusiastic about it, because we are not really going into Europe; we are going into a hunch of nations in search of an enemy. We are going into a group of nine nations, not 35. I am taking over the presidency of the Esperanto Association in this Parliament. But why can we not spend a few millions in bringing to our primary schools little mademoiselles who have only elementary French qualifications, or some students from the Sorbonne, to start French education in a kind of baby fashion in our nursery and primary schools? That would be a revolutionary step and in twenty years' time we should have a bilingual society. Masses of people are travelling all over Europe in their cars and they are beginning to get smatterings of the European languages, so that our insularity will disappear. May not this idea be a constructive step towards international understanding? Let us take, say, £10 million from the £500 million increased expenditure on armaments which this Government are to spend, and put that money into introducing a mademoiselle into every primary school in Britain for a year or two to teach French to our kiddies. It would be a lovely innovation, and would be indicative of our willingness to face the new kind of world in which we shall be living.

I want to clear up a misconception. Illiteracy does not mean that a person is a moron. Brindley, who built the canals of Britain, was completely illiterate but he was one of the finest engineers. So let us eradicate the misconception. What are we aiming at? I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, and the noble Lord, Lord Annan, talking about getting a wider expansion. I believe that at least four years are needed at university. In a way, I helped to institute Keele University before it was built up. I had the honour to be among those who helped to inspire it. We were very fortunate indeed that its first principal was the Master of Balliol himself, who came up to Keele to get it on a good footing. So the student had one year of philosophy before he went on to his three-year course. I believe that there is time in the modern world for a four-year course, in order to get the breadth before the specialisation.

We still talk of education in terms of the days before television and radio, but I believe that they represent the most dynamic tool for education. Some of the finest lessons are given, and some of the most capable teachers are working year in and year out, on television and radio. All types of lessons are broadcast—religion, science, mathematics—of the highest standard. But that tool has never been co-ordinated. I myself have watched the school broadcasts, as I am sure other noble Lords have done, while having a meal or just sitting back, and have seen lessons in sixth-form mathematics or first-form chemistry. The men presenting the lessons were really masters of their subject and, with the help of a good supplementary teacher in the classroom, a good teacher can give first-class lectures to hundreds of thousands of children and students. In the framework of education in the future, how deeply are we studying local radio and television and making use of it? Some of us listen to lessons in French and German when we are shaving in the mornings. I may be completely wrong, but I have an idea that the contribution that television has made, and the greater contribution that it can make in the future, has never been completely co-ordinated.

I know that there is contradiction here. There are people who know nothing about teaching who talk about our illiteracy. In World War I this was one of the most illiterate countries in the world. In Palmerston's day we did not even have Sandhurst; it was Palmerston who set up Sandhurst. Our soldiers went abroad to get their training and to understand logistics. Ours was considered a riffraff Army, and there was no possibility of the ordinary man in the street becoming an officer in the old Armies of those days. But I still believe that military education of a non-vocational type is valuable to men who are in the Forces, and I should not like to see that neglected in the framework of education. Also, are we quite sure that we are making clear in our debate the difference between learning, instruction and education? People who have very little capacity to use learning may learn very easily. People who are using machines and tools, often without any degrees at all, can become first-class engineers through instruction. As I said once before, a plumber putting a lead dome on a cathedral is doing a top-level trigonometrical job. Yet he can be instructed, without any complete understanding of mathematics, with a formula and other apparatus which is available to him to-day. One of the difficulties about advanced knowledge is that in laboratories to-day we have machines which are doing chemical analyses which previously took hours of work by top-level chemists. Consequently, much of this is taking the place of the old arts and crafts. So we have to be careful, in the framework of education and in the way we live to-day, that we are not giving education in a subject which will perhaps be obsolete by the time a student reaches 21 or his manhood.

I was delighted to hear the right reverend Prelate refer to special schools. Both my wife and I have an interest in one of these, and I am going to have some fun with the kiddies there next week. I should like openly here to pay tribute to the men and women who teach the under-privileged in some of these special schools. There are hundreds and thousands of these children who in some cases need as much attention as a thalidomide child. When we are thinking of the 400 or so thalidomide children, let us remember that there are some thousands of children in special schools, and that they have courageous teachers who have to deal with children who are unable to speak. I know exactly what the right reverend Prelate meant when he said that he heard a child speak, after great effort, for the first time. I see the figures here—I will not repeat them, because they are available to every Member of the House—and I am delighted. I should like to pay a tribute to the Government for this expansion in aid to special schools.

On higher education, I agree with some of my noble friends who have spoken. It seems to me that the frustum of the pyramid or cone is being cut off, and it is going to be more difficult to get to those higher echelons of education. That is a pity. I reiterate the contribution made by the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, that at this moment, when we have increased our military expenditure, it is a pity that here, for the matter of a few millions, we seem to be cutting back in some of the fields of higher education.

Finally, are we abandoning non-vocational education? If we are, could we not lose balance because of the arid pressure of ultra-commercialism and trade on our nation? We can become a nation of Philistines, indifferent to creative ideas, indifferent to æsthetic refinement, indifferent to courtesy and manners. I can see it: indifferent to music, indifferent to art and indifferent to anything more in the art of conversation. The gift of speech then becomes monosyllabic, with cacophonic grunts such as we have from motorists when they are in a queue or a traffic jam. This is the pressure of the civilisation in which we are living; and part of the purpose of education is to be a safety valve to give men expansive ideas in the world in which they live.

I come to the last point on this White Paper. I have already asked for more information on the use of television and local radio; and the last point, which I think seems to have been neglected altogether, is education for the senior citizen—old chaps for whom, they having spent their years working hard, everything suddenly stops. There is a need to fill their lives, to eradicate loneliness in their lives. There are the healthy ones, who are still not senile. I believe that, for those about to retire, classes on the art of living, on the art of retirement, on hobbies and on interests they could take up would be a contribution to the happiness of the nation. Anything that builds the true happiness of a nation as well as giving true education helps to make the nation great. I shall leave it there and say how much I have enjoyed listening to this debate to-day.

7.25 p.m.


My Lords, although the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, is no longer in his place, I should like to join with other noble Lords who have congratulated him on his maiden speech, which was both fluent and forceful. I think that to-day we have had an extremely interesting debate, with some notable contributions; but most of those contributions have come, I think, from men who are working in the academic world, or who have spent a large part of their lives working in the academic world. I, on the other hand, have spent the whole of my life working in industry, and I do not think it is surprising if I have some views which differ from those of the academics or have some doubts which They perhaps do not feel.

I sometimes find it a little surprising that few of the people to whom I talk realise the fundamental nature of the change that was brought about by the Robbins Report in 1963. Most people seem to think that that Report simply aimed to increase the number of places in British universities. In fact, it completely changed the whole of our philosophy with regard to university education. In the pre-Robbins days, the output of the universities was roughly equated, perhaps to some extent unconsciously, to the demands in industry and in the public services for people who had the sort of mental equipment which was developed by courses of the established university type. The acceptance of the Robbins Report completely changed that. What the Robbins Report said was, "We will not equate the output of the universities to consumer requirements; we will give to all of the children who in their school education show sufficient ability the opportunity for a university course"; and that was a completely different philosophy. It was a philosophy which was widely accepted. It was welcomed by the parents; it was welcomed by children. Just as in earlier days it had been almost a social stigma for a child of the family to fail the 11-plus examination, so in the post-Robbins days it became a family status symbol for a child to get a place in a university—and, what was more, the place in the university provided the key to more remunerative employment and to better prospects of promotion.

All those bright prospects were apparently being fulfilled until within the last two or three years. Our employers were eager to take on all the graduates from the universities. In fact, our employers no longer went to the universities to decide to which graduates they would offer employment: they went to the universities so that the graduates could interview them to see which of them was offering the most attractive employment. I very much doubt whether all those employers either needed or wanted all of the skills that had been taught in the universities. What the intelligent employers wanted was to ensure that they continued to get on their staffs the appropriate cross-section of ability. In the pre-Robbins days they had been able to do this by recruiting partly from the universities and partly directly from the schools, but they realised that, with the adoption of the Robbins Report, the bright young people whom they had in earlier days recruited directly from the schools were being creamed off by State grants into the universities, and that in order to retain the same cross-section of ability they had to take those same people on as university graduates.

I think that one had an extension of this on an even higher level of education in the Royal Society's report on postgraduate training. When that report was being prepared the Royal Society wrote to a number of employers and asked whether they would continue to take on Ph.D.s, and some of those, a noticeable number, replied, "Yes"—but not because they particularly wanted the skills that had been taught in the Ph.D. course but rather because they wanted to ensure that they recruited on to their staffs a sufficient number of people of outstanding ability. I know that a lot of academics disagreed with that Royal Society report, but I have not found many people in industry who disagreed with it. Whatever the employers' motives in recruitment, until within the last three or four years most of the university graduates were managing to get jobs of the sort they hoped to get when they went to the university, but in the last two or three years things have changed and a proportion—I do not suggest it is an alarming proportion but I think it is a sufficient proportion to make us think—of university graduates have had to find employment in jobs which have hitherto been regarded as sub-professional.

That this would happen is, I think, recognised in the White Paper. Paragraph 16 says: The patterns of employment will continue to change as employers increasingly take the opportunity to enlarge the areas of work in which more highly educated and qualified recruits can be placed advantageously. And there is no doubt whatever that in many occupations this will be a great advantage. In engineering, for example, it will be extremely healthy if some graduates have initially to accept jobs which have been looked on as being sub-professional jobs. If their initial jobs are as draughtsmen or junior supervisors on the shop floor—supervisory work which has hitherto been done by foremen—this will I think be an advantage, not merely to the graduate but also to industry; although it is, I believe, a change which industry will have to handle carefully in discussion with the unions.

But if an appreciable number of engineering graduates are going to have to start their paid employment in jobs which have hitherto been regarded as sub-professional, I wonder whether our university courses in engineering ought to be redesigned. Those courses at present tend to produce theoretically expert specialists rather than broadly trained generalists, and in future only a part of the output of the schools of engineering in the universities will be needed by employers as specialist experts. The rest of them will be needed as generalists and all those others might well benefit from a course which is different from the courses which are normally being given in university schools of engineering today.

When one moves outside the technological industries I sometimes wonder how far we can justify ourselves in giving university training to people who are destined for sub-professional jobs. I wonder whether the girl behind the counter in the fashionable department store is really a better shop assistant because she has a degree in history or economics—and I am told some of them have, and presumably it cost us, including overheads, something between £4,000 or £5,000 and £10,000 to give them that qualification. I wonder whether those girls are happier as women or whether their lives are richer or more satisfying. The White Paper says that higher education is valuable for its contribution to the personal development of those who pursue it, but does university education as at present planned always lead to greater happiness and greater fulfilment? I wonder sometimes whether it may just produce graduates who are disillusioned and disappointed. Even allowing for the exubance of youth, I think that some of the student unrest in universities may suggest that there is some disillusionment there. Are we, I wonder, trying to force students who are unsuited to it through too prolonged a course of academic study?

In his Croonian Lecture to the Royal Society in 1972 on the subject of Functional Ethology, Professor Tinbergen said—and I am quoting: The education of children has changed almost beyond recognition, into an extremely demanding training for modern citizenship … are there signs that this new situation imposes demands on 'human nature' that exceed the limits of its adaptability? Professor Tinbergen points out that the pattern of learning among young animals is normally by the experimental performance, under supervision, of behaviour that will be vital to existence in adult life, and goes on to say that this was, until quite recently, the way in which most young human animals were taught. He points out quite rightly that schools are a relatively recent cultural phenomenon. Universities are perhaps not so new a phenomenon as schools but until recently they catered mainly for an academically minded minority. Are we, I wonder, quite sure that as they are at present run they are suited to the mental make-up of the much greater number of people who are being put through them? Are we perhaps already exceeding the number of young people who can usefully be put through a full-time course of the traditional university type, or ought those courses to be redesigned?

I sometimes wonder whether this question is being asked of the right people. From time to time the Ministry appoint advisory committees to tell them what should be done regarding higher education, but it always seems to me that the membership of those committees is made up of academics or of training or personnel officers from industry—made up, in fact, of people who have a vested interest in academically biased education. I do not see among the members of those committees very many of the men whose job it is to get work done by the graduates, who are the saleable or unsaleable output of the universities. I do not blame the Minister of Education for the make-up of these committees. I am sure that the training and personnel officers who sit on them are nominated by industry and I guess that in these modern days the departmental heads in industry who make those nominations are too busy to interest themselves in the training of young people or, alternatively, they think that training is something which they should not he expected to do, that it is something which should be done for them by the universities or the polytechnics or by their own training departments.

During my lifetime we have gained tremendously in education but I think that one of the things that we have lost is this sense among senior staff in industry that it is a great part of their responsibility to train the younger people who work under them. When I started my paid employment, which was rather over 55 years ago, it was as an apprentice in railway workshops where about 10,000 men were employed; yet although the works general manager had 10,000 men with the maximum allowable number of apprentices under him, he and all his departmental managers knew personally all the bright young apprentices. I do not suggest that they were readily available to us during working hours but they came to our engineering society meetings, read papers, took part in discussions and went on works visits with us. When I went on after four and a half years to the drawing office the assistant chief draughtsman, in those days only three steps down from chief mechanical engineer and a possible knighthood, was constantly round our drawing boards giving advice and, more often, criticism. That sort of training was still being given until after the Second World War. In the draft of her official history of the Atomic Energy organisation in its early post-war years, Mrs. Gowing rightly says that the departmental heads in all the branches of that organisation—and here I am quoting: …were in and out of the laboratories, the drawing offices, the workshops and sites, talking to their scientists, their technicians and their workmen. They talked and listened to junior as well as senior staff—to experimental officers as well as scientists, to draughtsmen as well as engineers. She goes on to say: Many of those junior men soared quickly. Atomic Energy was the most sophisticated project that the 20th century had yet seen, yet it produced an upward mobility, a possibility for those with little previous education to rise, which was more characteristic of the 19th century. That I think was because so much training was done by the senior staff on the job. I believe that that training is far less done to-day and it is, I think, a very great loss. University education can provide the foundation for this training and it can supplement it; but to my mind it is no substitute for training on the job. I wish I knew how that trend can be reversed but I do not. In fact, I am afraid that I am making an unsatisfactory speech because I am asking a number of questions and raising a number of doubts without answering any of the questions or stilling any of the doubts. So I think it might be wise for me to go on and see what there is that I can say more positively.

I am extremely glad to see from the White Paper that more money is being deployed on higher education and I should like to support the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, in her hope that before too many additional places in universities are created, the question of student grants will be examined. It seems to me to be wrong to spread the available money over so many students that none of them has enough to enjoy the broadening experience of a reasonably enjoyable communal life, which, to my mind, is so much part of university training. For a similar reason, I hope that the geographical zoning of students will not be carried out too far. Carried to the unthinkable limit, it would mean that some of our urban universities could become very much like the Open University with the length of its television link reduced to zero.

Although it is not directly mentioned in the White Paper, I should like to say how much I regret the directive issued by the U.G.C. at the beginning of the present quinquennium which aimed at a reduction in the number of students taking, courses in the sciences and technologies with more than a corresponding increase in the number of students studying the humanities. I know that there has been difficulty in finding jobs for all the graduates in the sciences and technologies; I know that there is great student pressure for places in the humanities. Some of us who had been scientists or technologists think this is because the humanities are believed to offer a soft option. I do not believe that either of these considerations provides a sufficient reason for the change which is being pressed for by the U.G.C. I think that when one is considering university education one ought always to remember the remark that Sir Charles Inglis, the great professor of engineering at Cambridge, made to me some years before it first got into print, when he said: The spirit of education is that habit of mind which remains with the student long after he has forgotten everything that he has been taught. It seems to me that the training of the scientists and technologists can produce minds which are at least as well disciplined as those trained in the humanities. I do not think it would be any bad thing if some of the jobs which have traditionally gone to people trained in the humanities went instead to people trained in the sciences and technologies. I hope that I shall not hurt too many people's feeling if I quote another professor, the late Lord Cherwell, who used to say that if he were as ignorant of the arts as his arts colleagues were of the sciences they would dismiss him as an ignorant oaf.

I am glad that in spite of the fact that sandwich courses are rather expensive there appears to be no intention of discouraging them. I believe that in certain subjects they are tremendously useful. I think that their wider adoption might provide something of a solution to some of the problems that I have indicated earlier on. I hope (the noble Lord, Lord Blake, made this point) that the polytechnics will be discouraged from—I have not time to choose my words very carefully—apeing the universities. I would disagree with the noble Lord about the importance he attaches to the polytechnics, although I think that they have an extremely important field to cover. Finally, my Lords, I am extremely glad to see that importance is attached to the technical colleges. I hope that in allocating money to them the Ministry will always remember that good staff is much more important than expensive equipment. I am interested to go round the technical colleges to-day and to see that the equipment there is far more expensive and sophisticated than anything we ever dreamed of in the Cambridge University engineering laboratories when I was a student undergraduate there.

7.50 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, would like to join with others in congratulating the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, on his maiden speech. I appreciate the sincerity with which he spoke, and he spoke from practical experience. I look forward to hearing him again in the future. I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Belstead for introducing the debate and creating an opportunity for further debate on this subject. I hope that he will forgive me if I take this opportunity to air a bit of a grievance. I must apologise to your Lordships for intervening in a debate which is concerned principally with the education of the English and the Welsh, But in the United Kingdom, by some curious evolution of the administration of education, the care of the Scottish universities have been entrused to the English Ministry of Education. Consequently, when something goes wrong in the Scottish universities, other than student riots, we have to put the case before the English Secretary of State for Education and Science and that is what I want to do now.

My Lords, I should like to draw attention to the fact that certain of the Scottish universities have been treated somewhat shabbily by the University Grants Committee in the allocation of grant for the current quinquennium; and the University Grants Committee is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ministry of Education and Science for England and Wales. For only two of the eight Scottish universities does the recurrent grant for the current year come up to the U.K. average. Only one is getting more than the U.K. average. The other six are below, some of them substantially so. By far the worst cases in Scotland are St. Andrew's University and Heriot-Watt University. In respect of this recurrent grant I think they are the worst furnished universities in the whole of the United Kingdom. I am not complaining because they are getting less than the average in the recurrent grant; I am complaining that they are getting so very much less than the average. For the first year of the current quinquennium the recurrent grant works out at a national average of £1,216 per full-time student. The grant to Heriot-Watt is only £825 per full-time student, a short-fall from the average of £391 per student or roughly 30 per cent. less. St. Andrew's University is worse off with a grant of only £810 per student, about 33 per cent. less than the average. It is true that as the quinquennium advances the recurrent grant to HeriotWatt and St. Andrew's approaches the national average for the year 1976–77. But even then it will still be about 9 per cent. below the average.

My Lords, in a way it is rather gratifying to us as Scots that you English recognise that we in Scotland run our education with greater economy than is the case South of the Border. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, for drawing the attention of your Lordships to the great difference between the universities North and South of the Border. I do not want to go on to say that you English are deliberately exploiting us, but I think you are taking an unfair advantage of us in Scotland and of our apparently greater efficiency and economy. To compare Heriot-Watt with like universities in England, new universities which were colleges of advanced technology, is to discover that with one exception the new English universities such as Aston, Bradford, Brunel, City and Surrey, are receiving grants greatly in excess of the national average. I ask my noble friend Lord Belstead to draw the attention of the Secretary of State to the consequences of this treatment of St. Andrew's and Heriot-Watt.

I can speak with precision only about the latter, but it seems that there is no money whatsoever for academic development. The staff of the university have been waiting for this quinquennium; I would say that they have been literally gasping for it. Certainly they were not expecting the millennium, but they never anticipated a freeze without any academic development. Without any development whatsoever taking place their university will go into the red and the increase in the grants in the latter years will all go into getting the accounts back into balance. So at the end of the quinquennium we shall be no better off from the point of view of academic development than we were at the beginning, and unless something is done there will be no academic development during the current five years. My Lords, there is no framework for expansion there. In any case, the university was expecting financial difficulties owing to working on two sites, the old and the new, for the next five years. It is clear that the University Grants Committee has made an inadequate allowance for this. It is probably an oversight on its part, but we should be most grateful if someone would take a second look at this matter. My Lords, I should like to take this opportunity of thanking the U.G.C. for the steady help they are giving in the construction of the new buildings on the new site.

Besides twin site working, there is another point where universities are particularly hard struck—I refer to the student residences. Roughly speaking, it costs something like £1,600 per student to build quite modest accommodation. The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, referred to the accommodation being presently built at new universities as "boxes", and it is very little better than that. But we have not the money for more. Admittedly, the U.G.C. provides about 20 per cent. of the cost but the rest has to be raised in the form of loans. For Heriot-Watt it means raising somewhere about £1 million to provide on the new site the residences required in the immediate future.

I note that in the White Paper the Government have decided to allocate £29 million for the building programme for 1974–75, and that, in deciding this amount, they have taken special note of the need for more residential places. May I make an appeal for special preference to be given to the "new poor" among the universities; those universities with no endowments behind them. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Blake, for mentioning the plight of these new universities. The University Grants Committee has recently written to the vice-chancellors concerning expansion for the next quinquennium, 1977–82. Would the Government consider the consequences of a six-year freeze? You cannot take a bunch of disillusioned academics out of a deep freeze and expect them to expand with enthusiasm whenever the Government decide the moment has come to lift the lid. Anyhow, once bitten in hopes deferred, such academics become twice shy of Government promises of expansion.

My Lords, I have one final point regarding the employment of graduates. Whatever is happening at the comparable English universities—and the noble Lord, Lord Hinton, has drawn attention to the increasing difficulties they appear to be having—in regard to Scotland I can say that the graduates in engineering and science at the two technological universities of Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt are having no difficulty in getting worthwhile jobs in their professions. It may be that this is because they are more broadly educated, as the noble Lord. Lord Hinton, said and as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins. It may be that they are more professionally orientated in their actual instruction. In both of these technological universities the annual intake of school leavers has for many years been quite heavily over-subscribed. It is a sound military maxim to reinforce success. I think this holds also for education. At any rate, I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, to draw it to the attention of his right honourable friend. I thank your surviving Lordships for listening so patiently to this somewhat sorry tale.

8.1 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will be relieved to know that at this late hour I shall not be speaking for more than 10 minutes. I wish to confine my remarks almost entirely to university education. Some noble Lords will remember that I initiated a debate on this subject in November, 1971, and having since then discussed the matter with several people, I have found no reason to change the views that I then expressed. I should like to emphasise, however, that I am no expert in this field, and all I want to do is to raise a number of questions and to suggest possible changes for consideration by those who are responsible. I cannot, I am afraid, entirely do this without its being done in a critical vein.

The number of universities and university students has been greatly increased during the last decade, and with the changes which have taken place in our society there would seem to be a strong case for clearly defining the aims of university education and making such changes as may be necessary to meet them. I would suggest that the aims might be covered under three headings: first, to train future academics and research workers—this is, broadly speaking, only, applicable to those capable of getting a first or high second-class degree; secondly, to give students training which will be useful in their work afterwards and so be of direct benefit to the nation; and thirdly, to develop intellectual ability and to make students happier and better potential citizens in the broadest sense of the word.

I would not for one moment maintain that university education cannot be fully justified in the last of these objectives alone, but I believe in fact that a great number of Arts courses as they stand to-day would not qualify. There is in some quarters a convenient belief that whatever is taught, and however badly it might be taught, at a university, has a magical property and is self-justified. That, I am afraid, is quite untrue. An essential part of higher education is, in my view, to develop an ability to think clearly, to be able to analyse problems logically and impartially, and to approach supposed facts as propaganda with reasoned scepticism. To achieve this, I believe we need to introduce additional studies in many of the Arts courses; something on the lines of rhetoric and studies with the same purposes as those included in business colleges, such as Henley would help.

The most useful part of my education in this respect was the Army Staff College. I wonder whether the universities have ever tried to study and look into the techniques of instruction and content of such courses. It is only recently that courses for university lecturers have been started. It may be true that a first-class brain can learn from someone, however bad his lectures and methods of expression. It most certainly is not true for the majority of students. The poor quality of some lectures means that students do not attend them and they are forced back too far on their own resources.

My Lords, before leaving the subject of Arts courses, I think there are three facts which point to some need for change in approach: first, industry no longer welcomes Arts graduates in the way it used to; secondly, many students feel that they are wasting their time and gaining nothing useful for the future; and thirdly, there is a significantly greater degree of student unrest in many of the Arts faculties. For a long time we have talked about giving some Arts training to scientists and engineers, which is an important matter. But, as another noble Lord has said, I believe that to-day the boot is on the other foot, and every Arts student should know what science is about because of its impact on modern life.

I should now like to mention some directions in which I suggest we might move with advantage. In general, it seems that the more mature a student the more likely he or she is to benefit from and use to advantage the time at univer- sity. Students also find difficulty in adapting themselves to the often harsher and less congenial outside life when they leave university. From this I suggest it follows that there is a great deal to be said for thick sandwich university courses, and that a year's gap between leaving school and going to university is desirable if this time can be employed profitably.

Looking ahead, I wonder whether something on the lines of community service within the E.E.C. countries could not be organised to meet this need. Academic training may be important, but development of personality and character is far more so. Nearly everyone has a desire to do something worth while which may not necessarily benefit himself, and this desire must not be frustrated in early life. I suppose that most universities would still regard themselves primarily as seats of learning, and would say that research is all-important. I question whether that is right; their main priority perhaps, ought to be their students.

Because research funds to-day are completely inadequate to finance all useful research, we have at last exploded the myth that all research is per se justified. It ought now to be justified on grounds of philosophical or practical value, its point and purpose. Publish and survive should no longer be the maxim. Teaching must be regarded as every bit as important as research. The fairy godmother, on the whole, distributed our talents if not evenly, at least with some regard for this precept. Einstein, one of the most brilliant brains in modern history, was a fool in practical terms. There are first-class brains which combine everything; they are unassailable and rise to the top. But if you base a corporate body on brain power alone, you should at least question the wisdom of doing so. The old definition of a specialist who knows more and more about less and less is perhaps relevant.

I conclude that from the students' point of view we may have the wrong balance in universities of too many brilliant academics and not enough leaders of men. It is wrong to conclude that those who have gone straight from university to be lecturers are necessarily capable of imparting to students the wisdom which a wider experience would yield. The remedy, I should think, is that there must be an equal career for those who are good teachers and people experienced in life as there is for the gifted academics and research workers.

My Lords, I regard what might be termed the ethos of a university as all important. A university should not collect a wholly unrepresentative proportion of those with Left wing and extremist points of view. It should, as for example Durham does, take a real interest in the student personally. It is quite wrong to think that a student of 19 or 20 can work under conditions which would not produce useful results from a much more mature person. One cannot work without an immediately worthwhile objective or alternatively without the incentive of being part of a team or, as in later life, because one is in command and responsible for those working under one. If I am right in this view, are these factors sufficiently realised? I think we must discourage those who are unlikely to benefit from university from automatically going there as the course of least resistance. That is why I recently recommended that a small part of student grants should take the form of a repayable loan. A university is not the only form of education (I use the term in its broadest sense) and for some it is certainly not the best or most appropriate.

I conclude that if we are to preserve the best of the traditions of our universities—and my criticisms are directed not so much to these traditions but to their applicability to the new role which has been forced on universities—then I think we should move in two directions: first, to change those things in universities which clearly need modernisation; and secondly, to increase the rÔle of polytechnics and limit the intake to universities to those who will clearly benefit most from their régime.

I would venture one piece of advice to all those—and they are many—within universities who can affect their future destiny. It is this: one can never for long resist an inevitable change. If, therefore, change is inevitable, it is wise to make it on one's own terms and in time; otherwise much that is valuable is swept away when the walls are breached. In military terms, one should never lose the initiative. In my view the writing was faintly on the wall three or four years ago; to-day I believe it is there quite plainly for all to read unless they look away. I appeal to those in the ivory towers to take some action before what they and I think is important in this age of change is lost for ever.

8.14 p.m.


My Lords, it is now my great pleasure to add my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Swinton on his maiden speech. He has shown himself worthy of every possible encouragement to come and speak often in your Lordships' House, as he clearly has valuable experience on the subject. Education is so important that it is often referred to, directly or indirectly, in your Lordships' House, and I feel confident that we shall not have to wait very much longer before we hear more of his valuable comments. I was particularly interested in the speech of my noble friend Lord Balerno, and thank him for bringing to your Lordships' attention the needs of Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh. I was interested in his speech, for I was a student there for a short time.

I must declare an interest in this debate. My noble friend Lord Blake said that his father had been a teacher. I have a daughter who is only 13½ years old, and children change their minds a lot, but for almost five years she has been giving constant affirmation that she wants to be a teacher. I wish to add my support to the proposals for early education of young children, particularly the plans for nursery schools. This shows that we have a Government who, not only because they are the Government of the moment, are getting down to tackling the problem affecting millions of people, and those important people, the young married couples, with children. The Government are not only tackling the problem but are able to give definite confidence that a result can be expected.

Times and lives change rapidly now. Once a woman's main career was marriage, taking care of the home and bringing up the children, but it is possible to-day for both husband and wife to be wage-earners. A woman who has a definite ability to earn, and earn well, is likely to feel very frustrated if her duties as a wife and mother tie her constantly to a life of household chores with little variety or opportunity to meet her friends. In some homes the frustration finally reaches boiling point; the wife, resenting the presence of the children, unfortunately "takes it out" on them, and sometimes the husband as well. Anger and shouting, and even blows, follow. The result of this, and the harm it can do, need no additional reminder that a child's suffering in a home life such as this means that it is in grave danger of being affected in its early years so that for the rest of its life the child will be a poor performer.

Paragraph 19 of the White Paper shows the value of nursery education in promoting social development in young children. Careful education at such a tender age can develop skill in a child which is of great advantage in its remaining education. To quote from the paragraph in the Report: They are capable of developing further in the use of language, in thought and practical skills, than was previously supposed. In connection with these nursery schools, and our relations with the European countries, with which we are now joined by the EEC, there is the possibility that perhaps members of the Government have already foreseen—perhaps plans have matured—of some form of international nursery school being set up. Young children of various nationalities can be put into school together at a very early age and there may be all the more opportunity for international understanding overcoming national prejudices.

I recall that lovable character of Neville Shute in his novel Pied Piper who started to take two children home to Britain across war-torn France and ended up with quite a bunch of children of all nationalities. He said—and I regret I cannot recall the actual words of the text—something like this: children have a way of communicating without having to know each other's language. Perhaps my noble friend Lord Belstead will say, when he sums up, whether the Government are entertaining anything resembling such a plan as international nursery schools, or whether the suggestion has any chance of being put into practice. In the areas of this country, where people of various nationalities are living as neighbours, the results that such nursery schools might show could be a valuable pointer to any extension of the scheme. The noble Baroness, Lady White, spoke last night in the debate on Northern Ireland about the danger of apartheid education, and I should be able to see some solution to the problems she was stressing if these nursery schools could come into practice.

There is another matter which has been mentioned already by my noble friend Lord Belstead in his opening speech: that is the debate in December last, which was initiated by my noble friend Lady Brooke, about aphasic children. My noble friend Lord Belstead was replying on behalf of the Government at the end of that debate. Just recently I have attended two meetings on speech therapy, and that debate was mentioned at considerable length at each of them. This is another pleasing example of how the outside world takes note of what is said in your Lordships' House. I should be most grateful if my noble friend the Minister could let me know if any provision is being made concerning the availability of speech therapists to attend nursery schools. They need not be members of the staff but they could attend in an advisory capacity, and this would give them the opportunity to study many forms of speech defects, many of which arise at an early age. If quick correction and cure could be found for children who are affected in these ways it would be of incalculable value in overcoming an obstacle to leading a useful life. In stressing once more my support for these new schools, I do so not just because I believe we are talking about another good idea but because this is an idea which is already on its way to fruition. The Inner London Education Authority has already made plans, and discussions are taking place with certain London boroughs. What can be achieved in London in the near future and what success can be shown, it is to be hoped will be followed by other authorities.

8.23 p.m.


My Lords, those of us who have sat through this somewhat lengthy debate have certainly been given much food for thought. It is a very big subject, and although we have been discussing this for quite a long time I am sure we appreciate there is a great deal that could be said. The contributions to which we have listened have certainly been thoughtful and informed, and many of them have contained constructive criticisms. I should like to say that some of the speakers to which we have listened towards the close of the debate have been extremely good and worthy of a larger audience. I can only hope that what has been said will be read in Hansard.

May I say that we were charmed by the humour of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, whose maiden speech disclosed not only his interest in the subject but also a knowledge which could only come from day-to-day involvement. I echo what has already been said: I hope that we shall hear more from him in subsequent education debates. The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, opened the debate with a speech of considerable eloquence and tremendous enthusiasm, considering the material he had to deal with, because he certainly puts the White Paper across in the best possible light. If I see some blemishes in it, I am sure he will not be surprised. May I say, without wanting to go into too much detail, that I took note of what the noble Lord, Lord Blake, had to say. He protested that the White Paper represented not a cutback but—I think he put it in these words—"A reduction in the rate of expansion". I think that is something to be underlined at the close of the debate. I have no quarrel with what he said on that. My noble friend Lady Phillips gave a penetrating speech, which was well informed and displayed her long experience in education.

We have had one or two quite outstanding contributions, particularly—and this seems to have been generally agreed —that from the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and the one from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. As this is the last speech we are likely to hear from him on the subject of education, I should like to say that over the years we have come to look forward to his contributions to our debates. We appreciate the depth of his knowledge and we thank him for the interest he has taken in the subject. I found myself very much in agreement with much of what the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, had to say. I am sure that we were all delighted to have the noble Lord, Lord Butler, here with us. It reminded me that I had so much to do with a close colleague of his, and one whose name should be mentioned—that is, the late Chuter Ede, as he was at that time. I think he deserves a mention here because he devoted a life- time of service to education and I doubt whether many people have made a greater contribution than he. Certainly, I know that the noble Lord, Lord Butler, would be the first to acknowledge the very great help given by Mr. Ede when the 1944 Act was in preparation.

I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Hinton, that I was sorry there were not a number of noble Baronesses present when he questioned the value of women going to university and not pursuing a career other than that of a housewife. I would have thought it would be an excellent thing for a mother to be able to talk to her children from the kind of experience she would have had at university. How does anyone know?—she may well set alight a mind that could benefit the whole of humanity, not because of what she did in her career but because of what she did as a mother bringing up children.


My Lords, if I may intervene for a moment, I think the noble Lord has misunderstood me. I did not mention housewives in any way: in fact, I had nothing whatever to say about them.


My Lords, I am quite sure the noble Lord is right, but I was carrying the ladies a little further along the road than he did. I think what I said was a logical development of the train of thought that certainly the noble Lord stirred up in me. If I have done him an injustice, I am indeed very sorry and I apologise to him, but I am not sure that I have. The universities have not been without their spokesmen in this debate. I shall be coming back to that again presently. At the moment, because I think the subject deserves more consideration than perhaps it has had, I want to return to the subject of nursery education.

The White Paper accepts the Plowden estimates and proposes to provide for 90 per cent. of four-year olds and 50 per cent. of three-year olds, of which 15 per cent. are to have full-time education and the remainder part-time. That is four-year olds and three-year olds whose parents, it is estimated, will wish them to attend. Since provision is not being made for 100 per cent. of these age groups it is extremely important that the most needy children should be included among those who do go to school. Those who live in homes which are socially or culturally fortunate, those who live in homes which are linguistically enriched, will have much less need than those whose homes are socially deprived, culturally starved and linguistically poor.

There are one or two points that I should like to put to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, and perhaps he can give some information when he replies to the debate. First, may I ask what steps the Government will take to ensure that priority is given to those areas where social deprivation is likely to be greatest in extent, generally referred to as the "educational priority areas"? Speaking from my own experience, I have no doubt at all that the most affluent areas, such as in parts of the South-East, will be very quick off the mark in making proposals, and I think we have to be careful that they do not get an unfair share of the cake. Secondly, I should like to stress how important it is that the benefits of nursery education should be impressed on the parents of socially, culturally, deprived children. If we are to succeed in this it will need a campaign beginning in the pre-natal clinics, following through to the ante-natal clinics, extending right into the shopping centres and the market-places such as the "Co-ops" and Woolworth's and other such establishments by way of advertisement. Somehow the advantages of nursery education must be plugged to the right people—nursery education, not to look after children while mother is out at work but because of the advantage that the child will enjoy as a result of it.

I suggest that what is needed is the appointment of education visitors to the homes of the very young children in these areas, to discuss with the mothers how they should prepare for school; advise them on reading material; advise about listening to music and looking at good paintings and pictures and, above all, to help the mother to learn how to converse in that kind of way that will stimulate the mind of the youngster, so that when it gets to school it can understand and mix and speak, and in other words have a very different start from that which many of them have at the present time. The very experience of informed conversation with the mother is most helpful. The visitor needs to be a nursery-trained teacher or to have some other special training. I believe that the district of Denaby in Yorkshire has done some pioneer work in this direction, and there is the "playmobile", a converted bus, used, I think, in Liverpool by mothers and children when they are brought out to talk about things in the bus. Developments along these lines could do much to create an understanding of the value of, and the wish for, nursery education for those who most need it.

Lest we imagine that the targets of 50 per cent. of three-year olds and 90 per cent. of four-year olds (most of which is part-time) are revolutionary, it is well to recall that in this century the public and private educational provision has fallen considerably, from 43 per cent. in 1900 to 15 per cent. in 1969, and if nursery classes are to be really valuable the teachers must be properly trained. And let us recognise that in the early years we shall depend a great deal on in-service training. I hope we shall get a number of new nursery schools as well as nursery classes. Obviously the class is an easy answer in many places, but, without repeating what they say, I am impressed by what ILEA have set out—and I quote from the report that they discussed at their meeting recently. I am quite sure the noble Lord will have a copy of it. The White Paper speaks of 'objectives' and it tells us in paragraph 34 that the Government are to 'set up a research programme to monitor the development of the new provision'. It is a great pity that they are not more specific and detailed on the objectives, for they are not clearly spelled out. This is disturbing; for how can success and failure be monitored if we are not told? What is going to count as success or failure in this field? I was most interested in a publication issued by the Welsh Committee of the National Union of Teachers, Nursery Education in Wales. If time had permitted I should have liked to quote from their summary of recommendations. May I just quote the last recommendation, No. 17: The committee believes that the definition of a nursery class should be provided by the Department of Education and Science"— and there is a great deal more in this publication than that.

I should now like to turn to an aspect of the service of education that was the subject of the speech made by my noble friend Lady Gaitskell; that is to say, secondary education. Nowhere is the White Paper more depressing. To me it reveals a lack of deep appreciation of the challenge—and a very considerable challenge—in this field. So far as the White Paper is concerned, the question of comprehensive education and the policy towards it is practically a vacuum. Here there is apparently real poverty of thought, and the reason may not be too difficult to trace. It is, I believe, because there is an absence of any educational philosophy which conforms to a democratic society which seeks to provide opportunity for full and equal education to the point where opportunity continues for those who can benefit beyond it. The failure, as I see it, lies in the unwillingness to appreciate that the continuance of selection, the insistence on the retention of elitist schools, makes nonsense. No system can be called comprehensive where selection is retained. "Comprehensive" means exactly what it says. The theory that a selective school can co-exist alongside a non-selective one on equal terms does not stand up for a single minute. It ignores the facts as it ignores the issue. The facts are simple. I do not recall their being stated in this House since I have been a Member of it. I may be wrong, but perhaps it is time they were put on the record.

Staffing is seriously influenced by the points system. The selective school with a large sixth form is much better off than a non-selective one with a proportionally smaller top to the school. I should like to remind the House how points are allocated. Each pupil under 13 years of age counts as one and a half units; each pupil aged 13 and under 15 counts as two units; each pupil aged 15 and under 16 counts as four units; each pupil aged 16 and under 17 counts as six units; and each pupil 17 and over counts as ten units—and it is the total of points that determines the scale of posts of responsibility which are available in the school. Hence the calibre of staff is dynamically affected greatly to the advantage of the school which retains the majority of the pupils beyond compulsory school-leaving age. The creaming off of pupils in the highest ability range, those who tend to stay on, has an effect therefore on staffing as well as being socially divisive. The fact is that a selective system provides a built-in advantage for what we know as the grammar school —and I admire the work they have done tremendously—at the expense of the other schools, without overall gain, and indeed with considerable wastage of resources.

I took the trouble to check on how this system operated in a borough very near to where I live. I shall give your Lordships the figures for a bilateral school with 1,191 pupils. They get a point range of between 54 and 74 and the borough education committee is able to fix its total units at about half way. Let us take the figure at 96. A nearby grammar school for boys with 667 pupils gets between 86 and 106 units. Therefore, the grammar school has half as many points again as the bilateral school although the latter school has nearly twice as many pupils. That is what is wrong with the argument that a grammar school can run alongside and on equal terms with a comprehensive school. Too often one hears from the heads of the large non-selective schools with a number of young people staying on at the top, that in order to give the sixth form the kind of opportunities that will make them appear to be competing successfully at "A" level, the other youngsters do not get the kind of attention that the heads would like them to have.

The situation is in no way aided by the inadequate provision in this White Paper for secondary school buildings. The White Paper speaks of substantial programmes for replacement of unsatisfactory primary schools, initiated in 1972/73. It then goes on to say that the time has come to do something about the secondary schools. But there is not a word in the White Paper that for the two years 1972/73 and 1973/74 there has been no money at all allocated for the improvement and replacement of secondary schools. We raised this matter some time ago with the noble Lord, Lord Belstead. It is important that we should remember it here to-day. We are all tremendously glad that so much has been done in the field of primary education. All of us are tremendously glad to hear of and welcome the extension of nursery education that this White Paper promises us. But we have been and are concerned that the secondary schools have had to contend with difficulties that they ought not to be called upon to face if the young people attending them are to get anything like the opportunity they ought to have. It is no use talking about juvenile delinquency if we do not see to it that in the last years at school the pupils have conditions where education can be made interesting; where they can be persuaded not to leave in advance of the compulsory school-leaving age.

The White Paper reminds us about the raising of the school-leaving age to 16. Again, we are very glad that this is being done. There is no division between us on that at all. The secondary schools, in order to meet the raising of the school-leaving age, need the injection of considerable sums of money to make that extra year thoroughly worth while. I know about the ROSLA units. I have seen them and watched them, and I say that there are not enough. Many more are needed. In the last year youngsters of 15 to 16 will come to a point where they continue to benefit from the education that is being offered to them.

If the Secretary of State had believed in a comprehensive secondary system she would have appreciated that the decision to deprive the secondary schools in the way I have mentioned was not only utterly unhelpful but has proved to be an effective block to progress. As it is, we are told that the £10 million will be provided in 1975–76 and 1976–77. Again, I should like to quote what ILEA has to say regarding that, because ILEA says that if it had the whole allocation it would take them ten years at this £10 million rate to replace all their pre-1903 secondary schools. The Thomas Calton school in Southwark stands as a monument to the restrictions which the present Secretary of State has imposed. We heard this evening that once again the Defence Estimates will be greater than the Education Estimates. As I heard that I could have wished that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, had been Secretary of State for Education and Science and the present holder of the post, the right honourable lady the Secretary of State for Education and Science had been Minister of Defence. I cannot see his Lordship allowing that situation easily to occur.

It would be churlish to fail to recognise the allocations for special schools. Again these are very welcome. But there is no clear indication as to what the future development should be in this area. One or two noble Lords have suggested that children with special needs should be catered for in normal schools. If that argument makes any appeal, then may I ask the noble Lord to give an assurance that it will be the Government's determination to bring down the maximum number of children in primary school classes from 40 to 30? We should certainly like to have a clearer indication than the White Paper gives us. Otherwise, if we put children with a considerable handicap or with any substantial handicap into a normal class, then we are imposing an added burden on the teacher with the inevitable consequence that the other youngsters in the class will not get the attention which they ought to have—if the child with the need is going to receive attention.

I refer to what is set out on page 48 of the White Paper. Between the years 1971–72 to 1981–82 there is a fall in capital expenditure from £295 million to £190 million, for although replacement and improvement rise from £32 million to £95 million—and I am giving the total—the figure for basic needs falls from £263 million to £95 million. I should like to ask what is the explanation for that? We ought to be anticipating increased numbers staying on after 16 for non "A" level work. What consideration has been given to the division of the 16 to 19-year olds between secondary schools and further education?

May I now just briefly touch on one or two matters with regard to universities and teacher training, which I do not think have been raised. I want to return to what the noble Lord, Lord Blake, had to say with regard to drop-outs. I have been worried about this for a very considerable period of time. I am not sure that it is fair to compare university drop-outs with the situation in polytechnics at this stage, because when universities are first set up they usually have a pretty high rate of drop-outs; it tends to fall as they become established. Some of our polytechnics have got a very long way to go, and they have to work from very different beginnings. I was not sure that it was fair to compare them. I want to ask whether anything is being done, because something ought to be done, to prevent these drop-outs.

As I understand it (and I think it has only to be said to be obvious), the young person who goes to university and drops out thereby loses any benefit he or she may have gained from having secured "A" levels. I think it is a terrible waste. As I see it, the universities have been able to choose perhaps a little too easily. Some of them choose very carefully, but others, if they want to build up a course, take in much too easily. There ought to be more thought; there ought to be more done to divert people who have chosen wrongly, and I gather that the Government are thinking somewhat along these lines. I would not have touched on it but for the fact that the noble Lord raised it. It would be quite wrong that these drop-outs should be turned out as people not worthy of further consideration. I think many of them are in the wrong place. I think many of them are pursuing wrong courses. I have discussed this with staff at the Surrey University. I think a great deal more needs to be done.

May I come to student numbers. The White Paper gives us a total figure in 1981 of 750,000. The Education Planning Paper No. 2, in 1970, gave a figure of 835,000. I would ask, why the reduction; how was it decided? There is a great deal in the White Paper also with regard to students living at home while attending university. If we are going to have an increase, we are either going to have a great many more local universities or else somebody is going to have to give a great deal of consideration to the question of public transport. Housing is bad enough, but public transport is almost non-existent in many parts of the country, and if students have to have their own motor-cars then certainly they will need much larger grants. I was going to touch on the question of teacher training. My noble friend Lady Phillips dealt with that at some length. I do just want to make the point that the National Union of Teachers are very concerned at the figure that is given in the White Paper. They feel that it falls seriously short of what will be required in 1981.

Finally, my Lords, may I say that I hope there will be greater consultation in the future than there has been in the past because teachers' organisations are complaining. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, can hold himself for a minute, because I am just finishing. I will leave it at that. I am sorry if I have spoken at some length, but it seemed to me that one or two of the matters I have dealt with deserved rather more consideration, perhaps, than they have had in the debate.

8.54 p.m.


My Lords, I would thank your Lordships for taking part in this debate, and I would like especially to thank the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, for coming to the House to-day to make his maiden speech. I think Lord Butler said all that should be said about the memory of his grandfather in your Lordships' House. For myself, I have known the noble Earl for a little while. I know that he was vice-chairman of his education committee. I have also known that he was chairman of his authority's primary school committee. Behind a good deal of what the noble Earl said this afternoon lies an intimate knowledge of school problems as they affect the North of England. I have also come to know the noble Earl as a very well informed and resourceful negotiator when he speaks for his authority. I must say I am very pleased that he is now speaking here, and I think all of us who know the noble Baroness, his wife, and appreciate her abilities are delighted that the noble Earl has now joined her in your Lordships' House. I would also thank the noble Lord, Lord Butler, for coming here to-day. I think that the House listened very closely to what he said about many things, not least about nursery education when he reminded us that this White Paper merely puts into practice what he had directed should be put into practice thirty years ago.

The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, welcomed the fact that the provision for nursery education would be mainly part-time, and this was particularly striking because it is not generally a thing which people go out of their way to welcome. It is true, of course, that it is cheaper, but why I was grateful to my noble friend for saying the words he did was that we as a Government do genuinely believe that it will give the opportunity for the three-year-old child to go all the way through, up to the age of 11, if that is the age for transfer. Your Lordships might be interested to know that the Department is preparing at the moment a design note, as we call it, No. 11, describing the Chaucer infant and nursery school, which is going to be built, we hope, at Ilkeston in Derbyshire; one aspect of this is going to be to design trying to see that, although there will be sensible separation between the very young nursery children and the rather older infant children, there will also be links through from the one to the other. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London might also be interested to know that in this project there are particularly going to be arranged through the good offices of money put up by the local urban district council opportunities for parents to come in, first of all perhaps to take a look at what is going on, and then perhaps to take part in what is happening in the school.

The noble Lord, Lord Annan, mentioned educational priority areas with respect to nursery education, as did other noble Lords. May I say that before the publication of the White Paper we continued the concentration on E.P.A.'s for this under the urban programme. In my opening I sought to outline the way in which we proposed to give priority initially to disadvantaged areas. If I could add a little to it for the benefit of the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, in addition to income and housing indices, which we hope to use to see that a fair share, and more than a fair share, is given to deprived areas, we hope, for instance, to use the census for this matter, which may be a useful purpose for what at the time I thought was rather a perplexing document.

In addition, this new programme is, of course, going to release the urban programme resources which for the last few years have been going solely to nursery education, for other purposes. The recent Home Office circular inviting proposals for the next round in the urban programme has contained a number of new ideas, some of them drawn directly from Dr. Halsey's E.P.A. report, and of course there is also going to be a spin-off to some extent for deprived areas in the staffing standards in nursery education. I would just remind the House that when we talked about the 1:13 in these schools (but with 50 per cent. teachers), this is an improvement on the present situation. I think I am right in saying that it may very well be an improvement on conditions in Wales, where there are more than the usual amount of children under five receiving education, but they are not in nursery schools and classes.

May I say a brief word about the secondary improvement programme. The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, my noble friend Lord Butler and the noble Lord, Lord Annan, all referred in different ways to the necessity of trying to see that a child's ability to develop is not prejudiced at an early age, and I entirely understand that view. I ask your Lordships to forgive me if I am a little controversial, but I think it is a shade hard when the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, puts quite the weight that he did put on the size of the programme, for I am reminded that the previous Government ran down their secondary improvements programme from £38 million (which is what was provided by the noble Lord, Lord Boyle, in 1955–56) to almost nothing—which, for secondary improvements, is what we inherited.


My Lords, will the noble Lord give the last figure? I am sure, because of the way he has put it and the way it will read, that it will indicate that when the present Government took over we were giving nothing. Will he give the figure?


My Lords, if my memory serves me aright, the secondary improvements programme which we inherited from the previous Government was £4.5 million at 1972 costs—I think I have got that right—for the two years 1970–71 and 1971–72. In terms of secondary improvements, that is very little indeed.


But it is better than nothing.


It is better than nothing, my Lords, but I am suggesting that £20 million over a two-year period is a very great deal better. All I am saying is that it is only fair to put both sides of the matter. Before I leave this point, I should just like to say—and my noble friend Lord Butler referred to this point—that if one is reorganising secondary schools one must try to do it properly; and he referred to "botched-up" schools. What we are hoping—and we have made this absolutely clear by the announcement of the programme; which, incidentally, includes the Thomas Calton School in Southwark—is to provide money so that schools which are being reorganised can be reorganised properly and not on split sites.

May I say a brief word about the teacher-supply targets, because the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, asked me a direct question about the size of classes; and the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, referred to this point as well. In terms of pupil-teacher ratio, the planned increase to 510,000 teachers by 1981 will mean a more rapid reduction than was achieved during the 1960s—that is, in P.T.R. Although this improvement cannot be linked directly to the size of classes, because head teachers really must be free to deploy staff as they think best, none the less, as the proportion of oversize classes—that is those of over 40 children—in primary schools fell from 11 per cent. to 2½ per cent. in the five years up to last year, I think it is fair for me to claim that there can be little doubt that under the White Paper's policies this trend will continue.

May I turn to teacher training? Both the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London drew attention to the future of the colleges. We have been encouraged this afternoon to remove the anxiety in the colleges by acting quickly, so that each college can know its future as soon as possible. Then the right reverend Prelate said that we must not act too quickly, because we might prejudice the position of some of them. We propose to try to move with all deliberate speed. The fact of the matter is that in our recent circular, to which I referred, we have asked L.E.A.s to let us know in a year from now what plans they propose for the future of their colleges. What is true—and the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, referred to this—is that we have said that we should like to have by November 1 an interim report on the progress which might be made in colleges. What I submit to your Lordships is that this represents a happy mean between indecent haste and lack of will.

I should like to assure noble Lords —and many of your Lordships, including my noble friend Lord Swinton, the right reverend Prelate, my noble friend Lord Butler and the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, were interested in this subject —that the Government share the concern expressed in this House to-day about the future of the colleges of education. We recognise how splendidly they have risen to the demands that have been made on them over the last ten years to boost—if I may use that word—the supply of teachers. They have, moreover, succeeded in their task without any reduction in the quality of their output. But I must remind the House of this point. It has long been the wish of many of them to take a fuller place in the family of higher institutions, and for this the White Paper provides. What we are most anxious to see is that, by one of the ways indicated in the White Paper, as many as possible of the colleges should reach this fulfilment.

It is true that there is no general prescription by which their future can be settled—the circumstances of each must be examined carefully, individually and sympathetically. In a recent circular to the authorities my right honourable friend made clear the importance of taking the colleges themselves into close consultation and, as I sought to make clear in my opening, the Government are intending exactly this in respect of the voluntary colleges, also. I particularly wanted to say that, with the right reverend Prelate here to-day. My noble friend Lord Butler specifically asked me about the protection of the position of staffs. The Department are in close touch with the Association of Teachers in Colleges land Departments of Education about the need to remove anxieties affecting the future of individual members of staffs.

May I now turn to universities? I listened to the remarkable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Annan, with great attention, and I am grateful to him for his commendation of the White Paper. Moreover, I am sure that the teaching profession will be grateful to him, and to the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, who referred to this subject, for emphasising that, however, devoted they are, teachers cannot and should not be expected to make good the results of cultural and physical deprivation entirely by themselves. This is a task which must rest on the conscience of our society as a whole. I was sorry only that the noble Lord, Lord Annan—and perhaps I may be forgiven for saying this in his absence —made a charge which I do not think has justice in it, that the Open University is, as he put it, despised by the Department of Education. In fact there is no shred of evidence for that remark. Indeed, the White Paper makes two pretty friendly references to the Open University.

My Lords, may I just pick up one other point (because I think this went home to your Lordships) about the training and re-training of lecturers and staff in higher education? The U.G.C. has made a special allocation of funds to universities to encourage schemes for training university staff, I think for some years now. The noble Lords, Lord Robbins, Lord Bowden and others raised the question of cost-benefit in our educational system to-day. How far are our schools and our higher education institutions fulfilling the hopes that, over the years, we have placed in them? How far are they contributing to the quality of life? How far are they helping our young people to heal the breach between scientists and humanists? I think that this evening I can only say that I hope the penetrating questions which were posed by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, will pierce the consciences of those who teach in universities, colleges and schools, and persuade them to question themselves about what the noble Lord described as "the ideology of early specialisation", and how it can be modified. My Lords, I have also heard it described as "the student trap". I do not think the House would expect me to follow the noble Lord in what he said but I assure him that I will ask my right honourable friend (who, after all, is responsible for examinations, with the advice of the Schools Council) to look very carefully at the speech that the noble Lord made.

The noble Lord, Lord Blake, asked me about drop-out rates for post-graduates. It is almost impossible, I think, to give the noble Lord an answer about polytechnics, because really the time is too soon. When one thinks that until only a little while ago polytechnics were still being designated, I think the noble Lord will perhaps acquit me of being slipshod in saying that we do not have statistics on this matter. For post-graduate award-holders who do not complete their courses I have a figure here, which has been used, I think, by the Science Research Council, of 5 to 7 per cent. not proceeding beyond year one, and a further 5 to 7 per cent. not completing their courses. I must also, I think, not give my noble friend entire satisfaction about the costs of polytechnic and university undergraduates, and how they compare. Really, one difficulty—just to take a major point —is that about 10 per cent. of the students in the polytechnics are following non-advanced courses. I assure my noble friend that I will look at this point again, and if I can find him a suitable and satisfactory statistic then, if my noble friend will allow me to do so, I will write to him.

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Balerno and the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, raised important questions about residential accommodation for students. On this question, the Government consider—and this is referred to in the White Paper, in paragraphs 127 to 128—that many more residential places should be provided, but that at the same time more students should be encouraged to live at home. May I just point out to my noble friend Lord Blake that, for instance, only about 16 per cent. of university students at present live at home, compared with 40 per cent. before the war. We are worried because the percentage change is so marked. In fact, so far as universities are concerned many more residential places are being provided. Some 11,000 places will be started in 1974–75, giving a total of about 130,000 places in 1975–76; and, altogether, residential places will be provided for some two-thirds of the 70,000 extra students expected in the 1972–77 quinquennium. My Lords, these places will be financed mainly from loans raised by the universities from private sources, and supplemented by grants through the University Grants Committee up to 25 per cent. of the total cost. Already many places have been successfully provided by these means. My Lords, I have listened with sympathy to what my noble friend Lord Balerno has said, but if the University Grants Committee consider that these arrangements should be changed then it is up to the Committee to make proposals to the Department.

The noble Lord, Lord Butler, also asked me a question about the percentage —and he was kind enough to say that he approved of the percentage—of 18-yearolds (22 per cent.) who will find a place, so we plan, in an institution of higher education by 1981. The noble Lord asked how this would compare with the United States of America. I am giving him not, I think, an official answer, but I believe I am right in saying that 40 per cent. of the relevant age group is often quoted for the U.S.A. But, of course, this takes no account of length or standard of courses, or rate of wastage, though I have heard that in the United States the rate of wastage or drop-out is said to be three or four times that in Great Britain.

If I may just bring my remarks to a close, as I said in my opening speech the universities will be growing rapidly in the next five years, and it is only reasonable, I think, to look for some economies of scale—and here I am answering my noble friend Lord Blake. I am sorry, my Lords: there are two other features, I think, of the quinquennial settlement which should also help to bring costs down; namely, the movement from science to arts and the slower rate of expansion of post-graduate study, of which incidentally, my noble friend expressed approval. Against this background, I maintain that the universities ought not to find it as hard as some noble Lords have suggested to manage on a recurrent grant per student only 2 per cent. below the comparable figure for the last year of the previous quinquennium.

May I just say to my noble friend Lord Balerno about Heriot-Watt University that of course he realises that my right honourable friend is responsible for universities throughout Great Britan but the specific question of special grants must come under the University Grants Committee, and the specific question of special grants for working on twin sites is likewise a matter for the U.G.C. I believe I am right in saying that the noble Lord is already in touch with the U.G.C. about this.

I want only to raise one last matter and it is the question which many of your Lordships have brought up about what is not in the White Paper. My Lords, I make no complaint about this. A number of your Lordships, including the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, have mentioned the education of young people between 16 and 19; there has been the development of community education, which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, raised and the future of adult education, which the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, raised. All of these subjects, of course, are in no way unimportant, but they have not found their place in this particular statement of policy because this was not what the particular statement of policy was about. Because my noble friend, as well as other noble Lords, particularly asked me about the 16-to 19-year-olds, may I say that I believe that participation in part-time F.E. could benefit many more young people, and indirectly their employers. My right honourable friend would like to see a great many more young people released, and it is her policy that part-time F.E. should be available, without compulsion though, for all young people who want to receive and are able to benefit from it. With this in mind she has mounted a very considerable programme of nearly £36 million which starts in 1973 to 1975, and has approved better accommodation standards in polytechnics and other colleges of further education which come into effect absolutely next month.

My Lords, I said at the opening of this debate that we have three broad aims—the extension of the span in education, an improvement in the quality of the service, and a greater diversity of provision. Because of the nature of our education service, which depends upon partnership, my right honourable friend has provided the framework to achieve those aims which rests on five particular sectors of the White Paper. May I thank your Lordships for examining these to-day, and may I apologise to various noble Lords whose questions I have not been able to answer. In some of these we are taking an initiative, such as the initiative in nursery education, which the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, directed education to do thirty years ago. In others we are building on previous work, as in school buildings; in yet others, as in higher education, we are, through existing institutions, aiming for further expansion and even greater diversity, in partnership with the rest of the educational service. These are the objectives which we shall seek to achieve.

On Question, Motion agreed to.