HC Deb 14 June 1911 vol 26 cc1648-50W

asked the President of the Board of Education whether Circular 709 was issued with his sanction; is he aware that the Clause in paragraph 9 which reserves to the Board at some future time the power of requiring that any teacher, whether he became certificated before or after 1st August, 1910, must have had a college training in order to be a head teacher, especially of a large school, has acted prejudically to the general interests of the 42,000 non-collegiate trained certificated teachers and lowered their prestige, and has been quoted as a reason for barring teachers who are not college trained from proceeding to headships and to head-assistantships, thereby causing anxiety even where it has not done actual harm; and, having regard to his promise to a deputation of teachers to the effect that, in the next issue of the Code, or in the prefatory memorandum, he would carefully consider what could be done to put the matter right, and seeing that no issue of the Code was made in 1910, and that it has been announced that no issue of the Code will be made this year, will he take steps to safeguard the interests of the non-collegiate trained certificated teachers by issuing a circular to the education authorities definitely withdrawing the provision in paragraph 9 of Circular 709, and making it clear that the interests of certificated teachers, whether collegiate or non-collegiate, are to be regarded as identical, and that it is not intended, in so far at least as those who are already certificated are concerned, many of whom qualified when there was no room in the training colleges, to make any division into two grades to the detriment of the non-collegiate?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. No steps have been taken, and, so far as I am concerned, no steps will be taken, to give effect to the very tentative warning contained in the last part of paragraph 9 of Circular 709, as I am satisfied that, in view of the circumstances referred to by the hon. Member, namely, that many teachers obtained their certificates at a time when the training college accommodation was insufficient, and also for other reasons, it would not be fair or practicable to enforce a provision debarring from head teacherships teachers who had not completed their college training before the 1st August, 1910. At the same time, I cannot restrict the liberty of local education authorities to give the preference for certain appointments to trained teachers when they consider that it is in the interests of the schools and the children to do so; and, generally speaking, I am bound to assume that the qualifications of a college-trained teacher are, on the average, superior to those of a teacher who has not had the advantage of a college training. Many individual cases might, doubtless, be quoted against this assumption, and I have no reason to suppose that local education authorities are unable or unwilling to distinguish such cases and to make reasonable exceptions to their rules or practice in favour of untrained teachers who have, in the schools, proved their ability for teaching.