§ 3.47 p.m.
§ Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)
When, during the course of the last Parliament, the House passed that Act which we now know as the Education (Scotland) Act, 1945, it produced a skeleton and nothing more. It left to the Secretary of State for Scotland, as the Minister of Education for Scotland, to the education authorities, and to the teaching profession in Scotland as a whole, the duty of adding flesh and blood to that skeleton, and of feeding and clothing it so that it might grow into a virile and living entity. Therefore, in my opinion, it is the duty of this Committee to inquire from time to time how the Secretary of State and the education authorities are using the powers which the House entrusted to them, and whether the vast sums of money which the Treasury now make available for education are being 1052 used to the best possible advantage. It was for these purposes that we on this side of the Committee asked that this very important subject might be debated today.
The very great change which has come about since the passing of the 1945 Act has been the raising of the school leaving age, and it will be very interesting for the Committee to learn today from the right hon. Gentleman how that situation has been dealt with, what additional number of teachers he has found will be required, how many of those teachers he has been able to secure, and what additional accommodation he has been able to provide to meet the needs of the greatly increased school population. If, by the raising of the school leaving age, larger classes and more cramped accommodation has resulted, that is very much to be deplored, for that can only result in a lowering of the general standard of education rather than raising it, at least in so far as the present school generation is concerned.
It has always seemed to me, as a result of my own personal experience, that the first essential to education was the foundation which was laid in the elementary stages. If that foundation is to be capable of bearing the weight of the superstructure which is afterwards to be erected on it, then it must be laid with the very greatest possible care. The classes ought to be small, and every child should have at least some opportunity of receiving individual attention from its teacher. That, I know, was not the case before the passing of the 1945 Act. The size of the classes in our primary schools was then about 40. That was the average for the country as a whole, and there were many instances, particularly in the industrial areas, where the average number in the classes was much higher; indeed, I know of one primary school where the class was composed of no fewer than 70 pupils. A situation such as that means that the teacher is faced with an absolutely impossible task, and that all but the brighter pupils move on to their subsequent years having gained little if anything at all. I hope we shall be told today that some progress has been made towards reducing the size of classes in primary schools, and that the position has not been worsened as a result of the raising of the school leaving age. I do not see how, until the size of these primary school classes has been reduced to a 1053 reasonable proportion, we can hope to achieve any general raising of the standard of education in our country.
Cramped accommodation is another detriment to education. In many of our secondary schools, built to accommodate 800 pupils, we now have a population of some 1,300. That, of course, has been accomplished as the result of introducing floating classes, which have no form room of their own, but move about from room to room, and I am told that they even move from one school to another. A class in one school is sent to another school where it receives a particular course of instruction, and then it moves back to its original school. I was further told that one of the schools in Glasgow was threatened with no fewer than 12 of these floating classes; that is to say, some 400 pupils had no place for their books, no desks of their own and no school room of their own. It would appear that, under such a system as that, both discipline and the inculcation of orderly habits becomes altogether impossible.
In that connection, I am reminded that we were told in the Debate on the Supplementary Estimates, which took place in February, 1946, that the estimated requirements were for 800 new school rooms and 750 new practical working rooms. The proposals received, at that time were only for 343 school rooms and 373 practical working rooms. I look forward to hearing exactly what is the position now, and to what extent, if any, these requirements have been increased, and to what extent they have been met, and how many new school rooms will be available at the start of the new school year in a few weeks' time. In that connection, the Minister no doubt has in mind the recommendations he received from the working party of architects, which he appointed to consider, during the period of the brick shortage, the type of construction which should be adopted for our permanent schools. He may remember the recommendation was that they should be structural steel-frame buildings infilled with concrete blocks and precast concrete floors and roofs. These austerity type.of schools were later to be furnished, when the materials became available, with a good finish to make them equal to normal permanent schools. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us today fit progress has been made with that 1054 project, and how many, if any, of this type of school have been completed?
I hope, in considering new schools, the right hon. Gentleman will see that our new secondary schools are smaller than those built in recent years before the late war. I have noted, in the Report of his Advisory Council, that the opinion is expressed that no school other than the omnibus school should have more than 600 pupils. I, personally, should like to see that as the absolute limit for all types of school. Today, the majority of our secondary schools in the large cities house about 1,000, and some 1,000 to 1,500. In one case, the school population is in excess of 1,700. Schools of that size are far too big for efficiency and proper supervision, and I doubt whether the headmaster of a school like that can even know his whole staff, let alone any of his pupils. If a school is to be properly run, the headmaster should know his staff intimately and supervise their work, and should also know his senior students. There is another important reason for having smaller schools.
As I see it, the great difficulty today, in keeping an alert, live and interested staff, arises from the slow rate of promotion. Today, a teacher, no matter how brilliant and efficient he may be, has very little chance of ever reaching headmastership of a city school. I am told, for example, that no teacher can possibly expect promotion until he has put in 10 years' teaching, and even then, only if he is particularly brilliant and has a great scholastic career behind him, can he be considered as a head of a department in a secondary school. Another 10 years must pass before he can be considered for a headmastership of a primary school, and another six or seven years before he can find his name on a short leet of those who have applied for promotion to headmaster of a secondary school.
If these facts are correct—they are correct in so far as our major education authorities are concerned—it means that before a man can become a head of a primary school he may be well on in his forties, and before he can become a headmaster of a secondary school he must be in his fifties. Headmasters should be very receptive to new ideas, but at these ages, and after all the long grind of 10 or 25 years of teaching, it seems to me that many of these men cannot but have 1055 lost a great deal of their enthusiasm. What we want is younger men to fill these highly important positions. We want men with the very highest qualifications, with a considerable amount of teaching experience and still young in outlook, whose enthusiasm has not been withered by hope deferrea or frustration.
The point I wish to make is this: that smaller schools would provide more rapid promotion, and would be of direct benefit to the teaching profession and to the standard of education in Scotland. The great danger I see is that promotion should be by seniority alone. I do not know whether there is such a thing, but I hope that there is some system which seeks to find brilliant men in the teaching profession and keeps track of them, not allowing them to remain too long in one post, but encouraging them continually by stepping them up. The English public school system has achieved that as far as headmasters are concerned. Seldom will there be found headmasters of English public schools who on first appointment are as old as the newly appointed headmasters of our primary schools in Scotland.
That leads me to wonder whether our educational authorities are not too big. Glasgow has some 200 schools under its control. Can the director of education really know with any degree of intimacy the 200 headmasters under him, let alone the 6,000 odd teachers who fill the junior posts? Can the education committee know the schools sufficiently well to take a lively interest in them? If we want to have efficiency, we may have to find our way back to some smaller administrative unit than that which exists at present in Glasgow and some of our other large cities. There are, of course, school management committees, but in the cities these committees have little authority. They are principally concerned with interviewing parents of children whose attendance has not been good. I suggest that in the cities these committees should be given wider functions, such as are delegated to the management committees in rural areas. If these powers can be delegated to management committees in rural areas they can be delegated to management committees in our cities.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)
At the moment, there are no school management committees in the counties or the cities. The education committees operate only in the county areas.
§ Commander Galbraith
I am glad to have the correction, which would seem to make my case even stronger. I believe that these authorities have too wide areas over which to exercise control, and that there must be some devolution of function introduced into these places. In relation to the larger authorities, such as Glasgow, can the education committee, or the sub-committee of the education committee, really know the professional merits of the hosts of applicants who come forward for promotion? Can they decide on the best man to fill a particular position? I can think of nothing more damaging to the character or enthusiasm of a professional man, such as a teacher, than for him to be passed over following a short interview with a committee which he knows can know little of the work he has done, or his capabilities. There should be some greater devolution than there is at present.
I feel that under existing salary scales there is too little differentiation between those who have the highest qualifications and those who have lesser qualifications. That is particularly true of women teachers. The life of the woman school teacher is comparatively short—maybe six or seven years on the average—and then she leaves school to get married. If she goes for the highest qualification, the honours degree, she can never financially make up the sum she has lost by not going straight to a school when she had the ordinary degree. That also applies, to a large extent, to male teachers. Not sufficient incentive is being provided to get men to go for the highest possible qualifications. After all, we need men of that type today. We have many brilliant boys in our schools who need brilliant teachers, and I hope the Secretary of State will encourage teachers, in every possible way, to obtain the greatest qualifications available to them.
I hope that the Committee has been in general agreement with me so far. Now I want to turn to a subject on which 1057 there may well be the greatest possible differences of opinion. We separate cur primary schools entirely from our secondary schools and, generally, I agree with that course, but I have some doubt whether that system is in the best interests of some of the pupils who reside in remote rural areas. Our children go to a primary school at the age of five, and they advance through the school until, at the age of 12, they pass to the secondary school. There is the control examination at 11½, but whether or not the child succeeds in qualifying in that examination, he is passed on to a secondary school at the age of 12. So we have, passing on to a secondary school, children who, for one reason or another, have been unable to assimilate their primary education. If they were unable to do that it is quite certain that they will be unable to take in the higher education provided in the secondary school. That seems to be entirely wrong.
Further, if the pupil fails to reach a certain standard in his first or second year he passes on into his succeeding year. I am told that that is due to lack of proper accommodation, that if such children were held back it would result in more serious overcrowding than there is today. That is a poor excuse, and is a matter which ought to be put right. These children are not only wasting their own time, but are wasting the time of brighter pupils and are pulling down the w hole standard of education. I do not blame the children; their failure may well have been due to illness, or the size of the classes in the primary schools, or some other cause, but this is a situation that must be tackled. Let me revert again to the English public school system. No boy is admitted to an English public school unless he passes a qualifying examination designed to prove that he has reached a standard which will enable him to benefit from the education that the school provides. If he fails to qualify he is not admitted. When admitted, if he fails to reach the standard of his particular class he is retained for another period, but if he fails to qualify by a certain age his parents have to remove him from the school. I am told that that system applies in Government schools in the Dominions and in America—
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggesting that that does not apply in senior secondary schools in Scotland?
§ Commander Galbraith
The point I am making is that no child should be allowed to pass from the primary to the secondary school unless he has qualified for the standard of the secondary school. The child should have to qualify at the control examination.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman define a little more closely what he means by "secondary school," because there is no such problem? It is a case of grading for the type of further education for which the pupil is qualified.
§ Commander Galbraith
I understand that no matter whether the child has reached the required standard or not, he passes automatically from the primary to the secondary school. I leave it to hon. Members who have a greater knowledge of the teaching profession that I have, to correct me if I am wrong.
§ Mr. Gilzean (Edinburgh, Central)
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that there are two types of secondary school, and that if a child is below the standard of attainment he goes to the lower secondary school?
§ Commander Galbraith
If the hon. Gentleman can assure me that what I have described does not happen, I shall be delighted. But I have it on reliable authority that the system I have described is the one which is imposed at the moment. I can think of nothing more damaging or demoralising to a child than that he should he put into a class where he is completely out of his depth and where he feels that his day is uselessly spent. A child placed in that position becomes lazy, indifferent, resentful, or rebellious. I do not agree, if that is the system, that the junior and senior secondary schools should be united.
I consider that the multilateral school, in existing circumstances, is nothing less than a menace. If it offers everything from needlework to dynamics and Greek, for the economic deployment of the staff it is obvious that the school will have to be a very large one. I am given to believe that to get a specialised class, let us say, in dynamics, it would require a 1059 school population of about 1,500. I have already stated my objections to schools of that size. I know that the right hon. Gentleman's Advisory Council has stated its objections to adopting the English system of grammar schools, technical and modern schools, but that division seems to me to accord with the facts with which we are confronted. Surely provision has to be made both for those capable of high academic attainments and those not so favoured and, therefore, there must be a division at some period. I hope that today it is realised that high technical abilities demand just as great intelligence, although perhaps of a different kind, as high academic abilities.
§ Miss Herbison (Lanark, North)
That was a point which I was about to raise. The hon. and gallant Gentleman seems to like the division in England into three types of school, but does he not realise that if we have that division and pupils are chosen in the way the Act suggests, we shall not get the best brains among our technicians, which an industrial nation like Scotland or Great Britain must have?
§ Commander Galbraith
That is a matter open to argument. It may be that the hon. Lady is right and that I am wrong. I think that she was referring to the report made by the Advisory Council, which rather tends in the direction in which she has spoken, but it may be that other people would not accept that point of view. I was saying that I hope that today it is realised that high technical abilities demand every bit as great intelligence, although perhaps of a different kind, as high academic abilities; and our country, as the hon. Lady has said, needs a very great number of well trained technicians. I do not think that we are ever going to get these if promising technical pupils are educated in the same class as pupils who are only capable of imbibing a minimum of knowledge.
That is surely what is happening in our multilateral schools today. Those of poor attainments, if they are boys, are put in the technical departments, and if they are girls they are put in the domestic departments. Pupils and parents alike take for granted that these are inferior departments in the schools, and that seems to them to be proved by the fact that if pupils fail to reach a standard of academic attainment they are sent to those departments to mark 1060 their failure. I suggest that the line of division should be between pupils who are capable of good intelletual attainment, no matter of what kind, and those who are not so capable. It is at least arguable that boys and girls in primary schools who give evidence of intellectual ability should, as I understand the system is at present, be sent straight to the senior secondary schools, and, either at that moment or later, they should be allowed to follow their bent whether it be technical or academic. The remainder should pass to the junior schools and those who later on show ability should have an opportunity of being promoted to the senior schools.
I am in some difficulty in regard to those clever pupils who do not desire to continue beyond the school leaving age. It may be in their interest if they were placed in the junior schools where they could get a complete course of instruction, finishing at the school leaving age. It may be better for them to take such a course than to have to leave a senior school half way through the course. I am quite certain that the retention of these clever boys in the junior schools would be very much to the benefit of those schools. They would provide a mental stimulus both to the teachers and pupils, and would, indeed, become the backbone of the school. They would also have a chance of leadership such as would not be available to them in the senior secondary schools which they have to leave before the end of the course.
I have endeavoured to indicate from a layman's point of view—I make no claim to being an expert on this subject of education—what appear to me to be the weak points in our educational system. The remedies, as I see them, are fairly obvious. We should have a reduction, both, in size of classes and the size of schools, such as would enable us to provide a sound educational foundation for every pupil and which would offer a greater encouragement to teachers and give better opportunities to the more talented pupils. Only in that way can we hope to recover the educational prestige which we had and which during the past 30 or 40 years we have lost to a great extent; and only in that way do I believe that we shall be able to arm our future citizens with the knowledge necessary to enable them +o meet the testing times which undoubtedly lie ahead.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)
This is an opportunity, to which I am sure the Scottish Members always look forward, to discuss education, which is always of great interest to Scotland. I shall try briefly to deal with one or two of the points that have been raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) in a very kindly way for the purpose of getting information, and, I am sure, for the purpose of helping with the problem of the administration of education in Scotland. I entirely agree with the statement that one of the most important things which we have to consider today is the administration of the Act of Parliament passed in 1945—the new Education (Scotland) Act—because, although it was placed upon the Statute Book in the last days of the Coalition Government, it has been left to me to administer and to put into operation.
§ Commander Galbraith
I think that the right hon. Gentleman will remember that the Bill actually passed through its Committee stages and through this House during the days of what was called the Caretaker Government.
§ Mr. Westwood
I accept the correction, but I, along with others, had all the hard work in making the preparations in connection with that Measure. It will be well known by the hon. and gallant Gentleman how difficult it was at that late stage to get the Bill on the Statute Book, although I must admit, it was done with cooperation on both sides of the House. If I slipped up by referring to the Coalition Government, I apologise, but, of course, the Caretaker Government lasted only five or six weeks, and no one remembers anything that happened during that time.
The most important step that so far has been taken in the implementation of the Act of 1945 was the decision to raise the school leaving age to 15 on 1st April this year. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has put certain questions to me as to what provision is being made in the way of classroom accommodation to meet the needs associated with the raising of the school leaving age. I think that it would he true to describe the raising of the leaving age as an act of faith, particularly in view of all the difficulties we were facing and are facing at the present time. It was an act of faith in 1062 the value of education and in the future of our country. Notwithstanding the difficulties of the time, I felt justified in making sacrifices to improve the education of our children, to give them a better opportunity of attaining a better all round development, and the possibility of increased usefulness and happiness, as a result of increased education.
The raising of the school leaving age has meant an increase in the number of pupils in the upper classes of the schools. That increase will make itself felt in the autumn of this year and it will reach its maximum in about a year's time. This is not the only way in which the number of pupils will be affected. In the last few years, as will be known to Members on all sides of the Committee, there has been a marked increase in the birthrate, as a result of which there will be a very substantial number of additional pupils who will begin to appear in the infant classes in 1948 and will pass up the schools in the succeeding years.
The effect of these changes is that the total number of children—when I deal with the problem of accommodation I have to take both sides of this question which was put to me by the hon. and gallant Member—for whom our schools will have to provide will increase considerably in the next few years. A preliminary estimate which we have made suggests that by 1952 the total roll will be at least 12 per cent. above the 1946 figures. We have to take this into account when we were estimating the number of additional teachers which we would require during the next few years, and also when considering the number of classrooms that we would require.
Before I come to the problem of the classrooms, I will, if I may, touch upon the question of teachers. I am sure that if I do not, someone will raise the question of the possibility of a shortage of teachers as a result of the change in the school leaving age. We expect to obtain the additional number of teachers required partly from the normal output of the training centres and partly from the emergency training scheme. We estimated that we should require nearly 3,500 teachers from the emergency training scheme. I am glad to say that our expectation has been fully realised. Approximately 8,550 candidates applied to be trained under the emergency 1063 scheme. Of that number, some 3,900 have already been accepted, and about 1,000 remain to be interviewed. There may be some shortage of teachers in 1947 and 1948, but it should not be serious enough to cause insoluble difficulties in the school. From September, 1948, when the full effect of the raising of the school leaving age will be felt, the position will improve, because of the steps we are taking in the emergency scheme. The National Committee for the Training of Teachers is now satisfied that, except in a few categories—for example, teachers of physical training—they will be able to secure a sufficient number of men and women teachers to meet the needs of the schools. For most of the extra accommodation that will be needed we shall of course have to rely on standard prefabricated huts.
§ Mr. Willis (Edinburgh, North)
Before my right hon. Friend leaves the subject of teachers, will he tell me whether the estimate he has just given was based upon retaining the size of classes, or upon a reduction of the size of classes?
§ Mr. Westwood
It is based on a policy that we have. I always believed that there ought to be a reduction in the size of classes, and I have always argued for it. I believe in it. I also have always believed in the raising of the school leaving age. Although I know it was the law of the land for some years, no one standing at this Box accepted the responsibility of raising the leaving age until I came here. No one sought to raise the age or to fix the appointed day. I had to keep all my ideals in mind when I proceeded to raise the age. Those ideals included the point just raised by my hon. Friend the Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Willis) about the smaller class. I have always believed in the two-teacher school as we used to speak of it in the old days—I mean the school of 750. I used to think that was large enough for a headmaster to look after, and to retain personal contact with his scholars. We called it the two-teacher school—in other words two classes at the same stage of advancement, until they were ready to be passed on to the supplementary classes, as they were then, or on to the secondary schools.
I have always believed, as I say, in the reduction in the size of classes, but it can only come as part of a general policy. 1064 Under the set of circumstances prevailing at the moment, the raising of the school leaving age was more essential than anything. We had pledged ourselves to it for so long. Also, it was part of the Act of 1945. No one would be more ready to accuse me of having failed to give effect to the principles of the 1945 Act than hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. That Act having been placed upon the Statute Book, it was my duty to see that the school leaving age was raised, and it was raised from 1st April this year.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Western)
Is the Minister, after his long and rather involved answer to the hon. Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Willis), meaning to imply that in fact he did take into consideration the smaller classes, in giving his rather optimistic answer or estimate as to the number of teachers? Or has he made no allowance for making the size of the classes smaller?
§ Mr. Westwood
The fact is that we were taking into consideration the whole picture but, until we change the code, we cannot reduce the size of classes from 50 to 40, or in some cases from 40 to 30. We shall have to go by stages in getting smaller classes. I was taking a very broad general picture of the situation as it is. The requirement in 1948 is based upon the present position, keeping in mind that we have to go back to reduce the size of classes. Keeping the present code in mind, we shall—at least I am satisfied that we shall—have the requisite number of teachers by 1948 to deal with that problem.
Most of the extra accommodation that will be needed will be the standard prefabricated huts. We hope to obtain about 1,370 rooms in this way. On 15th July, 1947, preliminary proposals for 1,341 rooms had been submitted by education authorities. In dealing with these, we had to keep in mind the recommendations of the committee of architects. We considered their recommendations and we sent them to the authorities. Those recommendations have provided the basis for some of the schools and they have been kept in mind by the local authorities responsible for building them. The Ministry of Works have received final instructions to proceed with 1,142, and 634 are in course of construc- 1065 tion. None are yet finished, but some are now very near completion. Progress has been less rapid than I had hoped, in spite of the help given by the Minister of Works, but I need not remind the Committee of the difficulties which have hampered building work in all directions. The Ministry of Works are creating reserves of substitute materials and equipment which may be used, as a temporary measure, to complete projects which are in an advanced state. In collaboration with my Department they are also concentrating their efforts on the most urgent cases where the requirements must be met by a particular date.
I do not intend to claim that all the extra accommodation that we shall need will be available everywhere and at the moment when it will be required, but one thing which I do know is that the local authorities are now doing their best, as we are doing our best, because the age has been raised. If we had not raised the school age we should still have that lackadaisical attitude on the part of so many of the authorities who would not have been facing up to their responsibilities. They are now tackling the problem of providing the accommodation necessary for the children who are being taken into the schools. I think I can claim that the problem is being tackled with energy, and that the most urgent cases are being dealt with first, that there is good reason to hope that in most places the provision will be reasonably satisfactory, and that elsewhere it will not be too long before the arrears are made good.
§ Commander Galbraith
The Minister said that 634 of these rooms were in course of construction but that none had been completed up to the present moment. Could he say how many he hopes to have completed by the end of the year?
§ Mr. Westwood
I will try to obtain that figure before the end of the Debate so that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary may be able to give it when he replies. The question of salary scales was raised, and in reply I would say that that is a matter for the education authorities in consultation with the teaching profession. The promotion of head teachers is also a matter which we may entrust to the education authorities to carry through. I always find that the person who does not receive promotion 1066 is the one who is dissatisfied and who complains of the system, and that the person who does receive promotion is satisfied and says that the system works very well. As for the salary scales they are, as I have said, negotiated between the teaching profession and the education authorities. A further point was raised that children were being passed on to a higher stage so as to provide the necessary accommodation for children coming up from the lower stages of the school. I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the Department have no evidence that less able children from the first year of the secondary school are forced to go on to the second year for reasons of accornmodaticn.
§ Commander Galbraith
Would the Minister consider this point again, because I have definite information that it is a fact that children are pushed on before they are ready to go and before they have reached the required standard?
§ Mr. Westwood
If any evidence is forthcoming, either during this Debate or afterwards, I am willing to look into the matter. I think that will avoid the necessity of dealing with it just now, and if an actual case is brought to my attention I will have full investigations made so that I can deal with the particular problem. My advice, however, is that there is no evidence that less able children from the first year of the secondary school are forced to go on to the second year for reasons of accommodation.
A complaint has been lodged because we have primary and secondary education, the two forms which already exist in Scotland. I remember that in my early days during my fight for education one of the bitterest memories I had was that the educationists of that day thought that a person could be educated only if he or she could benefit from academic teaching and an academic career. Time and again I have argued against that. The educational courses of those years were entirely wrong and were fitted only for the child who could take probably two languages other than English, and they did not cater for the child who could not take a language other than English. The result was that we concentrated on academic teaching, and really lost to the nation much of the ability which would have stood Scotland in good stead at the 1067 present time, if it had been properly trained.
It all depends on the interpretation of the word "secondary" and the number of courses that we have in the secondary schools. It is true that the smaller secondary school may have its advantages, but the omnibus secondary school may also have advantages because, with the ability of the headmaster, we can fit the child into the niche where he can best benefit. If he cannot benefit from languages or even from science, he can fit into the course where he can get the best advantage from the teaching that is there We can draw out of the child what is there, and give the best possible advantage from the educational facilities which are being provided. It all depends upon what is contained in the curriculum of the secondary school and the number of courses provided.
I certainly do not agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman that there is anything wrong with the system in which we have the two forms of education, primary and secondary. What can be worse for the growing boy of 4—and now going on up to 15 year of age—than if, simply because he cannot take the ordinary form of education that is being provided, he has to play in the playground and be in the same classroom with children of eight, nine and To years of age? If he is not good at one thing, he may be good at another, and, therefore, he ought automatically to go on to the secondary department when he reaches a certain age instead of being kept in the lower department. I make no apology for the fact that we have primary and secondary education in Scotland at the present time.
I think I have dealt with the main questions which were raised, and I should like now to put forward one or two points connected with the Estimates which are now before us. I submit that it is essential that for the pupils concerned, the additional period of schooling should not be merely a period of marking time, but that they should obtain—and be recognised by their parents to be obtaining—something not available to them within the limits of the previous leaving age of 14 plus. I have, therefore, sent a circular to the education authorities suggesting how the additional period may be used to provide a real culmination of the pupils' school education, by which the acquirements of 1068 earlier years are extended and integrated and at the same time, through the adoption of a realistic approach, are related to the needs of the everyday world where the pupils must in due course play their parts alike as workers, as citizens and as individuals.
What I have said so far has been concerned mainly with the administrative framework which is necessary to provide the material conditions in which the work of education can go forward. We must never let preoccupation with these administrative details obscure our view of the main purpose of education. So far as the schools are concerned, that purpose must be to secure that every child receives an education which, in the words of the Act, is suited to age, ability and aptitude and that the child is in such a state of health that he will be able to derive the full benefit from the education. Incidentally, I may mention that as a result of the tests that have been made in the great City of Glasgow, I find that the provision of midday meals and free milk and the development of these services-88 per cent. of our children in Scotland are taking advantage of the free milk provided—has resulted in an improvement in our children's health despite the difficulties with which we are faced. I think they are.88 inches taller and 3 lbs. heavier than they were in the prewar years.
We must also see that the education is given in schools which are properly planned and adequately equipped, and by teachers who are well qualified and who enjoy proper conditions of service. This is a task which will demand all the energies of administrators and teachers alike. In carrying it out we have the advantage of the advice from the Advisory Council on Education in Scotland, and particularly the advice which has recently been published on primary and secondary education. These reports from the Advisory Council contain much wise counsel, and I know that they have attracted favourable attention outside as well as inside Scotland. We are greatly indebted to the Advisory Council for the immense amount of work which they have put into the preparation of these reports, and for rendering such valuable assistance to Scottish education administration.
There is only one further point with which perhaps I should deal, because I know there are many who want to 1069 take part in this Debate. It is a point which has been giving and causing a certain amount of concern in Scotland during recent months. I refer to the senior leaving certificate examination. I am sure if I do not deal with it somebody else will, so that it is better that I should forestall them and deal with it now. This year, as last, the results of the examinations have been widely discussed in the Scottish Press, and the Department have been subject to criticism which I suggest, was often ill-informed and based on misunderstanding of the procedure. There are too many people in this country today who think that certificates are the only real tests of education. I am not prepared to admit that, because I do not think I ever got a single certificate, but I know some who got many of them and they envy me the position that I occupy at this Box today. I have no envy for the positions which they occupy.
§ Lord John Hope (Midlothian and Peebles, Northern)
The right hon. Gentleman may he the exception that proves the rule.
§ Mr. Westwood
I cannot too strongly deprecate the publication of figures—we saw it in connection with the Glasgow schools—showing the percentage of passes gained by particular schools or comparative percentage figures for all the schools in an education area, and it is satisfactory to have the assurance of the teachers' organisations, as I have, that they agree with me in regarding this practice as most undesirable. It is harmful to the schools, and quite misleading to the general public.
I must repeat what I have more than once endeavoured to impress upon this House when I have been taking part in previous Debates on education, that these percentage figures have no real or precise significance. Any school can have 100 per cent. passes if it presents only those candidates who are certain to pass. Fluctuation in the percentage from year to year may be due to any or all of a number of factors quite without the control of the Department, and quite independent of the standard exacted by them as examiners. It would be easy for me to instruct the Department so to adjust their standards as to ensure that as large a percentage of pupils receive the certificate in 1947 as in 1946 or in 1939, 1070 but I have been careful to issue no such instructions.
In a circular sent out in July, 1945, when the normal procedure was resumed, it was announced thatthe standard required by the Department before they award the certificate or accord a pass in any subject will generally be the same as that which obtained in 1939.The Department, with my full approval, are conscientiously endeavouring to carry out that undertaking. Were I to countenance any breach of it, I would be guilty of dishonesty towards the 60 or 70 professional and other examining bodies which accept the leaving certificate as exemption from their own examinations, and it would soon lose the high respect which it has so long enjoyed. What is more, I would be doing a grave disservice to Scottish education after my many years' service, for with the increasing presentation of weak candidates from year to year the standard of the certificate would be progressively lowered. There is good ground, if I may say so, for suspecting that in 1946 and in 1947 a substantial number of weak candidates were, in fact, presented as part of the total, which has risen this year to 1,167 above the figure for 1939 and 339 above last year's figure.
I hope that I have made it perfectly clear that I have not the slightest intention of reducing the standard of Scottish education or of the standard necessary for obtaining the higher grade certificate. In fact, last year's figure of 4,522 receiving the certificate was 436 above the total for 1939, which is the right year on which to base a comparison. I promised that this would be the last main point with which I would deal, for I know that there are many who want to take part in this Debate.
There is, however, one thing more I do want to touch on, and that is in regard to the great discussion in Scotland as to the need for a new university. I submit that one of our main needs in Scotland today is the development of technical education and the development of technical schools with a view to providing for our children that scientific and technical education which will fit them to go out into industry to hold our place, as we do at the moment, as the finest craftsmen and the finest skilled workers in certain directions which there are in the world today.
§ Mr. Rankin
Would my right hon. Friend agree with me when I say that the submission he has just made is an argumer also for fuller university preparation?
§ Mr. Westwood
I am in entire agreement, but I think the universities today can provide the accommodation. We are, however, definitely short of accommodation as far as technical education is concerned. We must bear in mind that the young worker, the young man or woman, the young social being and the young citizen are inextricably bound up in the one person. We cannot educate the one in isolation from the others. When the young worker had to obtain all his technical education in the evening there was scarcely time for anything else. Once day-release becomes general, as it will when we fully develop the 1945 Education Act, the situation will be very different. That does not mean that evening continuation classes will drop out. It means that technical education will be less narrowly vocational than it has tended to be, and that there will be time to cultivate other interests. We must ensure that the young worker has both the opportunity and the desire to cultivate worth-while interests and to develop his or her potentialities in various directions.
Through school, day-release classes, junior and technical colleges, adult education classes, the opportunities for which are provided under the Education Act, 1945, and through youth clubs and community centres, there is one aim we must keep continually before our eyes—to create responsible citizens. At every stage there must he emphasis on responsibility, on the national importance of honest work, on the need for every one to contribute his best his school, in his work, in his social life and in his citizenship of Scotland and of the wider community of which Scotland forms a part. If we can develop a general sense of responsibility, it will be a great achievement. If we can through our technical education make our workers technically efficient,it will also be a great achievement. But we shall be far short of our goal unless we can also help people generally to develop and cultivate worthwhile interests in which they find lasting happiness. It is our aim to do all these things. When that aim has been achieved 1072 we shall have gone far towards realising the great hopes we entertain for Scotland's future.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
All hon. Members of the Committee would agree that the Debate so far has been in very happy contrast to the atmosphere created the last time we gathered together to discuss housing. Then, conflicting controversial viewpoints destroyed what ought to have been a constructive Debate. Thank goodness that, so far, politics have been kept out of these vitally important educational questions. Politics have been kept out by hon. Members on this side, but one never knows what hon. Members opposite will do later on.
§ Major Lloyd
From the point of view of those on this side of the Committee who are deeply interested in Scottish education, it is a matter of encouragement that the right hon. Gentleman's statement did not attempt to taunt the Tories with all the faults in education or to suggest that it will take a long time for the Socialists to do away with 50 years of Tory misrule. It is encouraging to know that such fantastic and childish methods have not been adopted so far in this Debate.
No hon. Member is more deeply interested in or better qualified to talk on Scottish education matters than the right hon. Gentleman. We gladly pay tribute to his lifelong interest in these questions. But he knew that he had not quite such an easy task as he would like us to believe in trying to defend the "act of faith," as he rather speciously put it, of having plunged Scotland into the raising of the school leaving age, in my judgment, and perhaps the judgment of history will agree, too rapidly. "An act of faith" sounds very well but history may say that there was a good real of the gamble about it. Still, the right hon. Gentleman has tried his best with great sincerity and I accept the fact that by and large he has produced fairly satisfactory statistical figures to show that up to date that act of faith has not gone quite so badly as some people thought, but I think that he will agree that it is still a bit early to judge whether it was not too soon to do it. Maybe this time next year he will be in a better position 1073 to state the facts and the figures which will tell a more accurate tale as to whether that was an act of wisdom or not.
The right hon. Gentleman was at pains to show—and had some figures to show it—that the number of teachers which we had been able to gather together for this new situation was on the whole very satisfactory and also that the number of teachers coming forward allowed a fairly ample selection which, one would presume, gave those who selected them an opportunity to pick the best. That is a rather surprising and most satisfactory situation. I well remember, as a member of the Advisory Council earlier on in the war, that we considered the position when the war was over and some of us were very worried—the right hon. Gentleman was too—as to whether we would be able to cope with the postwar position in view of the shortage of teachers. It is a very remarkable thing that we should have been able to find these men and women in Scotland from the Services and elsewhere to come forward to enter the teaching profession and to find them apparently in comparatively sufficient quantities. I join with the right hon. Gentleman in saying that that is a very satisfactory situation.
On the other hand, I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman did not make out a very good case with regard to the sizes of classes. I believe that the average teacher in Scotland is definitely of the opinion that the extension of the school leaving age, even though we will almost certainly get the teachers in due course and have done very well up to date, will for a long time to come be at the expense of extra work for him or her. The raising of the school leaving age was the unanimous recommendation of the Advisory Committee to the Secretary of State for Scotland during the war, so there are no politics in it, and no particular political party can say that they were the ones who wanted the school leaving age raised and others did not. It was a unanimous decision passed by a coalition Government and based on the unanimous recommendations of a highly representative advisory committee for education in Scotland. But I believe that the average teacher feels very sore at the fact that this great decision has to a large extent been made at his or her expense in that it has not 1074 reduced the size of classes at which they were aiming and because the tendency for quite a long time may be the other way.
In the matter of accommodation, a very important question, the right hon. Gentleman was able to say that a considerable number of buildings of certain specifications, not ideal but probably satisfactory under the circumstances, has been approved. He was able to say the same kind of thing when he talked about the housing problem. No doubt the number of plans approved by the local authorities for houses is very substantial, but he had to admit at the end of the figures he gave, which were not so bad, that in fact not one single hut, or whatever is the right word to use, had been completed. At least I gathered that was so. There, too, there is an "act of faith," for some considerable time may well elapse before the accommodation required in connection with the raising of school leaving age has been provided, and while that hiatus exists—and it may be much longer than some of us would like —the educational organisation in Scotland will suffer a severe strain in the size of classes and from the point of view of accommodation.
I want to refer to something about which one can produce no evidence, but I think all sections of the Committee will agree that to produce the requisite number of teachers for what we need in Scotland is not enough; what is infinitely more important than mere numbers is the right quality. I would not like to be misinterpreted in that connection but I say that anything which the administration of education at St. Andrew's House and the local authorities and the personal influence of the right hon. Gentleman ' can do, should be done to provide the finest possible type of teacher with a real vocation for a none too easy task, not too well paid, and with no very important prospects, because it is of the utmost importance to the future of Scotland. I think the concentration upon quality should have priority over concentration upon mere numbers. I know the right hon. Gentleman agrees, and when he says: "We have enough teachers, they have come forward in sufficient numbers; we shall not suffer materially from the number of teachers "I know he realises that statement is not satisfactory 1075 unless accompanied by an assurance that not only are the numbers sufficient, but that the quality of the individuals is of the highest possible standard, in accordance with the great traditions of Scottith education
Another point which is causing a great deal of dissatisfaction among the teachers is the increasing tendency to put all kinds of other duties upon them, which have nothing to do with education or teaching. They are becoming domestic drudges because of the menial duties they have to perform in connection with the provision of meals and other things. In addition, some of the teaching staffs spend far too much time filling up forms in connection with administration, which has nothing to do with their teaching duties, for which they have never been trained, and for which I assume they do not consider they are paid. Many teachers feel strongly upon this question. I realise the difficulties. There is an increasing tendency for legislation in almost any walk of life to place extra duties upon a number of individuals involved in that legislation, for which they get no extra remuneration and, in many cases, for which they have no special qualifications and which they did not expect to undertake when they entered the profession. Therefore, I nope the education authorities in Scotland will do their best to reduce these extra-educational duties to an absolute minimum, so that the teachers may be able to concentrate upon teaching, instead of wearying themselves for the greater part of the day by doing jobs that have nothing to do with teaching.
The right hon. Gentleman would like, if he could do so, to give more encouragement to the Committee and to the people of Scotland who are interested in this, about the prospects of technical education. He paid high tribute, rightly, to the various reports of the Advisory Council on Education. I hope those reports are not just being accepted with the usual courtesy and compliments at which the right hon Gentleman is so expert, and that they will not be pigeon-holed but will be taken down constantly, dusted, looked at, and that many of the recommendations, which have little or nothing to do with legislation, will be implemented as opportunity offers. I think all in Scotland realise that 1076 we are still desperately short of opportunities for further technical education, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman and the Education Department will concentrate upon ways and means of expediting methods of improving the technical education of our young people under our educational system which is possible under the Education Act of 1945 and is in accordance; with the unanimous recommendations of the Advisory Council.
Another point of interest to the people of Scotland, though not directly associated with education is the health of the children. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the increase of weight and height, but some of us are awaiting with great interest an up-to-date report on the health of the school children. I do not think we have bad one since 1945 and surely that is rather a long time ago—two years—we have not had one since the General Election. The food position of the country has materially altered since then, and it would be interesting to have this report. When may we expect it? Not only is it of great interest to parents, but it will be a criterion from many points of view. I hope this question will not he ignored and that whoever replies will inform us when we may expect the report, which is substantially overdue.
I shall not take up time by detailed criticism of the right hon. Gentleman's report of his administration since he took office, and especially during the last 12 months. On the whole, we on this side of the Committee are not prepared to indulge in any substantial criticism. We recognise that the administration of education in Scotland has been done, under the circumstances, probably as well as it could have been done, and that there has been no direct political bias. We are not prepared to produce a substantial indictment of any kind, but my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) has mentioned, and other hon. Members will no doubt bring forward, certain points for consideration which might he amplified or which the Secretary of State did not emphasise as much as he might have done. Underneath the whole business, however, those interested in education know that there is one great thing lacking—the reform of the administration side of our educational system. That 1077 was omitted from the Education Act by agreement, because the Act was rushed through at the very last minute, on the distinct understanding that revised administrative Clauses would be brought forward at the earliest opportunity. Until that great lack is made up, education in Scotland can never be fully satisfactory—
§ Mr. Westwood
I am sure the hon. and gallant Member will agree with me when I make the claim that I was one of those who did not want to drop that. I pleaded for its retention, and the responsibilty for dropping it must rest on the other side of the Committee and not on this side.
§ Major Lloyd
I fully endorse the right hon. Gentleman's statement that he was not in favour of those highly controversial Clauses being dropped, but I feel quite sure the right hon. Gentleman will, in turn, admit that there was unanimous understanding that in fact at the earliest opportunity if they were dropped, in order to get agreement on the remaining Clauses, those particular Clauses would be reintroduced in revised form at an early date. Our Education Act with all its advantages and possibilities, is definitely deficient of the vital reforms in administration which are so necessary in Scotland. We all know it lacks them, and I urge on the Government to take their courage in both hands, and the Secretary of State to use his influence to see that some measure of reform in administration, as far as possible without political bias is brought in before this Government leave office.
§ Mr. Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Would the hon. and gallant Member give some evidence of where the administration at the moment is wrong, and what reforms he has in mind?
§ Major Lloyd
I do not think I could begin to do that—if I did so I would continue for another hour.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] The Secretary of State is fully aware of the contents of the Clauses, and I think, incidentally, he is equally fully aware that the Education Act lacks complete fulfilment because of the lack of efficient administration. There is great scope for reform, but you would rule me out of Order, Sir, if I dealt with that, because it is obviously a subject for legislation.
§ Major Lloyd
For the sake of the time of the Committee, I cannot do so. I could do so if the Committee were prepared to listen to me for another hour—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]—but as the Committee surely do not wish to do so, I will not be enticed or seduced into a discussion which would be out of Order, and which I know perfectly well, Sir, you would rule out of Order, ere I had more than begun.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
I am sure the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) and the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) will forgive me if I do not follow the line of argument they have sought to develop. In passing, however, I would like to refer to the closing passage of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew when he was invited to give some concrete examples of his criticisms. He refused, as he said, to be "seduced"—a somewhat alarming use of that word in an educational sense—for the simple reason that, in my opinion, he had no alternative to offer.
§ Mr. Rankin
I do not share in the,non. and gallant Member's reference to the fact that politics have been kept out of the discussion. Far too often in this House we are 'told that this or that matter is above politics. We on this side of the Committee, at least, are here because of politics. If hon. Members occupy the other side because of lack of politics that is their business, not ours. Politics, after all, is simply the method of organising a group of people to live together in a community, and education is one of the weapons, one of the instruments, whereby we seek to get them to live properly in that community. Therefore, by that very fact, education is a political question. The fact is that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have in the past used it as a political weapon for their advantage. They desire that we 1079 should still keep it aloof from the life of the community.
The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok, if I followed him aright, seemed to indicate that there was something wrong with the organisation of our present educational units because the director of education could not possibly get to know all the teachers under his control. That is a peculiarly lop-sided view of the question, because there are more than teachers involved in the work of education today. There is an increasing band of other important people. There are janitors, clerks, milk attendants, dinner attendants, and, in some authorities, joiners and masons and so on. Is the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok going to suggest that by virtue of his position as director of education the director ought to know every single one of the people engaged in those occupations? Obviously the criticism is nonsense, and I would do the hon. and gallant Gentleman the credit of suggesting that his heart and mind did not wholly accept the criticisms which he put forward.
I was reading recently the report of the Central Advisory Council for Education. In the midst of a number of very important conclusions I read:No substantial advance in education can be made until the number of pupils per teacher has been reduced to a point which makes modern methods in education possible in all schools, and secondly until unhealthy and unsuitable buildings have been replaced.It is with the second conclusion that I would like to deal in some little detail. It might indeed be said that the second conclusion includes the first. Under Section 20 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, my right hon. Friend has power to make regulations fixing the areas of premises of schools. As I understand the position, nothing has yet been done in that regard. I submit that these regulations should be made forthwith. I would say that they are almost overdue, for already local authorities are submitting layout plans for their new housing areas, and in these new areas the Scottish Education Department is recommending four-and-a-half acres for the sites of primary school premises and from eight to nine acres for the sites of secondary school premises. Unfortunately, in the layout plans which are now being submitted, some local autho- 1080 rities are allowing less than four acres for primary and less than seven-and-a-half acres for secondary schools. When we consider that in our built-up areas today the area for the premises of primary schools varies from a half to three-quarters of an acre, and is less than two acres for secondary schools, the increase which is now being adopted by local authorities may seem quite reasonable.
When we remember further, that housing and industry today are each getting one-and-a-half times their former space, this fourfold increase for schools may even seem fair; but I hope that my right hon. Friend will weigh this matter well before he departs from the areas recommended by the Scottish Education Department, because the demands on the schools of the future, as he himself has admitted today, will be very great. The nation requires more and more teachers, doctors, dentists, technicians, administrators, at a rate and of a quality never before required. This means that the multilateral secondary school, the common type in Scotland, will require to provide a wide diversity of courses because of the demand which this House is placing on the schools, if the plans we are putting through in legislative form are to be met. Here I would say that I disagree completely with the attitude of the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok in his criticism of the multilateral secondary school. In turn, this demand, to which I have referred, increases the needs of the school for space. In lesser degree, perhaps, this is equally true of the primary school. Already, music, arts and crafts, broadcasting, the cinema and the 'kitchen place a demand on space which was previously unknown.
Let me look at this problem from another point of view. How do we compare with England in our treatment of space for school premises? In assessing or arriving at the size of a school, that is, its accommodation, a fraction of 1¼22 per house is allowed for primary and secondary pupils in the city of Liverpool. In Birmingham a fraction of.96 is allowed, and in Manchester.90. I am speaking of these areas because they are comparable areas in England to that which I know best in Scotland, namely, Glasgow. In Glasgow the fraction allowed is.75 per house. That means that in a housing scheme of a thousand houses, Glasgow would build or prepare 1081 accommodation for 750 pupils, whereas in Liverpool, accommodation would be prepared for 1,220. That is an alarming difference in space treatment as between Liverpool and Glasgow. It is obvious that there is no safety margin so far as Glasgow's school accommodation is concerned. Therefore, it is clear that the schools are being squeezed today from two directions. First, they are being restricted by this decreasing of the area devoted to the premises of the school; secondly, they are being restricted by the small figure which is used as a basis for calculating the number of school children.
I ask my right hon. Friend to realise that school space today is very quickly eaten up. I think of Shawlands secondary school in my own area, one of the most modern and best equipped schools in the city of Glasgow, which was opened only about 15 years ago, and was given an allocation then of 9¼7 acres. Within 15 years that acreage is being eaten up, and the surplus will almost certainly disappear in the near future. As a result of that 9.7 acres being given for Shawlands secondary school, recreational activities were possible next to the school. Unfortunately, the school had no assembly hall, and now that recreational space, an absolute necessity for the school, has to be utilised because of this need for an assembly hall. In addition, there will be a further eating into that surplus space by the new demands which are being placed upon all our secondary schools as a result of legislative action within the House. The demands for space in the future will be an increasing factor. It is worth noting in passing that in the new planning projects for schools in the city of Glasgow, there is no provision whatever for playing fields for pupils. To meet this need it is proposed to provide a playing field at East Kilbride, which is eight miles from the city. Further, it should be noted that at present Glasgow is short by 1,270 acres of the minimum standard laid down or recommended by the Scottish Education Department for recreational purposes.
I present these two points to my right hon. Friend to reinforce the plea that he will not reject the recommendations of his Department with regard to the areas of the premises for school purposes, without the most careful consideration being given to this matter of space, because 1082 in the long run every problem affecting the school is a problem of space. That is true as it applies to the normal child. It is equally true of the handicapped child. We may evade the problem within our city boundaries and contribute towards the creation of the handicapped child. Then in order to treat that child we must go to the outskirts, to the periphery of our great cities, and create conditions to deal with the handicapped child which we have failed to provide for the normal child within the city's boundaries. I hope we will not overlook this fact in dealing with the layout plans for our new housing areas. In conclusion, I want to point out that to me the decision which we must take on this matter of space accommodation, so far as it affects the area of school premises, is a fundamental one. It will determine the shape of things educationally for the next 50 or 60 years. When we deal with it, as we must, I hope that whatever decision we reach will be one arrived at with open eyes.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State in a survey over very wide territory such as education must always provide, used words to the effect that the great purpose behind his endeavour was to offer scientific and technical education to those who are going out into the world in order to equip them for industry. It is on that theme that I would like to offer a few observations. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who have sought to complete their political education, will have studied that far-seeing and profound document known as the Industrial Charter. They will have realised, therefore, that one of the aims of that charter is to see that those who are going to take a hand in industry, get such an education as will equip them to carry out the task to the benefit of themselves and of the community. In short, it is to offer the greatest possible opportunity to all sections of the community to succeed in life.
That presupposes immediately the fitting of square pegs into square holes, and that fitting is the subject matter of the report known as the Ince Report, which makes recommendations that the 1083 Ministers of Labour and Education should undertake certain very essential changes. Hon. Members opposite are now at one with us—though they were not in the past—on the necessity for production and work. Therefore, this is no party issue. I hear an ejaculation from an hon. Member opposite who finds it too hard to be able to agree, in spite of the fact that his leaders are touring the country exhorting efficiency and production which we have exhorted for a generation. Coué-ism, the lighthearted statement that every day in every way trade is getting better and better, is now not enough.
Here is one small step which may be taken and which may benefit trade, by seeing that juveniles, when they have finished their school, will get into a position where they can benefit themselves and trade. Therefore, let us look for a moment at what is said in the broad lines of the Ince Report. There is no time to go into the mass of details which that very able report contains. In broad outline, the report is that all schools should be forced to supply to a local advisory committee or that committee's officer, a statement of the capabilities, the bents and the intelligencies, of all juveniles who are going out into the broader life. That same advisory committee, or the same officer, shall also be entitled to demand the attendance of the child and his parents in order to offer advice. That is the length to which compulsion would go, and I thoroughly approve of it. Human beings are such that often they are not prone to take advice, but it would be a difficult matter to go further than that offer. We who have to examine our consciences and wonder whether we had given these children every opportunity of making good in life, at least would have the satisfaction of knowing that the child and the parents had been given this advice about where best the child can be fitted in.
The appointment of these officers is a difficult and an important task. They will have to know not only all about the child from the school, but also about the local requirements of industry. They will have to know what are the prospects, how far there is a shortage or a surplus, and which are go-ahead concerns and which are not. Having married all these statistics together, then they would be well qualified to say to the parents of a 1084 juvenile, a boy or girl, "That is a job for which I think you are best designed and in which you are most likely to succeed. Those are our recommendations." In fact, what has happened? I am informed that already one part of the recommendation, the setting up of a national advisory council, had been carried out. I would like confirmation of that. I am also informed that a central juvenile employment executive has been set up and that both organisations have Scottish representatives. Perhaps the Joint Under-Secretary of State will confirm that. I am told also that a Scottish Advisory Committee has been set up.
But something more than this is needed. There are certain powers for which legislation is required which are available in England and which can be made use of now, but which are not available in Scotland. I hope I am not going out of Order in pointing out that this requires legislation. There are other legislative matters which are recommended in the Ince Report. I want to see the formation of local advisory committees. We now have the top storey set up, the grand national advisory committee with Scottish representatives, and I want to see committees with their local tentacles all over the country so that this great advantage, this great setting off point for juveniles, may become omnipresent. Will the Joint Under-Secretary of State enlighten us about what is to happen in this matter? Will he tell us how far steps have been taken? If none of these steps have been taken, will he tell us what is brewing and what plans he has? Scotland has always plumed herself upon her educational system. Let her add another feather to that plumage and let her lead the way in what is a recommendation to the whole of Great Britain and towards which we might easily take the first step.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Miss Herbison (Lanark, North)
I was rather surprised to hear it stated time and time again by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) that this subject should not be controversial. I was more than ever surprised, because one of the things that made me interested in politics was the realisation, even before I became a teacher, that one of the main things we needed in Scotland was equality of oppor- 1085 tunity and experience, which I heard preached from one political platform after another in dealing with this question of education, and in trying to get our Scottish people to realise that great improvements were very necessary.
There is one question which I want answered at the end. There has been great praise of the Secretary of State today about the Advisory Council on Education and its work. There was published a few months ago by that Advisory Council a report on secondary education, and I should like to know when the Secretary of State and his Department are to decide whether or not they are accepting the recommendations that are to be found in that report, because, if they are accepting them, then much of what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok would be proved completely wrong. We, on this side of the Committee, have always felt that it was altogether wrong to segregate children at the tender age of II into junior and senior secondary schools. Indeed, in Glasgow, where I worked, we had three divisions. Local education authorities in Scotland have, I know, been asking the Scottish Education Department about plans for the future of secondary education in the counties and the cities. I should like these authorities to know what is the opinion of the Secretary of State and of the Department on this report on secondary education. That report suggests that there should be a common secondary school—I do not believe in having the children divided up—in which the leaving age would be 15. Thereafter, there could be technical colleges, junior colleges and colleges for those who want a purely academic education.
There is an important reason for that recommendation, and it is not only that we should not segregate the children, but that, today, in this country, we want the very best brains to go for the technical jobs. If we follow what is suggested by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok, we find that, in the types of school which he admires so much—the technical schools, grammar school and common or modern school—undoubtedly at the age of 11, when the segregation takes place, we shall not enable the children to develop their bent. That will ensure that those who have done best in the senior schools can go in for an academic course, and 1086 the second-class brains for the technical schools. A country like Great Britain cannot afford that kind of thing. If we take all our children into the same schools until they are 15 years of age, there will be a great variety of courses, arid, at the age of 15, the child will, by then, have discovered what his or her bent is, and will be able to make up his or her own mind whether technical, academic or other education is desired. It is most important to have this decision reached at the earliest possible moment.
There was also a suggestion made from the other side of the Committee that it would be a good thing to have children of all types of ability in the one school, but that is not so. At the school where I worked—the Alan Glens School in Glasgow—we had a system whereby the very brilliant scholars were given opportunities to reach the best education suitable for them. It is the same, not only in Scotland, but in many parts of the world. This type of school has produced some of the finest technicians and engineers to he found anywhere in the world. I am sorry that I have not the time to develop this further, but I know from my own experience in teaching in the common secondary schools, that there is not much chance at all, in a properly run system, of the poorer children militating against the interests of the other children. If it were known at the age of 11 that a child was going to leave school at 15, the junior school would be the place for it no matter how brilliant it was. We cannot have it both ways, and we cannot say, if we have to have a common school, that the poorer child is going to keep back the brilliant child. It was suggested by the Opposition that that would prove a detriment to the poorer children, but I think that that was a suggestion of the worst kind of class distinction. I would say that, if we put all our children in the common secondary schools and make these schools the excellent places that they can become, there is no doubt about it that education in Scotland would again become as good as that in any other country in the world.
Both the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok and the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) spoke about the problems facing us over the raising of the school leaving age, and it was suggested by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok that we had plunged 1087 into this. It was a very slow-motion plunge, because, on the Statute Book of this country, we have had from 1918 until the present time, the power to raise the school leaving age to 15 whenever we wished to do it. Over all that time, local education authorities in Scotland had the chance of making the preparations, geting their buildings ready and obtaining the necessary teachers. Indeed, if the war had not come, there was a definite obligation on every local authority to keep children at school until 15 years of age after September, 1939. Very few local authorities in Scotland had made any preparations at all for the raising of the school leaving age, and were they not thankful—not that the war came, because I would never say that anybody was thankful for a war—but that they did not have to raise the school leaving age in 1939? I have many teacher friends, and I know that there are great problems facing us, but I am just as certain that, if we had postponed the raising of the school leaving age we would have met with the same thing from many local authorities, particularly the reactionary ones. The Government have now decided that the time has come for raising the school leaving age. They are faced with great difficulties, but these problems must be faced and we must see to it that they are solved.
The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok said that it had been the aim for a very long time of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee to lower the size of classes. I wonder. After I had taken my degree and finished training as a teacher, I was interviewed with a great many more at a training college. Indeed, on that day the Lanarkshire students filled the lecture hall. The Assistant Director of Education came along and said to the women students who were looking for a job, "I am sorry, but if you can get married, do so, because there will not be a job for you in Lanarkshire for at least three years." I, with my qualifications, was unemployed for nine months. Some of my friends came down to London and to other parts of England to teach. One went on the buses as a conductress, and others, again, served in shops in Glasgow. These fully qualified teachers could not be absorbed while, at the same time, the classes in all our industrial areas were far too big to give the 1088 children in the elementary schools the chance they ought to have had. No attempt was made by the Government of that day or by the local authorities to reduce the size of the classes, even though they had on their doorstep these men and women for whom they could not find a job.
The next point with which I want to deal is the quality of the teachers we are getting under our emergency training scheme. Again, the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok wondered whether the quality would be high enough, and said that we must not be concerned only with numbers. I have no fear about the quality. Was there any sifting of teachers before the war? There was none at all. If a person got the higher leaving certificate in Scotland, and did not want to take a degree, the mere fact of having that certificate gave him or her the right to enter a training college. There is no doubt that, in the past many people went in for teaching who were not suitable for it. The people who are being taken in today under the emergency training scheme, not only have to have the requisite qualifications, but are taken before a committee which interviews them and really makes every effort to find out whether they are going to be suitable as teachers.
I have learned from friends of mine in the training college that they are delighted with the type of young men and women from the Services who will become the teachers of the future. We are fortunate in Scotland that we are getting this type of person into our schools. I noticed on the Estimates that in Scotland we are spending £200,000 for the education of Poles. I do not object to money being spent for these people when we have entered into obligations with regard to them, but, as a point of interest, I turned up the Estimates for England and Wales, and found that they were spending £900,000 for the same purpose. It seems to me that we in Scotland are taking more than our proper share in educating these Polish people. I am not grumbling about the money; there is something far more important than that; but it must mean that we are giving a greater proportion of places in our universities to those Poles, than England and Wales are giving in theirs.
1089 Almost every time that I interview my constituents, young boys and girls who have gained the higher leaving certificate, and who have got the certificate of fitness to enter the university, come to me and ask whether there is any chance of their getting in, or, possibly, tell me that they have been turned down because 90 per cent. of the places are being kept for ex-Service people. That being the case, I say that England and Wales should take their proportion just as Scotland is doing. I will finish by again stressing the need for the common secondary school in Scotland, not only in order to give equality of opportunity, but also to provide for that country of ours the best education and the best type of citizens we can get.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Lord John Hope (Midlothian and Peebles, Northern)
I shall detain the Committee only for a few minutes. I will begin by asking the Minister one question, and will then make a few observations on what I believe to be an important aspect of education not hitherto mentioned in this Debate today. The question I wish to ask the Minister is in regard to the building programme. As he knows, no bricks have been made available for school building. As he probably also knows, there are brickyards in Scotland which are running only part time because they cannot sell their stocks. That is the stark reality of the position. That being so, I wonder whether the Minister will reconsider the original decision not to make bricks available for this type of building. In passing, I would refer the Committee to the speech made by the Secretary of State last week in which he said that new brickworks were going into production. Cannot some of the bricks produced in these new works he used for educational buildings?
I want to make a plea, and I think that now, just as we have reached the stage of the raising of the school leaving age, is a good time to make it. We have heard a good deal in this Debate about the great advance that has been made in education on the technical side. I should be the last person to criticise in any way the tremendous advance that has been made. But no one has mentioned—and there is an increasing tendency in educational circles and throughout the country to leave this matter aside—the parallel decline in 1090 the study of the humanities. I think there is a great danger—and it is a danger that will increase unless it is checked—that the study of the classics will decrease as technical development increases. I noted what the right hon. Gentleman said about the difficulties and handicaps of being forced to undergo an academic education, but there need be no question, if the matter is properly tackled, of a child having to learn Greek or Latin in order to be given, at his or her most impressionable age, the groundwork in the humanities. I hope that point will be remembered.
It cannot be denied by any who really thinks the thing out that there is no better background to any trade or career than some sort of study of the classics. In my opinion, it is not much use training children to be experts in manual skill and completely ignoring, luring their formative years, their training in at least the elements of what really amounts to the study of truth and goodness. To get that, one has to go back to the cradle of learning; one has to go back to the start of the heritage which was passed on by Greece and Rome. I do not think 12 years of age is at all too young to become initiated in the elements of this tremendous story, and I therefore make that plea, hoping that it may be heard and echoed in quarters where it can produce some definite result.
I am not going to join the argument which threatened to develop with regard to the inclusion of politics in education. The hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) gave a conveniently wide definition of the word "politics" which, no doubt, suited his own case, although it was irrelevant to the point made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eastern Renfrew (Major Lloyd) which the hon. Member for Tradeston was then trying to answer. I believe that what I have been saying about the necessity for not neglecting the humanities in education is directly relevant to this question, and politics need not and should not enter into the study of the humanities at all, because truth and goodness are absolute qualities and have nothing whatever to do with the political conflict between hon. Members on this side and those on the other side of the Committee.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilzean (Edinburgh, Central)
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Northern Midlothian and Peebles 1091 (Lord John Hope) in the line that he has taken, inasmuch as he was advocating something which is fundamental to education. It is to be hoped that some attempt will be made in future to make more widely known the great lessons in the humanities.
I was very disappointed at the opening speech in this Debate, because I consider that such a speech should present a case which is in line with the facts as they happen to be at the time. I am sorry the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) said what he did concerning the intake of ex-Service men and women into the teaching profession.
§ Mr. Gilzean
I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman did. He deplored what was taking place concerning the work of the provincial selection boards in connection with the augmentation of the teaching profession. I would like to say one or two words on that subject. This is in line with what was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison), namely, that this intake of men and women, who have not been trained in the ordinary way for the teaching profession, has proved a tremendous success. I happen to be a member of one of the provincial selection boards which was engaged in that work, and our experience was that, generally speaking we got some very fine men and women from that source. It was a question of separating the corn from the chaff, but experience has shown that these men and women will do very good work in education in the near future.
I would like to say a few words with regard to the multilateral schools. They were severely criticised. I know of no system which is likely to be of more assistance to education than the multilateral school. One of the troubles in education is that the systems which have been followed up to now have had the effect of leaving children with an inferiority complex, feeling that they are not so clever as the others with whom they have been in contact in the primary schools. When it comes to a question of separation it is agreed that children whose intelligence quotient is not sufficiently high, cannot be put into posts for which they are 1092 not suited. The advantage of the multilateral school is that while the children can be separated according to their intelligence and their attainments for class purposes, there is no reason why they should not associate in the recreational part of school life. In any of the famous schools in the country the children are all treated as members of the one school and, while the more intelligent children may convey something that is worth while to the less intelligent, it is just possible that the less intelligent may he able to help the more intelligent. Therefore I hope that whatever happens in the future, there will be a decided trend towards increasing the number of multilateral schools until ultimately we will have no schools other than that type.
I now come to the question of fee-paying schools and their general effect on the community. I admit this is not a universal problem in Scotland, but it is a problem, and it is high time we faced it. If a man desires to pay the whole cost of his child's education, that is his business and not mine, and I would not attempt to interfere, but we have the position in which a parent pays a small contribution towards the education of his child and a big contribution is paid by the community, and, because of that, the parent demands all sorts of privileges and advantages. Furthermore, the number of fee-paying schools is far too small for the demand that is now made for them, with the result that there are all manner of heart-burnings and disappointments in the community because aspiring parents cannot get their children into these schools. The time has now arrived when we ought to clear up the whole business and make up our minds that if people are going to demand these privileges and advantages they must pay for them, but they cannot expect to get them on the basis of making a small contribution while the community pays the rest.
With regard to the raising of the school age, it is extraordinary that it has taken us all these years to exercise power that has been in the hands of the community. I am glad that, in spite of all the difficulties—and I know the difficulties concerning the lack of space in schools and the shortage of teachers—but I am glad that the attempt has been made. An attempt had to be made some time, and 1093 a decision had to be taken; and whatever that decision may bring to us in the way of immediate difficulty, the broad fact remains th[...] the decision has been made, and that consequently, the problem of solving the difficulty will be confronting the community. We had to do it somehow or another. I am delighted that this has been accomplished, in spite of its having been proposed in the most unpropitious time in which we could have attempted to do it.
I feel that we are on the verge of great things in connection with education, and that the more we can spend in this direction, the more we shall reap in the years to come. Far too many children have been coming out of school in a half baked condition—less than half baked. Let us make up our minds for the future that we are going to give every child all every opportunity of which it is capable of taking advantage. I am perfectly sure of this—that if we do that, the reward to Scotland will he great indeed.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
I feel somewhat diffident at intervening in this Debate, especially before so many obvious experts who have given their adult lives to the great calling of education. I speak merely from my observation of education—of its results. I confess I know very little about the mechanics of education at either the giving or the receiving end. Between you and me, Mr. Beaumont, the only distinction I ever received at school—it was an intense surprise to me—was for Scripture. It was a great surprise to the master, too. So you will realise that my observations must be of a general nature rather than of criticism or comment on those speeches which have gone before. They were delivered by experts. I am not an expert. I am merely trying to put those views I have on the general trend of our educational policy. I think you will agree with me, Mr. Beaumont, that it is rather difficult to do so without going out of the bounds of Order; and I do not want to take any risk of causing you to have to resort to the unpleasant necessity of calling me to Order. But there are many other Government Departments that are intimately concerned with education, and that is why it is very difficult to discuss it, and present a fair picture of it, without embarking on dis- 1094 cussion which would obviously be out of Order.
I feel the trend of our general educational system now is inclined to be narrow, unimaginative, and I think, impersonal. That, of course, comes from one trouble—the large size of classes for many, many years past. In the old clays, when we had, as the right hon. Gentleman has recalled, the two-class school, we had the dominie or master—or later, the rector—who knew intimately the character and personality and capacity of practically every boy in his school. Then the classes became larger and larger, and so there grew up a lack of personal contact, which is, I think, today the fundamental evil of our educational system. The second point I should like to make is that I think that there is too much attention—this has already been said—paid to having a certificate as a definition of a well educated child, and that the child is too much impressed with the value of the certificate, rather than with the value of achieving an all round education, not only in philosophy, or arithmetic, or geography, but in the humanities, as my hon. Friend the Member for Northern Midlothian (Lord John Hope) said, and in the formation of character, which should, surely, be the main inspiration of our system.
The impression I get is that there is too much effort made to teach children to be teachers rather than to be citizens. Although we welcome the presence of so many competent teachers in this Committee, I think it would be a pity if the Committee consisted only of teachers and no one else. I think it would be wise in our educational policy to teach those four or five qualities that make a boy or a girl ready to face life, and to conquer the difficulties which face them. Too much attention is paid, undoubtedly, to what one learns at school—or what one is supposed to learn at school. From my own experience—and I suppose it is the experience of every hon. Member of this Committee—what good is in us is acquired at home. I think that courtesy, which is a fundamental part of everyone's make-up, is learnt in the streets, in the way of learning how to behave amongst our fellow men. Cleanliness is. learned not only at school but anywhere. Humanity is learned largely in the countryside, where we see nature at its best. All these considerations, of course, 1095 involve me in a breach of Order. Many of our homes are today without the privacy which means so much to the adolescent and to the growing child, and I cannot see how character can be formed unless the child has a good home, and can have that privacy which is essential. Therefore, I am involved in an argument on the housing situation. I should be similarly involved in other subjects beyond the scope of this Debate if I pursued that line of argument, and, therefore, to be in Order, my speech must be strictly limited.
I hazard the remark that whatever I have criticised in our educational system is not due to those responsible for administering it, because I have talked to many teachers, including some in this Committee, and I have discovered that many of them are maddeningly conscious of their failure as school teachers, deprived as they are of the assistance they should be getting from the home and from the various other co-operators in forming the character and mental development of the child. Without in any way bringing in the political issue, I may say too that the time for raising the school age is singularly unpropitious. When I heard the Secretary of State say that he had acquired something like 1,700 schoolrooms, I felt that he was putting the cart before the horse. Those rooms should have been devoted to providing homes, which would have given proper surroundings in which the children could be brought up, and the question of raising the school leaving age should have been deferred for the time being. Every one of us knows, in his heart of hearts—and the Secretary of State knows it himself—that we have neither the schools, the teachers nor the textbooks with which to educate the additional children whom we are now retaining at school. However, he has done it and we must try to make a success of it. We have to try to get the right type of teacher, and to give them proper training, which is a point on which I agree so much with the hon. Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison). Unless we get teachers with the humanities in them, to which my hon. Friend the Member for North Midlothian referred, we will not be able to impart to the future generation the real basis of citizenship.
The Secretary of State for Scotland has wonderful opportunities now. He has 1096 raw material which never offered itself to any of his predecessors. The children of today are more beautiful, more bright eyed, more intelligent and more firmly limbed than any I have ever seen in my lifetime. This, we know, is due to the policy of the last Government—I will not dwell on that, for it might stir up antagonism among hon. Members opposite—to the milk at schools, cod liver oil, vitamins, orange juice, and open air, which children at school have now enjoyed for some years past. The Secretary of State has a great field to work on, and great raw material from which to mould great future adolescents and adults of our country. To sum up, we want smaller classes, smaller schools, and the best possible type of teacher. Let the Secretary of State take his courage in both hands and fight this battle for Scotland, which has a great tradition in education—far higher than England. True, he has to live up to far higher obligations, but let him take his courage in both hands and give Scotland the lead in education which she has so nearly lost.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I understand from previous speeches that in this Debate it would be very wrong to link politics and education. I want to be quite frank at the outset. I cannot separate them in the way in which some of my hon. Friends attempted to do. I go further, and I remind the Committee that my predecessor in the representation of the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow claimed that he entered politics because of his intimate association with education as a teacher, and because of his experience of the suffering of the children in the schools at which he taught. I say, quite frankly, that I cannot divorce education and politics.
In listening to the Debate today my fear was that an attempt was being made to discover the able and intelligent child merely by the ability of the child to qualify in examinations based on the school textbooks. I do not know that it is a sound method of discovering intelligence, to examine the capacity of a child to understand textbooks and give the correct answers at examinations. During the Debate there has been an attempt to protect the child with a technical bent and the child with a classical mind. No one suggests that those things should be ignored, and children 1097 should be given every opportunity to develop their aptitudes; but I thought that there was a tendency to neglect the child who did not attain certain standards which had been set. One of the startling features at the end of the education term this year was the number of complaints by parents regarding the higher leaving certificate. In almost every town in Scotland there were complaints about the failure of so many children at the examinations.
The Secretary of State himself said that he would not be a party to reducing the standard of education. Well, nobody wants that. That is not the way to solve the problem. What I ask is: How is the standard determined? That is of the utmost importance. When children are in their last year prior to the examination, is any instruction given about the size of the classes, and is there any relationship between the number of children in the classes and the number who are presented for examination? From my knowledge, as a member of an education authority in the past, there has been a tendency for headmasters to present only the children they were satisfied would pass, which was often determined by some peculiar outlook on the part of the teachers; certain teachers have peculiar views, they have their likes and dislikes among the pupils, and they put forward children for examination accordingly. Have the Department made a serious examination of the returns in regard to the higher leaving certificate, and are they satisfactory?
Up and down the country people who claim to be authorities on education have decried the method of determining the standard of education of a child or an adult on an examination which lasts only a few days. Everyone who has had any experience of this problem recognises that cognisance must be taken of the whole year's work. I know that from my own children. I have a daughter and, if I may be permitted to say so—although I do not say she takes it from me—she is a very competent and clever girl. But when she sits for an examination her nerves give way. Yet I have a son, and I do not think he would be disturbed in the slightest if the building were falling down; and he can sit an examination without being disturbed. Surely, some day we will decide that the test shall be, not merely an 1098 examination lasting three or four days, but perhaps the examination taken in conjunction with the year's work. I know the year's work is not ignored completely, but I do not think it is given the weight to which it is entitled.
Mention has also been made of the fee-paying schools. I have always noticed that a distinction between classes usually indicates a distinction in politics. My hon. Friends have mentioned that a particular type of education seems to pro-dude a particular brand of politics. That introduces the fee-paying schools. A few years ago we had a very serious controversy in Glasgow about fee-paying schools. People claimed: "We have the right to send our children to the fee-paying schools if we are anxious to pay that extra money." But it is only a fraction of the money spent on their education. When we examined the matter thoroughly we discovered that the places in special fee-paying schools were allocated to special pupils. Not one of the children from the area I represent—with all the influence and wirepulling imaginable—could ever enter a fee-paying school in the city of Glasgow.
It was not that they had anything against the child, but that they usually discovered the father was a labourer or a miner, or did not belong to one of the professions. I dislike saying these things, but it is dishonest not to say them, because they are the truth. There is a real attempt on the part of those in public life to give children the very highest standard of vocational training and education in citizenship, which is too often missed. I think we shall recognise that children should not be brought into schools on the basis of the profession, trade or calling of the parents, but on the basis that the children of the community are entitled to get the best. If we approach the matter in that way, I am satisfied that fee-paying will be abolished, as it should be in an intelligent community.
My last point is in regard to administration. If there are serious faults in administration, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) suggested, we should be given some evidence. I asked him to state what they were, but he said that it would take too long. There is this important point—and I am sorry to find that 1099 the, Secretary of State is associated with him—that the education committees are looked upon as being divorced from the councils. In other words, the education committee is the final authority in the real work of education. It is true that the council have certain duties, such as the appointment of directors, but the intimate matters associated with education rest entirely with the committees. It means that in many of the big cities, because of the co-option of members, the education committees can formulate a policy which is at complete variance with the elected authority, namely, the council. That is a grave mistake. If I remember rightly, the 1929 Act laid down that co-opted members were primarily to protect religious rights, and nothing else. No one suggested that when they became members of an education authority they should give their full weight to other aspects of education. I find, from long experience—and I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) will dispute this, although we are in opposite camps in politics—that decisions were regularly taken which were at variance with the local council. I hope that nothing will be done which will permit co-opted members of any particular party or group to have sufficient powers to make decisions contrary to the democratically elected members of the local authorities. I do not think co-opted members have a right to determine the educational policy in an area where there is a properly elected democratic body.
I think that the administration of education in Scotland is on a very high plane. There are handicaps arising out of the war, which means that the machinery is not always working as smoothly as we should like. I am not going into the question of the lack of accommodation, as these matters have already been referred to. The intimate side of education is the task of the teachers, but I think that the wider administration is well looked after by the elected members.
§ Mr. Westwood
May I remind the hon. Member that even the Coalition Government, in 1945, were anxious to get rid of the co-opted member, and that it was the Caretaker Government which dropped the administrative Clause already referred to today?
§ Mr. Carmichael
The co-opted member remains. I was trying to stress that the power is in the hands of the Secretary of State for Scotland in regard to the divorcing of these committees from the councils. However, I want now to pass from that matter.
Do not let us over-emphasise the deterrents to education. I think that we are advancing. The Secretary of State made two important points; firstly, that the health of the child, measured in weight, was better today than at any time, and, second, that the health of the child, measured in height, was better than ever before. We on the Socialist benches have always contended that by giving a child a healthy body we are taking the first step towards giving the child a healthy mind. It will be a very sad reflection on this House and on the Government if the generations coming out of childhood into manhood are not a great advance even on our generation.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Alex. Anderson (Motherwell)
I count myself fortunate in being able to join the great company of educational experts. Until I came to the House, it was my function to be one of the drudges of education who pumped into children a curriculum imposed from outside by those who had been elected by the community. The course of this Debate has shown that we have not progressed very much further from the discussions we used to follow so eagerly in our education committees. A good deal of irrelevant matter has been talked about today. Hon. Members have spoken about the benefits of school dinners, of milk in schools, better classrooms, and better types of teachers, which are all important. It is true that the children should be well fed if they are to take advantage of their education. It is important that buildings should be adequate and that teachers should be properly trained, but the most important thing of all is what the children are to be taught, and only one hon. Member has made any slight reference to school curricula. It is what we teach our children today, that will decide the type of citizen we shall have in this country tomorrow.
I wish to give a brief picture of education in our schools. Our children go to the infant schools at five years of age. They get an excellent infant education. Classes are small, and efforts are made to 1101 have the school rooms nicely decorated and suitable for the job. We have specialised teachers. They teach children quickly to read by a phonetic method, and at the age of seven, the child has progressed so far that he is a constant wonder to his parents, and is often able to ask awkward questions which the parents find difficult to answer. But, having left the infant school, the child passes to the primary school and for five years works in a different environment—overcrowded classes, overworked teachers, and an obsolete curriculum. Two valuable years of the child's life are spent in teaching him that plough is "plow," that cough is "coff" and that though is "tho." Another year is spent in teaching the child an obsolete system of notation, and at the same time there is insistence on the benefits of scientific training, so that when the child goes to a secondary school he first of all has to acquire knowledge of a decimal system, as a supernumary, which, finally, supersedes the old system of notation. No educationist, no Secretary of State has yet had the courage to face up to the question of simplified spelling, yet after wasting three years on these obsolete things we wave flags and beat drums, because we have raised the school leaving age by one year.
At the age of 11 plus, the child, whose parent is often much more ignorant, has to decide whether he will be a technologist or a professional worker. I am quite certain that the Secretary of State for Scotland, at the age of 11 plus, did not deliberately decide that he would be Secretary of State for Scotland, and not the Archbishop of Canterbury. Every child in our schools, or his parent for him, has to make a decision at 11 plus. I submit that that is far too young an age. It is impossible to decide with a child who shows diverse abilities, and say what his future should be. At the age of 11 plus we put these children through the education riddle, and a certain number of them eventually qualify as being fit to benefit by secondary education.
Of course there are some incorrigibles who, because of mental inability, do not qualify. I have often wondered what became of these people. Now my hon. Friend the Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison) tells us that some, whose parents had the money, bought their way into fee 1102 paying schools. From internal evidence, both of grammar and of content, I had always suspected that an undue proportion of these became journalists and that one or two, even less gifted, became newspaper proprietors; some became politicians and a few, particularly ungifted, found their way even to the Front Bench. But the great mass of children of 11 years plus come up in a great tide to the secondary schools. A handful will be the bosses; they will take academic courses, and go to universities. Another handful will diverge, and become technologists, but the great bulk will go to what the Secretary of State calls secondary education. That is the sixth name which that type of school has had in my generation. Actually, 75 per cent. of these children will go to schools inferior in construction, staffed by teachers of lesser qualifications, who will be paid less, and who will teach a different type of curriculum.
I do not believe that the function of a school is to be the handmaiden of industry. The duty of a school is not to turn out docile people who will work for given wages. It is to turn out intelligent, thinking, citizens. I believe that every child who passes the school leaving examination should go to a proper secondary school and not a mock secondary school, and get the same courses as other children at other schools. Divagation should come later. We shall have children of 11½ to 15 in our schools who will have acquired, by that time, the tools with which they can educate themselves. What are we going to teach them? Are they to be taught an overloaded curriculum which makes them neither good citizens, scholars, nor workmen?
The biggest condemnation of schools today is the circulation of the penny newspapers. If the schools were doing their duty, thousands of readers would take the place of the millions who read these papers. Today, we have an opportunity to give our children a cultural background. In these days it has become common for everybody who is a laboratory attendant to become classified as a scientist. I believe that the best education is to be obtained from the classics. One thing in this world we need is an appreciation of the beauty of the Greek and the law and discipline of the Roman. I do not believe that teaching classics to children from 12 to 15 should follow the old lines. I remember my own course, 1103 which was purely classical. I sweated and worried translating from English into Latin and Greek, which was of no use to me, but I found joy in translating from Greek and Latin into English.
I believe that it is not beyond the wit of educational experts to devise a curriculum which would provide for culture and preparation for life, while, at the same time, preserving a proper proportion of utilitarianism which would fit people for industry. I urge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to think carefully over the 11 plus bar in a child's life. I urge him to watch the child without wealth, and the child with careless parents, to give that child its opportunity. I would prefer that he set schools and teachers free to perform their proper task, because there is nothing in the world so dangerous as people who are ignorant and easily led.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
I am sure that in all parts of the Committee there will be a great measure of agreement with the eloquent speech which we have just heard from the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Alex. Anderson). I do not wish to follow him in the few minutes that I have at my disposal, except to say that we are all agreed that the main purpose of education is to create good citizens, and not make children into this or that type of tradesman or skilled artisan.
There were, I thought, one or two rather striking omissions from the speech of the Secretary of State with which, I hope, the Under-Secretary will deal when he replies to the Debate. The right hon. Gentleman made a passing, although very laudatory, reference to the authors of two Reports we have had this year on secondary education and primary education, but he said very little about how he meant to implement those Reports. We have heard a good deal about the recommendation regarding the concentration of multilateral schools, but little from the Minister himself. There are many parents of boys and girls who are wondering what kind of examination their children will have to pass on leaving school. The right hon. Gentleman did not say anything about that, and I hope that his hon. Friend will say something in his reply.
1104 Another question about which, I think, hon. Members must by this time be beginning to agitate themselves is that of junior colleges. We are enormously handicapped at the present time owing to building difficulties. I hope that it will not be suggested that junior colleges should be set up "more or less on paper" and possibly carried on in premises which are specially constructed for schools. I hope that the Under-Secretary will have something to say about our junior colleges, because this matter arises out of the 1945 and 1946 Acts. I am certain that I shall have the assent of the whole Committee when I say that we very much hope that these sections of these Acts will not become a dead letter as they did in the case of the Acts after the last war.
There are two points with which I wish to deal rather particularly. The first was referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd)—the overloading of staff and particularly headmasters with administrative duties. It seems to me an extraordinary thing that headmasters should be chosen to a large extent for their attainments in scholarship and their capacity as teachers and that, as soon as they become headmasters, they should immediately become administrators. If they are to be in a position to keep real contact with their pupils, both from the point of view of education in character and also from the point of view of advice as to the careers which those pupils are to follow—because, undoubtedly, under the new regulations for the payment of fees for their education, education authorities are bound to consult headmasters on the suitability of careers that are selected by students—they must be in a position to advise at first hand on them, and they must know the pupils. Undoubtedly, they are going to have a large say in the placing of pupils in jobs, whether directly or indirectly, and if they are to perform these functions they must not waste their time in looking after all the multifarious activities which are associated with a school at the present time. We know that they have travelling, feeding and clothing considerations which involve a tremendous amount of administrative work.
If they are to do that, I can see only one reasonable solution, and that 1105 is to apply in some measure the lesson of the Forces. After all, we may say that a headmaster is responsible for the transport arrangements, feeding and so forth. Of course, he is responsible, but so also is a commanding officer in a battalion responsible for the welfare and moral and physical wellbeing of his troops, in addition to the stores and everything else that is on his charge. He has both an adjutant and a quartermaster to help to look after some 800 or 900 men. Would it not be a good thing to create an educational administrative staff? There are employees in the schools who assist the headmaster, but because they have not the status required, the headmaster has a great deal more to do with the actual details and routine than he would otherwise. I hope that in the not too distant future that may be considered.
The second matter with which I wish to deal is of some importance, especially in rural areas. I would like to draw the attention of the Committee, first of all, to the report of the Advisory Council on Education in Scotland. In Paragraph 628 they state:But the most serious deficiency of all is in the meagre provision for advanced technical education whether on the mechanical or on the agricultural side.Having myself had a classical education, and I hope having derived some measure of comfort from it, I am a strong supporter of the classics and humanities. That does not mean that where conditions are favourable, there should not be a very definite effort to support the technical, and particularly the agricultural, side of education. The Report goes on to refer to the very small number of pupils who are presented annually for the senior leaving certificate in agriculture. Apart from the Wallace Hall Academy, Dumfries, only four such certificates were obtained in higher agriculture in the years 1938 to 1942 inclusive. The Report recommends that education authorities should either singly or jointly set up for appropriate areas or regions senior secondary schools specialising in rural, domestic and technical courses, but not general or academic courses, leading to school and higher school certificate presentation. It goes on to say that attached to such schools there should be appropriate hostels.
If agriculture is to be run on sound lines in this country, it is obvious 1106 that those running it, and those taking part in it, should have a proper scientific background, otherwise agriculture will not generally be progressive. Facilities should certainly be provided in the secondary and high schools in predominantly rural districts for the study of science which is given against a favourable background. The Report objects to the words "agricultural bias" but I think it favours "rural background" or some similar phrase. I do not advocate that what is taught to school children in predominantly rural districts should be in any way designed to keep them in those districts. There must be the possibility to go out and reach out for a career of one's own, but I think that there are few careers that would not benefit, and which have not benefited very largely in the past, from a knowledge of nature. In my view, the advantage of a country child learning science with an agricultural bias is that their studies can be continually carried on in what they are seeing and experiencing in their daily lives. I should like to see this extended also to the town child.
There are in my view three major obstacles to that at the present time. The first is that there are far too few men and women qualified to teach these subjects. I believe that almost every teacher in the country should be capable of giving this rural bias, and it would be highly desirable if they attained a certain standard in their own school leaving certificate in agricultural science. Here we are in a vicious circle. We can never get such teachers, because there is no one to teach them at the present time. A very interesting paper was written by Dr. J. W. Patterson, former Professor of Agriculture and then Vice-Chancellor of Perth University in Western Australia, in which he showed how they built up the study of agriculture in Western Australia by making use of ordinary science teachers and enabling them to have text-books at their disposal from which they could give the appropriate bias, to the point where now almost every school in Western Australia is presenting students for examination in rural subjects.
I will just mention very quickly it I may the other two obstacles which seem to me to exist. The first is the building and equipping of hostels and I hope that it will be possible in the future for those 1107 education authorities in the richer urban centres to get into touch with education authorities in the rural areas and make arrangements by which pupils will be taken from the towns and given an education in the country, thus enabling hostels to be set up which predominantly rural councils would not be able to afford themselves. The last point, which is a very important point, is that there is a great obstacle at the present time to agricultural science being recognised as a subject for the purpose of entrance to universities. In the Report of the Advisory Council on Education in Scotland there was a strong recommendation that it should be so, and I would urge the Department of Education to get into touch again with the universities and try to reach a compromise at least on this, so that a subject may be presented which need not necessarily be called agriculture, but may simply be science with an emphasis on agriculture.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Scottish Universities)
It is always true that the Debates on Scottish education are Debates with a character of their own. There is no doubt that we cannot keep politics out of any argument in which Scotland and Scotsmen are concerned, but the interesting point about Scottish education is that one is never quite sure from which side the politics are coming. Of course, some of the old familiar flags were raised again, and one or two coats were trailed. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) for instance, raised the question of fee paying. In my view, it is democratic that there should be a charge as it allows the parent freedom of choice of school. What is more, I cannot understand the argument that fee paying should be done away with. It mixes up the classes so that the so-called upper classes send their children to schools where they would mix with other children. To do away with fee paying for those schools means that those parents will send them to other schools where no mixing takes place at all. To advocate that as a democratic step seems to me to be a paradox, which I cannot understand. I have therefore always on this question of fee paying held the view that it was a good thing educationally and democratically. We had speeches such as the admirable one from the hon. Member for Mother- 1108 well (Mr. Alex. Anderson) who raised, if that is possible, my opinion of the family of Andersons. It seems to me that he must have been reading the speech delivered by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (SirJ. Anderson) in Edinburgh. I do not think there is a line of his speech to which any of us on this side of the Committee could have taken the slightest exception.
The difficulty about all this, is of course, the crushing of this vast subject into the relatively short space of time which is available. There are one or two points which I should like to make and one or two general observations which I should like to offer to the Committee. The first of the points on which I should like the Joint Under-Secretary of State to give us some information is with regard to health. The hon. Member for Motherwell said that he considered that while meals and milk were of great importance the really important thing was what the children were going to be taught, which was the sound, orthodox dominie point of view which has existed in Scotland for five or six hundred years. But I am a little iconoclastic about that. I think perhaps a sound body is more important than a sound mind, and therefore, my sympathy is with the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) who complained about the eroding—if I may use that word—the whittling away, of the school playground space by various authorities and town planners round about. When it came to the supreme example which he gave of a new school whose playing field is to be eight miles away, it seemed to me to be too extravagant an example of the merits of town planning. I do not think that a playground eight miles away from a school is any real advantage.
§ Mr. Westwood
And the present Secretary of State for Scotland agrees with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
That simply emphasises and reinforces the statement that I made at the beginning of my remarks that we can never tell which side of the Committee the politics are going to come from in this Debate.
There are other things which the Secretary of State said which did not, if I may say so, bear out that view, because, while it is important to have space outside the school, it is also important to have space 1109 inside the school. The Secretary of State has plumped for the raising of the school leaving age. He himself has admitted that that meant a postponement of the reduction in the size of classes and that the teaching staff which he is getting together is a staff for the extra year and not primarily for the reduction of the size of classes. I think that is a decision which will be looked at with considerable uneasiness.
I had occasion recently to look over the statistics of epidemics of scarlet fever and measles both in Scotland and in England. I can only refer in passing to the figures for England. The figures for London show the biennial swing to which all educationists are accustomed. That biennial swing suddenly stopped when the evacuation of school-children took place in 1939 because of the fear of the blitz. When the school population was dispersed the swing of the epidemics in London disappeared almost immediately. The Scottish figures which I recently obtained in reply to a Question, showed a similar tendency, though not so pronounced because the closing-down of the schools was not so complete in Scotland. But the interesting thing about the figures was, that even in Scotland there was a change over entirely after the evacuation, there was a different rhythm in the case of measles and of scarlet fever. It is clear that crowding played a great part in the spread of these diseases.
It is important further to remember that no matter what anyone says about nutrition we are all agreed that the adolescents are tightly pressed for an adequate diet. All nutrition experts are agreed upon this, and all the more so since the scales which have been brought out recently indicate that if a person in heavy work cannot get access to canteens—and there are a great number of them in industrial life—the only way that he can make up his diet short of eating ten to fourteen pounds of potatoes every day which, even without considering the obtaining of the potatoes is an absurdity, is to draw on the family pool which, in effect, means drawing on the rations of the women and children. It may well be—and this will be of great interest to the hon. Member for Coatbridge (Mrs. Mann) who says that adolescents eat a great deal more than their fathers—a serious thing to have to balance the man's rations by drawing on the rations of the younger members of the family.
1110 These factors certainly increase the danger of the mass infections which are going about just now, and in Scotland the mass infection of tuberculosis in particular. The English figures of tuberculosis are more satisfactory. They show a certain decline. It may be that they show a real decline in deaths over the prewar figure. But the Scottish tuberculosis deaths have never yet come down to the figures of prewar. That is a thing at which we have to look very carefully, especially when we are running our adolescents on so very narrow margin of safety. For that reason I deplore the decision of the Secretary of State to go all out now for the raising of the school age while neglecting for the time being the reduction of the size of the classes. I listened with some apprehension to his statement that of the 1,500 rooms—I think that was the figure—which he desired for the purpose of class accommodation he had 1,100 promised, 634 started, but none yet completed. The danger of overcrowding existing premises will be quite considerable, the more so since some of these new reforms are not having exactly the results which we had expected from them.
I read with some interest, as we all did, the Health Report and the Education Report, and I may say in passing that I agree very much with my hon. Friends that now in the middle of July we should have a Health Report a little more up to date than for the year ended 30th June, 1945.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
I would point out to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that we are dealing now with education and not with health.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
May I call your attention, Mr. Beaumont, to the fact that this Report deals both with health and education. The Health Report, as you will see, deals with both matters.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
We are not now concerned with the Report, but are dealing with Estimates relating to education.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Yes, Mr. Beaumont, and I am about to confine myself very strictly to that part of the Report which deals with education, namely, the supply of school milk. This 1111 is very closely bound up with the school. The interesting part about this new reform is that the extension of the tree milk has led to a reduction of the amount of milk going to 14 per cent. of the children in the schools. The Committee will see on page o of the summary report on education that from 6th August, 1946, the quantity of milk was restricted to one third of a pint per pupil per day, and that, according to the table, from the years 1943 to 1945 there were 14 per cent. of the children taking more than one-third of a pint per day, a figure which runs down to 0.5 per cent. as soon as the free milk supplies come in.
I should be glad if the Under-Secretary would explain that figure. It is no doubt due to the fact that it was not possible to obtain larger supplies of milk, but when does he expect to be able to raise the supply? Obviously, the 14 per cent. taking a larger supply than the one-third of a pint per day were doing so because they or their parents considered that it was worth while and would do them good. This has been cut off, and the position of those children is, to that extent, worse than it was before the free milk came in. Although the Secretary of State pointed out with justifiable pride that the heights and weights of the children had continued to increase, yet I think he was exaggerating a little when he put that down to the free meals. He will see that in 1943 the percentage of children in schools taking meals was 21, and in 1946, after the introduction of free meals, it was 32 per cent. That is not a very great increase, and I do not think that it bears the weight of the argument the right hon. Gentleman put upon it.
§ Mr. Westwood
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will remember that I coupled free meals with the supply of free milk.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Yes, but I have just been dealing with the supply of free milk, and, after all, even with the supply of free milk the increase in numbers went up only from 67.3 to 80 per cent. Neither of these figures would stand the weight of the argument which the Secretary of State sought to place upon them. The fact is that the general rise in height and weight in the school population of this country was a phenomenon which had been going on long before the war and 1112 during periods for which many other Secretaries of State were responsible. Indeed, from the figures given, it seemed to me that the rise had actually slackened recently because the increase, both in height and weight, during many of the periods I remember was more striking than that to which the right hon. Gentleman called attention. It is quite true that it is very creditable that a continual rise in height and weight has been maintained, but I do not think the rise is as dramatic as the Secretary of State would have us believe.
Turning to more general considerations, the odd fact is that although we are continually reforming Scottish education everyone says that it is not as good as it was. That is a very paradoxical result to conclude upon. The hon. Member for Motherwell said that the condemnation of the educational system of our cities was to be seen in the millions circulation of the very cheap Press. That circulation is certainly not diminishing. If it is true that we are constantly improving our education, why is it that not all of us are satisfied with the results? It seems to me that there are two reasons. One is that the greatly increasing pressure of inflation on the incomes of the middle class is driving a great many people out of education and teaching into business, and into other fields where the rewards are higher. That tendency is increasing at present, and has been the subject of a good deal of complaint in England. I think it is also taking place in Scotland. Headmasters, specialists and form masters are no longer receiving the honour, or, let us be frank, the income in comparison with other members of society which they received in the old days. It is certainly true of professors and I am sure it is true of headmasters and senior teachers generally.
There is a drain of the high potential intelligence and character away from the field of education. Somehow, somewhere, and not only by leaving it to the local authorities to negotiate with the teachers, it will be necessary to restore the gradient again and to restore the position of the people who are going to do one of the most important jobs in the country—the teaching of the young to be citizens of such a country as ours. Their position must be restored to something like that of the dominie of the old days, so that he can feel that he is in no way 1113 inferior to other sections of the community in social prestige, honour and, for that matter, in the matter of income also.
§ Mr. Scollan
Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say to which part of the old régime he referred? Does he know that in the days of John Knox the dominie had to work as potman in public houses to make up his weekly wages?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
A lot of very (Ricer things happened in the days of John Knox. John Knox and the other ministers played at bowls on Sunday. They would certainly be debarred by the Presbytery from continuing their charge if they did it now. I am not going to say what the position of the potman was, but we all know that in Scotland the proudest thing in the world that any boy could look forward to or that any mother could hope for her boy was that he would eventually be able to "wag his pow in a poopit." The position of professor was a high and dignified one. It was well paid as compared with the rest of the community. These things are diminishing now. Neither the pensions nor the lump sums with which these people go out of their jobs are able to maintain them at anything like the standard of living to which they would have been accustomed to look in the past.
Our society is suffering from the enormous severance of the natural and normal education of the young person who was taught by his father or by some elder person in the almost insensible way in which it was possible in the old days, when the boy followed his father in the fields and the smith's son would hand his father the hammer and could eventually learn, himself, to become a craftsman. Nowadays, owing to our industrial structure, all that has been cut off. A young person cannot go into a factory or a workshop. Our society is still looking for some way in which to substitute another education for that which has been severed by the conditions of our modern life. The only thing on which I quarrel with the hon. Member for Motherwell is that he seemed to think that an education which was not the classics was not true education. The essence of education should be that somebody should be applying himself eagerly to the subject which is being taught.
Many boys who will spend an indefinite time tinkering about with a radio set, a 1114 model aeroplane or a motor bicycle, will go to sleep if anybody tries to teach them French irregular verbs. For those whose task it is to teach such boys French irregular verbs it is a little disappointing to see how the boys will flee from the classroom and apply themselves with the utmost diligence to a different and a very difficult form of education of their own, of the kind they get in workshops, tinkering about with tools. We have not solved that problem, or are we likely to solve it by the proposals which the Secretary of State put before us.
I can only say that these are matters about which we in Scotland are now keenly anxious. We have not yet found a way, but we shall continue to discuss them, and we shall need to continue to do so for years to come it may be. But if we continue to discuss them in the friendly and frank way in which they have been discussed in this Committee tonight, it may be that we in Scotland will be among the first of the nations to come to the solution.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser)
I think it will be agreed that we have had a very useful discussion and for a change there have been no complaints on either side about the scope of the discussion. The right hon. and gallant Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) asked me to say a further word on the position regarding milk in schools. He quoted from the Annual Report, and he was a little perturbed to find that the number of children taking more than one-third of a pint, as a percentage of the total receiving milk, had gone down considerably in 1947, as against 1946.
§ Mr. Fraser
It has gone down still further in 1947 as against 1946. I thought the right hon. and gallant Member made reference to the latest figure, but he could not have done so, as he was quoting from the 1946 Report. The figure continues to go down. It went down considerably after the introduction of free milk in schools because of the vastly increased number of children taking milk in schools. The fact is that we have to limit the children taking more than one-third of a pint to those who 1115 could be found to be in need of more than one-third of a pint. We find that 485,000 children were taking milk in schools in February,1946,but no fewer than 580,000, or an increase of 95,000, were taking milk by February, 1947. Only 5 of the total are now taking more than one-third of a pint. Those children are the children who need extra milk. We should be justified in assuming that the vast majority of that 95,000 additional children who are taking milk in schools are children who are in need of milk, and who did not get it before the introduction of free milk in schools because the parents could not afford the milk, or for some other reason.
§ Mr. Stephen (Glasgow, Camlachie)
Was the total amount of milk that was taken in 1945 larger or smaller?
§ Mr. Fraser
It has gone up slightly over the earlier years. The vastly greater number taking it caused us to impose the condition about the provision of more than one-third of a point to any one child.
A lot has been said in the course of the Debate today about the Government having taken what some hon. Members described as an unpopular decision to raise the school leaving age to 15 years. Fortunately or unfortunately, the present Government have no right at all to claim the credit for raising the age or to be given the blame, if blame there be, for the decision to raise the school leaving age. I well remember the decision being taken by the House of Commons in 1944, when the English Education Bill was being considered. The then Government proposed that there should be a provision in the Bill for raising the school leaving age to 15 years as soon as it was found practicable to do so. The House of Commons revolted and said that the Secretary of State for Scotland had been given that power in 1918, and up to the end of 1944 fie had never exercised it, and that there was no indication that postwar Governments would be in any greater hurry to introduce that provision than Governments in the interwar period.
The House of Commons insisted that in the Statute of 1944 there should he a provision that the school leaving age should be raised to 15 on 1st April, 1946, or not later than one year thereafter. If we are to be criticised, it is only for not introducing amending legislation in this 1116 Parliament to negative or annul a decision of the Coalition Parliament. The decision was taken when there was a war on. We did not know how long the war would last. The decision was taken in 1944 and it was repeated in the Education (Scotland) Act, 1945, when the war was still on. Hon. Members opposite, if I remember aright, foresaw in 1945, when the war with Germany was brought to an end, that the war against Japan might very well continue for 18 months. Yet they insisted, together with the Labour hon. Members, that this provision should be put in the Statute. Now they deplore the decision of His Majesty's Government not to revoke a decision arrived at by the Coalition Parliament.
§ Major Lloyd
The hon. Gentleman has put in a word which I never heard from these benches—"deplore" the decision. Whoever said that the decision was deplored? Surely, all that has been suggested is that there was a certain risk? Some may have used the word "gamble." "Deplore" is the hon. Gentleman's word and not ours.
§ Mr. Fraser
Perhaps I do not use the same word as hon. Members opposite all the time, but this was referred to as "an unfortunate decision." If one hears this referred to as "an unfortunate decision" in a certain tone of voice, surely, it is not incorrect to place that interpretation upon it. I ought to give some further information to that given by my right hon. Friend about the provision of accommodation. Hon. Gentlemen have been uncertain as to our estimate of the additional classroom accommodation. We estimate that no fewer than 1,850 additional rooms will be required, including classrooms and practical rooms. As my right hon. Friend said in his opening speech, at the 15th of this month preliminary proposals covering the erection of 1,341 had been submitted by education authorities and the Ministry of Works had received final instructions to proceed with 1,142. He also said that 634 are in course of construction and that none has yet been completed. The fact is that one or two have been completed, but they are not listed as having been completed because they have not as yet been handed over to the education authorities. We estimate however that about 270 additional rooms will be required by 1st September next 1117 but we do not anticipate that we shall have 270 completed by that date. We anticipate that about 150 might be completed by September and that the total required by September will be completed by about the beginning of November.
We are concentrating on getting the class rooms and practical rooms completed in certain danger areas. We have what we call danger spots about the country where the need is greater than in other parts. I might mention particularly Perth and Dundee. I have been very worried about Perth and Dundee, and a long time ago I had consultations with them. I asked them to come and see me rather than wait for them to ask to be received by me. I think that was the case in both instances. It was certainly so in the case of Dundee. Those authorities, particularly Perth, were a little perturbed about the position inasmuch as they had some big housing schemes a bit out of the town and did not want to provide even temporary hutted accommodation in a part of the town which would in three, four or five years' time be considerably removed from the part from which the children would be coming to school. They therefore wanted to merge the work of the schools building programme into their other housing programme, and the plans had to be made concurrently and at the one time. In some cases, including Perth and Dundee, they did not find it easy to make good their needs by the provision of this temporary accommodation.
§ Commander Galbraith
May I interrupt in order to try to get the position clear in my own mind? I think the hon. Gentleman has told the Committee that 1,850 rooms will be required. Those rooms are all to meet the increase in the population of the schools arising out of the later leaving age? Two hundred and seventy will meet the position as at September of this year, of which 150 will be ready? Is that correct?
§ Mr. Fraser
That is correct. Since I have indicated that we do not at this date expect to have the requisite number of rooms completed by 1st September when the first influx of additional school population comes along, we have to ask ourselves what we are going to do in the circumstances. We want if possible to 1118 avoid any part-time or half-time education. We want to avoid that, if possible, and to avoid that we have asked the authorities to do their nest, where the need is great and where it looks as if gross overcrowding or part-time education will result, to acquire very temporary accommodation. It does not seem to me to be wrong that we should ask the authorities to acquire by agreement church halls and other places in which to take their classes for a month or two until the hutted accommodation is completed for them. I have some reason to believe that the authorities who are in greatest difficulty are in fact proceeding to acquire such temporary accommodation.
We have a programme of other school building going on. At the present time the authorities are hurrying on with the completion of unfinished buildings, buildings started before the war and discontinued and now being completed, generally speaking, on austerity lines. Some new permanent buildings, again built on austerity lines, have been approved by the Department, and work on them should begin at a reasonably early date. These schools will not, of course, be ready in time to provide accommodation this year, but some of them will be ready in time to take on some of the influx of pupils coming along in the course of 1948. The authorities will make an annual payment to the Department of 8 per cent. of the cost.
§ Lord John Hope
I did not realise that the hon. Gentleman was leaving the part of his speech dealing with buildings. Would he answer the question I put to him about the allocation of bricks for building?
§ Mr. Fraser
I would have done so if the hon. Gentleman had waited a few moments, but I do not mind his interjection. The bricks position is easier now than it was at one time. Local authorities have been informed that they can make use of bricks for their building programme, and they are in fact doing so at the present time. We prefer bricks to the cement blocks which they have been using.
§ Sir T. Moore
Before the hon. Gentleman passes from that, will he say what he is doing, or what can be done to provide the necessary number of textbooks for the additional children?
§ Mr. Fraser
I do not think that question has been raised before, and I hesitate to interrupt my replies to hon. Members who have already made speeches to answer any new points.
§ Mr. Fraser
I am sorry, I had to go out to get some sustenance when the hon. and gallant Gentleman was speaking. We are, of course, aware of the great need for textbooks, and my right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education are in the closest consultation with the President of the Board of Trade in the matter. Questions are asked in the House from time to time, and I assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that we shall not be easily put aside when making our representations in favour of getting the requisite amount of paper to provide the textbooks required. I was proceeding to say that the authorities, to make payment for the hutted accommodation provided by the Government and erected by the Ministry of Works, will make an annual payment to the Department of 8 per cent. of the cost of the huts so erected. I hasten to say, however, that these payments will attract State grant and, therefore, although it will look as if the local authorities were paying 8 per cent. per annum of the cost of the huts erected, the ratepayers will only be paying really about 4 per cent. of the cost of these huts per year.
I wonder if I could use the time of the Committee for two minutes to tell hon. Members what further we have done to secure that the organisation and curriculum of the schools will be adapted to meet the new position arising from the raising of the age? I think my right hon. Friend made some reference to the circular we sent out on the 20th February this year. That circular, if I may quote it, said:The Secretary of State regards it as essential that the additional period of schooling should not be for the pupils concerned merely a period of marking time, but that they should get—and be recognised by their parents to be getting—something not available to them within the limits of the present leaving age. This additional period, therefore, should be used to provide a real culmination of the pupils' school education, by which the acquirements of earlier years are extended and integrated and at the same time, through the adoption of a realistic approach, are related to the needs of the 1120 everyday world where the pupils must in due course play their parts alike as workers, as citizens and as individuals.Further in the circular, it is said:It is of particular importance that all pupils who are required to continue at school for an additional school year should receive adequate training in practical subjects, including science. It is appreciated that shortage of accommodation may make this difficult, but the fullest use should he made of existing accommodation—including accommodation in neighbouring schools to which it may be found practicable to send pupils for instruction. If, notwithstanding, the normal amount of instruction cannot be provided for all classes and if some temporary curtailment of that amount proves to be inevitable, it should take place so far as possible in the earlier years of the course rather than in the new final year.I quote from that circular merely to make quite clear to the Committee that my right hon. Friend wants, if nothing else, to secure that this new extra year of school for 14-year-olds will be a useful year, and will not just be a case of marking time.
A good deal has been said today about the size of classes, and I should remind the Committee that the decision to make the raising of the age a priority over the reduction in the size of classes was a decision taken by the House of Commons which my right hon. Friend is merely endeavouring to carry out. However, he is not unmindful of the desirability of reducing the size of the classes. Perhaps I should say that the Day Schools Code requires that, except in special circumstances, the number of pupils on the roll of any class under one teacher shall not exceed 50 in an infant or primary division, 40 in the first three years in the secondary division, and 30 in the fourth and subsequent years. My right hon. Friend, of course, would like to get away from that, and he hopes to do so in the not' far distant future, but his immediate aim is to reduce the 50 mentioned in the Code to 40, to make 40 the maximum number in an infant or primary school and, in certain circumstances, to make it 30, and to make 30 the maximum size of class in the secondary schools.
I sometimes feel—and today one got that impression—that the position is thought to be slightly worse than it is, although I am not saying it is good. The over-sized classes in all the divisions under this present Code average 3 per cent. of the total, and in 1121 primary divisions where the position is always felt to be worse, the percentage of over-sized classes is 1.6. I wonder if I may give some further figures? I find that the number of classes under education authorities in the whole country is 22,081, the number of primary classes altogether is 16,137, of which 4,839 are classes of less than 30 pupils, and a further 6,023 are classes of less than 40 pupils, so that just more than two-thirds of the total of primary classes have less than 40 pupils in the class.
§ Commander Galbraith
But the hon. Gentleman surely recognises that the figures he has read out are far too high to give efficient teaching. Is some attempt being made to get these figures down?
§ Mr. Fraser
Yes, I am trying to make clear that my right hon. Friend wants to bring them down and wants to introduce a new code as soon as possible, but he must have regard to the decision of the House to put the raising of the age first, though we must not be unmindful of the desirability of reducing the size of the classes. I also find that of the senior secondary classes, the fourth and later years, we have 801 in the country, 697 of which have fewer than 30 pupils, and, indeed, 391 of which have less than 20 pupils in the class. I give these figures to make it quite clear that not all the classes in the country have 45, 50 and 60 pupils. Nevertheless, we are unhappy about the percentage where the classes are still too big, and we must not relax in our endeavours to have them reduced substantially.
The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok made some observations about the need for some delegation of responsibility for educational administration. As lie was making his speech, I remembered that some such provision is made in the Local Government Bill which comes later in the evening, and I picked it up and checked it to find that, in Clause 109, provision is made for the sort of delegation in the cities which he seemed to have in mind in the course of his speech.
One or two hon. Members have spoken about the quality of the teachers under the new emergency scheme. I think my hon. Friend the Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison) said that as far as she could learn the quality of the students 1122 we got under this scheme was very high. That is our information. Indeed, perhaps I should again refer to what my right hon. Friend said in his opening speech. He told the Committee the number of applications under the scheme and the number of acceptances and gave information in order to show the Committee that more than twice as many applicants came forward as were required. The Committee to which my hon. Friend the Member for North Lanark referred were able to exercise the greatest care in the selection; and training authorities agreed that the trainees under the emergency scheme were of very good quality.
There have also been remarks about sites in Glasgow and playing fields and so on there. This is a local question of very great complexity, and not a little difficulty. It has already been the subject of discussion between Glasgow and the Department. My right hon. Friend has definite views on this matter which have been made known to the Glasgow authorities through the Department, and the Glasgow authorities can be in no doubt whatever as to what those views are. I was asked by one or two hon. Members —including my hon. Friend the Member for North Lanark, who made a most excellent speech—what my right hon. Friend was going to do about the Advisory Council's Report on secondary education. I would like to give expression to personal views on this matter also. Someone reminded me a few minutes ago that when the Education Bill was before the Committee in 1945, I made myself responsible for certain Amendments that sought to bring about the sort of change that has been advocated from different sides of the Committee today—changes based upon suggestions in the Advisory Council's Report. But my right hon. Friend is as yet unable to make a pronouncement on the Report. He is discussing the recommendations with the teachers, headmasters, and bodies interested, bodies who have regarded existing teaching in secondary schools and existing certificates as a test of educational training for certain occupations, and admission into certain institutions. The Committee will agree that my right hon. Friend should collect the views of these people before he makes any decision. We do not want to have any unnecessary delay, but we very much want, when a decision is made, that the decision should be the right one.
1123 I was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for North Lanark about the sum of £200,000 which is being spent on education of Poles. I do not think she would wish to be nationalist in this matter. It is true we are spending more proportionately than in England on the education of Poles, although I do not think we are going to spend so disproportionately as the present Votes suggest, because of certain decisions which have been taken about the setting up of educational establishments for the Poles. But we have a greater number of Polish ex-Service men in universities in Scotland proportionately, than there are in England. I have no doubt that is because we had a greater proportion of Poles billeted in Scotland during the war years when they gained admission to Scottish universities, those who were desirous of continuing their education, and able to continue their education in that way. In addition, we are required to provide education for Polish children under the provision of the Polish Resettlement Act, and a United Kingdom Committee has been set up to administer the education of those Polish children. I do not think any of us wishes to be nationalist and to instruct the United Kingdom Committee to ensure that we in this country educate precisely eleven-eightieths of the Polish children to be educated in the United Kingdom.
The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) asked certain questions about the presentations for the leaving certificate. The number of pupils so presented is determined by the headmasters themselves, and they are merely given some general guidance by the Scottish Education Department. I was also asked questions about agricultural education, and the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) asked if we could encourage the provision of rural education, education with a rural background? We are doing that, and are encouraging county education authorities to provide centres where courses can be given to young people for education in the correct rural setting. He also regretted that the Scottish Universities Entrance Board did not regard agriculture as a subject that would 1124 gain for them acceptance to the universities. The Secretary of State has already made an approach to the Board on the subject, and indicated his views, but he has no power to force the Board to change their policy.
§ Mr. Snadden (Perth and Kinross, Western)
Before the hon. Member leaves that point, I wish to put a question. Is. it not a fact that the Secretary of State has recognised, or accepts, the Alness Report in regard to the degree course in agriculture at the universities?
§ Mr. Fraser
My right hon. Friend is not empowered to give any instructions. Parliament has not yet decided that he should be given such power, and he has not got it.
A good deal has been said about the development of technical education, and the need for such development. We all regret that Scotland did not make more progess in this direction in the interwar years, but I think it is to the credit of the Scottish people that today all sections of Scottish opinion seem to be favouring a rapid and considerable development in technical education facilities. One finds the trade unions and employers co-operating with education authorities in the building up of those facilities. We find that the release of apprentices required to go to school, where they will not only get a narrow vocational training but also quite a general education, is for ever on the increase. At the present time no fewer than 5,457 young people are attending the release classes. We must continue to see this new development expand, and it is already possible to say that we have both the trade unions and the employers in Scotland co-operating with the education authorities in building up these new facilities.
§ Mr. Westwood
I hope it will be for the convenience of the Committee and will meet with their approval, if, in order to enable us to proceed to the next Estimate on the Order Paper, I ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.