§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
We are engaged today upon the examination of one of Scotland's greatest enterprises—some may even choose to describe it as the greatest. Certainly, in the long swing of the nation's stride to social and economic wellbeing, it is the most important of those enterprises; for, as we fight our way through the disturbing and ever more scientific conditions of this somewhat tortuous century, the need for high education—of the mind, the heart and the hand—becomes more urgent.
Fortunately for Scotland, that need is universally admitted, thanks to our enlightened forebears, for whom none of us can ever have enough admiration in this matter, the search for education has become almost a prime national instinct, unaffected by religion, or even by political party controversy. We have each, no doubt, our own particular emphasis, degree and object of enthusiasm. Some of us are more ardent about education than others; some more hesitant about change and experiment; for some, finance looms more largely than for others. That is, of course, as it should be in a country where men are free to form and express their opinions; for it is by the clash of these opinions that we arrive at what is possibly the best policy and the best progress.
But, by and large, I think I can claim that education commands the loyalty of us all. I think that is clear. By its culture and broadening of the mind, by its equalising of opportunity. it reflects the deep liberalism—I am not talking in the political sense—which underlies the Scottish character in all areas and in all sections of the people; and I have little doubt that it is in that spirit that most of us will approach the Debate today. It is, I am sure, the desire of us all, and particularly of my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee, to improve continually the educational facilities offered to our young people. That is our desire. What criticism there is will be criticism not of the object, but of the ways and means adopted to achieve that object.
I must confess—and I begin by being polite to the Secretary of State for Scotland and the hon. Lady—that I find the report for 1949 a remarkably refreshing and heartening document, and one in which we can all take our share of 2489 modest pride. It is good to read of the efforts made on behalf of our handicapped children; of the camp schools, and of the first efforts to develop leadership in schools, a matter in which my noble Friend the Member for Inverness (Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton) is particularly interested, and about which I hope he will speak. It is good, also, to read of the steady advance of community centres and village halls, and of the community associations that follow from them and do such an immense amount of good for country people.
It is a fine thing and a tribute to the resilience and determination of the present generation of Scots men and women that our teachers, particularly our headmasters and headmistresses, have done so good a job in the last year, despite the almost overwhelming difficulties that have surrounded them. It is a fine thing that so many capable Scots boys and girls have passed from the hands of the teachers to the universities, to trade, commerce and industry throughout the land.
When I think of the difficulties that surround the teachers now—the shortage of staff, of accommodation, of equipment, the shortage, indeed, of almost everything except the pupils who crowd the classrooms as never before—I feel it is the duty of the House, and I hope the Committee will agree, to express its thanks to all those concerned. We should thank the local authorities, the administrators, the teachers and the pupils for what they have been able to achieve in these last very difficult 12 months.
I hope, however, that none of us is going to under-estimate or underrate the strain under which these fine people now operate. It is the kind of strain that can be borne for a time, and cheerfully—as I know it is—but which, if it is allowed to continue indefinitely or for too long, may bring down the whole edifice of education in Scotland. It is a very serious strain, and it is here that one experiences the first strong pang of dissatisfaction with the actions of His Majesty's Government at the present time.
Let us take, first, the problem of staffing. The Report on Education in Scotland in 1949 makes no attempt to conceal either the extent or the seriousness of this problem. I should like hon. Members to look at passages in the Report to 2490 confirm what I have just said. On page 16 it says:The difficulty of staffing new as well as existing schools has persisted, and in the more populous parts of the country the position has tended to deteriorate.A little further on one reads:The staffing of primary schools and departments showed some improvement, but remained difficult in Glasgow and in some of the urban areas, particularly in Lanarkshire and Renfewshire.The Report adds that "in the remoter rural districts," with which so many of us here are concerned:… the recruitment of qualified teachers in adequate numbers proved impossible. In the secondary schools little definite improvement in the staffing position was recorded. The shortage of qualified specialist teachers of science and mathematics remained acute and the supply of specialist teachers of art, technical and domestic subjects and music, and of women teachers of physical education, was again insufficient to meet the demands of Authorities.I remember, when I was on the Advisory Council, how very difficult it was, and I know it still is, to obtain accurate figures of the number of teachers, trainees, and so on; and I am glad that the Secretary of State has appointed a working party to advise him on the facts. But the broad position is not in dispute. While today there are over 32,000 teachers employed in Scottish schools, which is a very high figure, no fewer than 900 of these teachers are uncertificated, with no claims to training or qualifications at all; and 3,000 of them are married women, many of whom probably, will soon want to return to their homes. If you took away all those—that is roughly 4,000—the present admittedly acute position would become virtually impossible.
§ Mr. Stewart
I think there are 900. Thanks to the success of the Emergency Training Scheme, which the Advisory Council recommended and which has been pushed forward with commendable energy by the training colleges, who deserve great praise, the total number of trainees is high, even by pre-war standards. It looks as if the overall recruitment might just about meet our need for the next two years or so, provided, of 2491 course, the present 900 and 3,000 teachers, of whom I have spoken, remain where they are.
But, of course, the supply of the Emergency Training Scheme will soon dry up. There are another 1,700 students to come, and when they have been put in the schools, there will be no more. Moreover, the school population is rapidly rising. We are coming to the stage of the bulge, about which we were so concerned in the days of the Advisory Council. There is certain to be a large increase of new pupils owing to the rise in the birthrate some years ago. It will simply not do to wait hopefully until then, without taking any special measures, trusting that somehow, by some means, enough teachers will be there to cope with this increased flow of children. We must act now, this year, if we are to ensure the staffing of our schools is adequate to meet this increased demand.
What troubles me most about all this is the reduction in graduate teachers. According to the Report, in 1930 the proportion of graduates to non-graduates was 3 to 1. Today it is something like three graduates to five undergraduates. In October, 1948, the number of teachers qualified under Chapter Five, that is to say honours graduates, was 590 fewer than in 1939. That is a very disturbing figure.
The pride and glory of Scottish education in the old days used to be based mainly on the high attainments of the senior teachers. Now, if the signs are as we think they are, those men and women are no longer offering themselves to the service of education, at any rate not to the same extent as before. Something is happening to deflect their interest. If that be so, it is our duty fearlessly to inquire into the causes and, if need be, to reconsider the whole problem of the status, amenities and emoluments which we offer to the teaching profession.
It is not for the Committee to lay down any details. Parliament provides the greater part, but only part, of the total cost of education. The local authorities have to be considered and there is, of course, a proper place for the examination of details of salary, namely the National Joint Council. It is their business to inquire into these matters and to make recommendations. But, it would be foolish for this Committee to imagine that 2492 because of the existence of the National Joint Council we can disinterest ourselves in this matter and "pass the buck" to them. It will not do, because Parliament and the Government remain ultimately responsible. The responsibility is squarely upon our shoulders, here, to ensure that the education of our children is properly carried out.
If, as I believe—and I hope this will not be regarded as too controversial—the trouble with the teachers and their salaries is due mainly to the mistaken policy of His Majesty's Government in its different fields of activity, then we have a right to demand reconsideration of that policy. The fact is that the old established relationship between the various professions and callings have been completely altered during the last few years. That is the whole root of the problem.
The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. McNeil)
I should like a little more information about this. Would the hon. Gentleman give a little more detail? I should like to understand his argument.
§ Mr. Stewart
I shall be coming to that if the right hon. Gentleman will have a little patience. I was talking about the lack of balance. I suppose some hon. Members will have seen the cartoon in "Punch" a little time ago; it was a picture of a new school in the course of construction, with a figure in academic dress reading a poster on the gate. The poster said "Skilled hands wanted. Bricklayers, carpenters and plumbers £7 10s. a week. Schoolmasters £6 10s." It bore the grimly ironical title "Building for the future." That is what I mean by the ill-balance which is now everywhere to be seen.
Now what are the facts for which the right hon. Gentleman asked? Since 1945, while almost every other class of the community has enjoyed increases and sometimes substantial increases of income, the great body of Scottish teachers have had their salaries completely frozen. Everybody else has had rises: the teachers by and large have had none. Meanwhile, every item in the cost of living has risen, and, to make matters worse—and this is what galls the teachers, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman knows very well—the nationalised boards and services in Scotland have been ostentatiously advertising posts for men and women, with no 2493 higher qualifications than teachers', at salaries which no member of the teaching profession could ever hope to attain. That really gets under the skin of even the most loyal and public spirited teacher in any part of the country. How foolish and foolhardy it is to have allowed the craze for Socialism so to upset the whole social system.
I do not deny that I am perturbed by the rising cost education as a whole. No responsible person can be other than perturbed. Before the war it amounted to £14 million. Today it amounts to £32 million. In 1946, after the increase in salaries had taken effect, the cost of teaching a Scottish child was, on the average, £30 a year. Today it is over £40 a year—an increase of one-third in those two or three years. It is a staggering increase.
In these circumstances, prudent economies in every department are surely essential. All unnecessary trimmings must clearly go at this time. The falderals of the faddists—and they are always there—must be stamped out. The austerity which the rest of the country has to suffer must be borne in its due share by the schools.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Miss Herbison)
Would the hon. Gentleman give us some idea of what these falderals are, and where we might make these cuts?
§ Mr. Stewart
I hope the hon. Lady will not ask me to do that. [Laughter.] I do not want to take up too much time, but surely we ail know on all our education committees a few faddists who would have all sorts of falderals in the schools, and who have to be stamped upon. This is not a party point at all. They are to be found as much on our side as on the other side of the Committee. I should have thought there was no argument at all on this point. If there is any argument, let me make it plain that we on this side of the Committee take that view.
§ Mr. Stewart
I could give a great many, but I have a speech to make; it is somewhat long, and I want to make it.
§ Mr. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
Some of us have been members of education 2494 committees, and would like a little more clarity on this point. The hon. Member has mentioned falderals in connection with Scottish education. Can he mention one that he would like to do away with?
§ Mr. Stewart
I am not being unfair but, as everybody knows, there are always to be found in different parts of the country some of these enthusiasts who have to be kept in place. That is all I said. Reasonable prudent economy has certainly got to be applied at this time, but I should like to add this—and perhaps I shall have the support of hon. Members opposite. Parsimony in the supreme educational duty of attracting and keeping qualified, and particularly highly qualified, teachers is neither economy nor good sense. I trust that we shall have from the Parliamentary Secretary when she replies a clear indication of the Government's views on this matter.
The question of salaries has now been handed over to the Secretary of State by the teachers' representatives.
§ Mr. Stewart
I have read the answers, and I think it is true to say that the teachers' representatives have made it perfectly clear to the Joint Council that they cannot accept the conclusions reached by the Council and they have approached the right hon. Gentleman direct. If I have misread the facts, no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will put me right about it. I am only saying that he has, unfortunately for himself perhaps, responsibility in this matter, and I am seeking information as to his intentions. I am asking now on behalf of my hon. Friends what the Government intend to do in this very serious matter.
I come next to accommodation. Here, too, the Report is refreshingly outspoken It says:It is accommodation which will be the limiting factor of educational development during the next decade.2495 I am sure that is true. The question is, how are we dealing with it? Let me acknowledge the success of the H.O.R.S.A. scheme. It has been a fine effort. There were moments of great anxiety when these huts were being built. There were episodes—I can give details if required—of considerable muddle on the part of the Ministry of Works while these new buildings were being erected. But, with the amazing gift for compromise which is typical of our people, and with the remarkable initiative of the local teachers, administrators and so on, the local authorities have got through with the job, and large numbers of children are now established there in considerable comfort.
The H.O.R.S.A. scheme stage has passed. We are now entering upon a new stage, and it is a very difficult stage. We have reached the stage where substantial new housing estates are rising and nearing completion, and one hears of very few cases where the provision of schools in these new estates has been adequately met. Glaring examples, such as in Glasgow, of which the right hon. Gentleman is surely aware, crowd upon one's attention, where it would seem that planning has simply been swept off the board altogether. We have had our little troubles in Fife as well. All over the country local authorities are now at their wits' end to know how to provide school accommodation for these great new housing estates.
In a somewhat glowing example of understatement the Report informs us:The results in several areas have been disappointing.That is certainly an understatement. The Report is a little more realistic when it explains later on:Delays in erection"—of new schools—have been due, in some instances, to scarcity of labour and materials, the slow delivery of boilers, radiators and piping being specially irksome.We all know that that sort of thing has happened, that there have been shortages and still are shortages all round. The odd thing is that although the Report says so, are we not told every day in answer to questions here that under the guidance of this marvellous Government there are no housing material shortages at all? It is very odd. I hope the hon. Lady will 2496 be able to comfort us on these subjects and to offer us some real assurances that we shall avoid the grim necessity of pouring the new school populations not into new schools but into that ogre which she has often passionately criticised, the overcrowded class. I want her attention on this point; we want some information upon the matter of building and I invite her to offer some real assurances.
I should have liked to examine the problems of equipment, upon which we are spending a great deal of money in Fife—and with very little guidance from the Department; and I shall gladly go into that matter with the Minister, if I am allowed to do so. I should like to have dealt with the problem of after-school education, a subject in which, as the Committee will remember, I have always had great interest. My anxiety about it has not been lessened by the disclosure in the Report that less than one in five of young workers aged 15 to 18 successfully attend any kind of continuation classes. I think that is a staggering figure. If ever there was a case for the junior colleges, upon which I still pin my faith, here is that case.
§ Mr. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
On the subject of junior colleges, one of the problems has been building. It is estimated that a junior college takes about the same amount of labour and material as 200 houses. How many houses should we give up in order to build junior colleges?
§ Mr. Stewart
I have heard the right hon. Gentleman say that two or three times before. I should like to deal with it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am not avoiding anything; I beg the Committee to believe that; I should have liked to deal with it, but in a wide field such as this and when time is so limited, one must be selective, and I have been able to select only some of the items out of a great many in this Report.
I should like to turn to the difficult and, I think, crucial problem of the form and content of education, with particular reference to secondary education and the teaching of citizenship. I know that the hon. Lady will be interested in this and I informed her earlier that I intended to raise the subject. I think the Committee would agree with me that it is for the most part from the secondary 2497 education in our schools that we draw our future leaders in commerce, industry, trade, in the arts, in learning, in the professions and so on. The question is, how are we instructing these young people, upon whose wisdom and ability we shall so much depend in the years to come?
In this case the Secretary of State cannot plead any lack either of counsel or of inspiration. The Report on Secondary Education of the Advisory Council in 1946 was acclaimed in all quarters. Leading educationalists in all parts of the world—in all parts of the civilised world, at any rate—paid tribute to its thoroughness, to its vision and to its good sense. I was a member of that Council, but I played a small part in it, and when I speak of the Council I speak really of my colleagues. My part was not that of the expert; all I was able to do sometimes was to encourage these splendid men to express their views, so that I can speak with real modesty about this.
The Department and three successive Secretaries of State have had nearly four years in which to weigh the recommendations of the Advisory Council. The strange thing is that never, during that lengthy period, have the Government issued any pronouncement upon its general spirit and tenor. I think this is a very serious matter and I put it to the right hon. Gentleman not as a critic but as one who is anxious to see things put right. The silence of the Government in this matter has out-Trappisted the Trappists themselves and, considering the nature of the issue, that is a remarkable and somewhat disturbing fact.
Let me tell the Committee something about the Report on Secondary Education. Whatever its faults, the Report tried to see universal education as related to post-war Scotland and to indicate what changes were necessary in educational purpose, organisation, methods and examinations to make the relationship a healthy one. The Council saw clearly that our secondary education was still far too dominated by its academic origin, and too much preoccupied with what one might call book-based instruction.
We concluded—and our views were supported by all the evidence before us; and we sought evidence from all parts 2498 of the country and all parts of the world—that three essentials were gravely neglected in our secondary education. The first, and I think I carry the Committee with me on this, was the need of adolescence for activity and relevance in its school work. There is not enough of it. Secondly, the cultivation of the emotional and the aesthetic sides of human nature by a more generous treatment of—
§ Mr. Stewart
Might I conclude the sentence? I was saying—by a more generous treatment of music, drama, dancing and the visual arts. I regard none of these as falderals. Thirdly, emphasis on the school as a community. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not laugh about this.
I am not laughing. I am expressing my inability to pick out what the hon. Gentleman means by falderals.
§ Mr. Stewart
I was not talking about falderals. I was talking about the aesthetic sides of human nature, about which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is thoroughly sympathetic. The third section of our secondary education which is neglected is the emphasis on the school as a community to ensure that practice of social virtues and the creation of those dispositions of man which are essential for a democratic community.
To achieve those ends we made two major requests. First, we asked for a variety of experimentation and a temper of resource and initiative on the part of Scottish teachers, which we did not conside compatible with the continuance of external examinations as we have known them. This is a very important point. Secondly, we asked for some easing, not necessarily of essential standards, but of the amount of factual information required of boys and girls at all stages, in order that schools might have time to give training in social living and to cultivate the active sides of human nature, as well as the purely cognative. In other words: while trying to teach the boy to know his mathematics and history, we wanted to see him come out of school a real citizen, with a full appreciation of the duties and responsibility of a member of this great community. That is what we were seeking to achieve.
2499 It may be said, on superficial examination of the matter, that the Minister's silence on these big issues leaves him uncommitted, but his refusal—and I do not refer to the right hon. Gentleman, who has been in office only a short time, but to the Government—to do more than tinker with the examination system and to offer a few minor changes in the new Code must, unless the Minister denies it today, be regarded as a rejection of the philosophy of the Report. That will be a serious thing, and I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. But do the Government realise how deeply they have disappointed all the enlightened teachers and administrators in Scotland by not stating their views plainly, and not least have disappointed the very gifted and devoted men, not including myself, who served on the Council?
I wish I could take the right hon. Gentleman back to the atmosphere of the Council. For a short time the Under-Secretary of State was a member of the Council, but he was then removed to a higher place. Let me describe the scene at the end. We were engaged on that Council—in the middle of the war, let us remember—upon what we thought was a great adventure. Projecting our minds forward into the peace, we were seeking to build some part of the brave new world for which all of us were striving—a world where the blessings of higher education would be available to all, for the benefit of all. That was what we were striving to do, and I remember the thrill and excitement that prevailed as we sat round the table at St. Andrew's House at the end of deliberations that had lasted two or three years. One felt one had made some real contribution to a higher standard of life and to a higher culture for the whole of our people.
It is disappointing, as the right hon. Gentleman will understand, having done all that and having gone through that somewhat emotional experience, to find not one single word said about it for four years. The importance of it is this. That Council sat there for three years or more. It offered reports on many subjects. I am sure I speak for all my colleagues on the Council when I say that the Secondary Report was regarded by us 2500 as the basis of it all. It was on that basis that the edifice was to be built.
If the Government have no views on that Report, it upsets the whole of the recommendations that we offered. Of course the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to reject the Report if he wants to; in which case he might tell us—and ought to tell us now. Equally he is entitled to say, "I accept some parts of it and I reject others." All right, then let him declare himself, and tell us why he rejects those views. But I do beg him to make a public declaration of where he stands on this matter of the post-war educational structure in Scotand.
Why do I say that? Not only because some of us are disappointed. Perhaps that does not matter. The right hon. Gentleman must know that some education authorities—indeed, all education authorities—have considered the recommendations of the Secondary Report and would like to implement many of them. They cannot do it now without guidance and approval from the Department. At present they have no encouragement from the Department, and they are hanging back. I speak with knowledge of what has happened in Fife. The Director of Education there is keen to introduce some of these new ideas, which he regards as good ideas, but without a clear expression of the views of the Department he is not able to do so.
Here, therefore, is the crux of the educational problem in Scotland. We are all anxious to produce from our schools, especially from our secondary schools, the very best of young men and women. I say to the right hon. Gentleman—and I have given some thought to this, and speak for others more knowledgeable than I am—that until he declares clearly that he accepts the broad principles, the underlying philosophy, of that enlightened Report, we shall not progress in Scotland. Indeed, we shall definitely hold up progress. There is the opportunity which I respectfully offer to the right hon. Gentleman tonight. If he will make such a declaration he will do something good for Scottish education.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Miss Herbison)
I am sure that every Member of this Committee will be very pleased that the Opposition decided 2501 to take one of our two precious Supply Days to discuss this very important question of education. The hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart) has raised quite a number of points and problems that have been exercising the minds not only of the Ministers and the Department, but, I think, of all who are interested in education in Scotland. I hope before I sit down to deal with the main points that have been raised by the hon. Gentleman.
He spent some time on accommodation. He suggested that accommodation for junior colleges might be found. I began to wonder as I listened to the first part of his speech. He spoke about the great increase, even since 1946, in the amount of money that was being spent on education, and he talked about falderals, but he gave us no indication of how he would save money. As he went on, he spoke about other things that would increase very greatly the expenditure on education. I suggest that the Committee really has the right to know whether the hon. Gentleman can name one or two instances where money is being spent foolishly in Scotland. Our problems are so great, and money is not just easily available; and if he could give us any advice on this matter, I can assure him, his advice would be carefully examined, and the money would be saved if it could possibly be saved. However, he has been very careful indeed merely to throw out a statement and not follow it up in any way.
In 1947 and 1948 the main concern, as far as accommodation was concerned, was in respect of the raising of the school-leaving age. I was very interested to note that, at the annual general meeting of the Educational Institute of Scotland, there was a resolution down for discussion which suggested that the school-leaving age ought to be lowered to 14. We have heard that case put by the Opposition in this Chamber. The interesting point was that that resolution obtained only two supporters. So it seems very clear that the teachers of Scotland, who have been faced with all the difficulties of the raising of the school-leaving age—and there have been difficulties—are quite certain that to raise the age was the correct thing to do.
The programme for the raising of the school-leaving age under H.O.R.S.A. is uncompleted now, but almost complete. The problem that we are faced with now, as we have been faced with it during the 2502 past year, and with which we shall be faced for some years to come, is to provide accommodation for the schools for new housing areas, and also for the increased population, due first to the high birth rate that has followed the war, and secondly to something else—a factor that, I am sure, gladdens us all—the large reduction in the infant mortality rate. In other words, where we have improvements—improvements in the housing of the people, improvements in the health of the people—through the work of other Government Departments, they add greater difficulties for education; but those difficulties are not difficulties that we shall be unwilling to face.
Although considerable progress was made with building in 1949, it would be foolish of me—indeed, I would say it would be quite irresponsible of me—to say that in all the areas that progress was either equal or satisfactory. Aberdeen City, as hon. Members may see from the Report, provides an outstanding example of what an education authority has been able to achieve, in spite of all the postwar difficulties, in the building of schools. The Report deals with the shortages of materials and of trained technical staff that have hindered the programme; but it would seem also that certain local authorities concentrated on housing to the detriment of school building.
We have tried to examine this as fairly as we could. School building has been one of the Department's most pressing anxieties, and in some instances pressure had to be brought on some local authorities so that they might reach full realisation of the need in their areas. The Department are most anxious at all times to help education authorities, and I think I am safe in saying that today we are fairly confident now that education authorities in Scotland are fully aware of the great need for drive and imagination in providing adequate accommodation. While that awareness is there, we shall get drive behind the tackling of this problem.
It will be some years before the accommodation is adequate to meet all the various needs of education, particularly when we realise that one of our chief aims must be the lowering of the size of classes in primary schools. We have always had this in front of us, and sometimes when I hear speeches on education I wish that something had been done to help solve 2503 this problem when it was so easy to do it. When I, for example, finished training, I was told by the Lanarkshire Education Authority that there would not be a place for me for three years; young women trained in Scotland had to go to England to find jobs; classes were very large in those days, but although the teachers and the material were there, very little was done by the authorities or the Department of those days to use what they had at hand.
Since the end of the war, new places have been provided for 66,525 pupils; of these, 38,340 have been under the H.O.R.S.A. scheme, and 28,185 places have been provided in buildings erected by education authorities. In this year, 1950, £5.39 million have been allocated to school building, and the greatest proportion of this money will be spent on new school building. I have tried to find out what sum of money was spent on school building between the wars, and I find that in the peak year in that period the sum was £1.3 million. It is true that that would be equivalent to £4 million today, but even with that adjustment we are, in 1950, spending more money on school building that has ever before been spent in this country.
Indeed, if we take all the years between the wars, we find that the amount spent on school building of all kinds was under £1 million each year. The expected allocations—and I must stress "expected allocations"—for 1951 and 1952 are £6.75 million and £7.5 million. The Government are most anxious that every penny of these allocations shall be used, and I say today to education authorities that they must see to it that all of that money is used. If they use it, I shall not quarrel with them if they come back and ask for more, although I could not be at all certain that they would be able to get it.
That is the whole reason why the cost of education has increased as it has since 1946, and that is not a falderal; it certainly has taken a very large part of our money spent on education. The hon. Member for Fife, East, suggested that from 1946 the increase in the cost of each place had been around 30 per cent. I wonder if he could give me today any primary commodity that has increased by less than 30 per cent. during the same 2504 period. When we remember, as he stressed, how important education is for our children, I feel that at this stage, where we have been spending this money and will spend more, it will be well spent.
I now come to the problem of staffing. At the end of the war there was a great shortage of teachers. This deficiency we have tried to make good in two ways: one through the normal supply of teachers and one by the emergency training scheme. The hon. Member for Fife, East, said that very soon we would have in our schools all of those that the emergency scheme can give us. That is perfectly true; but I hope to give figures which show that the number of those who are entering through normal channels is increasing. It is certainly not as great as we wish, or sufficient to meet the many needs, but it is also increasing. In 1938–39, 1,218 students entered training colleges; in 1945–46, this number had dropped to 1,163. I shall not weary the Committee with all the figures, but it has been increasing each year, and in 1949–50 it went up to 1,581.
Those figures show a steady rise, but the hon. Gentleman was quite right in stressing one very disquieting feature: that the proportion of non-graduates has increased very much. It is well known that the Educational Institute of Scotland has been asking for a very long time that entrance to teaching should be only through graduation. Before the war that was the case for men but not for women. I think that perhaps one of the reasons—and it is amongst women only—for this great increase in non-graduates is that many of those girls who would have gone to the university to take their arts or science course, could not get a place in the university because so many of the places were kept for ex-Service men. I am not giving that as the sole reason, and I hope that we shall be able to return to at least the pre-war proportion of graduates to non-graduates.
By 30th April this year 10,147 applications for the emergency scheme had been interviewed out of a total number applying of over 13,000; of those, 5,282 had been accepted, 46 had been accepted conditionally, and 4,819 had been rejected. Of those accepted, 3,680 have already entered upon training, and it is estimated that 3,480 of those emergency 2505 teachers will have completed their training by the end of this year.
I was interested to see these words in the editorial of the E.I.S. Journal:The most outstanding feature about the boards' work"—these were the boards who interviewed the emergency students—is that they did not allow the present needs of the educational situation to obscure their judgment of the ultimate needs of education, and no consideration of quantity induced them to relax their demand for quality first. The best evidence of this is contained in the fact that of 13,427 applicants 4,485 were sifted as potential teachers.Now, that is very important, because we have found a confusion in the minds of many Scottish people who are regarding those trained under the emergency scheme as unqualified or uncertificated teachers. Great praise has been given in the training colleges, and in the schools where some of them are now working, to the type of young man and woman that the emergency scheme has attracted into our schools. Miss Kettles said in her presidential address:It has been distressing to me to hear and read adverse criticism of these men and women. I do not contend that they are perfect; but neither do I contend that all those who enter by the normal channels are perfect.I do give this assurance to the Committee: that this question of supply is one that is exercising the minds of both Ministers and Department very much, and it was for that reason that the Secretary of State decided to set up this working committee. That will not solve the problem, but we hope that as a result it will give us a clear picture, and perhaps from that picture we shall be able to take steps to solve the problem.
Now I come to the vexed question of salaries. I do not suppose the Committee will expect me to say much about this question today. It is true that education authorities must pay to their teachers salaries in accordance with the scales prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State, but the Secretary of State has to give cognizance to any recommendations that are made to him by the National Joint Council. On the National Joint Council are representatives of local education authorities and representatives of the teachers in equal numbers. They have always an independent Chairman, and Lord Teviot 2506 occupies that position at the present time.
In August, 1949, the National Joint Council were asked by the Department to make recommendations for new scales to date from 1st April, 1951, and they were asked much earlier this time than previously in order that we would have these new scales ready to go into operation on 1st April, 1951. After many meetings, the recommendations were provisionally agreed between the two sides, and these recommendations came to our Department. These, as hon. Members are no doubt aware, were not accepted by the general body of teachers. The National Joint Council has now written to the Secretary of State reporting that they have been unable to reach agreement. The Secretary of State is most anxious that this problem of salaries should be settled, and he asked Lord Teviot to meet him, so that he might discuss with him what were the next steps that might follow. That meeting took place between Lord Teviot and the Secretary of State this afternoon. We hope that it will be possible from that meeting for steps to be taken that will ultimately solve this problem.
In speaking of this problem of salaries, the hon. Member said that the supply of teachers—and it is often said particularly of teachers of science and mathematics—was hindered by the fact of salaries, and he compared these salaries with the salaries of doctors, dentists and people in our nationalised industries. I should be the first to say that salaries play an important part in attracting teachers to their work, but I am certain from my examination of this problem that there are other important factors.
The main competitor today, particularly for teachers of science and mathematics, is industry and commerce. Since the war industry and commerce have been making much more use of scientific knowledge and its application. This new awareness and the fact of our flourishing industry as compared with pre-war years mean that many who would otherwise have entered the teaching profession have entered industry or commerce. I can remember that in 1930 or 1931 my own brother completed his honours science degree. He had no intention of entering teaching. He wanted to go into industry, but at that time industry was 2507 not aware, to the same extent as it is today, of the need for scientific knowledge. There were many unemployed people and unemployed factories, and because of that my brother and many other young men entered teaching who today would have gone into industry.
I make these points because I am sure that Members of the Committee would want to see all the different facets of this very serious problem, and also to know that much thought is being given by the Minister and by the Department to this problem. I read very carefully the Educational Institute of Scotland Journal, and I noticed that Miss Kettles, in her presidential address, used these words:The remuneration offered for teaching has never been adequate and in pre-war years failed to attract a sufficient number of men and women of the right calibre and personality to enter the profession.This is no new problem, but it is a problem which, if we want to get our education as it ought to be, we have to face.
Quite a large part of the hon. Member's speech was devoted to the Report of the Advisory Council on Secondary Education. He seemed to suggest that the Minister had done nothing whatever to implement any of the recommendations in that Report.
§ Miss Herbison
That was the impression I got, and I will leave it to other people to read HANSARD and form their own conclusions.
§ Mr. Stewart
I did not say anything of the sort. What I said was that no Minister had pronounced upon the general tenor of the Report, and I stand by that statement. That is true.
§ Miss Herbison
There may or there may not have been a pronouncement—I cannot be sure of that—but I say that in education, as in everything else, we are judged by actions and not by pronouncements, and I want to show what action has been taken by previous Ministers on this Report.
Before dealing with this matter, I should like to pay a most sincere tribute to the members of the Advisory Council. They 2508 have given for some years now unsparingly of their time in devoted work on these problems of education. It is true, as the hon. Gentleman said, that this Report today is not only known in this island but in almost every corner of the world where people are interested in education. The Department and the Minister had naturally first to examine this Report and its recommendations. After that examination had taken place, we had discussions with the associations of education authorities and of directors of education. We had discussions with the teachers' associations and also with the Scottish Universities Entrance Board. All this took time, but as a result of these discussions we have made certain changes.
If we take the recommendation on the school leaving record, the Council's recommendation that there should be no external examination for pupils leaving school at 15 and that a pupil leaving then should receive instead a record of his work, has been accepted. I should have thought from the hon. Member's speech that he had not been aware of that fact.
§ Miss Herbison
The hon. Member's speech did not suggest that. The Advisory Council in their Report state:Any attempt to institute for pupils of 15 a certificate based on a national or indeed on any form of external test would, in our opinion, be calamitous in its effects on the short courses and foredoomed to failure. It would arrest the healthy movement from the bookish and verbal to the practical and realistic just where that change is most necessary, and would tend to a sterile uniformity instead of the free experiment and spirit of adventure we so greatly desire.I am wholeheartedly in agreement with that. The Minister and the Department agreed, and, after discussion it was decided that there would be no such thing as a Government or external examination.
This school-leaving record will be issued to all pupils when they leave school, including those who gain the Scottish Leaving Certificate, and it will relate not only to the work of the classroom but to—a very important thing—the other activities which we find in the schools today. A draft of the record has been published to the bodies interested, and the Department at the present time 2509 is considering the observations that these bodies have made on it.
Now we come to the Scottish Leaving Certificate. The Council's recommendation is that in place of the Higher Leaving Certificate—what we call the Senior Leaving Certificate—which is normally taken in the fifth year at our Scottish schools, there should be two examinations, one in the fourth year and one in the fifth year, for the reasons given in the first part dealing with examinations for 15-year-olds. I think that might be a retrograde step. It has been decided not to have this examination at the end of the fourth year. The present examination will continue in the fifth year for the Senior Leaving Certificate, which has been re-named the Scottish Leaving Certificate; but the following changes have been made.
The certificate is now awarded to any candidate who obtains one or more subject passes, and not, as hitherto, to those who obtain passes in a group of five subjects. In and after 1951, in the fourth year a pupil may be presented for award of a certificate in that year in as many subjects on the lower grade as he is considered by the school authorities fit to attempt, provided he intends to leave school at the end of his fourth year. In 1951, a lower grade paper in English will be introduced—there have always been lower grade papers in other subjects, but never in English. The lower grade papers in certain other subjects will be adapted to make them more suitable to the fourth year pupil.
§ Captain Duncan (South Angus)
I had to present some of these Senior Leaving Certificates a week ago, and I noticed the new form they took. Is the new form understood by industry, because unless industry accepts them and understands them—I found it somewhat difficult myself—it may be a little difficult for pupils to find suitable jobs?
§ Miss Herbison
So far as I am aware, all the people concerned in industry, as well as others, were notified of this, and an explanation was made of what these certificates stand for. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling) seemed to think that we were lowering the standard. We are not. It does not mean that the standard required for the award will be lower in any way. It will 2510 remain exactly the same as at present. This is important, because passes in this examination are accepted by the Scottish universities.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
Is it not a fact that fewer pupils obtained passes this year than the year before, indicating that the standard was probably higher this year than the year before?
§ Miss Herbison
I do not want to take part in that argument. All I would say is that the standard was not lower this year, nor will it be lower in the future. One very important thing that will result from this new certificate is that a certificate will be given to every boy and girl who takes the examination showing what passes have been obtained. I am certain that that is something everyone ought to have.
§ Miss Herbison
That remark is not worth notice.
One of the recommendations of the Advisory Council was the introduction of advanced papers in the post-certificate year to provide a suitable objective for pupils of superior ability. That is under consideration, and the standard of these papers will, of course, be well above the standard of the higher grade papers set in the fifth year.
There are many other recommendations in the Report, and with most of them the Secretary of State is in general agreement. Effect has been given to many of these in the revised issue of the code, and also in a series of circulars and memoranda dealing with organisation and the curricula of the secondary schools. There is only one other recommendation with which I want to deal—I am surprised that the hon. Member did not refer to it—which I regard as one of the most important recommendations of the Advisory Council. In paragraph 143, we find these words:Subject to what we say in paragraphs 161 and 180 to 182, we have reached the definite view, which accords with the conclusions of the teachers' organisations and of the Association of Directors of Education, that the omnibus secondary school best embodies the ideals of the new age; and, except where impracticable we prefer it to any other type of organisation. And, by an omnibus school, we mean one which accepts all the post-primary pupils of 2511 a community or of a given area. Such a school embraces the whole range of secondary education, not in time only, but in diversity of courses, and in provision for different intelligence levels, from the highest down to that at which the pupil ceases to find a place in the normal school.I hope that the hon. Member is in complete accord with that important statement. I agree with it wholeheartedly.
The omnibus school, or what I would prefer to call the comprehensive secondary school is nothing new in secondary education in Scotland. From 1940 to 1945, I taught in a school that could be classified as a comprehensive secondary school. We are often told that we can only have them if the numbers are huge, but that is not true. In that school there were between 700 and 800 boys, ranging in ability from the very bright to the dull, and although the dull ones had no hope of ever receiving a Higher Leaving Certificate, many of them remained at school until they were at the end of the fifth year. Although they did not get a certificate, they got something terribly important for them in after life.
The Report gives many valid reasons why children at the age of 11 or 12 should not be segregated according to expected ability. I use this word "expected" with all its element of error. I am sure that those Members who have not read this part of the Report will find it very interesting to do so. All of us are quite certain that children do not develop either physically or mentally at the same rate. It is quite wrong at the age of 11-plus or 12-plus to condemn a child to one of two types of secondary education. We hope—one of the memoranda is going out to the authorities—that our local education authorities will adopt this form of secondary education wherever possible.
The hon. Member spoke about junior colleges. I am sure it is the desire of every Member that we get these junior colleges as quickly as we can, but it would be irresponsible on my part if I told the Committee that there is any chance of getting them sooner. I feel that they are important, because it is nonsense to think that when a child leaves school at 15, no matter how good the course the child has had at school, he has received sufficient education to carry him throughout life; that is, if we think of him in the future as being a live person ready to 2512 make a positive contribution to society. That is how we must think of our young people, if we are interested in their whole life.
Unless these young people see clearly the meaning to the country and the world of the work they do, and are trained to do it well, and unless they see the importance of playing their proper part in the affairs of their own community and of the country, there will be very little hope either for British industry or for British local or national forms of Government. All of these things depend, not only on the child being trained up to 15, but on there being further formal education for him and, later, informal education.
It is my view that if we are going to give to our children what they really ought to have, then we must take these most important subjects. It does not mean in the first instance, the setting up of junior colleges. Take day-release as an example. Most of the young people being released for further education on one day a week are apprentices; in other words, our craftsmen of the future. I am glad to say that industry is more and more recognising the importance of technical education for the skilled man of today, and is, indeed, encouraging and facilitating where possible attendance of these boys at technical colleges. The curriculum at these day-release colleges is in the main of subjects that help in the work for which the boy is training, but again, with the help of those who are giving them time off from industry, the boys have physical education and education in some social subjects.
I believe that not only is further education of this kind profoundly important for the whole future of our country, but also we shall learn from our experience of it many lessons that will be extremely valuable and capable of being applied, both in further education and in the education that we are doing in the schools. I do not want to see a clear cut division between the education that we have in the schools and the education that we have in further education. Many lads, indeed, whose schools careers have been far from distinguished, show great interest and great promise when the subjects they study can be related to the needs of the world and to the choice of occupation.
2513 I regret that we are short of technical colleges. Educational authorities are doing what they possibly can to help industry in this matter. So far as our limited resources are concerned, we in the Department wish to do everything we can to help improve the facilities, and today I say both to the authorities and to industry: "Press on as hard as you can with day-release classes, and we will give you all the help we possibly can."
I want now to deal with another part of cost in education, particularly the cost since 1947, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, will tell me if this is one of the costs he regrets as a falderal, because I am still exercising my mind as to what it is. It can safely be said that we have taken great strides since the end of the war in making equality of opportunity in education really effective for our Scottish children. The Social Insurance Acts and family allowances have played a great part in this achievement, as have also the results of the bursary regulations of 1947 and 1949.
In 1938–39 we spent on school bursaries—that was for those who remained at school in their fourth and fifth years—£97,932. In 1948–49 that sum had gone up by almost £100,000 to a total of £192,075. In 1938–39 we spent on post school bursaries for those at technical colleges and universities the sum of £104,747. In 1948–49 that had grown to £821,347. [Interruption.] I cannot follow the mumblings of the hon. Member for Edinburgh. South (Sir W. Darling) on the front Opposition bench below the Gangway, hut I expect that the hon. Gentleman will say that money does not go so far these days, or words to that effect.
§ Miss Herbison
I hope the hon. Gentleman was not saying that this was too much money.
I am delighted that the Department and the local authorities are doing what they are doing today. As a teacher before I became a Member of Parliament and also as a citizen. I was continually appalled at the wastage of talent in our country. That was tragic not only for the young people themselves, but for our 2514 country. No country could ever afford what we wasted for many years, and it always seemed to me that no Government governs well unless it exploits all its available resources. One of the finest resources that we in Scotland have is the talent and intelligence of our people. With these increases in bursaries, both to the 15-year-olds and to those at universities, we have come near to equality of opportunity in education. Equality of opportunity is of very great importance but what that opportunity provides is of equal importance.
Much has been achieved in education in Scotland, but much still remains to be achieved. Our education plan—and this is why I am delighted with the reports, both primary and secondary, of the Advisory Council—must fit the child, and not the child fit into some rigid form of education. It must aim at preparing the child for a full life, not merely preparing him for work, which is important, but preparing him for his leisure. The aim of all who are interested in education—hon. Members in this Committee, the Minister responsible for education, our Department, the local authorities, the teachers, and the parents—should be that nothing but the best in education will suffice for our Scottish children.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
I happen to know that there are nearly 20 Members who wish to speak, and there are about three hours left for this Debate. Unless the speeches are cut down to 10 minutes each, a good many hon. Members will be disappointed this evening.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and East Perthshire)
I will endeavour to follow your wise Ruling, Sir Charles, and I will, of course, not attempt to follow the hon. Lady, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, on many of the lines on which she has been progressing. I would say, if I may, how pleasant it is always to hear her speak. because if ever there was an example of the results of our education and of clear enunciation in speech, it comes from the hon. Lady. If I am not being presumptuous, I should like to congratulate her on that. I hope some of the English Members were present to hear her, and I am sure that they will agree with me.
2515 I do not propose in any way this afternoon to try to be popular in what I am going to say. I do not regard this question of education as a party political matter in the slightest degree. Great mistakes have been made in the past in education by Governments of all kinds, and great progress has also been made under Governments of all kinds. I think it was Diogenes, who lived many years ago, who said that the foundations of every state lie in the education of its youth. There is no doubt about that.
As Scots men and women interested in the well-being of our country and in the contribution it can make to the world, what we have to do is to judge by results. Nothing else matters. It is the result of any system which has been brought into operation upon which we must judge—a fact we have to accept. We have to look today to the condition of our country particularly in its outlook on life, the conditions in the homes of the people, whether they have the ability or the intention to accept responsibilities, and to such things as crime, and in particular juvenile delinquency, about which every Member of this Committee is worried.
If we are to judge by results I feel bound to say that we must confess that our educational system has very largely failed. The results are not commensurate with the enormous expenditure of money, effort and good will. There are dreadful figures of juvenile delinquency and of the terrible decline in public morality, not only on the part of youth but very often of the parents too. A large number of those parents were school children not very long before the recent war.
This deterioration of public morality has been going on steadily. The war accelerated it by the breaking up of homes and the tragedies that followed, but our educational system has succeeded very largely, apart from all the good things it has done, in producing children in whom the chief idea seems to be: "What can we get for ourselves out of this system and out of this country?" instead of the supreme ideal: "What can we put into it?" Until we get that position turned round the right way all our plans for education—for buildings, size of classes, etc.—will not be of the slightest use. We must concentrate upon that great object. If any Christian country is to survive, and no state will survive until it is Christian 2516 in the highest sense of the word, we must reverse that process. The right principles must be put into the children's minds from the word "go" in their education. It must be: "What can I do for the good of mankind around me and for the life of my country?"
I have already said that all Governments are to blame for what has gone wrong. They are also entitled to accept the praise for what has gone right. I feel strongly that what we have come to call the "welfare State" is one of the great dangers in the production of that very state of affairs which we hoped the welfare State if set up would avoid.
§ Mr. Woodburn
There may be hon. Members present who are getting a very unfortunate picture of Scotland from what the hon. and gallant Member is saying. May I ask upon what figures he bases his indictment that there has been such a deterioration in Scottish morality and an increase in Scottish delinquency? Our prisons are less full than those of other countries and juvenile delinquency has gone down. There is also far less drunkenness in Scotland, to my knowledge.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
To begin with, I would not say that my remarks apply to Scotland only, but we are dealing with Scottish education. I would be the last person to run down Scotland as compared with any other country. My remarks apply to Great Britain, and to countries of the world which are far worse than Great Britain. That is the tendency of the world today. I agree in regard to the drunkenness.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
Drunkenness has very largely disappeared. Many efforts were made to reduce it in days gone by, as one of the factors which produced crime. Nevertheless, we have only to keep our ears and eyes open as we go about the streets to discover that public morality has declined. People are today doing things that they would never have dreamed of doing even before the war. We must not put our heads into a bag and pretend that it is not the case. Our whole education system must be judged by these results. The only object of taking a good look round at what we have done or have not 2517 achieved is the need for putting things right. It is no good merely saying that morality has declined and that the educational system has failed unless we say that our great objective must be to put it right before it is too late. I believe that to be the object of every hon. Member in the Committee, especially among those who have been dealing with the education of the country.
Let me give an example of what has been produced by the welfare State. I am not saying that we are not responsible for the welfare State as much as hon. Gentlemen opposite. I accept that. I am not being party political about this matter. We have to realise that a call was made for Civil Defence volunteers and that they did not come. A call has been made for Territorials. They have not come. We do not get volunteers nowadays. Young people say when we tell them to do something: "We will think about it, and probably do it." They do not come forward as they used to do. That is a clear example of faulty education.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
That matter will come before us next Wednesday, I understand. We must accept the fact that volunteers for most worthy objects are not coming forward in the way that they would have done, for instance, in 1914. I believe that the teachers of our country are second to none.
§ Miss Herbison
Before the hon. and gallant Gentleman leaves that subject, I would remind him that he said that some blame could be attributed to the welfare State. He has not shown us how he attributes that blame.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
The idea of the welfare State is that we have only to have this that or the other board set up and they will hand it to us free. We all know that things are not free because we have to pay for them, but that is the attitude that people have towards the welfare State. It is: "You have no need to bother. The State will do it for you." There is no getting away from it that that is what the people of this country feel. It is very wrong. I would not do away with the principles of the welfare State. We have taken a greater part in building up the welfare State than has any other 2518 party in the country. [Laughter.] That statement is capable of proof, starting with the formation of trade unions by a Tory Government in the years gone by. [Laughter.] Yes, "Ha, Ha," but what I have said is true, and it took place in 1824. I do not propose to be drawn aside by these irrelevancies.
I was coming on to the question of teachers in order to say what an admiration I have for those wonderful men and women. It is not an easy job to teach children. The hon. Lady knows that as a schoolmistress, as much as I know it as a parent, but I have only two of them, as compared with a class of 70. Teaching is a profession which calls for the very highest character and the highest degrees of patience and helpfulness. We owe a great debt of gratitude to them, yet we feel that there is sometimes rather an antagonism between parents and teachers. I am not quite sure that sometimes directors of education and potentates of that kind are not much more responsible for these troubles than are the teachers themselves.
§ Miss Herbison
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. and gallant Member again. From my experience, and from the watch that I have kept on education since, I should say that the feeling between parents and teachers is much better today than it was before the war.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
I hoped that I had made that clear. I am not saying that it is the fault of the parents or the teachers but that people like directors of education who are unintentionally making the friction that should never have occurred between parents and teachers. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense."] I am not accusing directors of education of doing it deliberately, but we all know, from the correspondence we receive, of people who say: "Why didn't Johnny get a secondary school place? Willie down the road did." They say that that was done by the director of education.
This is a point that the Minister might well look at in order to see that the selection boards under the directors of education are proved to the parents to be entirely just, as I believe them to be, though often there is a misunderstanding that they are not. It should be shown that they are entirely competent to judge of children's merits. Though parents may feel—it is only human nature—that their 2519 children are one degree better than other people's children it should be shown that the selection boards preserve absolute fairness and equality of opportunity, about which the hon. Lady spoke so well, in this matter of going forward to secondary education.
I hope that the Secretary of State and all the education authorities in Scotland will do a little more about teaching Scottish children Scottish history—
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
I wish that the hon. Member would get it out of his head that I am making a party political point. I wish that hon. Members opposite would think more of the future and not always of the "terrible past" which, very largely, did not exist. I have taken the precaution of writing to all the county education authorities in Scotland and to the burghs where appropriate, to find out whether Scottish history is taught in Scottish schools. I have been very pleased by the courteous attention which these people have paid to my letter and also very pleased to note that it is very largely taught in Scotland. I also asked what text books were used, and I find that the old Whig text books are still enthroned in most places, giving an entirely false impression of Scottish history—very largely, anyway.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will go into the question of text books for the teaching of Scottish history in Scottish schools because, while we do not in any way wish to prejudice Scottish children against England or do anything so foolish, there has been less teaching of Scottish history up to the Union than there has been of English history in English schools. It is not for me to mention text books, but there is a history in five volumes published recently which brings Scottish history up to date and is more correct than the old Whiggish ideas, and also makes it almost racy and palatable reading for children—which cannot be said about most of the history books with which we were plagued when we were young.
§ Miss Herbison rose—
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
I do not wish to be discourteous to the hon. Lady, 2520 but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will deal with anything I have said. Time is going on and I hope to sit down in a moment. I realise that what I have said will probably not have the agreement of a number of hon. Members, but, as I said at the beginning, we must judge education by results, and I do not think that in Scotland or in Great Britain today we can conscientiously say that the results which we see can justify the claim that our educational system has succeeded. It should be our job to find out what is wrong and to do everything we can to put it right. We are doing so much on the material side; I feel that a little more on the mental and spiritual side might put the matter right.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Hamilton (Fife, West)
As I have listened to the Debate my mind has gone gone back to the General Election campaign when I said that in all probability a future Labour Government would raise the school-leaving age to 16. That might have been the most unpopular suggestion that I made in the campaign, even among our own people. I think that is due to the rather lukewarm attitude of the ordinary people towards education, and that attitude is largely due to economic factors. Parents were thinking in terms of the earning power of children between 15 and 16 years of age when I made that suggestion. That is a hangover from the days before the war, when children went into blind alley jobs after 14 to earn a few shillings for the household income.
Despite that, I maintain that education is something of which we cannot get enough, and the working-class children in particular have been neglected in the past in that direction. That is surely admitted on all sides of the House. Because of economic factors they had to leave school at 14, or, even if they had ability, they had not the financial wherewithal to enjoy the advantages of grammar school and university education. I maintain that in the long run, our educational defence is much more important than our military defence from a national point of view. It will be noticed that I said "in the long run."
In the short run we must have a system of priorities when we are considering expenditure on education, defence and all the other services. When the Opposition 2521 talk about raising the salaries of teachers, building new schools or reducing the size of classes, we must immediately ask ourselves whether, if we are to do all these things, we shall do them simultaneously. If we are, then we must reduce our expenditure on other things at the same time, for we cannot have it all ways. There must be a system of priorities, and. inevitably, whatever Government is in power, the system adopted will be questioned by the other side. We have made our priorities, and, naturally, we expect the Opposition to object to them.
The hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) spoke of the failure of education, and based his argument on the fact that there were no volunteers for Civil Defence and the Territorial Army, as volunteers came forward in 1914, the inference being that the educational system which called forth the volunteers in 1914, was superior to the educational system which called forth the volunteers today. Hon. Members on this side and most people in the country who think at all about education, believe that there is no comparison between the education of today and the educational system prior to 1914 in Scotland or in Great Britain generally. We are not satisfied, of course. God forbid that anybody should ever be satisfied with our educational system. Dissatisfaction with any kind of educational system leads to progress if the criticism is constructive, frank and open, and when we criticise it we make constructive suggestions.
What are the great problems facing Scottish education? There are four. The order of priority is a matter of opinion, but I would put them in the following order: first, the inadequacy of teachers' salaries; secondly, the decline in the quality of teachers; thirdly, the slow rate of building of new schools; and, fourthly, overcrowded classes. I speak as a former teacher, an English teacher. As an Englishman intruding in a Scottish Debate I apologise to the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire. My attitude towards salaries during the General Election brought forth a great measure of indignation from the teaching profession. Just before the General Election the teachers of Scotland put forward a claim for a flat rate increase of £7 a week. 2522 I said that that demand was ridiculous, and I still maintain—here again we must face the question of priorities—that there is no evidence of strong public opinion in favour of such an increase for the teachers.
There are far greater priorities among other sections of the community. No doubt the teachers can make a good case in isolation, but when all these claims are being considered by any responsible Government, they must not be considered in isolation from the national economy but in context with it. If that is done, the teachers come well down in the order of priority. I believe the Scottish teachers have weakened their case—I admit they have a case—by over-exaggeration. Let me quote one example—
§ Lord Dunglass
May I ask the hon. Gentleman for enlightenment? He began by saying that there was an order of priorities and telling the House what was wrong with teaching and education. At the top of the priorities he put salaries. Now he is proceeding to prove that there should be no increase in salaries and that the teachers have no case. Is he arguing for or against?
§ Mr. Hamilton
I am sorry the noble Lord has not been following my argument. I gave four major problems but I said that their order of priority was a matter of opinion.
§ Mr. Hamilton
I did not say that was my order of priority. If the noble Lord will let me pursue my argument, I was about to quote one example which will prove that the teachers are weakening their case by over-exaggerating their hardships. I have a case here of a married man, with no family whose salary is £432 15s. plus £10, making £442. He says:I have just received delivery of my first suit since our marriage, and I managed a year ago to afford the luxury of a secondhand pair of shoes.That to me is absurd in the extreme. To suggest that a married man with no children, getting £9 a week, has to resort to affording the luxury of a secondhand pair of shoes, would make a railway man speechless with anger. That man, I 2523 suppose, will be teaching young children arithmetic and how to manage their affairs.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Four years. The real problem we are facing is that all people are demanding better conditions. Teachers are demanding better salaries, parents are demanding better schools and better opportunities for their children. They are demanding better education because they are seeing that ability is having its reward today. At the same time we are having demands for better houses, better hospitals and so on. When the Opposition went to the country in the 1950 election and said they would increase teachers' salaries, they did not, to my knowledge, say at the same time that an increase in salaries would inevitably mean an increase in local rates, because we have to get the money from somewhere. Let us make it quite clear to the country that if salaries are increased, then local rates must increase as well.
§ Mr. S. Marshall
May I interrupt the hon. Gentleman? I cannot allow the statement to pass that my party during the election of this year said categorically that we should increase teachers' salaries. I am quite sure that was not a statement made by my party.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that his party made no specific promise, but it was implied in their election programme that if they were returned, they would deal with the teachers' salary case sympathetically.
§ Mr. Hamilton
But we are pointing out the position now, in fairness to all sections of the community, that there must be a system of priority and, from the economic aspect, I maintain that the teachers are well down the priority queue, and that if we raise their salaries, local rates must inevitably increase as well.
§ Mr. Hamilton
That is the unpleasant fact we have to face. That is the economic position. There is, however, another facet to which the hon. Member for Fife, 2524 East (Mr. Henderson Stewart) referred, namely, the social revolution which has taken place since 1945. It is quite true that the teachers as a profession have suffered compared with other sections of the community. We on this side of the Committee are not apologising for that because we regard the mining and other sections of the community as being much worse off pre-war than the teachers, and therefore they had to have a higher priority post-war than the teachers. There has been a change in social values, and we maintain, as we have always maintained, that the miner and the manual worker are as important as the teacher in our community and that their reward must take recognition of that fact.
Now let me deal with the question of unqualified teachers. Reference has been made to the dilution of the profession. We have been told there are 900 uncertificated teachers in the Scottish schools and that the ratio of graduates to non-graduates has changed from 1 in 3 to 3 in 5. The question which comes to my mind immediately is, what is the definition of a qualified teacher? I do not agree that the qualified teacher is necessarily one armed with a university degree, because some of the worst teachers are university graduates and some of the best are the uncertificated people.
The hallmark of the good teacher and of one who is really qualified in the real sense of the term is a sense of vocation, one who understands children and has enthusiasm for his job. Those qualities are not necessarily obtained in a university, and they are not necessarily the attributes of a university degree. So I deprecate the argument that the teaching profession will be improved simply by ensuring that they are all graduates. We have to take into account numbers as well as quality, and the alternative is either to have those unqualified teachers or to have chaos in the Scottish schools.
Some hon. Members may say there is chaos already and may refer to overcrowded schools. I deplore as much as anyone the overcrowded class because it is impossible for the child to get individual education if there are over 30 in the class. However it is not a new problem. In Glasgow alone, in January, 1939, there were 227 classes with 50 or more pupils on the roll and in 1938 there were more 2525 than double that—over 400 classes in Glasgow itself with over 50 pupils on the roll, so it is not a new problem. Today there are only 55 classes in Glasgow with over 50 pupils.
That brings me to an important point, on which, I hope, my right hon. Friend will give some guidance when he replies. Of those 55 classes, 53 are in primary schools. That putting into the background of the primary school is, to me, a fundamental weakness in our approach to education. I disagree with the attitude that the primary school is not important and that it is the secondary schools that really matter. I take the reverse view. Unless the foundations are laid soundly, one cannot hope to erect a sound building. That is why I should like to see this tendency reversed and priority established for the reduction of classes in primary schools.
The question of priorities arises once more with the building programme. If we build more schools, then inevitably we must build less of something else. The whole problem with which the Government are faced can only be solved by attempting to strike a balance between all the various demands which are being made on our national resources.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith (Glasgow, Hillhead)
I find myself in agreement to a certain extent with the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) about the need for priorities. One of the criticisms which I could make of the Annual Report of the Secretary of State on Scottish education, is that he does not seem to appreciate the need for jettisoning certain aspects of education which may be desirable in normal circumstances but which I believe now to be inessential, and for throwing all his resources into the matters which I regard as being essential. What we are lacking today in Scottish education is a real leadership which is prepared to decide between what is and what is not essential.
Very much the same sort of things are said in the Annual Report this year as were said last year, and there has been no sign of radical and practical proposals that would put right what is admitted on all sides to be wrong. It is true that there has been a decrease in the number of over-sized classes, but in spite of that decrease at least 66,000 children are still 2526 being taught in classes which are too large. That represents about one-tenth of the population and is far too high a proportion. Even then, that calculation is based on the old 1939 code, so that when we come to the 1950 code the proportion of children in over-sized classes will be even greater.
To reduce the number of over-sized classes, two quite simple things are necessary: one is to provide more classrooms, and the other is to supply more teachers. The Secretary of State is aware of this and on page 43 of his Report he has this to say about building:It is necessary to repeat the warning given in last year's Report that 'it is accommodation which will be the limiting factor of educational development during the coming decade'.He merely repeats the same warning as be issued last year and seems to think that that in itself is sufficient. Yet on turning overleaf to page 44 of the Report, I find this astonishing statement:While the H.O.R.S.A. programme has been declining, the programme of work for which the Authorities are responsible has been increasing, but not at the same rate.If the local authorities have not been building at the same rate, and if accommodation is the controlling factor in the reduction of over-sized classes, why has the H.O.R.S.A. programme been allowed to decline in this way? I should like to have an answer about this from the right hon. Gentleman when he replies. I fully agree that hutted accommodation is not altogether desirable, but if the choice is between ample hutted accommodation and insufficient permanent accommodation, then let us have the hutted accommodation now and get rid of accommodation as a limiting factor in the attempt to reduce the number of overlarge classes.
The other factor which prevents the reduction of the number of over-sized classes is the supply of teachers This problem also is recognised by the right hon. Gentleman when he says at page 50 of his Report that:The Department have been acutely aware of the serious shortage of teachers.The Secretary of State is admirable in his analysis of the problem, but he is not quite so good when it comes to taking action. Indeed, the present discontent over salaries is not likely to attract new recruits to the profession. Some general 2527 overall increase will be necessary before ordinary people are likely to be attracted to it. I do not, however, believe that any overall increase by itself will put the matter right, because what is wrong with the profession is that it does not attract men and women of first-rate ability. The reason for that is that there are not what I call "plum" jobs in the teaching profession such as exist in other professions. Take law, for example.
§ Mr. Galbraith
That is a very good example and could be applied equally to what I am saying about the law. Everyone who goes to the Bar does not necessarily become a judge or an eminent K.C., but there is always the possibility of doing so. It is because those "plum" jobs exist in the legal profession that men and women of first-rate ability are attracted to the law. In State education, that opportunity does not exist.
§ Mr. Galbraith
The hon. Member has fallen into the very trap which I thought he would be sufficiently skilled to avoid. There are no "plum" jobs in education. The only good jobs in the profession are not in teaching, but in administration, and that is precisely what is wrong. The private schools have been very much wiser in this respect than the State schools. In recent years, we have seen a famous doctor appointed headmaster of Loretto, a great administrator from Germany has gone to Eton, and a solicitor and businessman has been appointed to Rugby. That sort of thing happens in private schools but not in State education. I think that Bernard Shaw is unfortunately right when he says that:Those who can, do; and those who cannot, teach.It is all wrong that this disastrous attitude should have arisen. It means that instead of the profession getting really able first-class people, those who enter teaching do so because, like the brother of the hon. Lady the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, they find that there is nowhere else for them to go.
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Member in his very interesting argument, but is he saying that those distinguished people to whom he has referred have gone to those public schools because of the remuneration? Would he also argue, for example, in the case of Rugby, that the headmastership was primarily a teaching post?
§ Mr. Galbraith
Money is not the only thing, obviously, but there is a considerable financial inducement in becoming the headmaster of a great public school. Other important inducements are those of status, the freedom to run one's own show, and the lack of interference from too many administrative directors of education. I think the hon. Lady who was talking of comprehensive schools might possibly have got a solution there. If we had a really large school, demanding a lot of administrative and teaching ability, I believe we could offer a good salary and position which would be highly regarded throughout the country and would attract people of ability, integrity and character.
I realise that more classrooms and the improvement of the status of teachers cannot be obtained straight away and because of that I wonder whether the Secretary of State is making the best use he can of his existing resources. The impression I get from reading the Report is that there is a great deal of waste of time, a great deal of waste of money and a great deal of waste in manpower. This waste is taking place not only inside the school, but also in the educational facilities which are provided for those who have left school. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the figures of those who attend continuation classes, he will find there were 212,000 students last year. That is a very substantial number, but on page 31 of the Report we find this statement:The increase — is mainly due to a growing interest in vocational education and in domestic and recreational classes.I think that continuation classes which are for technical and intellectual subjects are good, but I do not think that at this time of stringency we have any right to spend money on domestic and recreational classes. Old-time dancing, I believe, is one of the most popular in a certain county of which I have some knowledge. As well as spending money 2529 in this way outside the school, there is a great deal of waste of money inside the school and this may well be the falderals of which my hon. Friend was speaking earlier.
§ Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
Does the hon. Member regard old-time dancing as something to be deprecated? Is it not just as good physical training as boxing?
§ Mr. Galbraith
The hon. Lady has not been appreciating my argument. I consider old-time dancing an excellent thing and boxing an excellent thing, but, as the hon. Member for Fife, West, said, we have to consider priorities, and anything that detracts from teaching in schools today is a waste of money. That is my position and if the hon. Lady does not like it, I cannot help it. I think also that inside the school there is a dissipation of resources. For example, there are lessons in typing instead of what is more wanted, lessons in spelling. On page 20 of the Report we find this interesting statement about the activities of the junior secondary schools:School visits, lectures and discussions are becoming a common feature.I think we should ask ourselves if these things should be becoming a common feature. When I see hordes of children going round the House of Commons and notice the bored look on their faces, I cannot help feeling that whatever is the right sort of secondary education for nonacademic pupils, that certainly is not the right sort.
Last year the former Secretary of State, who I am sorry to see, is just leaving the Chamber, made a very interesting statement which I presume is still the opinion of the Department. In the Estimates Debate in Committee, he said:Some children are not temperamentally inclined to the literary side; they love the healthy, active side of life. It is difficult to force them to be literary when they want to be active."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee; 5th July, 1949, c. 92.]Of course, it is difficult to force them to be literary when they want to be active, but, on the other hand, they have come to school not to be active, but to be literary. They have come to school not to learn joinery, to visit the House of Commons, to camp with French friends nor to have a man, who I believe is 2530 called "the hut man," who comes every week or so and discusses nature study with them. That is not what they have come to school for—
§ Mr. Manuel rose—
§ Mr. Galbraith
I will give way in a minute. They have come to school to learn to read and write. We are not living in a natural society where we have to learn about folk lore or bird lore and all that sort of thing, but in a highly artificial society, and we ought to learn to become literate.
§ Mr. Manuel
I want the hon. Member to reflect on that sentence in connection with French children. I am quite sure he does not recognise the value which Ayrshire County Council Education Committee and the whole county council put on that experiment and how solidly we are all behind it and of what inestimable value the people of Ayrshire, parents included, consider that experiment.
§ Mr. Galbraith
I quite understand the value of these things and I am afraid I must be appearing to the Committee as extremely reactionary. Every one of these things is admirable, provided the foundation is good, but we know the foundation is not as good as it ought to be, and therefore I regard these things as a dissipation of our resources which we are wrong to encourage.
What we ought to be doing is to be helping the children to learn the essentials, "the three R's," reading, writing and arithmetic, and a fourth and more difficult "R," the difference between right and wrong. I believe these simple things are the things to which we should give our minds. Arranging visits for Frenchmen and having nature studies are more interesting and imaginative, but I do not believe they are the right things in present circumstances, and if we do not give our children this simple foundation we are failing in our duty to them and also showing ourselves to be unworthy successors to the traditions of stern and austere training which formerly made Scottish education renowned throughout the world.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilzean (Edinburgh, Central)
I am glad to have the opportunity of taking part in this Debate. The hon. 2531 and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) made a statement about the mass of the people that all they were concerned about was how much they could get out of the community. I do not suppose it ever struck the hon. and gallant Member that it is the people who make that accusation, who get the most out of the community and the people who are accused who get the least out of the community.
The hon. and gallant Member also expressed his regret that people did not know more about Scottish history and he wished they would read more about Scottish history. All my life I have been interested in Scottish history but I find that the less one knows about Scottish history, the happier one is, whereas the more one knows about it, the mere important one is. It is not altogether the beautiful story which was presented to me at school when I was a youngster. Take, for instance, the question of that greatest of all Scots. Bruce, who won that great battle of Bannockburn and then promptly began to divide the country up among his supporters in order to consolidate his own position. They never told me that at school; I found it out afterwards, but that is the plain fact of the matter. So, sometimes the less we know about history the happier we are, but the more we know about it the more knowledgeable we are.
I should like to say a few words about the comprehensive school because that is probably the greatest possible advance that could be made in Scottish education. At present our post-primary education is divided into what we describe as senior and junior education. Because of that we have segregated a section of the community. Let us frankly admit that there are a great many children who could never hope to aspire to the higher education because they have not got a sufficient I.Q. for such an undertaking. But they are good children and would make good citizens. Yet because of the system which we have established of senior and junior secondary schools those children become soured.
The independent schools do not indulge in that segregation. Such a school is an entity. When children go there—and these independent schools have many 2532 children with a low intelligence quotient—they remain there from the infant class until they leave school. They are never sent to any other place, and consequently—and this is an important point—they emerge from their school life with a tradition behind them, a tradition that has meant a great deal to them.
That does not happen in respect of the schools under the control of the education committees. They are divided into senior and junior schools, and that division into senior and junior courses is absolutely necessary. There is no sense in putting boys or girls through a course for which they are not equal, but they should remain in the same schools because they would there get a tradition and a unity that would serve them through life. The advantage of the comprehensive school would lie in the fact that this segregation would no longer exist. Even if those who had been there, went into the world as men and women with very little in the way of academic accomplishment, they would have behind them the tradition of the school to which they belonged, and they would find that of inestimable value in the years to come. For that reason I hope that every effort will be made to establish comprehensive schools at the earliest possible moment.
There is another aspect of the matter which is very important. A great deal of the sourness which one finds in the community, the acridity that is manifest in the community, is due entirely to the inferiority complex which delevops as a result of children being segregated in the way they are at present. As I have already pointed out none of the independent schools ever dreams of doing that sort of thing. It does not matter whether one thinks of Eton, or Harrow, or Glasgow Academy, or any of the independent schools in Edinburgh; they never dream of creating this sense of inferiority which comes from complete segregation from the school to which one originally belonged.
The scholars at those independent schools go through school life as members of their community, and they absorb a tradition which they carry with them wherever they go. I make bold to say that relationships in the community would manifestly improve if only we had here and now, the sense to make up our minds that the comprehensive school is the school of the future, that under no 2533 possible circumstances would we be directed in any other way and that we would refuse to accept anything but the best that the community has to offer.
Education committees are doing a wonderful job. Teaching is improving and in many ways the spirit of the school is also improving. Although teachers may be disgruntled because they are not receiving the remuneration which they think they should get, I have not yet met a single teacher who was prepared to diminish his enthusiasm in any way simply because of the fact that he did not receive the remuneration he wanted. In nine cases out of ten, the teacher is wholeheartedly absorbed in his profession. He may be disgruntled, but, on the other hand he looks at the children and says to himself "What can I make of them?"
They make every effort to fit these children for the battle of life, and we are unquestionably greatly indebted to this body of men and women for the great work which they are doing. But we have to break down in school life this segmentation, this classifying of schools and children. Until we can break that down, education will not be the thing it ought to be. Only by breaking it down can we hope to bring that sweeter community, which I am sure everyone desires, through the medium of education, the only medium that can be used to the end that there shall be a better community than there has hitherto been.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I entirely agree with what the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Gilzean) has said about the comprehensive school. Two important points were made earlier in this Debate, one by the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), when he impressed upon us that we must have priorities. I think that point was also taken up by an hon. Member on this side of the House—that whatever we want, and we all want a great deal, we have not a bottomless purse and endless personnel and material with which to satisfy those wants.
I agree that oversized classes are extremely difficult to handle, and that as a result of the size of those classes the children in them do not get the full benefit of the education which they receive. We all know of many other matters in schools which could be improved, but I make no 2534 bones about saying that if there is a shortage of materials, and there is, housing comes before schools. That is a fact that we must realise and accept. Further, if there is money to be spent on education I would say that the first priority is the salary of the teacher.
I want to say one word about what has been said about the opportunities facing teachers. I think it is an important and new point. Personally I cannot say that I entirely agree with it. The standing of the teacher in Scotland has traditionally always been very high indeed. No member of the community was held in greater regard by his fellow men than the teacher. That was not because he was paid a big salary. I do not believe that we shall get the sort of people we want merely by offering a few plums. We have to raise the general standard of remuneration until the teacher can regain his self-respect and proper level in the community. Incidentally, I think that in point of fact the headmaster of Rugby probably gave up a very considerable amount of money when he went to Rugby; perhaps he did it for the prestige of that appointment.
I would say a word about the point made, and, if I may say so without impertinence, made courageously, by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) who argued that we should look at the results of teaching and suggested that they were not as good as they might be. Many people hold that point of view. I have heard it said that the manners, behaviour and morals of today are not as good as they were. But people sometimes forget what in fact did go on as we know it historically. I am certain that today there is nothing like the cruelty which once existed in this country. Consider the sports. We had bear-baiting and such things as that, and there were the conditions which existed in the East End of London in the 18th and 19th centuries. There is nothing like that today, and I think that men and women of today are nicer and kinder to each other than ever before in history.
But that does not mean that everything is perfect. Today people in many ways have a very wrong attitude to the State. The hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire is right in saying that a great many people think that manna 2535 falls from the State as it was once supposed to come down from heaven and some are far keener to take than to give. Here I think education can help to teach people that the State after all is only them. They are the State and the people who make up the community. Everything that comes, comes from their work and it is for them in a democratic country to say what they want and to provide it for themselves.
I believe that the extension of the horizons which is taking place in Scottish education is a very good thing. All the falderals, as they have been called, the correspondence with French children, the encouragement of art, the interest in music, are excellent things, and I would only go so far as this in agreement with the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith), that it should not be at the expense of the old tradition of Scottish education. That was I think, rather a hard tradition; which insisted that people really learned what they had come to learn. In many ways it may have been too hard and it has been lightened, brightened and expanded nowadays. It was, however, a good tradition and one which earned respect for Scotsmen and women throughout the world.
A good deal is talked today about the examination system. I consider that for some children examinations are harmful. Examinations hang over them and poison a very important part of their lives. But I know of no alternative. The various alternatives which have been suggested, reports and so on, I do not consider adequate. We have to keep up the standards of real scholarship in education, but if anyone can suggest an alternative it would be a very good thing. In a recent Debate in this House the Minister of Education was defending the rule that a child cannot now take some examinations until a certain age. I mention that only because I do not think his arguments were entirely convincing.
I do not wish to be dogmatic, but it seems to me that in education we must be careful to give the best, the fullest and the happiest education to everyone including the more stupid child; but at the same time we must not hold back the intelligent child. The Minister was arguing that we are not holding them 2536 back. He argued that if the clever child reached the required standard before the age for taking the examination, he need not bother about subjects in which he was not so interested but could go ahead with those in which he was. I do not believe that that is psychologically sound. While a child has an examination in front of him he is like a horse with a race to run; he has to keep in training for it. He cannot start to specialise until he has passed it.
Education is part of life in general. It is not only a preparation for life, it is part of the life of a child and also the educational system forms a large part of the life of the whole community into which it enters in all sorts of ways. In the little communities in my own constituency the school and the teacher are of great importance and I hope that we shall not have it too much centralised. Some side and village schools are vital to the community and we do not want them closed.
It is also of great importance to teach people the sort of things which they will in fact have to do. We do not want to create the feeling that education is a superior thing and that if one is educated one must leave one's home and go off into other professions. We want technical education in agriculture and mining and so on and we want to be taught in the Highlands how to live in the Highlands.
There is an excellent experiment going on in Ross and Cromarty, where for the first time people are teaching the children of crofters how to be better crofters instead of encouraging them to go off to Canada or to Glasgow—unless of course they want to, then they do not discourage them from doing so. But it is important to teach technical education of the sort which will fit into the life of the community from which the children come.
A much greater effort also must be made to work in some things which are unfortunate in my opinion, but are today necessities. I do not like such things as National Service, work in the harvest fields and the potato fields. But we have to have those things and children must be made to feel that they are important. We must make the best and not the worst of them. I hope too that we shall have diversity in education. I hope we shall be able to make use of the new ideas which come from Scots men and women 2537 and from other countries. I think that the hon. Member for Inverness (Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton) is associated with a very important new departure in Scottish education, in a private school. That I am sure with its emphasis on leadership and certain differing traditions should be studied by everybody associated with education in Scotland.
I do not think that anyone has mentioned the subject of universities. It used to be, and still is, one of the greatest glories of Scotland that more people had a chance of getting to a university than in probably any other country in the world. They set an extraordinary example in scholarship and research. The Joint Under-Secretary stressed the need for equality of opportunity in education. It is a field in which we can have some real equality of opportunity and Scotland is a country where that has been the tradition of equality.
I hope that everybody in Scotland will have the highest and widest education that they can have but also with the increasisg numbers attending them I hope that the standards of our universities will not be lowered. It is a tremendous problem to extend the universities to two, three and four times their size and to keep up their life and standards. We have no solution as yet to that problem but it is a matter of vital importance in Scotland.
Nowadays human beings are trying to control their destinies in a way they have never done before. We are not content, for instance, to let the price system regulate things for us and we are not content with a whole lot of things which our forefathers took for granted. We are trying to control them for ourselves and it is a very difficult job. We need far greater ability from those who administrate today than we used to need. I hope that the universities will help and that we shall have more and more people coming forward with arts degrees as well as the technical qualifications to take all sorts of jobs which exist today in the State, not only in the teaching profession but all through the administration of this country—in Government, in local government, in the nationalised industries, and in all things that human beings today are attempting to do for themselves. I hope that they will be people with a real grounding in right and wrong, in 2538 Christianity, and in the traditions of Scotland; people with ability, training and outlook who are prepared to give those things which can help their country.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
We are indebted to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) for a sane and well-thought-out speech to which it was a pleasure to listen. The balance of his whole fundamental outlook made it one of the most interesting contributions we have had.
I particularly liked the way in which he stressed that education is not a preparation for this or for that, but that it is a part of life itself, and should not be divorced from it. If we divorce education from life, then we can write off that education as something which is not serving the purpose for which we have been striving since 1945, or since the Butler Act of 1944. I do not think that it can even be said that education is only a part of life in the sense that there is a part of life devoted to education and another devoted to experience or something else. Education is coterminous with life—the education of the child, the adolescent and the man. Education only ends with life itself.
I think that we are trying to achieve two objects in this era. We are trying to improve the standard of living, to provide better homes, to feed our people better and to give them more of the material comforts of life. But if we concentrate all our efforts on that, and neglect to raise the actual standard of life by improving the spirit of living and cultivating the finer parts of life, then what we are doing is not really worth while. If we do that, we shall cut right across that Christian democracy which we want to build up.
Where the hon. Member for Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith) has gone wrong is that he considers education and educational practice to be something static. Life has changed it considerably since the Victorian days to which he looked back with a certain amount of longing and nostalgia. I wish he would get over that. People who talk in that way remind me of a little girl who came late to my school in the Gorbals. I asked why she was late, and she replied that she could not get up. She said she could not get out 2539 of bed. I asked why, and she replied, "Please, sir, I could not get over my grannie." There are an awful lot of people who cannot get over their grandmothers. Life today, with its complexities of atom bombs and jet planes, has changed. The change in the pattern of family life is such that education and educational practice must change.
I looked in the Report to see whether or not the education authorities, the committees, the teachers and the Department of Education are accepting the challenge which legislation has laid down. There is no doubt that legislation has set the pace, and it is up to these people to follow. We have every reason for satisfaction, though certainly not for complacency, in the work which has been done. It is all very well for people to talk about the secondary schools producing leaders. Before the children get to the secondary schools, they must go to the primary schools, and it is there that, to a certain extent, the reading, writing and arithmetic referred to by the hon. Member for Hillhead, are done. Children do not continue to do that until they are 15. There is more to life than experience in reading, writing and arithmetic.
§ Mr. Ross
One cannot have a full life simply because one is taught automatically to read and write and do arithmetic. Children must be encouraged to develop independence of mind and the ability to think out problems for themselves. I admit that one has to build from the fundamentals. In the primary schools today the teachers are doing that. I am glad to see that the teacher has more freedom to arrange the curriculum in the primary school than ever before. We are not getting type or mass education. More and more, individual aptitude is being brought out.
It is distressing to find that the numbers in the classes are still high. I cannot see how the hon. Member for Hillhead got the figure of 66,000 children. I have made a calculation, from the table in the Report, on the basis of the over-sized classes in 1949. If we take the maxima as the basis, the total comes to about 35,000. To get the figure the hon. Gentleman quoted there would need to 2540 be almost 100 children in every over-sized primary class, about 70 in every oversized class in the first three years of the secondary school, and about 50 to 60 in the classes beyond that.
§ Mr. Ross
I assure the hon. Gentleman that my powers of mental arithmetic are quite good. I hope that before long the hon. Lady the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will be able to announce an improvement. I wish to congratulate her on her speech today, and I am pleased that this is a case of one teacher addressing another. I do not know whether we have ever before had a teacher speaking for the Government in Committee on education in Scotland. The hon. Lady certainly brought pride to the Scottish teachers on this side of the Committee by the way in which she put her case today. I should like to see some sign of the maxima being brought down. Fifty is far too high for a primary teacher—
§ Miss Herbison
In the new code, the number has been reduced to 45 which, we agree, is still too high.
§ Mr. Ross
It is still too high, but when I recall having 63 children in one slum school in a slum part of Glasgow, I should think that it would be like heaven to be left with only 45 children to look after. I hope that progress will continue to be made.
I should like to know what is holding up the provision of new schools. In Kilmarnock there is an area called Shortlees which will be one of the finest new housing areas in Scotland. It has not yet got a single shop, church, hall or school. I was very pleased when I saw the steel structure of the school being erected, but progress is very slow. I have heard it said that the Departments of Health and Education for Scotland, on more than one occasion, made alterations in the plan of the school after the work had been started. I should like the hon. Lady to make inquiries about that. I ask her to limit, as far as possible, interference and delay.
2541 I realise that the teaching profession is a little upset at the moment. I make no effort here to plead their case. It should be recognised that this profession has become the Cinderella of the professions. Compared with pre-war, the supply of teachers has increased by between 70 per cent. and 80 per cent. In 1933 the output was 1,308, and last year's figure was well over 2,000. Even then, the supply is not adequate. In a time of mass unemployment, when people sought security and continuity of work, we had people entering the teaching profession irrespective of the fact that the wages were not attractive. At the present time, when we have more or less full employment and attractive avenues of employment outside for graduates, we shall not get the people coming in unless we can offer them a fair deal financially.
The reasonable claims of the teachers will have to be met, just as, inevitably, those of the lower-paid industrial workers will have to be met. It is a case either of reducing our standards or facing up to a scarcity of teachers that will mean a definite setting back of all those hopes of reducing the maximum from 45 to a still lower figure. However, I leave that matter to the good sense of the teachers and the authorities concerned in the negotiations.
I want only to say one more word, and that is on secondary schools. I will not say anything about the senior secondary schools, except that I think they get praised enough and they have their traditions. I do not think there is very much wrong with them in respect of the job they are doing, although I do not agree that they should be doing the job they are doing, which is to give purely secondary school education in order to supply the universities of Scotland in meeting other needs. I do not think we are getting the full, rounded education in the senior secondary schools, and that is because of the external examination. It is not the fault of the teachers or of the education authorities, but is the fault of the universities.
The junior secondary schools have no external examinations, which means that they have complete freedom to experiment in the curricula, teaching methods and in everything else. There, to my mind, lies the hope of Scottish education. We have all praised Scottish education in 2542 the past, because of the men it produced, the number of university students and all the rest, but they amounted to a very small part of the total population. It must be remembered that 90 per cent. of our people in Scotland never went to the senior secondary schools or universities, but to the supplementaries or advanced divisions, which are now the senior secondary greatest educational weakness has been, and that is where the great spiritual loss has been, because those people have never been properly educated in the finer things or been given a proper lead so that after leaving school they could take up something which they had discovered in the course of education.
The hon. Member opposite talked a lot of nonsense about people visiting the House of Commons. A class of children could learn more history in five minutes by visiting this place than by sitting in some crowded schoolroom in Glasgow or Ayrshire. Even after they go back, their education will be further advanced by the knowledge that there is such a thing as HANSARD to give them the opportunity of reading the speeches which have been made here. They might get some political education from the visit as well.
I want to finish with a quotation from a deputy-director of education. Despite what the hon. Member for Hillhead said, they are there, first of all, because they have been teachers, and that is recognised. The avenue to the job is through the teaching profession. Really, there is no logic in whatever argument the hon. Gentleman is trying to put up on that point. He spoke to the past glories of teachers in Scotland, but these conditions have always existed. The quotation I am going to make comes from the deputy-director of education for Ross-shire, and I do not wonder that a place of that name has got an intelligent deputy-director of education. When he talked about the junior secondary school, he said:The non-bookish are the backbone of the nation. They are the people who keep the wheels of everyday life turning in our complicated civilisation. Let the non-bookish get busy doing things for themselves.That is what I meant—real education enabling these people to do things for themselves, and to learn and work out 2543 things for themselves, which is essential in a democracy. There is a struggle going on today for the mind of man. If our education in Scotland fails, then democracy itself will fail.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Duthie (Banff)
I cannot attempt to follow the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) in the speech which he has just made, because his great knowledge of the subject must have impressed itself on all hon. Members, and I myself have learned a great deal from what he said. I should like to mention also the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), which raised the Debate to a very high ethical level. I was enormously impressed by what he had to say.
I should like to correct a misapprehension which the Committee may have received from the speech of the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), who appeared to give the impression that there had been discrimination in Scottish education in the past against the children of the poorer classes. That is not true of the North of Scotland; indeed, I think it is true to say that perhaps the greatest intellectual giants who have gone out into the world through the medium of Aberdeen University have been from poorer-class folk.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? What I intended to convey, and what I think I am correct in saying, is that, owing to the lack of financial resources generally, the children of working-class people were unable to benefit from grammar school and university education.
§ Mr. Duthie
It must not be forgotten that very generous provision has been made, by means of bursaries and so on, by those who benefited from Scottish education to enable children of the poorer classes to attain a higher standard of education, and indeed many hon. Members of the party opposite can bear out that contention.
I join with the hon. Lady the Joint Under-Secretary when she deplores the wealth of good intellectual material which is lost to our country from the failure to take advantage of higher education. I myself remember that, when I was at Buckie school amongst my fellow pupils, 2544 many first-class brains were lost to higher education through financial considerations, or from the fact that the parents did not see their way to avail themselves of the provisions for higher education. These children were taken away from the school to fill roles in life much inferior to those to which their endowments entitled them.
A great deal has been said concerning the aims and aspirations of Scottish education. All our aspirations, hopes and aims will fail if we cannot provide in our schools teachers of the very finest class—the best type of teacher that our country is capable of producing—not only in quality, but in sufficient numbers to meet our needs. There is no getting away from the fact—and we must face the issue in a businesslike way—that there is very grave disquiet in the teaching profession today.
The raising of the school-leaving age has put more and greater duties upon the teachers. Salaries are not in many instances adequate, because purchasing power has fallen. The salaries offered in the teaching profession must be sufficient to attract to that profession the very best that our universities and training colleges can produce, not only from the point of view of scholastic ability, but also that of character, and I think that the second consideration is of greater importance than the first. I am sure that if that inducement is given, we shall secure that kind of individual teacher whom we need.
Today, as the hon. Member for Kilmarnock said, teaching is the Cinderella of the professions. Many potentially fine teachers at the universities today are looking round for other work in which to engage when they have graduated. In many instances, teaching is a last resort when it might conceivably be the first consideration. After all is said and done, our educational system in Scotland is the result of the efforts of the sons and daughters of Scotland, and I believe that the old dominie spirit is still there, that the high sense of calling to the profession is still there. But there is always the recurrent thought that teachers must live, and must be able to bring up their families in comfort.
In my view, we should pay our teachers the highest remuneration we can possibly afford, because education is all in all to us in Scotland. It is not purely an entrée into 2545 the life to be followed after school years; it is an absolutely essential asset to the Scots boys and girls who have to make their way in the world at home, south of the Border, in the Colonies, or elsewhere. Scotland is a poor country, and that is not due to any governmental fault in the past. Our sons and daughters have, to a very large extent, to find their niches outside their own land, and therefore their standard of education must be of the very highest.
There is a somewhat parochial point which I must mention. It is the disability under which our sparsely-populated areas of Scotland suffer, due very largely to the activities of our more populous areas. Banffshire, my native county, which I have the honour to represent in the House, is a case in point. I make no apology for mentioning this matter in this Debate, even though I am in correspondence with the right hon. Gentleman about it. The disability suffered by counties like Banffshire to which I refer is caused through hoarded-out children. Banffshire and counties of that kind have for generations been the Mecca for boarded-out children who come from other parts of the country, particularly from the Glasgow area. At the Rathven parish school in Banffshire which I attended as a boy, there were boarded-out children from Glasgow in all the classes.
Banffshire has opened her arms and her heart to these children throughout the generations. No children could have been more welcome anywhere, but that does not get away from the fact that these children have imposed upon the people of Banffshire a heavy financial burden. I know that is a matter which is going to be adjusted in the future, but it ought to have been adjusted in the past, and it could be adjusted now, because I believe legislation exists to deal with it.
What is the position? There are something like 449 boarded-out children in Banffshire today who come from areas outside the county. We get an educational grant of £6 5s. 3d. for each child, but that leaves a total educational deficit for these children of something like £4,000 which has to be found by the ratepayers of Banff. That is quite inequitable, and is a matter which should be adjusted forthwith. I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will respond to the 2546 appeal recently made to him by the Banffshire education authorities to frame the necessary regulations in order to get clear of that disparity.
I was sorry to read in a copy of a communication sent by the Education Department to the Banffshire education authorities the following passage:Meantime, I am to point out that the Act does not authorise retrospective effect to he given to such regulation.I think retrospective effect ought to be given to that matter because it has been a complete negation of equity throughout the years.
There is one other matter that I wish to mention. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to ensure that as soon as possible a uniform administrative scheme in county education is put into effect in Scotland. At the present time a difficulty has arisen in Banffshire which might have been obviated by the appointment of a sub-committee on which teachers would have been represented. I do not wish to mention the difficulty as I hope it can be settled locally. I do think that it would make for smoother working in educational matters in Scotland if we had something in the nature of uniformity in county education administrative schemes.
In closing, let me say this. Our teachers deserve well of us. They have done a magnificent job for Scotland in the past. It is up to this Committee to see that now and in the future they obtain that recognition to which they are rightfully entitled.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
When the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart) opened this Debate, I thought he did so in a very commendable way indeed. In one of his initial sentences, he gave us what I thought was a high purpose. He said that our task ought to be to improve continually the quality of education. That is a statement which I am sure will command the support of every hon. Member. But I was sorry that, after setting such a very high standard, he proceeded to depart from it somewhat rapidly, and to create, first of all, a distorted picture with regard to teachers' salaries, and secondly, to make a statement which, so far as I could follow it, did not make contact with the truth at any single point.
2547 In his first statement, he contrasted the wages paid in certain branches of industry with the salaries paid to the teaching profession to the detriment of the teachers. We ought to examine that point because, under the scales offered to teachers today, the Chapter 5 teacher is given a maximum of £840 a year—£16 a week. I represent a division where the railway workers get £4 12s. a week. They have just been offered a further 3s. 6d. a week, which they have accepted, bringing their wages up to EA 15s. 6d. Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that that picture which I have given—which is a true one, and which we all know to be true—shows the teacher to be worse off financially than the worker in industry? Engineers in my division are getting between £5 and £6 a week, and the average wage in Scotland today, of engineers, dockers, railwaymen—
§ Mr. Rankin
I must correct my hon. Friend, because my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, in replying to a Question of mine, excluded miners from the categories given. They cover all phases of labour in Scotland, except miners. The average wage in Scotland today is £6 10s. a week. The contrast as between the maximum £6 10s. per week wage amongst the vast mass of the workers in my division with the maximum of £16 per week offered to Chapter 5 men under the proposed new salary agreements, presents the true picture, and enables us to see in its true light the somewhat distorted picture that the hon. Member for Fife, East, gave us in the words from the cartoon to which he referred. He also said that salaries were completely frozen. That is not true.
§ Mr. Rankin
I agree that the hon. Member said so, but that is not true for the great majority of Scottish teachers, because every teacher gets his increment every year and that has been going on all the time. Therefore, to say that salaries are "completely frozen" is not correct. But, if the hon. Member meant that salary scales are completely frozen, then again it is not true. Salary scales are arranged 2548 by negotiation between a body representing the teachers and representatives of the local authorities. Joint agreement is reached. The salary scale was introduced in 1945 by joint agreement, and, with the approval of my right hon. Friend, it was to last for three years until 1948. It was again revised, but not altered, and now is under negotiation in order, by agreement, to establish a new scale. To suggest that either salaries or salary scales were completely frozen is to say something which is scarcely consistent with the truth.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries) rose—
§ Mr. Rankin
I am very sorry. As the hon. Member knows, I am most generous in giving way, but I am really racing against time. [Laughter.] I should like to deal with the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) if I have time before I sit down, so he had better not laugh too loudly.
After lamenting that we did not seem to be too sympathetic on this side where increased salaries for teachers are concerned, the hon. Member for Fife, East, went on to deal with present economies. I have spent the greater part of my lifetime in teaching, and the greater part of that time has been spent, not in trying to get higher scales but in seeking to restore the cuts on the scales which were imposed by the party opposite.
§ Mr. Rankin
I shall come to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling) later. In August, 1919, we had new scales with a maximum that carried the teachers of Scotland to £360 a year. That seemed "feather-bedding" to us in those days. Glasgow put on £50 more, making £410. In the spring of 1922, the teachers of Glasgow were almost on strike, resisting a cut of 10 per cent., imposed before three years had elapsed, not by Labour members in the Corporation, but by the party represented by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
That cut went on, and in 1931 it was increased to 13¾ per cent. under the Geddes axe. The result was that those scales remained, on paper, for nearly 20 years; and many of the teachers who were in the service in those days—and I was 2549 one of them—never even reached the maximum that was laid down on paper. I do not mind hon. Gentlemen opposite coming forward and saying that they want better pay for teachers. We say so too; but I wish they had given us more proof of their kindly intentions when I was in the teaching profession.
I come back to one point with which the hon. Member for Fife, East, dealt. He said that our purpose ought to be to see that the boy who comes out of a school is a real citizen. I feel quite sure that he hardly meant that. He is a boy, not a little man; and it is not the function of education, at any time, to create little men and little women. It is not its function to create little prigs. Its function is to create people who are fitted—and "fitted" is a most important word—to become real citizens. That is what we must not forget.
I should like to say a word about one remark made by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire. He said there was a terrible decline in public morality. When he said that, I remembered reading a week ago, in the "Evening Standard" or "The Star"—I forget which—a description of a ball given by the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough to most of the well-to-do people who live round and about London town. I think the cost of a ticket was five guineas. On the morning after the ball, when the Duchess went into the ballroom, she found her magnificent carpet full of holes. Cigarettes had been stamped out on it in very many places; there was broken glass all over the place, and curtains were in disorder. Agreeing, I presume, with the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and Perthshire, she probably decided that there was such a terrible decline in public morality that she was going to have no more five guinea balls for charity. If the hon. and gallant Member is saying we have now a declining morality among the ruling class, we, on this side, will agree with him.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
This class-hatred stuff has nothing to do with what I said. I said the whole country was declining in morals. I did not say any particular class.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
We cannot have 2550 two hon. Members standing up at the same time.
§ Mr. Rankin
I am very sorry that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is so perturbed. Before I sit down, I want to pay a very sincere tribute to the work of the Department, which is so excellently represented by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State.
§ It being Seven o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair, further Proceeding standing postponed until after the consideration of Private Business set down by direction of The CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS under Standing Order No. 7 (Time for taking Private Business).
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER resumed the Chair.