§ 11.5 a.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
I beg to move,That this House regards the reduction of the size of classes in schools, the raising of the school-leaving age and the fuller training of teachers as desirable objectives of national policy; recognises that these objectives cannot be attained in any measurable time without a greater rate of increase in the number of teachers than that which now prevails; and urges Her Majesty's Government to encourage and provide for an increased recruitment of teachers.The first proposition in this Motion is not in dispute. These objectives have been enshrined either in statutes or in declarations of policy by Governments which have had the unanimous support of Parliament and the general assent of the nation. The second proposition in the Motion, that these objectives cannot be attained in any measurable time without a greater rate of recruitment of teachers, is what I seek to demonstrate to the House today. The third proposition, if I am successful in demonstrating the second, will follow, I believe, as an inevitable corollary of the first two. I am, therefore, optimistic that the Government will see fit to express their acceptance of the Motion.
I was led to choose this subject partly because it is one about which I have expressed concern over a number of years, in the reign, I think, of every Minister of Education we have had since 1951. I have so far, I fear, had only a limited response from Governmental quarters about the urgency of this matter. I was further induced to it by a passage in the recent Circular 333, which draws attention to the fact that in 1957 the addition to the total number of teachers in the country was substantially less than had been hoped. Indeed, as we now know from the reply to a Written Question of 720 mine—I am grateful to the Government for making the reply available in time for this debate—the increase in that year was 5,100 instead of the 7,000 that had been hoped and calculated.
I was further led to choose this subject by consideration of the effect on the whole problem of the avowed intention of the Government, once again agreed by the House and the country as a whole, to introduce their three-year training for teachers in the year 1960 to 1961. That, quite clearly, is bound to make the question of the total supply of teachers a more pressing one than it has previously been. With those reasons behind me, therefore, I chose this subject for debate.
I must make, at the outset, one or two provisos that will limit the scope of my own remarks, because I trust that many other hon. Members will feel urged to take part in the debate. I have mentioned the three-year training, and in the first place I want to make it quite clear that I do not in any way dissent from the decision to introduce three-year training for teachers at the date which the Government have announced. I regard it as desirable in itself, and although it creates certain problems it would, I think, be very great folly for the Government or anyone to waver over the decision now, because if there is one lesson we learn from history it is that nothing is more discouraging to the morale of the teaching profession and anyone interested in education than for the Government, having announced an objective, to recede, or even to appear to recede from it.
I bring up the matter of three-year training for this reason, that, as a plain matter of arithmetic, unless other steps are taken at the same time as the decision to introduce three-year training is taken, that decision, by itself, is bound to reduce the flow of teachers very considerably to begin with and to a limited but still serious extent thereafter. But I do not wish anything that I say to be taken as in any way a suggestion that that decision to introduce three-year training should be either modified or postponed. We must accept it as one of the facts of the situation.
I do not propose to say anything about teachers' salaries. In all occupations, of course, as, indeed, we know 721 from a study of the latest Defence White Paper, the income available to members of the profession is one of the major factors affecting recruiting, but it would not be suitable to discuss that matter here since there is a proper negotiating machinery through which teachers' salaries are dealt with, and it is neither seemly nor helpful to debate it on the Floor of the House.
My third proviso is that I have to say a good deal about the teaching force as a whole. When one uses that expression "teaching force" there is a danger that we may imagine teachers to be some kind of machinery or equipment to he ordered by the hundred or by the gross. without individual differences or differences of type. I do not in any way so regard them. I recognise that one of the things which we must be careful to do if we want more teachers is to make quite clear that they will be treated by their employers as human beings.
I recognise, also, that in this problem of the supply of teachers there are a great many different facets. There are special problems affecting recruitment of teachers of mathematics and science, the recruitment of teachers in technical colleges, about which the Government have made an interesting announcement yesterday, or the recruitment of teachers for handicapped children. But I must deny myself any attempt to pursue any of these particular aspects, because others of my hon. Friends will be dealing with them, and no doubt hon. Members opposite.
My task is to bring home, I trust, to the Government and the House the stern arithmetic of the question as a whole. There is enough for me to say on the simple question of whether there are enough teachers all told, and we can then examine the special problems arising in particular types of teachers. But there is, first, a major problem that arises as soon as we examine the figures and the stern arithmetic of the total supply of teachers and the total need for them.
I shall try not to weary the House with too many figures or too detailed a statement. I think that we may start from the assumption made in the Report of the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers, "Scope and 722 Content of the Three-Year Course of Teacher Training", which contains a good deal of material on this very topic with which I am now dealing. The Advisory Council worked on the assumption that for a number of years to come there would be a net increase in the teaching force in each year of 7,000 teachers and that that would continue until 1962; and that in that year, as a result of the introduction of three-year training, so far from there being an increase of 7,000 in the teaching force, there would be a reduction of 3,000. Thereafter, in the years following 1962, there was likely to be a net increase in the teaching force of 3,700. That was the Council's assumption, or at least its most optimistic assumption.
I notice that the Advisory Council reached that figure of 7,000 on the assumption of a gross recruitment of 14,000 into the profession and the wastage or withdrawal from the profession for all reasons of 7,000. In fact, there are other sources of supply and other causes of wastage besides those which the Council examined. We find, from the Written Answer given to me recently about the year 1957, that in that year there was a recruitment into the profession from all sources of 17,000 and a disappearance out of the profession for all causes of 12,000. It is clear that the withdrawal from the profession, or wastage as it is sometimes rather unhappily called, particularly when the cause of it is the marriage of the teacher, is a more serious problem than the Advisory Council has supposed.
In 1957, we had an increase of 5,000, instead of 7,000. It may well be that it will not continue to be as serious a deficiency as that. May I make, then. what I would call a revised assumption. as distinct from the Advisory Council's assumption? May I make the revised assumption that from now until 1962 the net increase might be 6,000 and that in 1962 the drop might be 4,000 and the increase thereafter might be 2,700 a year? I am assuming all along a figure 1.000 less than that which the Advisory Council assumed, and I do not think that it can be said therefore that I am being over-optimistic.
I invite the House to consider what chance we have of realising the educational objectives on which we all agree, 723 on either the Advisory Council's assumption as to the supply of teachers or on my revised assumption. Let us take, first, the very modest objective that we should seek to create a situation in which there is no primary class with more than 40 children and no secondary class with more than 30. Everyone would agree that that is a very modest objective, and I take it because it is the one laid down in the Education Act, 1944. I am not suggesting that if we reach that objective there is nothing further that can be usefully done about the size of classes, and certainly no primary teacher will regard that objective as a final and satisfactory goal.
Let us, however, take that as the first objective that we should like to reach. On the Advisory Council's assumption, we shall not reach even that modest objective until 1968. On my revised assumption, we shall in the year 1968 be about 12,000 teachers short of what may be required to reach that modest objective. On what date may we reach it on the revised assumption? Possibly by 1972, certainly not earlier. Beyond that it is a little difficult to tell, because by then we shall have reached the year about which it is idle to try to prophesy the birth rate. But I think it is safe to say that on my revised assumption we shall be lucky if we reach that objective before 1972—four years after the date hoped for in the Advisory Council's Report.
Let us take a second possible objective—the raising of the school-leaving age. That, again, is in the Education Act, 1944. Everyone is agreed that it is something which the nation ought to do as soon as it is in a position to do it. We may find that it does it a little more rapidly than we had expected. One of the agreeable features about education today is the number of children who are staying on, before the law requires them to do so, after reaching the age of 15. and whose parents are willingly assenting that that should be so. We may well find, therefore, in the 1960s, although the nation has not yet declared in an Act of Parliament that the school-leaving age should be 16, that, in practice, for more and more children, it is becoming 16.
But if we want to reach that objective of a school-leaving age of 16, on top 724 of the objective which I previously mentioned, how many more teachers shall we require? Probably about 16,000 more teachers will be required. This means that at the rate of increase of the teaching force which we may expect in the 1960s it will take us at least five years to achieve. It is true that, in the years we are considering, the number of children in the schools will begin to fall off, but it does not fall off as rapidly as all that. To use the jargon of this problem, the peak will not fall off after 1961 as rapidly as it will climb until that year. Also, nobody is certain that a few years after 1961 the curve on the graph may not begin to go up again.
I do not think, therefore, that if we do nothing about the supply of teachers we can hope to reach the two objectives of the size of classes and the school-leaving age as prescribed in the 1944 Act before, at the earliest, 1977 or 1978. I appreciate that these calculations contain many unknowns, but I believe I am stating them in a manner in which, if I err at all, I err on the side of over-optimism.
Now let us take another objective. Everyone is concerned about the way in which the nation is going to treat its adolescents, of whom there have been an increasing number in recent years. The swollen junior forms in secondary schools will mean, in a few years' time, a large number of school leavers. I think I am right in saying that at present only about one person in five pursues part-time education after leaving school. I am excepting those who go on to institutions where they pursue full-time education. We all want to see that proportion increased. Indeed, it is generally considered to be an objective of national policy that there should be some part-time education up to the ages of 17 or 18 for everyone who has left school.
The county colleges referred to in the 1944 Act were to be one of the instruments through which education of that kind would be provided. Yet county colleges, even if one finds or erects the buildings, will be of no use without somebody to teach and instruct in them. I am not sure that any of us are yet clear as to what is to be the content of instruction in county colleges, to what extent it is to be vocational or liberal or a mixture of the two. Whatever it is, it will require teachers and instructors.
725 I find it difficult to estimate how many would be required if we were to make part-time education universal for those who have left school and have not yet reached the age of 18. Again, I think I shall not be over-optimistic if I say that, if we want to reach this third objective of the 1944 Act, the raising of the school-leaving age and universal part-time education up to the age of 18, it will be well past the year 1980 before we could possibly hope to get there with the present rate of supply of teachers. I am adding some three years to the last date I mentioned.
Beyond that stretch certain other objectives. No one regards 40 pupils as an ideal size for a primary school class. True, if we reach a situation in which there are no primary classes of over 40 children, it will mean that a great many classes are substantially under 40. Let us suppose, however, that we set ourselves what again would not be considered an extravagant objective, that no class in a primary school should contain more than 30 or 35 children. At the present rate of teacher supply, I do not believe there is any prospect of reaching that before the year 1985 or 1986.
Clearly, here we have reached the point where we must stop attempting to calculate, but I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to dispute that, if the supply of teachers remains what it now appears likely to be, we have before us a programme which, on the mere question of teacher supply, cannot be fulfilled for at least the next thirty years. We may reasonably suppose that during the next thirty years the growth of the nation's economy and its material resources will be such that we should be able to afford these educational advances if only we could find the teachers with whose help to carry them through. We are, therefore, facing a situation over the next generation in which the nation may well be rich enough to make substantial improvements in its education, which it will be anxious to do, but which it will be unable to do because it failed in the mid-fifties to give sufficient attention to the problem of teacher supply.
I stress these points because in the Report of the Advisory Council there is a really astounding paragraph which urges us to beware of the danger of unemployment among teachers in the 'sixties. 726 The one thing which, above all else, I wish to make clear in what I say this morning is that it is wholly unreasonable to entertain any such fear, and that the entertaining of such an idea is fraught with the very greatest danger to educational advance. Unless it be assumed that we shall have a Government which will tear up the 1944 Act and will turn its back on every objective set in that Act, we face a situation in which there is no possibility of unemployment among teachers for the next generation, and it is of great importance that this should be realised.
If I may allow myself a moment in what I trust will be a non-partisan speech. I will utter a word of criticism of the Government. The continual issuing of circulars urging restriction of educational expenditure, and the persistence in the block grant proposals, may be one of the reasons why the teaching profession is still haunted by the spectre of possible unemployment. If we want the teaching profession to co-operate by increasing its own numbers—a thing which few professions do with enthusiasm—we must make it certain beyond doubt that we are prepared to find the necessary money to erect the necessary buildings to carry through the objectives of the 1944 Act.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Sir Edward Boyle)
If I may be permitted a short political intervention in reply to that point, when the Estimates for 1958–1959 are published the hon. Gentleman will find that the effect on the teaching profession may well nullify the effects of Circular 334.
§ Mr. Stewart
I earnestly hope so, because it is of the greatest importance to kill once and for all the idea that in approaching the teacher supply problem we ought to be worrying about unemployment of teachers in the 'sixties. We must lay that ghost once and for all if we are not to find ourselves hampered in the next generation by a serious teacher shortage. That is why I have pressed successive Ministers of Education to consider this problem.
I could not understand why time and again, I was told that there is no need to make provision, to have more people under training to become teachers, 727 because if we do so, by the time they are trained the need for their services will have passed. I was told that by a former Minister, now President of the Board of Trade. It does not make sense if there is any serious intention, over the next quarter of a century, to carry through the objectives of the 1944 Act.
Perhaps I might now suggest certain measures which I believe the Government could usefully take to deal with this problem. The first thing is to get a larger number of persons in training to be teachers, to have more places in training colleges; and to start on that now, because a great deal of time elapses between the moment when one decides to have more people in training colleges and the moment when more teachers begin to emerge able to serve in the profession.
I deliberately said "more places in training colleges" rather than "more training colleges", because one of the things wrong with the arrangements for the recruitment of teachers is that there are too many small colleges about, something commented upon in the latest report of the Advisory Council on the content of the three-year course. I think I am right in saying that in the ordinary two-year training colleges the average number of pupils per college is in the region of 200, but there are a large number decidedly smaller than that, too small to make the proper use of the qualified staff who are teaching there and too small to form a community in which people can grow up to be not only teachers, but mature adults. Therefore, we want to see what can be done as soon as possible to enlarge the existing training colleges, and in some cases, I believe, to carry out amalgamations of training colleges which are too small to do their work properly.
Next, we ought to provide more opportunities for day training for women who want to do teaching. There are, I believe, a large number of women who would be prepared to take up the teaching profession, either whole or part-time, who are not in a position at present to go away from their homes to residential training colleges but would make good use of the facilities of a day training college. The Minister should make inquiries as to where the largest supplies 728 of potential recruits of that kind are and make day training college provision available to them.
Thirdly, we should consider the admission to training colleges of certain people who have less than the present G.C.E. requirements for entry but have shown in other ways their intellectual suitability for teacher training. To give one example, there are students of Ruskin College who, for one reason or another, did not have particularly good educational opportunities when younger but have demonstrated their ability thereafter who could with advantage be got into the teaching profession.
Fourthly, on the same line, more use should be made of the arrangements for one-year training of mature students. Fifthly, we should look at the people, who, as a result of economic measures, will be coming out of the Armed Forces, a number of whom could be drawn into the teaching profession and given such training as may be necessary before actually taking up their work.
Sixthly, we need to review the whole system of grants for persons undergoing training as teachers. I do not wish to develop that subject at length, and so I will mention only two points with regard to grants at which I think the Ministry might wisely look. One is the position of students who have dependants. I do not believe that the provision made for them at present is adequate. I think it is one reason why we are not recruiting as many mature students into teacher training as we might. Many of them are married people with dependants, and the present grant arrangements are not adequate.
I think that the Ministry might also ask itself whether the time has not now come to make the arrangements for grants to people under teacher training closely comparable with the arrangements for grants for students at universities; not that the arrangements for university students are always regarded as satisfactory, but it would be something if the arrangements for teacher training students were at least on the same basis as those for university students.
Seventhly, if it is not considered too vulgar a proposal for a learned profession, the Government should do more by means of publicity to attract people into teaching. We have, in the past, 729 had campaigns to attract people into nursing and into the Armed Forces. I believe there has been the idea that educated people are not influenced by advertisement. Anyone in the advertising profession knows better than that. We are all much more influenced by advertisement than we imagine. Even if there is at first the feeling that we are vulgarising a learned profession, I think it might be a good thing for the Government to consult people who are experts in the job of advertising.
How does one suggest to somebody who had not previously thought of being a teacher that it might be a useful and happy thing for him to become one? I expect there is an answer to that question, and I think that inquiry could find it. More soberly, one might make more diligent search among the universities to try to attract a bigger proportion of graduates into the teaching profession. With the introduction of three-year training, we shall be bound, for the time being at least, to have a reduction in the number of people coming out of the training colleges, and the need to attract more people from the universities is, therefore, correspondingly greater.
Eighthly, it is time the Ministry held a conference with the principals and others responsible for the running of training colleges. I believe that one of the things which militate against recruitment into the teaching profession is that some of the rules and regulations and general conditions of life in training colleges are not suitable to people who are very nearly adult. I recently examined a very interesting survey made by the National Union of Students. What was interesting to me was that it was the comparatively small number of coeducational colleges which, on the whole, have the most sensible regulations. If we could get the level of all regulations in colleges up to the most sensible we should have made a considerable advance. I will not weary the House with some of the slightly ridiculous stories of the restrictions to which students in some of the women's colleges are sill subjected, but it is a more important matter than one might sometimes suppose.
Finally, if one wants to attract recruits into the teaching profession one should look at the treatment of teachers by local education authorities. I am sure that 730 the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) will not mind if I refer with approbation to a speech that he made in the House on 25th July, 1956, in which he made suggestions about certain things that local education authorities could do if they wanted to relieve their anxieties about the supply of teachers. He suggested, for example, that they should be generous in the opportunities they offered to teachers to take supplementary and refresher couses, that they should not weary teachers with too frequent transfers from one school to another, that their promotion schemes should both be fair and appear to be fair, and that their allowances for books and equipment in schools should be generous.
I think we all agreed very heartily with the hon. Member when he said those things. I expect that many of us could add to the list of things that local education authorities could do to make teaching more attractive. I am not sure whether local education authorities will find it quite so easy to do some of those things when they do not get a percentage grant for doing them. I notice that in the latest circular to encourage the recruitment of teachers for technical colleges, the Ministry, as a way of encouraging local education authorities to take certain action, tells them that, if they do, the resulting expenditure will rank for grant. However, that would lead us into a wider controversy.
I must not take up any further the time of the House. I believe that I have demonstrated that there is here an extremely serious problem and that if we do not tackle it speedily it may hobble us in our educational advance for a very long time. I have tried to suggest some of the measures which might be taken at once. I know that I have left many aspects of the subject open, but I trust that my hon. Friends and other hon. Members will be developing those as the day goes on.
§ 11.40 a.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton. Itchen)
I beg to second the Motion.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) not only on his success in the Ballot but on choosing such an important subject for debate, a subject much more important than the one on which the House has wasted the last two days. I congratulate 731 him, too, on the lucid and constructive way in which he opened the debate.
My hon. Friend and many hon. Members on this side of the House have raised again and again during the past years the topic we are now discussing. I know that the average Conservative does not approve of party political criticism on education, except when he is in opposition, but I make no apologies for reminding the House of the attitude of eminent spokesmen of the Government to this question when they were in opposition.
On 4th May, 1950, we debated, among other educational topics, questions of the supply of teachers and the size of classes, and the present Lord Privy Seal attacked the late George Tomlinson, who was then the Minister of Education, for not providing enough teachers. He poured scorn on an annual increase of 6,000 teachers and said that we needed an increase of 8,000 a year, and he was right. I shall return to that later.
He demanded a clear line of policy from the Government and lamented the number of over-sized classes. He said:… when we reflect upon the conditions which exist in these over-numerous classes we must realise that a teacher is not a teacher but a circus master to keep children in order. Proper education cannot be conducted in these circumstances. The size of classes today is a subject which must impress itself upon any Minister or Government. I hope the Minister will give us some satisfying answer about the supply of teachers …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May, 1950; Vol. 474, c. 1911.]On 17th July, 1950, the then Opposition returned to the subject in what, incidentally, was an interesting debate, because it was one in which you, Mr. Speaker, made a characteristically wise and non-controversial speech on the content of education. We then had the right hon. Gentleman, who is now the Minister of Housing and Local Government, tearing a passion to tatters, as far at least as so gentle a Member could, as he pleaded for smaller classes. He said:I want, frankly and unashamedly, to speak on behalf of the children of London …He lamented the size of classes and said that teachers would increasingly despair of the job they had to do. He said of George Tomlinson:… I promise him that, in two or three years' time, there will be droves of angry 732 parents who will be wanting to know what the Minister has been doing ….He ended with this exhortation, which I commend to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary:… I beg the Minister in this emergency not to coo to us, in his disarming way, about educational progress."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th July, 1950; Vol. 477, c. 1890–3.]Those were brave words and fine speeches.
In that year, there were 66,641 oversized classes. But in 1956, after five years of the Lord Privy Seal's Government, the number of over-sized classes was 72,529. On 24th July, 1951, the right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh) continued the attack. After an inept criticism of the Jubilee Report of the Ministry of Education—a very fine Report—she went on to deal with the size of classes and said:This problem of big classes is a serious matter … it is impossible for teachers to teach children in those numbers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th July, 1951; Vol. 491. c. 222.]Within a year, the right hon. Lady was to impose economy cuts which guaranteed the preservation of large classes a little longer, and even more of them.
The late Mr. Tomlinson had something to boast about when he replied to Tory strictures. By the emergency training scheme the Labour Government had added some 35,000 teachers to the teaching profession, most of whom gave and have continued to give excellent service in very critical years and whose entry made possible the fact that in 1946 we had the first generation of English children able to enjoy free and universal secondary education.
Under the Labour Government, the training colleges had raised the annual intake of students from 7,378 in 1939 to 15,000 in 1951. The normal training colleges alone, as Mr. Tomlinson was then able to boast, had expanded from 5,000 to 11,000 students and the number of training colleges and departments of education had risen from 115 in 1938 to 156 in 1950. By 1952, the first year of the Conservative Government, it was to rise to 177 as the buildings approved by the late Mr. Tomlinson poured off the production line, and the number of students was to rise to 16,039.
Mr. Tomlinson had said that he hoped that the annual increase in the number 733 of teachers would be at the rate of some 4,000 to 5,000 a year. It was already over that figure when the Labour Government handed over. All this was in a country emerging from a devastating war. We had a right to believe that the new Conservative Government which contained such passionate spokesmen on the question of the supply of teachers would, in the easier years which followed, honour their words by their deeds and provide a dramatic expansion in the supply and training of teachers.
What has happened since 1952? The number of training colleges has risen by two, from 177 to 179, the intake of students has risen by a mere 1,000 and, on her own first annual report day, 25th March, 1952, the right hon Lady was to say:If we are to increase the number of teachers … we must try to get an extra 3,000 a year, rising to 4,000 a year, in addition. In other words, we shall be attempting to recruit between 13,000 and 14,000 teachers each year. That is not easy. Hut I think every body will agree with me that we must go all out to see whether we can do it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 233.]Under Mr. Tomlinson, this had already been achieved. It was hardly a bold sequel to the criticism of the late Minister that she should merely continue to do what her predecessor had done.
Party politics aside, the trouble is that from the beginning, from 1945, both Labour and Conservative Ministers have set their sights too low. As late as 1951, a committee was advising Mr. Tomlinson that an annual increase of 3,200 teachers between 1954 and 1960 would maintain 1950 standards and that if the numbers increased by 6,000 a year we would get smaller classes. That has proved to be utterly untrue
From the start, people like Dr. Alexander and local education authorities, grappling with the problem of thousands and thousands more children year by year—and the teachers, of course—have been pressing for an expansion of the teaching profession. Here I want to take up a point made by my hon. Friend. The teachers have never opposed expansion of the teaching profession, but, for both their own professional considerations and from the point of view of the children, they have opposed a diluted expansion of the teaching profession and 734 would bitterly oppose any mere adding to the number of bodies teaching.
The teaching profession from the start realised, from bitter experience of classes of 50 in the primary schools and of those large classes moving to secondary schools, just how big the problem was, and demanded, as they have done for half a century, an expansion in the number of qualified teachers. In this House, my friend the late much-esteemed back bencher Mr. Ralph Morley, who had fought for small classes ever since he entered politics sixty years ago, again and again raised this matter. As my hon. Friend has pointed out, he and other back benchers on this side of the House have pressed the Government to do more than they were doing.
On 17th April, 1951, the late Mr. Morley showed that we needed 25,000 additional teachers in order to reduce the size of classes to what they should be, and another 15,000 to take care of the extra child population. He said:… it should be possible, if we are willing to spend enough money and to devote sufficient of the nation's economic resources to the purpose, to produce an additional 40,000 in the next five years."—[OFFCIAL REPORT, 17th April, 1951; Vol. 486, c. 1682.]That was 8,000 a year—the Lord Privy Seal's own figure; the right figure—the figure we have never attempted, much less achieved.
In this matter of the supply of teachers, the Government have made no advance beyond implementing the policy laid down by their Socialist predecessors. They should have done more. They knew more than the experts who dreamed so nobly but so inaccurately in the wonderful months preceding the 1944 Education Act and in the year 1945, as the expansion was beginning. The target laid down by the experts has been surpassed, but it was too low and the Government should have known that it was too low. They were told again and again by Labour back benchers and by a now famous or, Government supporters might think, almost notorious report from a Select Committee of this House on which the Government had a majority. The hope of the Government and of the experts has always been that when the present bulge disappeared the problem would also disappear. In the meantime, the feeling was that we should manage to hold the position at 1950 standards 735 The Government now know that they have failed to do this, and that the number of over-sized classes has increased. The incidence has merely moved from the primary to the secondary schools.
I want to expand a point which my hon. Friend made about the bulge. I have frequently tried to show that the bulge has not been followed by a return to pre-war figures. For the five years from 1945 to 1949, inclusive, the total number of births was 4,536,000—an increase of 700,000 over the comparative pre-war period. For the five years from 1950 to 1954, inclusive, the number was 4 million—half a million fewer than the previous period but nearly 250,000 more than the comparative pre-war period. But for 1956 and 1957 the birth rate figures are 823,000 and 821,000 respectively. If the next three years repeat the pattern of the last two, there will be a minor bulge, and the population in the secondary schools in 1972 will be 100,000 more than in 1967. Moreover, each year more children are staying on after the age of 15. This has been a glorious surprise to us all, and I am sure that the Minister is as delighted as we are about it.
We have failed to hold the 1950 standards, but even those standards were shamefully low. All educationists want to see the end of over-sized classes, but there are 70,000 of them at the moment. Furthermore, at present it is held that a secondary class is over-sized if it has more than 30 pupils, but a primary class is held not to be over-sized until it has more than 40 pupils; the children are smaller! Most educationists think that this is topsy-turvy, or at any rate that children in the primary schools need the individual education which small classes alone can provide. Conservatives who send their own children to kindergarten and to preparatory schools accept the small class as a prerequisite for efficient primary education. We urge the Conservatives to believe that what is true for the children in the preparatory and kindergarten schools is also true for those in the nation's primary schools.
We also want to raise the school leaving age. The question of comprehensive secondary education is an academic 736 one compared with such matters as the size of classes and the raising of the school-leaving age to 16. Whatever politicians or theorists may say, every local education authority is moving, more or less quickly, and in a variety of ways, to an integrated system of secondary education. Yet whatever the pattern, the fundamental difference will remain between two-thirds of our children and the other one-third, or three-quarters and the other one-quarter. so long as masses of children are turned out of secondary schools at the age of 15. This is quite apart from any question of the variety of intellectual content required for the education of children of varying intellects.
We shall not have achieved real equality of opportunity until all children can have secondary education, as the Act envisages, until the age of 16. Education is dynamic and vital and more and more children are rushing ahead of Parliament and staying on after the age of 15 when they do not have to. But to provide another year of schooling for 75 per cent. of our children by raising the school-leaving age would probably need 20,000 more teachers.
When we add to this the number of teachers necessary for part-time day release pupils, county colleges under the 1944 Act, and now the demand for 6,000 to 7,000 full-time technical teachers and 8,000 part-time technical teachers, the measure of the demand becomes formidable, especially when we remember that the school population has by no means reached its maximum. Not until 1961 will it reach its top figure, and we still have to provide for the extra 250.000 children who will be in our schools then. In 1968, the total school population, even if we do not raise the school-leaving age, will be 1,600,000 more than it was in 1947.
I do not wish to minimise what we have achieved, against very great odds, in post-war Britain, and I do not say that we can hope to achieve all that is ultimately necessary by advancing to it in one step, but the Government should have done more than they have done so far. I regret that at this moment, as in 1951, the Government are applying a brake when they should be applying a spur. As it is, some children pass through our schools with hardly any of the benefit 737 of the 1944 Act, especially those who come from overcrowded primary school classes and are unlucky enough to have to go into overcrowded secondary school classes, and those who remain in all-age schools and will remain there a generation longer because the reform of the all-age school programme has been checked by recent actions of this Government. Some of these children might have helped to fill the gap and proved suitable for the teaching profession.
The problem is qualitative as well as quantitative. For years the teaching profession has demanded three years' training at university or college as a minimum prerequisite for entry. I want to pay tribute to the work that training colleges have done both before and since the war. I visit many of them regularly, in all kinds of capacities, and I am profoundly impressed by the character and quality of the work done. They lack one thing, chiefly, and that is time. The young sixth-former does not begin to be a sixth-former until he gets into his second year, and for the university student things are not really happening until the end of his second year or the beginning of his third year. We ask training colleges to provide not merely a general education, plus specialisation in two or three subjects, but also theoretical and practical training in the art of teaching, all inside two years.
Every training college teacher must feel the frustration of just beginning to get down to fundamentals with some nineteen or twenty-year-old students when the term's teaching practice looms up or the final examination has to be given. I know, from my own experience, of no training college in the country which is not itching to be allowed the privilege of starting a three-year teacher training course. Whatever the price to he paid for this might be, even if it is the cost of one year's output from the colleges, I believe that that price ought to be paid.
I have urged in previous debates that what we should have done by now was to expand the physical accommodation at the training colleges so that we might have provided in expanded colleges the same annual intake and so that a college providing for three-year training should have as many students in each of its years rather than have to cut down its 738 annual intake. Even now, I would urge on the Parliamentary Secretary that that physical accommodation be rapidly extended.
As the bulge dips—it will dip considerably, but not absolutely—in 1960–61, I hope that the Government will have the courage displayed by Mr. Tomlinson when in 1946 he raised the school-leaving age to 15. If the opportunity is not then taken to provide three-year teacher training courses it may be lost to us for a long time to come.
I am glad about the little measures which the Government have adopted, such as the exempting of National Servicemen who are going into teaching science and the quota system itself. I know there is a lot of criticism about that system at the moment, but I would say that it has worked. Some teachers have gone to teacher-starved areas who, but for the quota system, would not have gone to them.
I know that receiving local authorities are disappointed because they have not received sufficient teachers and that the giving local authorities are also disappointed because they could do with all the teachers they can get. But that is not the fault of the quota system; it is the fault of the strange fact that the increase this year has dropped considerably below what the Minister expected. I hope that when the Minister replies to the debate he will explain this sudden and dramatic drop of 2,000 which made the record of progress suddenly halt in 1957.
I welcome wholeheartedly the new circular on technical teachers, and I hope that all local authorities and the Minister himself are going to live up to the objectives of that circular. That means a serious and generous response to the call; it means adequate financial provision, it means willingness on the part of local authorities to second teachers, and, on the part of the Minister, a little more generous provision and proper recognition of seconded service for pension purposes than is contained in the circular. It means generous co-operation between industry and the Ministry. If a man is going to give up a decent job for further education in order to serve the country, he cannot do so on the kind of financial provision now made for the younger men going to university.
739 I welcome the Minister's support, as far as it went, of the Weaver Committee Report on maintenance grant for grammar schools and for children over the age of 15. I urge all local authorities to come into line, and I hope that the Minister will keep on their tails until they do. Those who think that a mean maintenance scale is wise economy are hurting Britain. Even on the Minister's scale it is a real sacrifice on the part of a poor parent, especially a widow or a low-paid worker, to keep a lad at school till he reaches the sixth form and then goes on to the university.
The grants to university students are out of all relation to present-day prices. The National Union of Students recently pointed out just how grim is the economic position of many students at the university today. The amount of the grant needs revising, and the means scale needs revising, not only at the middle-class end, not only for the student, the young man or woman, who, having won something, likes to feel that he or she has really won it. Having won it, these young people feel that they ought to have something of what they have won without still having to be entirely dependent on their parents. This is even more particularly so for those at the bottom end of the scale, the people earning £9 a week who have to forgo not only the wage-earning capacity of their youngster, but have to keep him in vacation time and also make a contribution towards his university education.
Only this week I met a woman in Southampton who has gone out to work to help her boy who is studying Russian at the University of Nottingham. Because she has gone out to work, the amount provided by the local authority towards the maintenance of that boy has been cut. All parents who send their sons to college, even rich parents, make sacrifices. This is particularly so of poor parents especially with the world outside of overpaid dead-end jobs at 16 and under-aided sixth form and university life as the two alternatives. The Minister's duty is to limit that sacrifice as much as possible for the sake of both the parents and the youngster.
I am glad that recent investigations show that the number of pupils staying on in comprehensive grammar and 740 secondary modern schools is increasing and that the number of early leavers from the grammar schools is declining. Two years ago I urged the Minister's predecessor to adopt a "bold and imaginative campaign" to keep more children at school, to recruit the teaching and other professions. It has not been forthcoming. I echo the plea of my hon. Friend that such an effort to be made by the teaching profession, the grammar school heads, backed by the Minister, and the local authorities.
As regards industry, I welcome all that industry is doing to help. Industry gave the Minister a great lead in the provision of laboratories. Theirs were earmarked for private schools, it is true. But there was no similar dramatic gesture to State schools at that time by the Minister for increased science facilities for sixth forms. Industry has now given another striking lead by the generous provision of some 20 scholarships without means tests for keen students and the figure mentioned by the National Union of Students of £450 has been accepted by industry. I hope that the Government will match the altruism and private enterprise of industry by some similar gesture on their part.
The position is indeed grave. The Report on early leavers showed five years ago that 10,000 young children left the grammar schools who, in the opinion of the staff, could have taken university degrees giving them 4,000 potential graduates in science. How far have we moved from that lamentable position? The Minister once told me that by 1960 we shall need some 3,200 science teachers alone to meet the increased number of children in our secondary schools. How far have we gone towards achieving that?
As I pointed out two years ago, by 1961 we shall need an extra 40,000 teachers in our secondary schools if we are merely to cope with the 1950 position. Does it seem that we are going to reach that position? Now we need 15,000 technical teachers. The charge I make against the Government is that they have been content, by and large, to allow the work of Ellen Wilkinson and George Tomlinson in this field to bear fruit, but not to expand that work. The record output of children now preparing to leave school includes children who, in one way or another, ought to stay on 741 for further education to sixth form, to university or college level and then ought to go into teaching. I know that it is possible for the able, very bright sixth former—the one who has won a State scholarship—after much difficulty in those agonising last weeks in the sixth form, to get to the university—not of his choice, but at least to a university. It is. however, almost impossible for the less brilliant sixth former to find a place in the university in order to take a pass degree and then go on for a teacher's diploma in education.
I hope that the Minister will say a word about wastage. The simple position is that we are at the moment recruiting 14,000–15,000 teachers a year. To this we add 2,500 married women teachers every year. On the other hand, we lose some 10,000 a year, and last year the wastage of 10.000 shot up dramatically to 12,000. Most of the wastage is normal and is due to old-age, sickness and death. How much of it is because people are finding other professions more financially attractive than teaching? What happened last year?
I understand, for instance, that the wastage among untrained graduates is particularly high. Teaching is still the lowest paid profession in the country, apart from the very distinguished and meanly paid profession of the clergy. If we are to recruit young material to the teaching profession, we do it in a competitive market and we must pay the competitive price.
The problem that we are discussing this morning is part of a much larger one. It was put eloquently again and again by the last Minister of Education Lord Hailsham. The fact is that we are not spending enough on education. We invest 3 per cent. in our children when the Soviet Union is investing 10 per cent. and the Americans a similar figure. I am loyal enough to believe that we get better value for our 3 per cent. than most other countries would get for a similar 3 per cent., but patriotism, loyalty and admiration for the British system do not override mathematics and economics.
Putting it at the lowest level, everybody wants Britain, not merely to survive, but to do more than survive—to play a leading moral and material role in the years ahead, when all the 742 economic facts are against us. Mere wishing will not achieve that. It has to be bought and paid for by hard and intelligent work. It must be bought, above all, by investing in our most significant capital asset: our youngsters.
A nation which is up against great odds ought to be able to spend more on education than it spends on beer and tobacco. I think that the Ministry and successive Ministers know this. I am certain that successive Conservative Ministers, brought into contact with the wonderful expanding work that is being done in our schools, are enthusiastic about their Department but that they are being sacrificed, with more or less resistance, to the Treasury.
In 1944, we wrote a noble and ambitious Act on the Statute Book. Half of its provisions are as yet unachieved. Either we must make up our minds as a country to carry, as ratepayers and taxpayers, the burden that that Act imposed upon us or we ought to be honest and scrap it and replace it by another less noble and less ambitious Measure.
My experience, which is considerable, of the work of education committees up and down the country is that most of them want to get on with the job. They are proud of what they have done so far. They lament bitterly the shortage of teachers. What they are asking for at the moment is a really vigorous drive from the Government and an extra drive, even now, to recruit the new teachers that we need so badly. That means war against the Treasury. If the present Parliamentary Secretary and his chief, the new Minister of Education, will join in that battle against the Treasury, I am quite certain that every Member on this side of the House will lend his eager and enthusiastic support.
§ 12.15 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) on his choice of subject. His Motion is wide and composite and gives hon. Members, on both sides, ample scope for dealing with the very great problem of the supply of teachers for the future. I followed the hon. Member's speech with very great interest. It was prepared with his usual great care, it was delivered with his usual clarity and 743 it was completely non-partisan, which, to me, was a very pleasant change. I was very impressed by the eight constructive points that the hon. Member made at the conclusion of his speech. They rounded off a gem of a speech that was completely constructive in outlook.
I wish to illustrate one of the points made by the hon. Member by going back to the time when I left training college. There was a time in the 1920s when unemployment among teachers was rife. I remember the extreme worry and anxiety, in my college year, on the part of students who, even in their last week of training, had not yet been appointed by an authority. I remember three of them accepting, in desperation, posts with a recalcitrant authority—I shall not mention its name—which at that time was not paying Burnham Scale rates.
The hon. Member for Fulham underlined the fact that the teaching profession is not likely to be faced in the future with unemployment. Even from the arithmetic given this morning by the hon. Member, I cannot conceive any fear or spectre of unemployment for years. Therefore, any talk of such a threat would damp the prospects of increasing the supply of teachers. I underline the point further by saying that the future security of teachers is an essential prerequisite of an ever-increasing supply.
The Motion, as I said, is very wide in scope. It deals with the quantity and the quality of teachers or, to put it another way, it deals with the supply and the status of teachers, as well as the distribution of teachers. Therefore, it poses the simple question of how to get more teachers of the right calibre to achieve the two aims of reducing the size of classes and raising the school-leaving age, in addition to the other wide prospects envisaged by the Motion. I would say that priority No. 1 is the reduction of the size of classes. Any practical teacher would wholeheartedly support that view.
The reduction in the size of classes and the raising of the school-leaving age—which, as far as I can see, is still some distance away—are the two requisites of the 1944 Act. If I were to state my future policy for education for the country, I would say that it should be the full implementation of the 1944 Act. That is very necessary. When it was 744 introduced, both the then Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary envisaged that it would take a generation to bring the Act into being. As in many other things, unless we set ourselves to the task, the scheme falls away.
I would, therefore, set out a plan; call it "planned progression" if you wish. I should set up target years and say that, for example, by 1962 or about that time, we should have tackled the reduction in the size of classes in infants' and primary schools. The whole question of target years is a practical proposition.
§ Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield Park)
I am very interested in the point which the hon. Member is making. In addition to saying these things for himself and to the Minister, would he consider saying them to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with a view to financial provision being forthcoming?
§ Mr. Jennings
I welcome that interruption. It is well known to us on each side of the Chamber that in our own family and domestic meetings certain things are said. I can assure the hon. Member that on all matters of educational policy I have not been lax in putting a point of view to the people concerned. I believe that it is a practical proposition to start now to plan for a reduction in size of classes in infants' and primary schools and to set up a target year by which we should have achieved a reduction below 40 pupils per class.
We should be fairly proud of what we have done already. The number of primary classes with more than 40 pupils reached a peak in 1954. Since then, the number has fallen each year. In 1954, the number of classes was 40,447, and in 1957 the number was 31,907, a reduction of 8.540 classes. Progress is certainly being made.
§ Mr. Stephen Swingler (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
To put the figures quite fairly, would the hon. Gentleman admit that during that period the number of senior classes with more than 40 pupils went up?
§ Mr. Jennings
It is a very good point, and if the hon. Gentleman had been a little patient he would have found that I was just coming to it.
The next note I have before me is concerned with the figures for secondary 745 schools. In 1954, there were 3,304 classes with more than 40 pupils and in 1957, 4,115, an increase of 811. When we compare the decrease in primary schools of 8,500 with the increase in secondary schools of 811, I think that, even accepting the point made by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler), we have made progress.
The planned progression of reduction in the primary and infants' schools can make a very big impact. It is not for me to try to impress upon the House what a problem the size of classes makes, but I would say one or two general things. Large classes are the greatest handicap to educational advance. For the ten years that I taught in schools only in three of them had I a class of fewer than 50 pupils. It is almost impossible to give individual attention. Either we neglect the bright children and let them get on as they can, and devote all the time we can to our B and C streams, or we neglect the C stream, the backward and duller children in the class, and help the bright children. All that is completely uneconomic from the educational point of view.
It is wrong that the teacher should have large infants' classes. If any classes in the school should be small, it is those of the infants. Therefore, we can make a start now, as a practical exercise, by saying that we shall make a start with the base of the pyramid.
I come to the question of supply. The estimate for the net increase in the supply of teachers was 7,000. We find that the actual increase over the years was 5,100, a shortfall of nearly 2,000. It will be very interesting to learn from the Parliamentary Secretary whether the Ministry knows the reasons for this shortfall. The Ministry is probably still investigating. There may be several reasons, such as more and earlier marriages, unexpected retirements, the lure of industry, which the hon. Member for Itchen (Dr. King) pointed out, and the effect of the quota system. On the lure of industry, we have made considerable progress about salaries, but it must always be kept in mind that there are financial temptations which draw people away from the profession.
746 The point made by the hon. Member for Itchen about the quota system is worth looking at. We cannot yet tell whether the quota system has had an effect on the withdrawal of certain labour from the teaching profession, such as the married teacher who, rather than be moved somewhere else, says, "I will give up the profession altogether". We must look at the working of the quota system. I agree with the hon. Member for Itchen that it was necessary and desirable, and that it was an earnest and worth-while attempt on the part of the Government to get over a very great difficulty, but we must remember that it was reluctantly agreed to by all concerned in October, 1956.
To get this matter into the right perspective, let me point out that it was understood as a two-year exercise. The first year is now finished. It has done some good, but not as much as was expected. The reasons for that are now being sought. The main effect of the quota system will be found in the second-year; that is when we should judge it. The numbers entering training college are slightly increasing each year and should soon provide a little more help. The hon. Member for Fulham looked at the question of training and included it in his Motion. I urge the Government to repel any attempt, from whatever source it comes—there are whispers now—to put back the date for the institution of three-year courses. Much forward thinking is being done by all concerned on this matter. It is not a question of how one should use the third year, but only of how one should use the three years.
The point was made by the Parliamentary Secretary some time ago, either in a Parliamentary Answer or in a debate in the House, that the course must justify itself by its own merits. In other words. if we plan the course correctly it will raise the status of the profession by being recognised as almost the equivalent of a three-year degree course. We must make that our aim. Time will not allow me to look at the course itself. It divides itself into three: principles of education; teaching practice; and subject courses. They have to be spread out gradually over three years. The point made by the hon. Member for Itchen about shortage of time in the two-year course is important. The third year 747 will give more time for the spreading out of the course.
Let me say one word about teaching practice. Three years will give us an opportunity for a gradual, graded approach to class work but I would favour at least one long spell, probably in the third year and probably a full term, so that students can get down to the business of class-room technique. I sometimes regret the abolition of the old pupil-teacher year. Before I went to college I spent a year in a school as a pupil-teacher. It was a very valuable year. In some schools one is pretty well only a senior monitor, but I had a headmaster who really tried to show me how to teach. When I went to college I found that very valuable. Modern students would find that also. We must provide a substitute and the three-year course will provide that.
If we are to attract more teachers to the profession it is necessary to raise the status of the profession. The hon. Member for Itchen mentioned several ways which will help to do that indirectly. We must have sufficiently attractive salary scales. Here I want to say something quite bluntly, and in a friendly way, to my colleagues in the teaching profession. The secret of raising its status lies almost wholly with teachers themselves. If Governments, of either party, provide decent salary scales, decent schools and decent conditions, the rest is up to the teachers themselves. In one thing no one but the teachers can help. That is in the question of professional unity. Until we in the teaching profession stop our civil war we cannot expect to attain that respect for our status to which we should be entitled. I will leave that point now, but I thought that someone in the profession, but not actually teaching, should say that.
To raise the status and maintain it we should have a progressive raising of the standards of entry to the profession. I wish to quibble about a point made by the hon. Member for Fulham. He referred to bringing people in on a lower standard than the present G.C.E. qualifications. I agree that that might be necessary. We have had one example of dilution, which the teachers accepted reluctantly. It worked well and I had teachers on my staff who were emergency 748 trained and did a good job, but a profession which aims at a high standard cannot afford two or three doses of dilution. I do not know any other union which would have consented to that. Therefore, that suggestion should be looked at with care.
There is a tendency in many quarters to denigrate our educational system, but I am proud of the English system of education. It is individualistic, it is progressive and it delivers the goods, in spite of all its faults. When I hear people say, "Look at Russia," or "Look at America," I say that they should look back on our history and see the great things which our British heritage has given to the world. In modern times we may not have given birth to a Sputnik. but we certainly delivered a Zeta.
§ 12.35 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) upon the subject of Education. I mean that. I want to take up his plea for a nonpartisan approach to this subject. When he compliments hon. Members on this side of the House—as he complimented my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart)— on a non-partisan approach, he must not forget that he himself is a rather rare bird on the Conservative benches. He is one of the few hon. Members opposite who can talk from experience on the subject of State education. A glaring defect among hon. Members opposite is that many of them did not go to State schools. It is difficult to accept advice from them when they tell us how we should behave and how we should administer the State sector, when many of them have not been inside a State school. We have had Ministers who never entered a State school, except to speak during Elections.
Like the hon. Member for Burton, I have done some teaching, not merely in secondary and primary, but also in technical education. He pleads, as I do, for unity among our colleagues in the profession. He must not forget, however, the stumbling block of the independent sector and the difficulty about splinter unions compared with that splendid organisation to which he and I belong, the National Union of Teachers. It is fine to hear the hon. Member talk 749 about planning and fixing target dates. I wish to refer to the possibility of having a target date for raising the school-leaving age to 16.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham said one thing with which I disagree, that he would be prepared to allow lower standards for some who wish to go to college and take up teaching later. I hope I am being fair to my hon. Friend in saying that. I was disturbed to discover that in one of our largest London comprehensive schools a large number of boys and girls taking the G.C.E. did not take their mother tongue as one of the subjects.
I was appalled to find that today one need not take English when sitting for a leaving certificate. I am told that this is the only civilised country with such an examination which does not insist that the candidate shall take his own language as one of the subjects in the examination by which he hopes to enter college. I am appalled to find that, although one needs to have five subjects in G.C.E., English need not be one.
It is a little shocking to find people in a comprehensive or bilateral school teaching English and arithmetic, which are the foundations for technical efficiency later, who have not themselves taken English in the G.C.E., and perhaps not at college. I hope that the Minister will take note of that. We should really come into line with people in other countries. If we have stepped out of line, let us get back again, for we cannot feel very happy about that.
This debate is about the need for more teachers. We need tens of thousands of them and we need better teachers. For that reason, I echo all that has been said about the desirability, at the earliest moment, to begin a three-year course in teacher training colleges. In Scandinavia, there is a four-year course. The hon. Member for Burton believes in the need jealously to guard and enhance status, but we ought to be thinking in terms of a four-year course, such as the Danes and the Norwegians have. We must fix a date by which we can get on with that. The raising of the school-leaving age to 15 was an act of faith and it will be an act of faith to raise it to 16, I hope, not in the too far distant future. Also, by an act of faith we should set a target 750 for the four-year course for all who intend to teach after leaving college.
I am told that the T.U.C. is advocating a school-leaving age of 16. I hope that because we on these benches sometimes say that the first need is to reduce the size of classes, while the T.U.C. advocates a leaving age of 16, hon. Members opposite will not detect an incipient split in the party. They are always looking for that sort of thing. In fact, those two requirements go together, and I hope that we shall lift the leaving age to 16 as soon as we can.
On the question of the need for more teachers, it is not merely a matter of more money. Although at weekends our wives say they would like more money, whatever our jobs, because of the increasing cost of living, this is not only a matter of money. We should sometimes think, not, indeed, less about money but more of the ability of teachers and their training, and we should, therefore, welcome the three-year course.
The Manchester Guardian had an interesting article yesterday on the subject of wages and jobs and why people begin teaching and then leave. The sort of jobs that some people get after a three- or four-year course, as opposed to teaching, is very interesting. In fact, there are people who have left teaching to take posts in commercial life and who now get £1,750, for instance, as technologists after teaching at a technical college.
The Manchester Guardian gave an example of a person with a B.A. (Commerce) who earned £2,000 a year in an ancillary industrial job and another person with a B.A. (Econ.) who earned £2,200 as an education officer in the Armed Forces. That latter person was getting, perhaps, £1,000 a year in civil teaching and is now getting £2,200 in the Forces. No wonder there is a wastage here.
It is interesting to find out why people leave industry to enter teaching. My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham was talking earlier in a somewhat glamorous fashion about pulling in the teachers by advertising and employing all the wiles of television, and so forth, to tempt people into the profession. One English honours graduate has changed 751 from teaching—I quote from the Manchester Guardian—because hefelt that it would provide much more satisfying and worthwhile work in a much more pleasant and congenial atmosphere.Another said that he preferredthe life of books and study to the hurly-burly of commerce and industry.An honours B.Sc. (Tech.) said that he had gone into teaching because oflack of appreciation of initiative in industry.That is rather amazing. But there we are; it is difficult to say exactly why some people come in and others go out.
In the purely mathematical sense of getting more teachers, when one considers the numbers particularly of girls who leave grammar schools and high schools at the age of 18, I consider that we do very well indeed. We do particularly well in the fierce competition with industry, commerce, nursing, and so on. Quite a high percentage of school leavers go to college.
The only other sector left for recruitment in secondary education is in the secondary modern schools. Here is where I hope that hon. Members on the other side of the House will forget some of their doctrinaire objections to the comprehensive school and the bilateral school. In the secondary modern school, with the leaving age at 15, it is impossible for anyone leaving at 15 to attend college to become a teacher. If the age were lifted to 16, even then there would be a two-year gap from 16 to 18 before attendance at college was possible. I urge the Minister particularly to encourage in every way possible the girls at 15 and 16 in the secondary modern schools and enable them to progress in the following two years and obtain an academic education so that at the age of 18 they may go to college.
I do not know how this could be done, but perhaps there could be a special kind of junior college or something of the sort, and in some cases these girls could be transferred to the sixth form of grammar schools. When I think of the hundreds of thousands of school-leavers who stay on until they are 16 or 16½, there must be thousands more potential teachers. I can think of no field where we can get them out of the millions of our school population other than from these school-leavers in the secondary modern sector.
752 We talk of tempting people of 24, 28 and 30 years of age by giving them bursaries, and so on. My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham talked of lowering the standards. But it is really playing at it if we think that we can get even a few hundred out of that field of adult education. The only place where we can get them in any numbers is from among the pupils who leave the secondary modern schools at 15 or 16.
§ Sir E. Boyle
This is a highly important point. Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the development of the advanced courses at secondary modern schools is the most important sector of all?
§ Mr. Johnson
I could not agree more, but I think it is a small and culturally starved environment for a boy or girl of 15½. The numbers are small. There may be fewer than 20 staying beyond the age of 15. It is obvious to those of us who have been in the teaching profession that there is an insufficient number of specialists to teach. These boys and girls who stay on till they are 15½ and 16 to take the G.C.E. do not have the stimulus that they need. It is like expecting people who play football in a village, where there is little competition, to get on quickly and play for the Villa or Arsenal in twelve months' time.
Skilled and specialised staff at top level are needed to fetch along these youngsters. This is one of the best arguments that we have put forward for the comprehensive school or, indeed, the bilateral school. The numbers are larger. There is a much bigger catchment area and there is a larger specialist staff to teach the individual subjects.
The secondary modern school, where the G.C.E. is taken at 15½, has an enormous disadvantage compared with, for instance, the endowed secondary school with 800 or more pupils, including a sixth form of 100 or 120 and a specialist staff of 30 or 40; yet the results achieved by these secondary modern schools are fantastic. There is such a school in the Midlands, Coleshill, which, year after year, is getting 100 per cent. G.C.E. results. It is astounding how these schools do it. I ask the Minister to dig deep in the secondary modern sector for his future school-leavers.
§ Mr. Johnston
Of course. I accept that. I am merely asking the Minister to give encouragement in every possible way, perhaps by founding a special kind of institution, perhaps a junior college or a comprehensive high school for these leavers.
I also support the suggestion of the hon. Member for Burton relating to pupil teaching. If and when we have this two-year course for secondary modern leavers from 16 to 18 before going to college, there is a need for what the hon. Member had in his younger days—this contact with older teachers and part-time teaching in an adjacent school. Too many future teachers get to college having done no teaching at all. I am sure that this earlier contact would do them a world of good, acting, so to speak, as apprentices alongside the teacher journeyman—I will not say carrying the tools, like plumbers' mates, but working alongside these older teachers, observing how they perform, and occasionally teaching at the age of 16 or 17.
I welcome wholeheartedly the last circular issued by the Ministry on teachnical education. I do not Want to quote lots of figures. It has been mentioned that we hope to have another 15,000 or 16,000 technical teachers by 1960 or 1961, but this Government waken up much too late, even if they do waken up sometimes. It is less than three years ago that the hon. Gentleman's predecessors in his high office were beginning, not to talk but to act in the demolishing of the Bolton and the Huddersfield technical teachers' colleges. The hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. P. Bell) and I had quite a job then to fight this, not merely to keep those places open but to bring about great changes in them.
That was only three years ago, and there is no doubt that those on the other side of the House have been shaken by the technological advance in the Soviet Union. Leaving aside Sputniks—in America they were talking about "Muttniks"—there is no doubt that the figures given to the public in relation to 754 Soviet achievements have really wakened us up. On the basis of output of technologists and technicians to numbers of populations, there is no doubt that we lag behind.
We all admire, of course, our own achievements in the past. The hon. Member for Burton says that he is proud of our educational system—so are we all—but, being a fair-minded man, I know that he will admit that there are some defects and deficiencies in that system. I think that the hon. Member is the first member of his party that I have heard speak in a non-partisan sense about technical education and to say that we recognise those defects.
The published figures show that the Soviet Union has gone ahead in quite a fantastic way on a planned target system such as that of which the hon. Gentleman himself was speaking. The Soviet was thinking on those lines in the 'thirties—
§ Mr. Jennings
I am grateful to the hon. Member but, while recognising the defects in our own system, would he also recognise the defects in the Russian and American systems, and acknowledge that in Russia there are vast areas where nothing like progress of any description has been made?
§ Mr. Johnson
I could not agree more. I shudder to think of the lack of discipline, application to their work and other features of the American educational system, and I would say that in America they have nothing that in any way corresponds with our intensive sixth form selective sets before reaching university level. Their so-called sixth forms, if there are such—but they are not, of course, known as such—are, I would say, two years behind ours in academic or scholarship standards. But the Soviet Union did twenty years ago what the hon. Gentleman is now pleading with his own Government to do. They began their planning in the 'thirties, and their figures are quite staggering.
In the United Kingdom, with a population of, perhaps, 50 million, there were estimated to be 134,000 qualified scientists and engineers in 1956. In the U.S.A., in 1954—the latest year for which figures are available—with almost four times our population, the figure was about 550,000. Here, of course, we are talking about engineers and applied 755 scientists. In 1955, the U.S.S.R. had 585,000 engineering specialists with higher education, and almost 100,000 research workers in scientific establishments. There were other scientists, too, but not separately distinguished. That is the measure of our task in the United Kingdom.
Further, we must not forget that our task is not only one of supplying our home market with teachers and technologists. We have the largest Empire, or Commonwealth, that the world has ever known, and not the least of our jobs is to supply it with teaching staff. We are happy, of course, to give up in our universities and colleges many seats that could be taken by Welsh, Scottish, Irish, or English students, to Nigerians, Kenyans, Jamaicans and the like.
We must not, however, forget that not only do we give up those places in our institutions of higher education to overseas students, but have also to "feed" with teachers such overseas institutions as Makerere, Ibadan, Nairobi and many others. Therefore, we must keep in mind not only the need to get more teachers for ourselves so as to cut down the size of our own classes, but also to send a flow of teachers to Africa and other parts of the Commonwealth.
We are not succeeding in that now. I hope that we shall not forget that if we wish to maintain our British way of life, to keep the places in the Commonwealth close to us and to give them the standards we all say we like so much, we have to send out not merely politicians, technicians and all kinds of business men, but many, many teachers. At the moment, we are not getting our teachers to go out to our Colonies, except to go to mission schools. One is delighted to go, for instance, to Northern Rhodesia and to find at Chipembe young women from Totnes Secondary School, from Coventry, Barrshill, and other establishments teaching in Anglican, Methodist and other mission schools.
They have gone out there to teach, but have gone purely for the personal motive. On the other hand, we have to advertise in The Times and other newspapers for university graduates to go out to teach in the Commonwealth. To increase the number of school leavers who go on to 756 college and qualify for teaching to go out to the Commonwealth is another of our jobs. It is a colossal job.
I asked the Minister yesterday about the means test for university awards. I have heard, and other hon. Members must also have heard in their constituencies, many complaints from doctors, teachers themselves, dentists, technicians of all kinds—the so-called "middle class"—earning from £1,000 to £2,000 a year, that they are finding it very difficult to find part of the cost of sending their children to the university.
I was most encouraged to hear that the Minister is thinking very hard about this matter. Is there not, in the so-called middle or lower middle classes, a catchment area from which, given more financial help, we could attract more youngsters to the universities? The children in this segment of the population, because of their homes, and because of the parents they have, will probably provide the likeliest source of good teaching material.
As I say, the Minister has a colossal task and we wish him well in it. I do not suggest that, financially, the sky is the limit, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen (Dr. King) said a few minutes ago, if the Minister has to fight to get another £5 million, £10 million or £20 million, he will find every one of us on these benches behind him in his fight.
§ 12.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West
Before I make my two or three points, I should like to say that I most cordially support the concluding remarks of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson). Further, as he raised the question of comprehensive schools, I should like to assure him that we on this side of the House have no doctrinaire dislike of them; in fact, many have been started as an experiment under Conservative Ministers of Education, and we want to see how that experiment works.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
I accept what the hon. Gentleman says, and I appreciate the spirit in which he is saying it, but surely he knows what we all know, that over the last six or eight or ten years there has been a steady barrage by back benchers of his own party, and maintained from political platforms, against 757 the idea of the comprehensive schools. The comprehensive school admittedly is not a panacea, but it is in the direct line of experimentation in our traditional English education system. It is just another experiment in line with other experiments in the system. What we on this side do not like is the way we have been consistently attacked because of it.
§ Mr. Longden
I will not deny that opinion on this side is not favourable. We do not think that the comprehensive schools will be a success, but our dislike is not a doctrinaire dislike. However, we are trying the schools out, and we will see what happens.
I very much welcome the use which the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) has made of his luck in the Ballot. We do not in this House discuss education nearly enough. I am sure that the interests of education have been well served by the four speeches we have so far listened to in this debate. I am very glad that most of what has been said has been non-partisan. I did not think it was fair for the hon. Member for Itchen (Dr. King)— I am sorry he is not in his place—to say that we Conservatives welcome non-partisanship in education except when we are in opposition. He quoted extracts from speeches of ours. Those speeches were made in the fulfilment of our duty when we were in Opposition. It is the duty of the Opposition to prod the Government, and that is what hon. Members opposite have been doing today, and they are perfectly entitled to do it.
The hon. Member for Fulham made several concrete suggestions which, I am sure, will be welcomed and carefully considered by my hon. Friend. He complained that he had had only a limited response from the Government on this matter. I would remind the House of what my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education said to the House shortly after his appointment:… the foundation of the whole of our educational system must be the supply of teachers and the quality of the teachers. That conviction will guide our work, however long this Parliament lasts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th January, 1957; Vol. 563, c. 822.]It is fair to say that it has guided the work of the Government.
758 My hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), in a characteristically helpful and able speech, gave several figures. I think I am right in saying that until last year, the immediately past year, the teaching force increased by 3 per cent. per annum. The pupil-teacher ratio overall has not worsened; it has slightly improved. It is not anything like what it should be, and I would take this opportunity of putting in a word to my hon. Friend about the primary schools, because I believe that primary school teachers are becoming anxious that now that the bulge is moving from them they may be neglected. I entirely agree that 35 should be the maximum in a class.
As to the three-year training period, I would only reinforce the appeals which have been made, I hope quite unnecessarily, to my hon. Friend not to put off the institution of the three-year training period.
Circular 334 has been mentioned. I would remind hon. Members opposite that that Circular expressly states thatThe basic needs of catering for the increased school population and of improving technical education must continue to be met.It suggests certain merely marginal economies, and I do not think that serious exception can be taken to it. Those whose responsibility it is to spend public moneys must surely regard it as their duty carefully to examine each item of expenditure and to ensure that the money is not being extravagantly or unnecessarily spent. Certainly that is our duty in this House. I do not think that the outcry which has been raised against Circular 334 is at all reasonable.
My last word is on the question, which has been raised on the other side of the House, of the education of adolescents. I would simply bring this recent pamphlet to the notice of any hon. Member who may not have seen it. It is entitled, "Memorandum on the Education of Boys and Girls Between the Ages 15 and 18." It is published by the Incorporated Association of Headmasters. I should like in conclusion to read two paragraphs from it:It is difficult not to concentrate exclusively on the needs of industry when our economic situation is precarious, but we believe that the maintenance of higher moral standards is as important and urgent a national problem as the increasing of our scientific output. It is 759 clear that our purposes cannot be achieved without teachers of the highest intellectual and moral calibre. The teacher is central to the whole complex of educational issues. Without him there are no issues, for there is no education.I hope all hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree with those words.
§ 1.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen Swingler (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
We have had admirable speeches made by my hon. Friends the Members for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) and Itchen (Dr. King) in proposing and seconding this Motion, and since then we have had excellent speeches from both sides of the House. One of the troubles of these little debates we have from time to time on education is that we do have so many admirable speeches expressing unexceptionable sentiments and that we pass a number of pious Resolutions until we stagger into the next crisis and receive another economic circular. The question is what we intend to do about it.
My hon. Friends have said so much in detail, and in particular my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham put forward a number of very constructive suggestions to the Minister, that they have left very little to be said in detail. However, there are a number of general comments I should like to make.
Time and time again in the last few years we have asserted, and it has been proven, that the sights have been set too low. Of course, I agree with the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) that some progress has been made, but that in 1958 there are 30,000 junior classes of more than 40 pupils, and 4,000 senior classes with more than 40 pupils, including 56 senior classes with over 50 pupils, is really shocking and shameful. That is the situation which many of us have forecast in this House for a number of years, when we have told the Minister that the building programme which he or she was about to cut was already inadequate, when we have shown that the number of places provided for the training of teachers would not enable a progressive reduction in the size of classes to take place.
Although on all sides lip service has been paid to the idea of reducing the size of classes, to the basic problem of the improvement of the training of teachers, and to the raising of the school leaving 760 age, we have not managed practically to express our determination to devote the necessary resources to the fulfilment of those purposes. I hope that when we pass this Motion, as I hope we shall today, those who are here to pass it will not merely applaud once again admirable sentiments but will be prepared to act to devote the necessary resources to the achievement of the job. The fact is that up to now we have not done that.
Over the three R's in the schools there is cast the powerful shadow of a very deadly R, the death-dealing costly rocket. Until we have faced up to the present level of some other forms of expenditure, particularly the crushing burden of arms' expenditure, we cannot devote sufficient to education to achieve the aims that my hon. Friends have laid down in the debate. This cannot be dissociated from the need for a drive to achieve real equality of opportunity in the schools.
There are some in the House of Commons who speak as though the material problems of trying to secure smaller classes for schools, trying to recruit more teachers, or having more schools built, are somehow quite separate and non-controversial compared with the problem of getting a more comprehensive curriculum of learning for our children and more equality of opportunity. In my view, these two things go together. We shall not obtain reduced classes or more teachers unless at the same time there is a real social drive from the Minister of Education, in the teaching profession and in the whole education system to give the children more equal opportunities.
One of the difficulties about recruiting more teachers is the profound cynicism that exists in some quarters about the promises held out by politicians in the sphere of education and the actual performance. The passage of the Education Act, 1944, raised tremendous hopes and aspirations, but many people in the education system are somewhat cynical thirteen years afterwards about the way in which successive Ministers and Governments have treated the problem of implementing the 1944 Act. We must close the gap between promises and performance by devoting more actual resources to the schools and also by an enthusiastic drive for equal opportunities in the schools.
761 I believe in the comprehensive school or comprehensive education, in the sense of the provision of equal opportunities, not because I am concerned that some particular stereotyped institution should become uniform throughout the education system, but because I want to see the progressive expansion of opportunities in all schools, and especially in secondary schools, for all children so that we can really call the curriculum comprehensive.
Yesterday the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education gave in answer to me some figures concerning G.C.E. courses in secondary modern schools. They are remarkable figures, and I should like to take the opportunity of congratulating those concerned in the secondary modern schools upon the progress which they have made under extremely difficult conditions. One out of every five of all our secondary modern schools last year put in some candidates for the G.C.E. In all, 9,000 boys and girls who had "failed" the 11-plus examination and had gone to secondary modern schools nevertheless sat last year as candidates for the G.C.E. On the average they took four subjects each and on the average they passed in half that number of subjects. That is a very creditable achievement.
Its significance is very noteworthy when we compare the pupil-teacher ratio in secondary modern schools with the pupil-teacher ratio in grammar schools, because this is the principal handicap from which those who teach in secondary modern schools suffer. Apart from bad buildings and inadequate environment, it is the insufficiency of staffing in these schools that principally prevents their offering a wider range and variety of subjects and giving adequate attention to a sixth form and to those pupils whose parents would be willing for them to stay on.
In the county in which my constituency is situated, the pupil-teacher ratio in the grammar schools is 17 and in the secondary modern schools it is 24. In Nottinghamshire, the pupil-teacher ratio is 19 in the grammar schools and 24 in the secondary modern schools. In Suffolk, it is 17 in the grammar schools and 25 in the secondary modern schools. In Birmingham, the pupil-teacher ratio 762 is 19 in the grammar schools and 27 in the secondary modern schools.
Here is the principal inequality in the secondary school system. This difference in the ratio inhibits many heads of secondary modern schools who would like to enter children for the G.C.E. course but who have not the resources in teaching talents, in numbers of teachers or in teaching-time to enable them to give adequate attention to these children. This is the problem that we must overcome. This shows the urgent necessity for increasing the number of teachers, especially in the secondary school system.
The evidence which already exists of what can be done now in secondary modern schools to get children to achieve the standard of attainment required in the G.C.E. examination shows the tremendous potential that exists. We are losing a great deal of talent. A great many children are falling by the wayside because classes are overcrowded and the buildings are inadequate or there are insufficient teachers to devote the necessary time to them. Therefore, these two problems which I have mentioned are connected, and they cannot be considered separately.
The aims which my hon. Friends have put forward, to reduce the size of classes, to increase the training of teachers, to improve the quality of the teachers and to raise the school-leaving age, are all material aims and objects which are connected with trying to achieve social equality for the children and genuinely equal opportunities. Unless we can raise the sights seriously and increase the resources devoted to the educational system, not merely will there be children continuing to be taught in slum schools and teachers having totally inadequate equipment at their disposal but we shall frustrate for many more years the possibility of giving our children those equal chances which they have been promised so many times.
§ 1.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
I was glad that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) raised the point about the inequitable working of the university means test. I have a family connection with one of the universities and I know from personal 763 experience what real hardship, and indeed real wastage of potential teaching talent the present operation of the means test causes.
A fortnight ago the Parliamentary Secretary opened a large new technical school a few miles from the boundaries of my constituency. If my hon. Friend had ventured a few miles farther, and a few days earlier, he would have been able to open the new building of a technical school that takes in boys from my constituency. It is a technical palace, and it would warm the cockles of the heart of the hon. Member for Rugby, who has himself been a technical teacher. The only technical problem is how some of the boys will get to the school.
There is always a problem of dislocation for the teachers when a school moves its site but, by and large, in Beckenham we have little trouble in recruiting technical teachers. This afternoon, for a few brief moments, I will turn my attention to recruiting a different kind of technical teacher for the technical colleges.
We have had the Willis Jackson Report on the Supply and Training of Teachers for Technical Colleges, and I was delighted to see the circular issued recently by the Ministry on the subject underlining the various aspects of that Report. The part that captured my imagination, and in so far as any part of the Report has done so, has captured the imagination of the public also, is the section which suggests that industry should help to provide part-time teachers. Indeed, the Committee could not have put it more strongly than in the following passage in page 82:We do not hesitate to say that unless employers are prepared to arrange on a greatly increased scale for their staff to teach part-time during the day in the technical colleges, the colleges will find it impossible to make the educational provision which industry will require.I was delighted to hear the hon. Gentleman the Member for Itchen (Dr. King) praise certain contributions made by industry to education. Industry has endowed professorial chairs, it has given scholarships, it has made substantial financial contributions towards providing scientific laboratories and scientific equipment in the independent schools. It has, at times, even provided textbooks. 764 A few months ago, when going round one of the great new comprehensive schools in London, I went into a geography class and was startled to find that the girls were using textbooks provided by the Shell Oil Company.
When it comes to providing teachers, however, I find that industry is a little more doubtful about doing so. I have talked to a substantial number of people in industry about the recommendation of the Willis Jackson Committee on this point, and I find that when it comes to making available part-time members of their staff, a somewhat cloudy, negative, apprehensive look comes into their eyes only too often, and they begin to talk about something else.
What can we do to stimulate industry into providing bodies as well as Bunsen burners? There are two small things which I would suggest. First, I hope that when the Minister makes his recommendations about the recruitment of governors for technical colleges, he will be imaginative and will urge the greatest possible co-operation with local industry. Secondly, I hope that he will literally take a leaf out of the book of the Minister of Labour, who has recently prepared a pamphlet setting out the good labour relations performances of certain firms which have outstanding records in this respect. I hope that in the near future the Minister of Education will be in a position to produce a pamphlet in which he will give a good example of the way in which industry has cooperated with local authorities in providing part-time teachers for technical colleges. This could be distributed to firms which have been less co-operative.
But this is not merely a domestic problem. I was interested to note that about the time the Willis Jackson Committee was preparing its Report, General David Sarnoff, the fabulous man who has built up the Radio Corporation of America, also produced a plan in which he called on American industry to create a territorial army of teachers. He did so because America is having the same shortage of technical and scientific teachers as we have here. He wanted industry to make available not only part-time but also full-time teachers in the schools for temporary periods.
This is not only an American and a British problem. As the hon. Member 765 for Rugby pointed out, it is essentially a Commonwealth problem. We have made a great contribution in sending out technical teachers to the Commonwealth and the Colonies. We have also done much to teach potential teachers from the Commonwealth and Colonies in the universities of this country, and it is right that we should do so.
I would like to see a greater cross-fertilisation of ideas on this topic within the Commonwealth; indeed, I would like to see a Commonwealth conference of Ministers of Education, because much good could come out of it. At the top of the agenda there might well be emphasis on the training and recruitment of teachers, a theme which was put forward with such great clarity and force by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart).
§ 1.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) upon introducing the topic of the Willis Jackson Report and upon his very constructive suggestions about how industry can make a greater contribution to the solution of the problem of providing teachers for technical schools. He rightly stressed that it is not enough for industry to provide just money, textbooks and other facilities, and that if techncal education is to achieve its real importance we need some assistance from industry in the way of suitable teachers on a short-term loan basis, as well as part-time.
It would be wrong for me to go further without expressing my thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) for selecting this subject for debate and for the very able way in which he introduced it. I do not want to be unduly critical of the Parliamentary Secretary, for he always shows a very high standard of courtesy to the House, but it is unfortunate that on one of the very few occasions that we have to debate education there should be a period when there is no Minister at all on the Government Front Bench to listen to the points which are raised. It may well be that the Minister himself cannot be here, but I should have thought that the subject was so vital to the nation that there ought to be more than one Minister on duty even though it is a Friday. 766 Generally speaking, the lack of interest which has been shown in the subject, particularly by hon. Members opposite, is rather serious.
I suggest to the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), whose contribution we much enjoyed, that it is possible to be constructive and partisan. I inferred from his remarks that if one made a constructive speech it would necessarily be non-partisan. I go so far as to say that to be constructive on this subject one has to be very partisan and really go for the Government.
Whatever we may think about the desirability of this or that form of educational advance, whatever we may feel about our personal private interests, our hobby-horses, we all know that there is a limit to what any Government can find for social advances. Education can make the progress which we think it should only if the Government of the day give it priority. It is no good our saying that we ought to do this and that in the various social services; it is necessary to give some over-riding priority to education, and that, I believe, is the approach that the Labour Party would make. In putting forward our proposals for education, we realise that it may entail the earmarking of a larger amount of national resources for the purpose than the Conservative Government have provided.
There are some hard facts to be borne in mind. My hon. Friend the Member for Itchen (Dr. King) quoted a speech made in 1950 by the present Minister of Housing and Local Government. The hon. Member for Burton, we know, is very sincere in his desire to reduce the size of classes. However, the hard fact is that today there are more over-large classes than there were when the Conservative Government took office in 1951. That is one of the hard facts of the situation.
There is already anxiety today in the teaching profession that there will be unemployment among teachers in the future. If the Parliamentary Secretary wants to make a constructive contribution to the future of education, he should completely repudiate the Fifth Report of the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers. One has only to peruse the Report to realise why the anxieties in the profession about 767 the over-supply of teachers arise. The Report says on page 2:Classes remain large and there is no room for complacency, but, in spite of an increase in school population between January, 1950 and January, 1955, of 865,000 or 15 per cent., the situation has not been, and is not now, as bad as had been feared. Thus it becomes desirable in all prudence to begin to look beyond the time of strain to the state of the schools as it will be when, in the not too far distant future, the large numbers of children born in the immediate post-war period pass out of the schools and the school population begins to fall fairly fast.Under the heading "Absorption into employment" the Report says:To the reader in the mid-1950s it may seem surprising that the possible difficulty of absorbing into employment all the trained teachers available is a factor of which account need be taken in considering the introduction of the three year course in the early 1960s. There is, however, a limit to the number of additional teachers which the schools can absorb and the country afford in a period of declining school population.The Report goes on:In such circumstances it seems wise not to bank up too many teachers for employment so soon, but rather to adjust the flow of training in good time by the introduction of the three year course.It is very difficult when reading the Report to fail to get the impression that the three-year course has been introduced mainly because the Government fear an over-supply of teachers. Yet we have been told—my hon. Friends have given the figures—that to reduce the size of classes to the very modest standard of less than 40 for primary schools and less than thirty for secondary schools we need by the early 1960s another 72,000 teachers. If we desire to see the school-leaving age raised—all of us ought to desire it; I and my hon. Friends certainly do—we shall require a further 16,000 teachers.
When we find published the sort of statement to which I have referred—it has not been denied by the Government—we are bound to think that the Government do not intend really seriously to attack the problem of the size of classes.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) has given some figures of the pupil-teacher ratio in independent and direct grant schools compared with those in local education authority schools. I wonder whether in their desire to preserve the independent sphere of educa- 768 tion the Government are quite ready that such a great discrepancy should remain. It seems to me that the main difference between the education which can be provided by local education authorities and that provided in the independent schools relates to the staff-pupil ratio. I am sure that if only they had the additional staff and buildings most of our local authority schools could compare extremely favourably with any independent school in the land.
It is a very vexed question for many parents whether they should keep their children in the public sector of education, where they will be in very large classes, when better conditions can be obtained if they pay for their children's education. We know that for some parents the snob value of the independent schools is the attraction, but many parents who approach very seriously the matter of the educational opportunities for their children believe it to be impossible for their children to be properly educated in a class of more than 40.
In his peroration, the hon. Member for Burton was very eloquent about the British educational system producing the goods, but I could not help contrasting that fine concluding remark with his earlier observations about the impossibility of teaching fifty children in a class. There are still classes where that problem has to be faced' daily by the teachers. Indeed, I go so far as to say that unless we drastically reduce the size of classes, the teachers will not really be teaching at all.
The biggest deterrent to entering the profession is probably the fact that teachers have to be circus masters, as the late Mr. Tomlinson called them, or child minders, or wet nurses. All too often teachers get no satisfaction out of their job, because with classes of over 40 it is impossible to discharge one's responsibility to the bright, not so bright and backward and retarded children.
§ Sir E. Boyle
Will the hon. Member further elucidate his remarks about independent schools? I agree with him that the smaller size of classes is one of the principal reasons why parents send their children to those schools. Is he suggesting that it is the number of independent schools which is, in part, responsible for the large classes in maintained schools 769 and the difficulty of obtaining sufficient teachers? If so, how far would he carry that argument?
§ Mr. Mulley
No, I thought I made it clear that the advantage in an independent school arises because of smaller classes. I do not want classes in the independent schools to be made larger. I want classes in the public sector to be made smaller, and that would be the position if more teachers were available.
In many cases, the future of independent schools depends on large classes in maintained schools. If local authorities were able to offer classes in the thirties in primary education, and of fewer than 30 in secondary education, many parents would have second thoughts about paying large fees to send their children to teachers often less well qualified than those in the public sector.
In addition to an increase in the number of teachers, we also want more money spent on buildings, but, faced with the fact that we need another 72,000 teachers to bring down classes even to the present prescribed minimum, which I think is too high, and another 16,000 to tackle the school-leaving age, to embark on a three-year training course without supplementary provision to increase the supply of teachers is a great mistake.
I welcome the introduction of the three-year course because, in addition to providing better-qualified teachers, it will also raise the standard of the profession, and even with the gravity of the teacher supply situation we do not want to stop that advance. If, in the 1960s, we are to embark on a three-year training course, between now and then the Ministry must energetically set about increasing the numbers going to training colleges. We shall have a complete year, when the transfer from two to three years takes place, in which we will have no extra teachers. That will mean a net loss of about 7,000 teachers in that year instead of a net gain of about 7,000.
It will also mean, after the three-year course begins, a decrease of one-third in the number of teachers coming out of the colleges each year, unless something is done to increase the number of places available. For example, if there are 200 places in a training college at the moment, they are spread over two years, but if that number of places is 770 spread over three years, there must be a decrease of one-third in the number of teachers becoming qualified each year. Taking account of wastage at the present rate, that probably represents a 50 per cent. fall in the net number of new teachers.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham made a number of valuable and constructive suggestions about getting more teachers. He referred to restrictions in some colleges. We know that some are much worse than others, but while he was speaking I recalled the observation that if Joan of Arc had been living in England today she would probably be in a teachers' training college and would not be allowed to remain out after ten o'clock, except in a party for organised cultural purposes. It is absurd to try to run teacher training colleges on kindergarten lines. If the teacher from a training college is to have the status of a teacher from a university, then training college students should have the facilities and treatment of university students.
Grants is another important matter. I am not sure that the abolition of the means test for university grants is necessary or desirable. This is a controversial matter, but I think that I carry the Parliamentary Secretary with me, although he may not agree with my reasons. I want to preserve some element of the means test, because parents will otherwise be able to buy a place in a university more frequently and easily than is now the case—through having the money to send their children to an independent school. If it is certain that a university place will carry a grant to pay completely for a university education parents will be encouraged to spend all their available money on getting their children into the best independent schools with the advantage which that gives for university entrance. That is not because of a racket, but because the staff-pupil ratio gives pupils in independent schools a great advantage to get to a university. especially to Oxford and Cambridge.
However, there is no reason why a large number of State scholarships should not be available in open competition, with the full amount going to the winners of those scholarships without a means test. That is a practical proposal and meets some of the objections about 771 the present system. While I do not advocate the complete abolition of the means test, there is an overwhelming case for a drastic revision of the scales and I was interested to hear the Parliamentary Secretary say at Question Time yesterday that that matter was now under consideration. A revision of the grants is the way to approach this subject, and I hope that similar consideration will be given to grants for students in teachers training colleges.
I want, finally, to refer to teachers' pay. When discussing recruitment to an occupation or profession, we must have some regard to pay and conditions, because it is obvious that those weighing up the pros and cons of entering that occupation or profession must take this rather sordid matter carefully into account. As has been said many times, the status of the profession is possibly more important than pay. However, when pay is reviewed, more emphasis should be given to the starting rather than the ultimate rate in the profession.
For example, I still do not understand why, when the Government want privates in the Army and they are reducing the number of officers, they think that it is a good idea to give privates £1 a week extra, and yet senior officers should have £3 or £4 a week extra. That does not seem to make sense and that general moral should be applied to the teaching profession. Let us give the people whom we want to recruit the money and not necessarily pass it on increasingly throughout the educational ladder. I am sure that I shall be most unpopular with my colleagues who are members of the National Union of Teachers for these suggestions and the ones that I am about to make. Sufficient recognition is not given to graduates who come into teaching. I should like to see much greater recognition given to first and second honours degree graduates who teach.
Then there is the special problem of science teachers. This is a chicken and egg story. How are we to get more highly trained teachers and science teachers if the present standard of science teaching is inadequate and if science teacher and the personalities and qualifications are often less than those of their colleagues on the arts side? Science 772 teachers are not always less able and well qualified than arts teachers, but most educationists would probably agree that the main problem facing schools today is the difficulty of attracting mathematics and science teachers. If the teaching on that side is inadequate, and if the personalities and abilities of science teachers are less than those of their colleagues on the arts side, the abler children will tend to gravitate to the arts and not to science, and the position will gradually become worse.
If we want more and better qualified science teachers we must pay scientists more money. Many schools tackle the problem of paying science teachers more money by giving them posts of higher responsibility, but that is not the proper way to tackle the job. When someone leaving a university is trying to decide whether to teach or to do something else he looks at the Burnham Scale; he cannot be sure of getting a post of higher responsibility. People who are really keen on teaching are prepared to make financial sacrifices to do so and they sometimes get other inducements.
I have mentioned before that when I was teaching at Cambridge there was an undergraduate who obtained a third class part I degree in mathematics, and first class honours in English in part II. He was very keen to become a teacher and applied for a post in English, but, unfortunately, the market was such that he did not get what he wanted. He finally applied for a post as a mathematics teacher. He had no difficulty whatever in getting a job to teach mathematics, despite his third class degree, and he chose the school which gave him the most opportunities to teach English as a subsidiary. There is something very odd and wrong about an educational system which makes people teach subjects in which they are not interested and are the least qualified, because the necessary openings do not exist in the subjects which they are better qualified to teach.
The problem of science teachers must be faced realistically, and even though it can be said that present science teachers do not appear to be of the necessary quality, as compared with their arts colleagues, I would advocate a differential. If we want to get science teachers 773 we must face the problems involved. That, again, is not a very popular argument to put forward to the National Union of Teachers. I do not underrate the difficulties, and I do not know how far they would outweigh the advantages that I see, but we must go after the teachers.
If we are to make any educational progress, however, we must have much smaller classes in the local educational authority schools. We must take dramatic and realistic steps to that end, both as to persons and money. It is no good the Parliamentary Secretary making veiled references to the Estimates for next year. Unless he can tell us that they completely repudiate the fear of unemployment in the profession and that as a result of the forthcoming Estimates the number of over-large classes in the next financial year will be no more than they were in 1951, we shall have to reserve very great doubts about the question of how far the Government are sincere in their desire to provide a better education system.
§ 1.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) on moving such a sensible and important Motion. He always speaks with great distinction from this Box, but today he has had the rather unusual rôle of playing the part of a back-bencher. I agree with the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) and others who have stressed that the greatest problem which the nation faces is that of improving our system of State education, by reducing the size of classes, securing an adequate supply of teachers, and devoting adequate resources to achieving these objects. It concerns Britain's future, the building up of our industry, the supply of technicians, scientists and technologists and, above all, the leadership that we must have in the world, as mentioned by the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart).
I was very pleased that my hon. Friend not only stressed the problem, but also put forward many constructive proposals, with which I want to deal. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under Lyme (Mr. Swingler) has been pressing several Ministers in recent years on the specific question on the size of classes. On 21st January this year he received 774 a reply from the Minister of Education to the effect that in 1957 we had 31,907 junior classes with over 40 children per class, and 558 with over 50, and 4,115 senior classes with over 40 per class and 56 with over 50. We all know the pressure that has been put upon our primary schools and that, although the pressure is being relieved to some extent, it is being passed over to the secondary schools.
I want to pay tribute to the staffs of our schools, who have had to educate our children in difficult conditions. From my own experience as a parent I know that children have had to be taught in classes of over 40. It is impossible to educate children adequately in such an atmosphere, but the staffs of our schools have certainly responded and have done a good job. If we are to improve our system of education, however, we must concentrate upon this problem. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for lichen (Dr. King), who made a very fine and vigorous speech. He said that the problems of reorganisation in secondary education are academic. I believe in comprehensive education, but I am certain that the main issue is the size of classes, and we must concentrate our energies upon reducing it. If we do not we shall be merely academic politicians and administrators.
We must, therefore, think in terms of an expanding educational system, and here I am going to be political. I know that the hon. Member for Burton talked about non-political matters in education, and I recognise, like my hon. Friend who chided him, that sitting on the benches opposite, and holding those views, the hon. Gentleman is in a difficult position.
§ Mr. Peart
The hon. Gentleman is a rebel in his party, although, as he says, he can look after himself.
I am sure that the hon. Member for Burton will agree that his Government make it rather difficult for those people who have faith in an expanding educational system. I cannot go into a discussion on the block grant, but I wish to mention the miserable Circular No. 334 the effects of which even the Parliamentary Secretary, in an earlier intervention, said that subsequent events would nullify. If the Minister wishes the effects of the 775 circular to be nullified, why introduce it? Why not tear it up?
I have asked the acting Prime Minister over and over again to bring the Minister of Education to the House to announce a withdrawal of this circular. It really is a miserable circular. We need not go into details, but to state, as does the circular, when referring to the expansion of further education thatIt must proceed with a maximum efficiency and economyis not really a dynamic approach to the problem. That is not the way to encourage educational development. Nor is it an encouragement to educational development to have discrimination in selection in relation to awards.
As I have said, it is a miserable circular and one which does not encourage the teaching profession. Moreover, it does not provide for the necessary faith needed in people who have responsibility under the State system. If we are to recruit teachers and to attract able men and women into this important profession, the people with responsibility must have faith in a State educational system.
I have a vague suspicion that many hon. Members opposite who know so well the independent sector and who have never experienced large classes under the State system, such as many of us on this side of the House have experienced, have no real faith in a developing State system. They take the traditional Tory view that, after all, the State is providing an education which should be inferior to that provided for those belonging to an elite in our society. I know that this is a controversial matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) touched upon it, but I believe it to be true that in education there is still a two-nation system and that, in the main, hon. Members opposite believe in that two-nation system.
§ Mr. Jennings
Would the hon. Gentleman like to try to educate some of his hon. Friends in that respect?
§ Mr. Peart
I assure the hon. Gentleman that I do my very best. Over and over again, given from this Box, I have stressed this point.
I believe it to be very important that We should convince people on both 776 sides of the House that the State system must expand and that in a democratic society there should be no place for an elite education in the sense of an education which is decided by the income of one's parents. I believe, of course, in education developing according to different aptitudes, tastes and abilities as we stressed in the 1944 Act and to which aims, I think, the hon. Member for Burton paid tribute this afternoon.
I do not want to be sidetracked too much, because I know it is a controversial subject, but I believe that if we are to attract teachers into the teaching profession then those responsible must have faith in the State system. By their actions and deeds they must show to the educational world that they wish that State system to expand very quickly and that all the resources of the State should be devoted to that purpose. I had hoped that there would be as much enthusiasm for State education as in the past there has been for defence and other worthy objects.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham raised many important issues. First, he mentioned the three-year training course. I think that all hon. Members today have stressed the importance of three-year training. It is true, as the hon. Member for Burton said, that there are elements which wish this important reform to be postponed. The other day I read that the Education Committee of the County Councils' Association has more or less declared itself in favour of a postponement. I think that that would be a tragedy. If we now postpone this reform, it will be postponed for many years to come.
I regard this reform as a major step forward. It is not new. Three-year training has existed in Scotland for many years, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) said, in Sweden they advocate even a longer period. I think it is vital for the following reason. If secondary education is to develop as it must, and, indeed, as it is, to meet the challenge of a new secondary educational system, we must have three-year trained products entering the profession. We must have teachers who have achieved greater maturity.
I am not criticising the two-year course, but I believe that, inevitably, we must have a three-year course which will 777 enable the students in the training colleges to achieve not only greater intellectual interests, but also that essential maturity which is especially important in the new secondary field. We must not assume, because we wish to meet the needs and the challenge of our developing secondary educational system, that we do not require three-year people for the primary stage. I agree with the hon. Member for Burton that the primary stage is the most important. As the hon. Gentleman said, it is the base of the pyramid. That is why I, like him, could never understand why when we produce our figures we should think in terms of a high number of pupils in primary classes compared with the secondary stage. I want small classes in the primary schools as well as in the secondary schools. That is essential if the teacher is to do his job.
Therefore, I say that the three-year training course is vital not only for the new, developing secondary system, but also for the provision of teachers to meet the needs of our primary schools. I hope, therefore, that an attempt will not be made to postpone the decision and that the Minister today will give a categorical assurance on the matter. I am certain that he will because I know that he has spoken before on this very important subject.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham mentioned other special problems, one of which was touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park. My hon. Friend referred to the importance of the teaching of science and mathematics and to the need to recruit teachers in those branches of learning. Paragraph 38 of the Report of the Ministry of Education for 1956 pinpoints the problem. It states:The number of teachers in maintained primary and secondary schools known to have degrees in mathematics or science continued to rise slowly.There was a net increase in 1956 of 310 covering both men and women. I hope that the Minister can give us the figure for 1957. The Blue Book states that this figure, though very welcome, was not sufficient to keep pace with demand. There is certainly a serious crisis. I believe this to be tremendously important, and, therefore, I hope that we shall examine the problem very carefully.
778 One of the difficulties is really that in some schools our children are taking the wrong subjects. Table 32, in page 122 of the Blue Book, which deals with the entrants and results of the General Certificate of Education, shows that the figure for boys taking physics and chemistry is running very high compared with girls. In mathematics, 79,000 boys entered for G.C.E. as against 38,000 girls and in physics there were 34,583 boys compared with only 4,872 girls.
In chemistry, there were 29,000 boys, but only 7,000 girls. At advanced level, the figures are still the same. In mathematics, the number of entries for G.C.E. were over 16,000 boys, but only just over 2,000 girls. There is the same story in physics and chemistry. In other words, we see in our grammar schools particularly that most of the girls are still concentrating on liberal studies. I believe that to be wrong.
We have a great opportunity, in the sixth forms of our grammar schools, to encourage more girls to take mathematics, applied science, physics, chemistry and the like. We have here a great field for recruitment, because in the main these are the girls who would go on to the universities and to the training colleges. If we are to get this adequate supply of teachers for the important subjects of mathematics, physics and science generally, we must think in terms of encouraging more girls to take scientific subjects in the schools. I wish that the Ministry would try to use its influence more and more in this important direction.
Then, I come to the question of technical education. It was raised by the hon. Member for Beckenham and was stressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park and others. This is an exceedingly important matter. I have not time to go into too much detail, but I hope and trust that the Minister will speedily implement the recommendations of the Willis Jackson Report. For once, I compliment the Ministry of Education. I welcome Circular 336. It is rather pleasing for something from the present Government to be welcomed, but at least in technical education this circular will probably help the recruitment of teachers for technical colleges.
779 The circular contains numerous details and paragraph 6, in particular, is important. It deals with the avoidance of excess in teaching hours in our technical colleges, the provision of research facilities, adequate clerical assistance and laboratory staff and the provision of suitable accommodation. That is all very well, but I know of one case in the London area in which, although the site for a new technical college has been acquired, the building of the college has been held up. Why is the Ministry still holding up the building of an important technical college in the London area? The Parliamentary Secretary will know that I refer to the new site for the Garnett College. There has been too much delay and I am certain that there is a bottleneck somewhere. This is a vital matter. If we are to achieve the aims of the Willis Jackson Committee and also to implement the administrative circular, we must have action in that direction. I hope that the Minister is in a position to give us some information today.
It is vital that we should recruit many more men to the important sphere of technical education. In paragraph 6 of the Willis Jackson Committee's Report, it is estimated that we need an average net annual increase in the number of full-time teachers in technical education, over the next five years, of about 1,400. To achieve that figure, there must be a development of unconventional sources of recruitment, the establishment of a better partnership between industry and the colleges and, above all, an improvement in the status of the technical teacher.
These three main points were stressed by the Willis Jackson Report and were stressed also today by the hon. Member for Beckenham. Moreover, if we are to attract new recruits to technical education, we must, as the Report said, seek unconventional sources of supply. That was mentioned also by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, in relation to the wider problem.
I am certain that we could attract into the educational profession many more men from the Forces who have had important technical experience. As is mentioned in the Willis Jackson Report, 780 Shrivenham—which was my old O.C.T.U. when I was a gunnery officer—now produces engineering officers and Army personnel with graduate qualifications. That is one example of Army officers with high qualifications. I am certain that many of these men, who have to come out of the Army because of economy measures, could be attracted quickly into important positions in technical education.
There are not only officers. Many N.C.O.s who hold positions of great responsibility and who have tremendous technical knowledge and fine personalities could, I am certain, after proper courses, be quickly pushed in, if I may use that expression, to the teaching profession and would bring great benefits. It is from these sources of supply that we must seek adequate recruitment.
This is an extremely important matter, because, after all, the Government are pledged to the proposals in their White Paper. This programme of technical development must succeed. If it is to succeed, it is not simply a question of building more laboratories and colleges and of improving the status of our advanced technical colleges. It depends in the main on providing the manpower to give the necessary teaching and instruction at all levels, not merely at the higher technological level, but right down to the level of the craftsman. We must recruit many more teachers in the field of technical education.
Technicians are vital. I believe ten technicians now to be worth more in the world than a battalion of infantry. Their influence is of great importance in terms of wider international relations. I trust, therefore, that the Government today will be able to say, through the Parliamentary Secretary, that there will be no delay in the implementation of the very important Circular 336 and that the main general programme of technical education will not be frustrated.
I come next, very quickly, to some of the proposals that were mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham. He dealt with training colleges and he argued, quite rightly, that we should rather concentrate upon increasing the number of places in the training colleges than think in terms of providing more colleges. I agree with my hon. Friend that there are too many small colleges, 781 but I believe that there must be some reform. I should like to know whether the Ministry is really considering this matter. There is a tremendous need for reform in all branches of our training college system.
Mention has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park of the one-sex institution to which some of our young girls are subjected. That applies not only to the female, but also to the male. Many of our one-sex monastic male institutions which produce teachers for our State system are really out of date and the people who administer and govern them are still thinking in terms of the Middle Ages. I will not go into too many details, but this is a vital matter because it affects the freedom and liberty of the student and that is of tremendous importance.
I want our new training colleges, when we have adopted the three-year course, to approximate to our universities. They are not exactly the same, but they should give that free academic atmosphere where adult men and women can mix together and can discuss liberal and scientific studies. That is the right atmosphere for the training of a teacher. I know that it is happening in some of the training colleges but as yet many of them have not caught up with the spirit of reform. I hope that the Minister will see that drive, energy and vigour are devoted to this very important issue.
There is the question not only of our training colleges, but of our training departments in the various universities. Still too many of our university training departments concentrate on the problems of the grammar school; in other words, the teaching practice which many of our graduate teachers have to do in their fourth year is related to grammar school teaching. That may be important, but they must take into account more and more the needs of a varied secondary school system. I know that Leeds University, the university of my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby, has done very good work on this matter of trying to produce graduate teachers who do not just confine their teaching in the fourth year to the problems of the grammar school but consider the wider problems of secondary education.
We must attract many more recruits from the universities to teaching. The 782 figures in Table 71, in page 174, show that there was actually a decline, comparing 1954–55 with 1955–56, in women graduates going in for teaching in the university departments of education. I regard that as very serious. Moreover, there was actually a decline in the number of men students who completed courses. That is a very serious position. I would like to know from the Minister the position up to date in 1958 and whether that trend has been reversed. Are we encouraging more graduates in the universities? I have a feeling that there are still many unfilled places in our university departments.
If our training colleges have responded in this direction I do not see why our universities should not do so. I have figures to show how the courses for men and women in our training colleges have increased in the last two years. In other words, the training colleges have made a suitable response in the production of graduate teachers, but not the university departments. I am sorry to say that the university position is not so promising. I hope that the Minister will use his influence for improvement in this direction.
One final point. I do not want to go on for too long, because I know that the Minister wishes to cover adequately the debate. I hope that he will also recognise, as my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham has stressed, that we should consider other important aspects of teaching including the training of special teachers for handicapped pupils. How far has Circular 324, which came out on 29th May last year, been implemented? The area training organisations virtually had an instruction to consider how they would establish one-year courses of training of handicapped children for teachers in the training colleges and in their areas, or, in special circumstances, in conjunction with university departments.
It is certainly important to consider the needs of all those children who go into the broad State system of education, but there are many unfortunate children who, if given the right education, can make a very valuable contribution to life. We have a moral responsibility to this section of the community many of whom can be quite able people, but who, for reasons of ill health, etc., have to be regarded as handicapped. If they are 783 given opportunities for instruction and development by an able teacher they can do useful work later on and can be of service in normal life by pursuing specialist activities. I hope that the Minister will have something to say about this point. We should not neglect it, even though we are discussing broad questions of education.
I end by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, and all other hon. Members who have pinpointed this important problem. Despite cross-exchanges in connection with Circular 334 and the block grant, there is a broad unanimous desire to tackle this problem urgently and vigorously, to reduce the size of classes, and to give each child what my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen described as "equality of opportunity". We can never have this unless we tackle the problem and solve it, and we can only do that by recruiting more men and women into the profession. We must increase quantity and quality. If this and subsequent Governments will devote their energy to this problem, we should not be pessimistic. We should be able to create in this country a State system of which we shall be proud.
§ 2.26 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Sir Edward Boyle)
I should like first to congratulate the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) both on his good fortune in the Ballot and on his excellent choice of subject for the day's debate. I think we should all agree, in whatever part of the House we sit, that the recruitment and training of teachers is a subject of absolutely vital importance to Britain's future. Indeed, I cannot imagine a subject which could show a greater contrast to the subject we discussed during Wednesday and Thursday.
I should like to begin by making one personal observation. During the last year in which I have held my present office, I have visited about 35 or 40 local education authorities and I have seen a very large number of schools. Nothing has impressed me more than the magnificent work done by the teaching profession, often in circumstances of very great difficulty. Since the war, we have had to cope with a tremendous pressure 784 of sheer numbers, and the teachers have often had to do their work in old, insanitary and very unsatisfactory school buildings. The nation is greatly indebted to them for their efforts.
I listened with great care to the very interesting speech—as always—made by the hon. Member for Fulham. It may help the House if I now proceed to state as clearly as I can the Government's attitude to the subject of the debate. The hon. Member made a number of constructive suggestions, with some of which I will deal in the course of my remarks. He may be quite sure that I have a full note of them.
For a number of years, the policy of successive Ministers of Education has been based on the belief that, with a fall in the school population in the 1960s and a probable rise in recruitment of graduates to training, and in default of any major new source of demand for college-trained teachers, even the reduced output from the colleges after the introduction of the three-year course in 1960, would still be sufficient to enable class sizes to be progressively and fairly rapidly reduced.
Ministers have always recognised the need for a flexible approach to this question. They have entirely appreciated that this approach would have to be kept under review in the light of developments in the schools and in major educational policy. I will in a moment give more details of the figures. I have no quarrel with the arithmetic of the hon. Member for Fulham. I entirely agree with the views of those hon. Members who say that we should on no account get ourselves into a restrictionist frame of mind about the teaching profession, or into talking about the fear of unemployment for the profession in the 1960s. I entirely endorse the view of hon. Members who say that that is not the problem about which we ought to be thinking today.
§ Mr. Mulley
Would the hon. Gentleman categorically deny, or at least put on record that there is no basis for paragraph 37 in the Report of the National Advisory Council to which I referred? I have personal reason to believe that it has upset a number of potential teachers. The paragraph says that unless there is some major new source of demand for teachers there will 785 be unemployment in the 1960s. If the hon. Gentleman will go on record as saying that that is a mistaken belief and that even under a Conservative Government that new major demand is forthcoming, we shall be satisfied.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I will go on record as saying categorically, and using my words carefully, that unemployment in the sixties is not the problem we have to fear, nor the problem about which we should now be thinking. I think I carry with me my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), who knows a lot more about these subjects than I can claim to know.
The cornerstone of the Government's educational policy is that our first priority should be a reduction in the size of classes. It therefore follows that present policies will have to come under review if it seems that such a reduction will not take place, or that it is likely to be seriously slowed down. Then there is the further question which the hon. Member for Fulham very properly raised today—although I cannot deal with it in detail—of major policy changes, which will increase the demand for teachers.
I do not think we can remind ourselves too often in this House that we are still a very long way indeed from a full implementation of the 1944 Act. As the House knows only too well, we still have before us the tremendous tasks of urban reorganisation in replacing unsatisfactory and obsolete school buildings. And then there are those two more distant, but vastly important objectives of compulsory part-time day release and of raising the school leaving age to 16.
I cannot discuss these two objectives this afternoon, and still less am I going to invite a controversy by stating which of them I regard as the more important—many people have strong views on that—but it is of course absolutely true that decisions on the timing of these objectives will have to be governed by, among other things, the supply of teachers, and plans will have to be made to provide enough teachers and of the right type. Of course I recognise that decisions on these matters may have to be taken before so very long, but I really do not think the Government can be blamed because for the present they are thinking primarily in terms of securing a sufficient 786 supply of teachers for the fulfilment of existing policies.
I think the House would expect me to give a few figures, although I know statistics are always somewhat difficult to follow when listening to a speech. The key factor governing the reduction in the size of classes is, of course, the increase in the number of additional teachers serving in maintained schools. Over the seven years ended 1956 this increase averaged 6,500, but in 1957 it seems to have dropped to just over 5,000. We cannot be certain what it is now until we have the January, 1958, returns, which are just coming in. Ideally, this debate is a little too soon for me to give the full picture.
In view of the importance of this question, we have already begun a preliminary examination to see why this increase was less than in previous years. If the staffing returns for next year are borne out by subsequent evidence, the net increase in men teachers during the course of last year was about 400 more than the previous year. So the decline in the overall net increase is entirely due to a fall in the net increase of women teachers. I want to go into that a little more in detail, because it may be useful to the House and, perhaps, to people outside if these facts are put on record.
As many hon. Members will be aware, the net annual increase in the teacher force is built up from the number of new recruits to teaching from training together with untrained teachers, plus the numbers returning to teaching after a break in service, minus what sometimes is inelegantly called "wastage" through retirement and other causes. I will say a word or two about each of these categories in turn.
Taking the first category, of new recruits to teaching from training, I can tell the House that this part of the picture is reasonably encouraging. For example, about 1,800 more students came into training in 1957 than in 1952; while between 1955 and 1957 the intake to two-year colleges increased by 1,204 and to three-year colleges by 124, and to university departments of education the increase was 317. In short, about 900 more training teachers are likely to be going into the schools in 1958 than in 787 1957 and there should be a further increase of about 700 in 1959. I must say I think these figures reflect great credit on the schools, on employers and, in particular, on the training colleges, without whose efforts obviously these results would not have been possible.
Now I pass to the second category, the new recruits to teaching without professional training. The recruitment of those teachers remains fairly steady at about 700 a year, but there has been a marked increase in the number of entrant graduates taking up first appointments in schools—from about 1,800 in the year ended 31st March, 1956, to about 2,600 a year later. The figures for the current year will probably show a similar trend and there is no reason why it should be reversed. No doubt improved financial prospects had something to do with this increase, but I believe that much credit should also go to the staffs of universities which in many cases have been very active in bringing the idea of a teaching career to the notice of their students. I quite agree with what hon. Members have said about publicity, and in particular publicity in the universities. We will do all we can to encourage that. One always needs to remember that an increased supply of university graduates is of enormous value at a time of strain in secondary schools.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I cannot answer that question off the cuff, but if I may I will write to the hon. Member for Itchen (Dr. King). That was a very fair point to put.
I come now to the third category, married women returning to teaching. The average annual increase from 1951 to 1955 among married women returning to teaching after deducting resignations and retirements was 2,300, with a peak of 2,900 in 1955. But in 1956, even without any restriction that year on the appointment of teachers, the increase fell off to just over 1,000 and there was no reversal of the trend in the following year. This decline in the category of 788 married women returning to teaching has had a very marked effect on the overall increase, and I am afraid that there is no evidence to make us feel that it will be arrested in the next few years.
Having dealt with the plus categories, I must now turn to the minuses. Here I begin with the category of women teachers retired on age grounds. In each of the years 1954 and 1955, about 2,700 retired on age grounds. In 1956 that figure dropped to just below 2,000, but 1956 was an exceptional year because many teachers deferred retiring in order to enjoy the benefits they might receive from the Teachers Superannuation Act, a Measure of which many hon. Members may retain a lively memory. It came into force on 1st October that year. In 1957 nearly 600 more teachers retired than in 1956, and that has had a very considerable effect on the overall figures for those two years.
Finally, I turn to the category of women teachers who have resigned from the profession. It is not always easy to assess accurately the number of teachers who have left the maintained system whether for jobs in education or other employment. Of course, it is even more difficult to assess the reasons why more women teachers should resign in one year rather than another. It seems probable on the evidence before us that more teachers left the teaching profession in 1957 than in previous years, either to marry or to have children. The only explanations, I can offer the House are these. On the one hand, there is no doubt that we are at present witnessing a national trend towards earlier marriage—though the House will know that there are some exceptions—and there is certainly no reason at all why the teaching profession should be immune from this general trend.
There also appears—and I agree with the hon. Member for Itchen about this—to have been a substantial increase in the national birth rate in 1957. We are at present asking a number of authorities for information which might confirm that more teachers left the profession in 1957 than in previous years to marry or to have children. One large authority has already informed us that the number of teachers leaving its service for what are broadly termed domestic reasons was considerably greater in 1957 789 than in 1956, and another authority told us that twice as many teachers left its service to marry in 1957 than in the previous year.
All told, it looks as though the fall in the number of teachers in maintained schools during last year was due mainly, first, to a decline in the number of married women who have returned to teaching after a break in service, and secondly, to an increase in the number of teachers who have resigned to marry or have children. On this point, I agree there are signs that we may possibly have a small bulge to cope with in some years' time. I think that is a perfectly reasonable forecast.
I am afraid that there is no reason to suppose that the less encouraging of these trends which I have been describing will change during the next few years, and if they do not, of course, the net increase in the number of teachers in maintained schools during this period is not likely to be greater than 6,000. It may even be as low as 5,000, despite the increased recruitment to training.
It therefore follows that it may be necessary to reconsider all the forecasts on which present policies have been based, for not only will the net annual increase be less than had been anticipated, but the latest figures both of the birth rate and of the numbers staying on at school beyond the school-leaving age—I agree, an important point—show that there is likely to be an increased demand for teachers even to maintain present policies.
If there were an average annual increase of only 5,000 teachers between now and 1962, and if we make the further assumption that sufficient teachers are allocated to senior classes to maintain the 1957 ratio of 21.5 pupils per full-time teacher, then the average size of junior classes could only fall to a little over 31 by 1962. That is the so-called year of intermission, when the three-year course will mean that no teachers will be leaving the colleges. This would make it difficult by that year to eliminate all junior classes over the regulation maximum of 40.
To sum up this part of my speech—and I thought it would help the House if I gave the figures in full—I can give a categorical assurance that as soon as 790 further information on these figures is available my right hon. Friend will be consulting the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers about plans for the furture. But although alternative courses of action could be considered in the very near future, I put it to the House that major changes in policy must await adequate information and consultation. I hope the House will not press me to make any further statement today beyond what I have said on this point, but in answer to the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) I would say that it can certainly be assumed that when these consultations take place an increase in the training college plant will be one of the measures considered and discussed.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that unless it is not only discussed but adopted, it makes nonsense of everything else that he says, if I may put it like that?
§ Sir E. Boyle
I listened carefully to the hon. Member's arguments, as he realises. I would rather not be pressed to go further this afternoon. I hope that the statement I have made will give some reasonable encouragement to the House.
I should like to make one other point. A number of hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler), referred to the number of children in secondary modern schools today taking the G.C.E., the successful results and the importance of getting more teachers from that part of the system. I would regard the development of the advanced courses in secondary modern schools as of high importance indeed, although obviously we must be flexible about our ideas on that part of the examination system.
The House will expect me, I think, to say a few words about the distribution of teachers, to which the hon. Member for Itchen referred, and about the results of the policy laid down in Circular 318. I cannot give the House any final assessment, because at the Ministry we are still analysing the January, 1958, returns which the authorities are still sending in. I think there can be no doubt that there has been some improvement in the distribution of teachers during 1957 owing to the readiness with which authorities have co-operated with the Ministry's schemes.
791 According to the staffing returns submitted in October last year, some of the authorities where shortages were most severe—for example, Nottinghamshire and Manchester—have been able pretty well to reach their agreed staffing ratios, while there are other authorities for whom the scheme has brought substantial relief or, at any rate, prevented shortages from becoming worse.
Naturally, the House will understand that my right hon. Friend and I have followed with special concern the position in Birmingham. I am bound to say that in Birmingham the position is still pretty grim. They started with a shortage of over 700 teachers and gained only 200 last year. But, at least, during 1957 Birmingham recruited more teachers than in any of the previous four years. I am bound to say that there were, however, one or two areas very short of teachers, such as West Bromwich, which appeared to have lost more ground in 1957, and there are local black spots such as South-West Staffordshire which are still suffering from a severe shortage of teachers.
The principal reason why the scheme set out in Circular 318 did not achieve all that was hoped was that the increase in the teacher force was 2,000 less than we had anticipated—and this takes us back to ground that I have already covered in my speech. But I should like to make it clear that so far as we have been able to judge, there seems no evidence at all that the fall in the net increase in 1957 was in any way due to the quota scheme itself. It is always the danger one fears that some kinds of control can exaggerate the situation still more, but I do not believe that happened in this case. Indeed, it is clear that if the ground won last year is not to be lost again we cannot dispense with this scheme, and we have therefore asked authorities to agree to its continuation. As many Members will be aware, this decision was announced in Circular 333.
I am afraid that 1958 is bound to be a very difficult year, because during the course of this year the secondary schools will have to cope with the largest single annual rise in the size of their roll that will face them in the forseeable future; and to deal with this rise alone we shall need a net increase of about 5,000 teachers. Therefore, if the net increase 792 in the teacher force in 1958 is only about 5,000 there will be no extra teachers available to improve staffing standards in the shortage areas beyond those which have already been reached in January of this year. However, the scheme laid down in Circular 333 is designed in such a way that if the increase in the number of teachers this year should prove to be more than 5,000, the shortage authorities will benefit since they will be able to take on more teachers without exceeding their quotas.
However, I particularly want to make it plain that Circular 333 is not solely concerned with the arithmetic of teacher distribution. The Circular stresses once again that authorities must continue to encourage married women teachers to return to service and persuade teachers over pensionable age to remain in service.
In addition, the authorities are asked to make the best use they can of part-time teachers and, much more important, to encourage the voluntary transfer of teachers from primary to secondary schools. I know this suggestion is not popular in many quarters, but I believe this is the most important point of all, now that the bulge is passing to a higher age group and now that so much depends on the ability of secondary modern schools in particular to cope with the pressure of sheer numbers.
§ Mr. Peart
On that very important question, does not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that seconding of teachers for specialist courses is important, and that those authorities that do not second should be given a little nudge by the Ministry? I understand that last year 23 authorities had no teachers seconded for these courses.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I am coming, if the patience of the House will allow me—and I am sorry that I am taking so long—to the subject of specialist teachers later in my speech.
I want now to say a few words about the three-year course. First of all, let me make it quite categorically plain that the Government regard themselves as being absolutely committed to this great forward project which I had the pleasure of announcing in this Chamber in the summer of last year. I assure the House that there is absolutely no question of 793 the Government going back on this piece of policy, deliberately announced in both Houses.
Hon. Members will be glad to learn, I am sure, that a good deal of planning is going on to enable us to make the best of this important advance. Very soon after the announcement of the Government's decision, the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers published its Sixth Report, which offered some useful suggestions. About the same time, the Ministry of Education published a pamphlet by a group of Her Majesty's Inspectors, dealing with the same topics. Of course, both of these publications were offered, not as directives, but as material for discussion.
My right hon. Friend has been very glad to notice that it seems to be almost common ground that the three-year course will provide, in particular, a most valuable opportunity for training college students to pursue one or two subjects to a higher level than has been common in the past; that is to say, the level which some area training organisations think will be comparable with that of a university pass degree. I noted the insistence of my hon. Friend the Member for Burton on the practical side of training. I agree, but I think that he will agree that the academic side is very important, too. This will both make it possible to continue the personal education of all students to the highest level of which they are capable, and provide the most valuable source of recruitment for certain particular kinds of secondary school teachers.
My right hon. Friend entirely agrees that the opportunity to stretch all students in one or two subjects is likely to be one of the outstanding results of the three-year course. We have now reached the stage of detailed local planning, we hear encouraging reports of the way this is going in some parts of the country, and I do believe that the prospects of the three-year course are quite good.
I entirely share the view that training colleges must be up to date in the way they plan both curriculum and discipline. They must not in any way remain or become glorified boarding schools. From what I have seen of training colleges myself, I think that this is getting a good 794 deal better. The standard of many of the libraries is quite excellent. I have found one training college with a bar, but that is not widespread. Nevertheless, we are seeing a much more flexible régime in the colleges.
I should like to say a few words about the technical teaching side, concerning which my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) and other hon. Members made suggestions. Teachers for the schools are by no means our only concern at present, and I am sure that the House would like to know something of the steps we are taking to ensure an adequate supply of teachers for the technical colleges.
This matter is so obviously fundamental to the Government's programme for the expansion of technical education that, as the House will know, a special sub-committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Willis Jackson was set up in September, 1956, to consider the whole question of the supply and training of teachers for technical colleges. Its Report was published in May last, and contained numerous recommendations on both the recruitment and training of teachers.
On the recruitment side, the Report indicated that the technical colleges would need, by the 1960–61 Session, some 7,000 full-time, and 8,000 part-time teachers, over and above the numbers in service in 1956. This meant securing a net annual increase of 1,400 full-time and nearly 2,000 part-time teachers in each of the five years 1957–61.
The Report disclosed no single dramatic way of securing the necessary increase in the rate of recruitment, but brought together in a most useful way a large number of means by which local education authorities and industry, working in close partnership, could improve things—by improving conditions in the colleges, by making teaching more attractive to well-qualified people in industry and commerce, and by broadening the field of recruitment. I can say definitely that my right hon. Friend, so far as lies with him, is wholeheartedly in agreement with the recommendations of the Committee and, as several hon. Members have mentioned, Circular 336 has just been issued to local education authorities commending the 795 Report to their attention and indicating certain ways in which the Ministry could help.
I thought that the House would like a brief progress report on this, because recent figures of recruitment of technical teachers are quite encouraging. In the year 1956 itself, the number of full-time teachers in service showed an increase of about 900. Final figures for 1957 are not yet available, but initial returns from local education authorities at the beginning of the 1956–57 Session suggested that the increase in 1957 will prove to have been even greater—possibly over 1,000; whilst similar returns for 1957–58 give promise this year of a total increase not far short of 1,400, which is, I think, quite encouraging.
I would, however, emphasise that there is no room at all for complacency. We shall need all the technical teachers that we can get, and it will be a particularly difficult task to secure enough teachers in particular categories, notably teachers with good qualifications in science and technology, to staff the advanced courses. Only the closest collaboration between the colleges and industry and the utmost vigilance and flexibility on the part of authorities will avail to provide the numbers we need.
It will be particularly necessary for the colleges to establish close working relations with industry, so that enough part-time teachers from industry may be available in the day-time to augment the full-time college staffs. I am sorry that I did not hear what my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham said, but I have been given a note of his comments. He suggested that the governors of technical colleges should be drawn from wide areas of activity in order to encourage close co-operation in the industry. We have constantly urged that and shall continue to do so. I certainly hope that all local education authorities will give the most urgent consideration to the Willis Jackson Committee's recommendations.
On the training side, my right hon. Friend agrees that it is necessary to increase the number of trained teachers in the colleges, even though one must expect that the majority of technical teachers will continue, as in the past, to move straight from positions in industry and commerce into teaching posts. For them, the facilities for part-time training 796 must be increased, and discussions are proceeding about the institution of what are called in-service training courses, as the Willis Jackson Committee recommended.
Nevertheless, the principal source of trained teachers must, for some time at least, continue to be the pre-service courses of one year's duration which are held in the three technical training colleges. As was announced recently, the number of places in these colleges is to be increased to the figure of 500 recommended as a first step by the Committee, and improved accommodation is being planned.
Most important of all, perhaps, my right hon. Friend has agreed with the local authority associations that considerable increases should be made in the grants available to the students attending these colleges. These new and increased rates of grant are a recognition of the fact that the technical training colleges have to draw practically all their entrants from people who have settled occupation in industry and commerce. The revised grants have not yet been published in detail, but I can say that, in principle, the Willis Jackson Committee's recommendations as regards these pre-service course have been fully accepted.
For the future, we look forward to receiving further advice and help on the whole question of the supply and training of technical teachers from a new standing committee which has just been set up, of which, I am glad to say, Dr. Willis Jackson has, again, accepted the chair.
I can sum up all this by saying that the Government are determined that the teaching force in the technical colleges shall be equal both in numbers and quality to the very great tasks which will be laid upon it in the coming ten to fifteen years.
The hon. Gentleman raised the question of Garnett College with me. As he knows, the technical building programme is not affected by Circular 331. I have not heard of this case, but if he likes to send me details of it I will, of course, look into them.
A word about grants for training for former Regular members of the Armed Sevices. The hon. Gentleman raised this in the course of his speech. I agree that this is another important point.
797 As the House knows, grants are available for teacher training students under he Education Act for the avoidance of hardship. In determining how much assistance should be given, we normally look at the income of the student and his wife, or of his parents if he is dependent upon them, and consider how much the maximum grant should be reduced by what we call the "student's contribution."
For a student with no income, we provide travelling expenses, a personal grant way of pocket money, free board, or what is called a day maintenance grant in lieu for a day student, and free tuition. In some cases, we also make grants towards the maintenance of dependants. The ordinary adult student who is no longer dependent on his parents is required to make a student's contribution to reduce the maximum grant of one-third of his and his wife's net income after allowances have been made for the maintenance of his wife and of his family, and the cost, if any, of his children's education, and certain other unavoidable outgoings. That is the procedure. Normally we do not take account of a student's capital resources except in so far as they produce net income by way of interest.
When we came to consider these "axed" Regulars, we realised that they were in a rather special category because, in addition to their retired pay and the normal terminal grant based on it, they are receiving from the Exchequer a special capital payment to cover not only such things as loss of promotion prospects and the higher rates of pension which they would have earned by longer service, but also some of the difficulties of finding a new career in civilian life. For example, it is not unreasonable to expect an ex-Regular to use part of his special capital payment to maintain himself and his family while he finds a job or to invest it in a firm or business. If he chooses to invest it instead in a course of training which will bring him in a salary for the rest of his working life and provide a satisfactory career, it seemed to us that in assessing the financial assistance he gets, we cannot ignore its existence. After all, it is a substantial sum of public money amounting in some cases to as much as £5,000.
Accordingly, the method of assessing these ex-Regulars and the way we pro- 798 pose to adopt is as follows. We shall treat them in the ordinary way as students independent of their parents. They will be eligible for the normal allowances against income for the maintenance of their families and for unavoidable outgoings, but we shall make the allowances not simply against their income, including retired pay, and that of their wives, but against a fraction of their special capital payment spread over the period of their course. We shall ignore the terminal grant and the resettlement grant of £500 or £250. The fraction of the special capital payment, minus the resettlement grant, which will be added to their income will be one-third in the case of a student taking a one-year course, and one-sixth in the case of a student taking a two-year course.
As I said before, the maximum grants available will be decreased by one-third of the income plus a fraction of the special capital payment after making allowances for wife and family and other unavoidable outgoings.
I apologise for inflicting all this on the House. This method of assessment may seem rather complicated, but it has the advantage of making full allowance for a student's domestic circumstances, and I think the result it will produce will be generally regarded in the country as fair.
The last category I want to say a few words about is that of the highly important specialist teachers, to whom the hon. Gentleman referred. I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor), who is waiting to move another Motion. I assure him that this is the last category of teachers with which I shall deal.
As the House knows, the main source of non-graduates who have taken their special subject far enough to be fully acceptable as specialist teachers in secondary schools is the supplementary course programme of third-year courses, both for students straight from two-year training and also for serving teachers seconded on full salary by local education authorities.
I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the education authorities on their willingness to second certain teachers to these courses at a time of great strain in the secondary schools, and also to congratulate the teachers themselves on their willingness to go, as it 799 were, back to school for a year, and to express the hope that recruitment for supplementary courses during the forthcoming financial year will be higher than ever before. Certainly we for our part are satisfied that the need still exists, and indeed we have further expanded the programme so as to give a wider geographical coverage and make it easier for serving teachers to attend as day students.
I hope the House will forgive me if I go into a little detail over two or three categories of specialist teachers whose work is very important. First and foremost, I should like to mention maths and science teachers. We cannot stress too often—any of us who are interested in education—that it is no good thinking that facilities for further education in science and technology can ever be a substitute for first-class maths and science teaching in the schools.
I shall myself risk using a mathematical analogy and suggest that it is true of most people that the curve of their ability for maths and science tends to be what mathematicians would call discontinuous. That is to say, many of us can reach a certain point in our mathematical studies without much difficulty, but then we suddenly strike an obstacle which seems to us enormously difficult to surmount. For example, judging from my own experience at school, problems of time and distance involving quadratic equations were apt to prove a particularly tough obstacle for many children of secondary school age. If I may make a personal confession to the House, and one which I am sure the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) will appreciate, my own enjoyment of economics is still to some extent impaired by my extreme stupidity in mastering even the elementary techniques of coordinate geometry.
But I am sure that the skilled teachers of mathematics can guide people past these obstacles and that—just to take one example—even the least mechanically minded among us can be made to understand the basic rudiments of the triangle of forces.
Very largely, the problem here is one of the supply of graduates. In 1957, there were about 12,250 graduate teachers of maths and science in the schools, an in- 800 crease of 1,750 over the last five years. The biggest annual increase occurred during 1957 itself, but I am afraid that even this increase proved insufficient to maintain the staffing standard achieved in these subjects during earlier years. Indeed, the outlook is not too rosy. The probable demand for maths and science teachers is expected to rise by about 40 per cent. between now and 1963, whereas at even the best recent annual rate their number would increase by only 27 per cent. Since more than half the demand will come from pupils over fifteen, there is still a distinct and disturbing possibility of over-crowded maths and science classes in sixth forms during the coming years.
In the long term, the best hope lies in a large increase in the output of maths and science graduates by the universities and in an increased attractiveness of teaching as a career. I believe that the universities, to their credit, are increasingly aware of the needs of the schools for first-class staff in these subjects, but, of course, they must first get the extra students, and, though they can urge the claims of teaching, attractive and often better-paid posts in industry are serious competitors. However, I hope that those engaged in industry will not forget the extent to which it is in their own interest that maths and science should be well taught in the schools.
Although this problem is mainly one of the supply of graduates, none the less the training colleges can help in some measure. For one thing, the teaching of maths and science in secondary schools—and do not let us forget this—requires a sound foundation of preliminary work in the primary schools. It is indeed at primary school level that the first obstacles to understanding maths and science must be surmounted if good progress is to be made at a later stage. Again, college-trained teachers can and do teach these subjects in the secondary modern schools, and there is evidence that those who have taken a third year in a supplementary course do so with a good deal of success. Indeed, I believe that some are accepted to teach the lower forms of the grammar schools.
We have asked training colleges to bear the importance of maths and science in mind, both in planning their courses 801 and in selecting students for training, and their response has been good. During the last five years, the number of training college students taking main courses in maths has doubled, and in science, over the same period, the number has risen by 75 per cent.
I would add about specialist teachers that, within the general shortage, we are also particularly short of teachers of handicraft and housecraft and physical education. There is, of course, in none of these subjects any appreciable supply of graduates, and we are therefore dependent on the training colleges. The trouble is that few grammar school leavers are ready to pursue handicraft and housecraft to an advanced level, but many teachers of these subjects in the schools are highly intelligent people doing a first-class job. I do not think there is any need for anyone to regard the teaching of these subjects as being in some way inferior to the teaching of history or of geography. If our modern system of secondary education results in an average higher standard of cooking, I do not see why that should be regarded as so much less important than a higher standard of spelling.
Now a few words about handicapped children because this was a subject in which my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Vosper) took a special interest. I was glad to find that successive Ministers of Education had asked their Parliamentary Secretaries to regard these schools as their particular responsibility. Certainly, like my right hon. Friend, I have always found that visits to special schools are a most exciting experience.
There are two categories of our population whose problems we can all too easily ignore: first, those children who start life with severe physical and mental handicaps; secondly, and no less important, that section of our old people who cannot be properly classified as either chronic sick or as being in good health.
The post-war challenge of the increase in the number of special schools has not only been met by a virtual doubling of the number of teachers employed in special schools, but it has also rightly stimulated interest in the quality of teachers employed. As a number of hon. Members have mentioned, the National 802 Advisory Council recommended in its Fourth Report that all teachers of handicapped pupils should have additional training beyond that of a qualified teacher.
My right hon. Friend agrees entirely that this should be the aim, but he does not think it is practicable or desirable to make this compulsory at the present time. The point is that if we can over a period build up new training courses for serving teachers on a basis of voluntary attendance, we can avoid the dislocation in the schools and the inconvenience to individual teachers which could result from the requirement of additional training for all teachers from a given date. That is the policy which the Ministry has adopted in Circular 324, and one-year courses to equip qualified teachers for work in special schools are now being developed.
Any visitor to these schools must be immensely heartened and impressed by the magnificent work being done in them. I welcome particularly the time and trouble that so many teachers in these schools take to keep in regular touch with the parents of the children concerned. It is so important to make parents understand that just because a child has to be categorised for educational purposes as subnormal it does not mean that the child is a mental defective, or anything approaching it.
I apologise sincerely to the House for having detained it for so long on this subject, but there is a great deal to say. As the hon. Gentleman knows, it is not easy to be brief on education. In conclusion, let me say this. On the one hand, we should not be too pessimistic about what has been achieved in securing the teachers we need or about anything else. After all, the twelve years since the war have been the best years in the history of education in this country, and during the last six years the education Vote of the Ministry has gone up from just under £180 million to £356 million, which is considerably more than the rise in prices.
Having said that, I agree that we should not be complacent. There are many parents who are still worried about the education of their children, for good reason when there are still far too many unsatisfactory schools. As I remarked earlier, we are still only at the beginning 803 of the implementation of the 1944 Act. Let us not be too gloomy, but let us at the same time realise the efforts to be made about the supply of teachers, and many other things, before we can achieve all we have set our hearts to achieve.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Mr. William Teeling (Brighton, Pavilion)
I cannot expect my hon. Friend to answer my remarks in the very short time remaining, but perhaps he may be able to do so in correspondence or in reply to some Questions which I may table.
I was sorry that today, of all days, when the Prime Minister is returning from a most successful Commonwealth tour there was no mention on the part of my hon. Friend of the possibility of the teaching of, besides mathematics, technical subjects, and so on, subjects connected with Commonwealth interests, such as the possibilities of migration.
I would particularly remind my hon. Friend that the Conservative Party's policy statement before the 1951 General Election said:New ways of informing public opinion at home and abroad must be sought.With regard to the Commonwealth—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I think the hon. Member is rather anticipating the Motion in his name, dealing with Commonwealth history, which appears later on the Order Paper. The Motion which the House is discussing is confined to the recruitment and training of teachers and does not relate to the subjects which they have to teach.
§ Mr. Teeling
I am seeking to deal with the subject of the recruitment of teachers, Mr. Speaker. One of the things that I have in mind is that the Commonwealth High Commissioner might be approached by the Minister of Education on this subject. I wish particularly to mention that in my constituency at the moment there is a very large increase in the exchange of teachers between the Commonwealth and ourselves, which might well help the Minister of Education to find further teachers.
We have been told by the Colonial Office that the Minister of Education will not interfere in the curricula of different education authorities and will not arrange 804 for teachers to deal particularly with the sort of subjects that I have mentioned. That we should be told that is rather worrying to the average person who is interested in this matter. I wonder whether the Minister is trying to do anything at present to encourage teachers to take up these subjects. I admit that we must not discuss the actual subjects which are taught—
§ Mr. Peart
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that it would be far better if we encouraged science teachers to go to the Commonwealth and the Colonies, instead of going in for the teaching of this vague mysticism of the Commonwealth, although I agree it is important? Surely what the Commonwealth requires is teachers of science, geology, agriculture, and so on. That is what is more important.
§ Mr. Teeling
I could not agree more with the hon. Gentleman, but might it not be that teachers knowing the subjects as well as our own teachers might be brought from the Commonwealth? My local education officer tells me thata deliberate and sustained effort is made by essay groups and discussion classesin the Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar Schoolto familiarise all boys in the sixth form with the great problems of the Commonwealth. This is arranged without 'flag waving or, far worse, the encouragement of a face-saving attitude …'.At present, the Varndean Boys' Grammar School, in Brighton, is receiving a party of 30 Australian boys who have been brought over to learn what is going on here. They are sponsored by the Victoria League. We hope that something similar will be done in Australia. The Varndean Girls' Grammar School is now having exchange teachers from Australia, and this year it will have an exchange teacher from New Zealand. There are 200 Commonwealth students at Brighton Technical College and they, too, could talk of the Commonwealth.
I very much hope that, over the coming months, the Minister will take the possibilities into consideration. The Prime Minister's tour might lead us on to some Commonwealth reciprocal ideas. There are many people in the Conservative Party and, I am sure, also in the 805 Socialist Party, who feel that more should be taught about Commonwealth matters and that more teachers should be sent out to the Colonies—as was mentioned by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson)—and afterwards sent back to give us firsthand information.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That this House regards the reduction of the size of classes in schools, the raising of the school-leaving age and the fuller training of teachers as desirable objectives of national policy; recognises that these objectives cannot he attained in any measurable time without a greater rate of increase in the number of teachers than that which now prevails; and urges Her Majesty's Government to encourage and provide for an increased recruitment of teachers.