§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Legh.]
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Skeffington (Hayes and Harlington)
I ought to begin by apologising to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education for bringing him to the House again after the debate which has already taken place today on education, but when I balloted for this subject I was not aware that there would be another opportunity to discuss education. I consoled myself, and I hope that it may also console the Parliamentary Secretary, by believing that the subject of this short Adjournment debate is somewhat limited and specialised and that it may be more convenient for everybody to have it separately discussed rather than it should have been dealt with in the general debate today.
I realise that the shortage of teachers of mathematics is one which is giving some concern to those, both inside and outside the House, who are interested in education. There is a real fear that adequate numbers of teachers of these specialised subjects are not only not available at present but that there seems to be some indications that they will not be available in sufficient numbers even in the future. I hope that in this short debate we shall be able to get an up-to-date picture which will be helpful. It is difficult outside the Ministry to be certain what the trends are. I hope that some of the things that the Minister is doing, and that the action which will have to be taken, will receive adequate publicity as a result of the debate.
I gave notice to the Parliamentary Secretary's office that to some limited extent I should have to refer to teachers of science as well, simply because it is difficult to disentangle figures for separate subjects since very often teachers of mathematics and teachers of science are lumped together. The only reason why I give priority to mathematics is that if one has to choose priority, the teaching of mathematics must come before that of the other sciences, because it is the basis of so much of the training required in science in general.
151 The nation has had a number of warnings about this shortage of these specialist teachers. It might be useful if I briefly referred to some of them, because the statements which have been made by various interested and knowledgeable bodies carry more weight than my own hunches or limited researches. In mentioning them, I am conscious that some of the data on which forecasts were based may now be out of date, but that is one of the reasons why I hope that this debate will be of service to education.
The first alarming report to which I would refer appeared four years ago. It was a report prepared by a subcommittee of the Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education and was entitled "The Supply of Mathematics and Science Teachers". At that time, in 1956, it made serious reading. It dealt especially with the situation in teacher-training colleges. This, of course, is of great importance since the bulk of teachers pass through these establishments.
On page 42 of this very well-prepared and documented Report among the conclusions of the sub-committee attention is drawn to these remarkable figures at that time: that 25 out of 75 of the women's colleges had no mathematics lecturer and that 43 of the women's colleges were without a lecturer with any qualifications in physics or chemistry. The fifth fact to which it drew attention in paragraph 20 of the recommendations was that the whole of the mathematical and scientific staff in all the teacher-training colleges represented only 14.8 per cent. of the total staff. We should all be glad to hear whether there has been any improvement —I hope that there has—in the ratio of this teaching of mathematics and in the other scientific subjects. It was a most unfortunate deficiency.
On page 18, referring to the statistical data, the report says:There is an obvious need for many more lecturers to make a real study of the problems of arithmetic teaching and contribute specialist knowledge to the educational work of the colleges. The problem is of such magnitude that it seems quite essential for the colleges to appoint to their tutorial staffs many more whose major academic interest is in mathematicsElsewhere, it is noted, as it is in the Crowther Report, that only about 3.5 per 152 cent. of women students in the teacher-training colleges show real interest in mathematics.
The report also stated—at the time it was commented cm by various educational journals—that if something was not done to remedy the shortage of qualified college teachers its effect would be felt in the schools for twenty, thirty or as some people suggested, forty years. That was the first warning, backed by a good deal of statistical information, and I hope that the Minister may be able to indicate some improvement where urgent action was most obviously required.
I wish also to refer to a survey about schools where there would be fewer teachers directly from teacher-training colleges. This was an International Survey called " Secondary School Mathematics ", printed, in the Mathematical Gazette in October, 1958, from an address given by the President of the Mathematical Association, Mr. W. J. Langford. He revealed that in 1958 he had written to the heads of every public school and grammar school in England and Wales asking for particulars about the staffing and the scope of their mathematics teaching. He got replies from over 50 per cent. of the schools and, as he said:… the summary of the situation makes interesting (and alarming) reading. The return from 19 of our greater public schools shows that 149 men are teaching mathematics and of these only 20 have insufficient qualification in the subject.As one would expect, the schools with the best conditions are able to attract the highest qualified staff. That ratio was 13 per cent. inadequately qualified which had to be contrasted with an average of 22 per cent. of those with inadequate qualifications from 384 county schools; 30 per cent. from the 130 voluntary schools and 25 per cent. from the 47 direct grant schools.
The position of girls' schools, as one has already learned to expect from the figures in the women's training colleges —the same kind of tendency is reflected right through—was an 11 per cent. deficiency for public schools; 16 per cent. for the 174 county schools; 24 per cent. for the 39 voluntary schools; 19 per cent. for the 44 direct grant schools.; and 27 per cent. for 39 other public schools.
153 So, again, except for the top schools, the percentage of those who were teaching mathematics in 1958 and were not really adequately qualified or trained was very much higher than anyone would wish to be able to report. That survey was made only two years ago. I wish to emphasise that it deals with schools which can provide the very best conditions for teachers often in regard to surroundings and in regard to emoluments, where the Burnham scale would often be exceeded.
I have referred to the Crowther Report, but I wish to refer particularly to paragraphs 149 and 150, because they deal with this matter specifically. They show that—alarming is perhaps too strong a word—an unsatisfactory trend. In paragraph 149 and in Table 15, the Report deals with graduates teaching in secondary-modern schools. The Report says thatthere has been a decline in the proportion of men graduates in modern schools whose main field of study was in mathematics or science, from 33 per cent. in 1947 to 21 per cent. in 1958The total number of graduates were greater, but having regard to the increased school population it means that fewer qualified teachers of this subject are available in the modern schools, which is something everyone will regret. One of the things we want to know is how the Minister proposes to put the matter right.
The following paragraph deals with the position of women graduates and the figures follow on from what I have said about women's training colleges and teachers mentioned in the survey made by Mr. Langford. There we find that the proportion is lower still than for men, 13 per cent. compared with 20 per cent. and that the 13 per cent. of those qualified to teach mathematics or science is 2 per cent. less than in 1953. So the decline has been very serious indeed. Paragraph 150 of the Report concludes:there is a marked deficiency on the mathematics and science side—and average of half a graduate per modern school is surely insufficient. This deficiency is greater for women teachers than for men, and also more serious because of the considerable number of training college students, especially in the women's colleges, who have done virtually no mathematics for three or four years before their admission, and had been unable to secure a pass in Ordinary level in that subject.154 That is the last of the specific pieces of evidence I wish to call to my aid this evening. A picture is presented which warrants the concern which has been expressed and which, I hope, will enable us to review what has been done by the Ministry since.
I pass to the Question I asked on 25th February, which appears among the Questions for Written Answers in column 82 of HANSARD for that day. I asked the Minister what were the number of teachers with specialist qualifications in science and mathematics in all types of State schools, the numbers of unfilled vacancies and the anticipated shortages in 1961-65. I do not want to read the whole Answer, which, obviously, the Parliamentary Secretary will know, but I draw attention to a feature which seems disquieting. But in the Answer, it was said:An inquiry made in 1958 showed 244 vacancies in these schools for mathematics teachers and 261 for science teachers. On the basis of an annual net increase of 500 mathematics and science graduates the shortage of these teachers on 1959 staffing standards would be 500 in 1961, 750 in 1962, 900 in 1963, and 350 in 1964. In 1965 there would be 250 available to improve on 1959 standards.Then there is a qualification.
The actual shortage will depend upon the results of the present drive to increase the number of graduates and on the output of specialists from training colleges."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th February, 1960; Vol. 618, c. 82–3.]That is a qualification that I understand and accept.
My first comment is that the unfortunate people who will be at school in 1962, 1963 and 1964 may well suffer rather serious harm because of the shortage of specialists. I know that there is very little that can be done about that, but even if we accept the fact that by 1965 we may be within measurable distance of the shortage disappearing we shall still be having staffing standards based on 1953, which are far from those I am sure all of us desire.
I wonder whether the Minister has not been a little too optimistic about his assumption that there will be a net annual increase of 500 graduate teachers in mathematics and science. If one looks at the figures contained in Command Paper 893, the Annual Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, one sees that there has been an increase of 261 science 155 and mathematics graduate teachers in grant-aided schools since 1956, 440 in 1957 and 331 in 1958, and, if my figures are right—the figures are not in the Report—in 1959 the increase is very much smaller. I make it about six, but I may be wrong. At any rate, there has certainly been a decline between 1956 and 1959.
Paragraph 4 of the Report of the Advisory Council stated thatThe number of science teachers in schools has been increasing, but the increase in the numbers of well-qualified teachers of mathematics, physics and chemistry has not, unfortunately, been sufficient to meet all demands arising from the increase in the number of children studying science. It is clear that great efforts will be required if the shortage of teachers is not to hinder the development of science courses, not least in schools other than grammar schools.I agree, as I am sure we all do, with that last sentiment.
That was a review of the situation in the 1958–59 Report. One wonders whether the Minister's figures are not, therefore, optimistic. I know that the Minister has covered himself by his caveat, but I should be very glad to hear from him whether he has any later prognostications about the matter. Certainly, the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific and Engineering Manpower in Great Britain, 1959, Cmnd. 902, seems to be a little apprehensive, for it says, in paragraph 46:The Scottish and English figures of vacancies are based on different standards and there is no doubt that the figure for England and Wales greatly underestimates the number of additional teachers who would be needed to restore 1953 staffing ratios and to meet all the new demands in secondary schools. To achieve the latter objective might require a further 4,000 to 5,000 science teachers.That was an up-to-date warning which seems to me to repeat in substance the earlier ones. I very much hope that— as used to be said when we attended the cinema—this is not where we came in. It appears to me from the prognostications that the situation is not very much better than in 1956.
It would be inappropriate of me to offer any suggestions about what could be done, because these ideas have been canvassed so often, but I must say that getting the additional teachers seems to me to depend partly upon cash. I have a recent example of a well-qualified 156 mathematics teacher in a public school in London—I had better not mention the district, or the school might be identified—who had become a little dissatisfied with his job and was asked whether he would consider joining an electronics firm.
The firm said that it would be delighted to have him. He was asked what salary he would like. Being a teacher and a modest man, he merely asked for double his salary. He was told, "We could not possibly ask you to go all through the dislocations of changing jobs for that. We should certainly want to give you about three times your present salary". The profession has lost a very good teacher to industry, I hope not permanently. Perhaps in time he will become dissatisfied with industry, and the rewards, which are not often cash rewards, of education will attract him back.
Professors Carter and Williams, in their Science in Industry, sum up what I have said about cash by simply saying, on page 133:We have heard no convincing suggestions for alleviating this shortage"—that is, of science and mathematics teachers—other than by paying science and mathematics teachers (and if necessary other teachers) more. To say this is not to assert that teachers do, or should, teach only for the pay; a man may have to choose between a vocation to teach and a sense of obligation to his family, and it is not reasonable to expect that family obligations will always come second ".This has to be the subject of negotiations between teachers and the authorities, but it would be of great interest to everyone in the profession if the Parliamentary Secretary can give us any hint on it.
The Association of Scientific Workers issued a recent report on Education for Science. The Association made some suggestions which are worthy of mention. It believes that there might well be a campaign with inducements to release both from the Civil Service and from industry those with scientific and mathematical knowledge who could teach in the schools, either whole time or part time. This is a very good suggestion. I know that there are all kinds of difficulties, but in such a desperate situation this suggestion is both constructive and possible. Indeed, I know that in connection with the sandwich courses, which are 157 highly specialised, people come from industry to take their share in the teaching work.
The second suggestion made by the Association was that there should be a national drive to bring back more married women teachers with specialist qualifications and that, where necessary, refresher courses should be provided. On these subjects one cannot always just pick up the point of teaching exactly where one left off five or ten years ago, but the suggestions should be considered.
The Association's last suggestion is that there should be more provision for laboratory space and laboratory assistance. This refers to the teaching of science. One small, but often quite important, point in determining whether people stay is the fact that so many teachers of science have to do washing up and bottling in addition to teaching. They may have to do much preparation work, which wastes their time and uses their energy and could be done by the fairly economical provision of such assistance.
I hope that shall not be considered, impertinent for mentioning those suggestions, but we are all anxious to solve the problem. I am sure that I do not need to point any moral at the end of my survey based on the sources I have given to the House, but in this scientific age, with space exploration and everything else confronting us, unless we adequately prepare future generations to take their part in these problems we face a rather gloomy future. Perhaps many of us wish that we did not live in the scientific age, but it is here and we must face it. What I am most anxious to do is to ensure that the precious talent which I know exists amongst our children can be properly trained, and one of the provisions which we must make is adequate specialist teachers if we are to make any real progress in education.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
We are all very grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) for having raised this exceedingly important subject. We have all too few occasions in this House to discuss the more detailed aspects of education, and it is very fortunate when some one with an interest in these matters chooses such a subject for the Adjournment debate.
158 I only wish that there were rather more hon. Members present. After all, there still remains three quarters of an hour for debate, and I propose to take only three or four minutes. I sincerely trust that the Parliamentary Secretary will speak for more than three or four minutes, because I expect him to give an adequate answer to the points raised, and also to give us the most up-to-date information that is available.
I make no pretence to being a mathematician or a scientist—very far from it—but I have been reading with intense interest a report that has only just come to my hand on mathematics, education and industry; a report of a conference of teachers, research scientists and industrialists held last year at the University of Liverpool. It has only just been published, and I wish that there had not been such a time lag between the holding of that most excellent conference and the publication of the report.
Among many very interesting contributions to the Report, is one from Sir Gilbert Flemming, of the Ministry of Education, and another from Mr. Rowlett, one of Her Majesty's inspectors on the teaching of mathematics in schools, and on the supply of teachers. Unfortunately, those contributions were made just about a year ago, and I very much hope that they will be brought up to date by the hon. Gentleman.
I agree with my hon. Friend that we have had examples before—and one or two were mentioned earlier today—of complacency on the part of the Ministry on the whole question of the supply of teachers. The people at the Ministry are apt to give estimates of the increased numbers that are to be obtained in various categories that are then falsified by the event. We therefore want to know what their real estimation now is, particularly for teachers of mathematics.
It seems clear, unless the position has changed considerably in recent months, that it is the teachers of mathematics who are so difficult to come by; much more so than those of the scientific subjects. It does not appear from the reports I have been able to obtain that there really is very much of a reserve of mathematicians in industry who both wish to teach and are suitable for teaching, and who could be released to any very great extent.
159 One cannot assume that because a man is a good mathematician for industrial purposes he is necessarily also a good teacher of mathematics. And although they certainly can and do help in sandwich courses and in other respects, I do not think that one can look to industry for a solution, even of the short-term problem, on an emergency loan basis.
Still less, of course, can one look to industry for the supply of teachers for the grammar schools or the modern schools. The quality of the teaching of mathematics in modern schools, especially with the number of children now staying on for a fifth year, is becoming more and more important. The future of these children in industry may largely depend, again, on the quality of the teaching they can obtain in the modern schools. There are shortages in the grammar schools as well and, again, quality matters.
There is a very interesting passage in one of the discussions that took place at this conference on the need to have first-class mathematics teachers, not just for the sixth form but quite a way down the school. Aptitude does not necessarily go with age. If someone is to be a good mathematician it is likely that he will show it when quite young, and the passage points out that it is a fallacy to pretend that only in the last two eyars at school does the quality of mathematics teaching matter. The bright youngster in the fourth form cannot only appreciate or despise, as the case may be, a brilliant or dull master, but gets an invaluable stimulus from a really good teacher.
We are rightly concerned with this matter. It does not affect only this country. As the House is aware, I have for many years taken a close interest in colonial affairs, and in particular African affairs. I have been reading a most interesting book by a former Member of this House, Mr. Kenneth Younger, on "The Public Service in New States". This public service includes the education service. He points out that in West Africa, for example, where the pace of development is almost startling, there is a very acute shortage of teachers precisely in these science and mathematics subjects. He points out also that there is a time lag, that they try to indent on London for teachers in these subjects and 160 they may have to wait up to three years to obtain them. I have heard similar heart-rending stories from education officials in East Africa who ask, "How can we get better standards in our schools when we cannot obtain these teachers?" This is not merely a domestic problem. It is a Commonwealth problem as well. There should be no fear of over-expansion in teacher-training in this matter.
I wish to refer to another aspect. Everyone talks hopefully of bringing back women teachers. One of the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington, with startling figures, is the shortage of staff in women's training colleges. I had not realised quite how bad the situation was four years ago. I hope that we shall have some figures from the Parliamentary Secretary to let us know whether the situation in the women's training colleges is still as deplorable as it was only four years ago.
The number of women who are being equipped to teach mathematical subjects is clearly not large. On the other hand, a woman either in a training college or as a graduate teacher, who is equipped, is a very precious person, and if she can be encouraged to come back, so much the better.
I should, however, like to ask the hon. Gentleman a question which I should also like to ask his right hon. Friend and one or two other Ministers, and it is this. To what extent are they consulting the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this matter of the return of women teachers, and particularly where highly-qualified and scarce personnel are involved? Because of the aggregation of salaries for Income Tax and Surtax purposes it is not worth while for a married woman teacher to return to work if her husband earns a reasonable salary as a professional man. Her income is aggregated with his and tax is paid on the joint income. She gets no relief for a domestic substitute for herself in order to look after her home while she is teaching.
At most she is likely to do part-time work, and she may possibly be in a position where she could do full-time work. The disincentive of our tax system is such that if she is well qualified, and her husband too, she is 161 unlikely to come back into full-time teaching, even though she might be able to do so, and even though it might be to the advantage of the community. The probability is that a good deal of public money will have been spent on her education which, of course, will be a poor investment if she uses her skill for only a short period and then marries, and does not return later when she might well be able to do so.
I hope that this very important aspect of the return of women to teaching will be considered by the Ministry. It applies, of course, to other forms of teaching but it applies with particular intensity to the teaching of mathematics because this seems to be a place where there is an acute scarcity. I hope that this will be considered by the Minister of Education, if he has not already done so, and that he will, if necessary, open diplomatic discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I make this suggestion not on the basis of feminist justice or anything of that kind but on the basis of expediency. If we want the women back, we must look at the matter realistically in order to see what it is that keeps some of them from coming back. Because I am very anxious that we should have an adequate supply of qualified teachers and I fear that we shall not have it for some years to come, I have ventured to make these observations.
§ 9.55 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Kenneth Thompson)
I am extremely grateful to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harling-ton (Mr. Skeffington) for introducing this subject in tonight's Adjournment debate, and I congratulate him on having the good fortune to do so when we have rather longer to deploy our subject than is our usual lot on these occasions. The hon. Gentleman has no need to apologise to the House for taking an opportunity like this to air a subject of such transcending importance in education. I am personally grateful to him, and I am sure that all who are concerned with the matter will share my gratitude and appreciation.
I assure the House that there is anything but complacency in the Ministry of Education about the supply of mathematics and science teachers. We 162 recognise it to be one of the key factors upon which will depend the success or otherwise of our whole education effort. We relate it, as does the hon. Gentleman, to how our country will survive in a world which is increasingly scientific, increasingly technological and increasingly complicated, demanding more and more that those who are to play their part in its life shall understand its techniques and sciences very thoroughly upon a sound basis of good mathematics education. We recognise all this, and our plans, proposals and efforts are directed towards remedying the shortage, which is only one of many facing the Ministry of Education, in the knowledge that these are extremely important considerations.
I do not at all deny that we face in the whole education system a serious shortage of teachers of mathematics, particularly of the higher quality, and of teachers of science subjects. The number of surveys and reports on the matter is almost legion. Several have been referred to in both speeches this evening. I am supplied with various other documents bearing on the same subject. I cannot answer all the detailed questions which arise from references to all the reports which have been made. Mine would be a complicated and even more than usually boring speech if I attempted to do so. Such gaps as there are in my information this evening I shall attempt to fill by correspondence after I have had time to ascertain the correct answers, since no others will satisfy.
The mere existence of all these documents, and the mere fact that the investigations have been carried out and so many reports have been made, is evidence enough that great concern is felt about the situation and great efforts are being made, first, to be precise about the need and, second, to be accurate in deciding what steps should be taken to meet it.
A survey was carried out in the schools in March last year. This showed that there were 5,100 people with honours degrees teaching mathematics in maintained schools, and 4,500 of these were in 2,600 maintained secondary schools with G.C.E. courses in mathematics or science. In these same 2,600 schools, there were at that time 250 163 vacancies for these teachers; that is to say, honours graduates to teach mathematics in maintained schools.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Noble.]
There were also in these same schools at that time 3,250 non-graduate specialists teaching to G.C.E. standards. These figures show that there is a very large number of honours graduates, the highest degree of skill that we can command, available to maintained schools in the country at the present time. The figure of 250 vacancies, and I think about the same number of posts said to be not satisfactorily filled, is a measure of the need that was visualised at that time in these schools.
One other factor that we have to take into account in considering the situation is that, of the honours mathematics graduates who come from our universities, two-thirds already go into the education system at some point. It may be that, taking into account all the various demands that there are in industry and in education in all its forms, the output of mathematics graduates is insufficient. Indeed, I suppose we must all accept that that is the case, but I am quite sure that the House will be with me if I suggest that for the education system as a whole to capture the services of two-thirds of those who are produced is a pretty high accomplishment, and one that would in present circumstances and in the foreseeable future be very difficult indeed to improve upon.
The question arises of the quality of the graduates who are now available in our maintained system. The Crowther Report drew attention to the quality of the graduates, drew certain conclusions from age-range tables which were published about that quality, and suggested that the evidence was that the quality of graduates available to the schools was declining. I wonder if closer examination of the figures, and the circumstances in which the figures were produced, bears out that conclusion. It is true that the older men in the higher age-range tended on average to have higher 164 academic qualifications than those in the middle range of the table, while the younger men at the other end of the table again had higher qualifications.
The reasons seem to me to be that in the years before the war, when it was difficult for honours graduates, as for others, to be completely free in the choice of profession which they would follow, they passed more readily into the teaching profession. In the years immediately after the end of the war, the industrial demand for this particular professional skill was enormously greater than could be satisfied by the output from the universities, and a larger proportion of skill was siphoned off into industry, particularly at a time, which we all recall, when the qualified men willing to go into certain types of industry were granted deferment and held deferment so long as they held certain types of industrial appointments.
For a time, teaching was not included in that bracket, and the figures shown in the graph reflect the preferential treatment accorded to industrial appointments. Then came the time when teaching also carried with it deferment for those particularly qualified men and women, and so the figures showed an improvement. Indeed, during the time when teaching did qualify a man for deferment, there was a net gain of about 500 honours graduates into the teaching profession. Since 1957 these people have been completely free to choose where they would serve, whether in industry or in the teaching profession, and we have continued to make a modest net gain.
I wonder whether in all our discussions we are completely fair to the products of the training colleges.
§ Mrs. White
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the other point. I wonder whether he has taken into account in any calculations of the future the fact that deferment from National Service will no longer play a part.
§ Mr. Thompson
I am first trying to deal with the position as I see it now. I then hope to come to what developments we can reasonably expect in the near future.
I was suggesting that perhaps we are not being completely fair to the products of the training colleges. It is difficult to be precise about the standard of qualification attained by both graduates and 165 non-graduates in their capacity to convey their speciality to the scholars and the students with whom they have to deal, but I am fairly certain that many who come from our training colleges are quite capable of teaching mathematical subjects, and some of the sciences, certainly to O level G.C.E. standard with a large measure of success; and that some of the brightest among them will be able to take these subjects at a much higher level and satisfy some part of the demand for teachers who can take students on to A level.
I hope very much that we will not lose sight of the fact that a very large part of the teaching of mathematics and of some of the sciences in our maintained schools is being done with very great success by those who have come through the training college courses into the profession.
§ Mr. Skeffington
I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary does not think that I suggested that there is anything wrong with the quality of the teachers from training colleges. What I was trying to get over was the fact that in women's colleges less than 4 per cent. take mathematics and that the teaching staff in mathematics is so small. If there are insufficient teaching staffs for mathematics it is bound to reflect on the number of teachers.
§ Mr. Thompson
I will refer to what we might hope for almost immediately.
Recognising the shortage and our anxiety to take steps to bridge the gap, the House is entitled to ask what we are doing and what we hope to do. Many of the present groups being taught to A level in our schools, particularly in the grammar schools, by the graduates who are already in service, are very small— for example, groups of five, six and eight in the grammar schools. As the numbers of students increase who come up to take up the A level course, much of that demand can be satisfied by increasing the size of some of the smallest of the groups.
A measure of the need can be met by the resources already available to us. At the same time, we are trying to entice, if that word has no unpleasant connotations, into the profession more and more graduates from the universities. As I say, we are getting a fairly large share at the moment, but another parallel pro- 166 cess is going on in that the universities themselves are increasing their output. If we maintain our proportion of two-thirds we will increase the number and if we can improve on the proportion we intend to do so.
My right hon. Friend has given his blessing and I think a vote of thanks to the Associations of Headmasters and of Headmistresses who have undertaken the job of visiting the universities and putting over as professional leaders themselves the attractions of a career in teaching. I took note of the hon. Member's statement that a man he knew had been tempted from the paths of righteousness by the offer of a salary three times that which he could get as a teacher. There is nothing we could do that would compete with that kind of reward.
It would be equally wrong for anyone to go away with the idea that the rewards of teaching are in self-satisfaction only. Salaries of teachers today are not the poor things that they were some years ago. The last improvements in the Burnham scales give a special weighting to these very kind of people whom we are seeking to draw into a profession which has its rewards as well as its satisfaction. I very much hope that the steps we are taking, with the help and collaboration of the vice-chancellors, will be enough to bring forward into the service of education a lot more of those who are trying to make up their minds where they should spend their working lives.
A booklet has been published, with which, I have no doubt, the hon. Member is familiar, entitled "A Career in Education for University Graduates", which sets out in attractive terms both the conditions in which the work will be done and estimates of the rewards that can be achieved by those who do well. There is no harm in our recognising that not everyone who goes into industry gets an enormous salary, even people who may be equipped with this kind of degree and qualification. There are those who make the middle way and those who do not do so well, just as there are in any career, not least in politics.
We would be wrong to compare the best that industry can do with the poorest that is available to those who do not do so well in education. Education today is quite capable of rewarding those who 167 do well commensurately with the degree of success that they achieve. I hope that tonight's debate will have done enough to highlight both the need that we recognise for these teachers and the warmth of the welcome that awaits them.
The hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) referred to the need to attract married women and gave me the impression that she thought we were simply using this as a faint appeal that would allow us to get out of a difficulty by making it one of the things that we said we were trying to do. I do not intend to enter into a debate about whether we should do something to alter the system of aggregation of tax or adopt some other device to make the resulting position more attractive to the other partner in a marriage in which two are working. This position is not special to teaching. It applies throughout all forms of work in which the man and the woman both earn a living, and increasing numbers do it today.
That is an exercise that the hon. Lady will be able to carry on with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, I have no doubt, will be able to give her good reasons either why he can or why he cannot meet her on this point. I could not help thinking that here was an opportunity for me to say something about the criticism of our tax system by hon. Members opposite in describing it as a disincentive, but perhaps I had better not raise the matter this evening since harmony has been the predominant note in our proceedings so far.
What I want to be repeated this evening and bruited abroad as far as it can be is that we need these married women to come back into teaching. The system of rewards is not negligible, even allowing for the tax system. The women themselves have the benefit of having been educated to perform this task. We would welcome them in the schools. Most of the schools would be willing to find ways of providing either part-time or full time for these teachers if they would be willing to do it. I very much hope that those who can do so will do so.
I have referred to the fact that increasing use is being made in our schools of the products of the training colleges. 168 There are many non-graduates taking mathematics and science in the schools to a quite high level and many more of them, in increasing numbers, coming from the training colleges. In 1956–57, there were in the training colleges 518 students taking mathematics as a main course. In 1959–60 that figure had risen to 854. Then, taking the supplementary year in mathematics, with which the House will be familiar, in 1956–57 the number was 97; in 1959–60 the figure had risen from 97 to 282, a very considerable increase. I am sure the House will be aware of the important effect which the three-year course is bound to have, which we are confident it will have, on those taking mathematics among their subjects, as a short specialist course, as well as other subjects. We believe that it will throw up both opportunities for more potential maths specialists and for the maths specialists themselves to take the subject to greater depth than would be possible in a two-year course.
We have produced this further booklet, "Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Schools", quite one of the best publications for which the Ministry is responsible, and I would very much hope that those who are in any way, however mildly, interested in teaching mathematics will get a copy and find out what wonderful and exciting possibilities there are in the secondary schools of today in teaching this subject.
Additionally the House should know, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be interested to know, that there are more refresher and short courses in mathematics promoted by the Ministry than there are in any other subject for which the Ministry runs this kind of course. The results can be seen in these figures. In 1954 there were 71,000 O level passes; in 1959 there were 106,000 O level passes from maintained secondary schools. In 1954 there were 13,000 A level passes; in 1959 the figure was 21,000, approximately a 50 per cent. increase in the output of successful students from the system.
So I think it may be said, without, I hope, laying myself open to the charge of complacency—I am sorry it was levelled at a time when the matter is being given so much thought in the Ministry—that 169 we recognise both the nature and the extent of the problem. We are very much aware that there are limits to what can be done to produce both mathematicians and scientists for the schools or any other purpose, but we are doing all that we can in all these various ways to try to close the gap between the need, which we 170 recognise, and the resources which are available. I very much hope that the House will feel that this matter, which is not yet solved, is, at any rate, engaging our urgent attention.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Adjourned accordingly at eighteen minutes past Ten o'clock.