HC Deb 21 January 1965 vol 705 cc413-541

3.55 p.m.

Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)

I beg to move, That this House, conscious of the need to raise educational standards at all levels, endorses the recommendation of the Newsom Report that it would be premature to attempt a reasoned judgment of comprehensive and other types of secondary education, urges Her Majesty's Government to discourage local authorities from adopting schemes of reorganisation at the expense of grammar schools and other existing schools of proved efficiency and value, and would deplore any proposal to impose a comprehensive system upon local authorities. My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) has undoubted Parliamentary and personal courage and I admire him for it, but I do not think that the usual channels, as he described them, and whatever they may be, were quite so much to blame for allotting today to the subject of this Motion and of the two proposed Amendments to it as he seems to think.

No one who, for instance, was present at Question Time today, or who has read the recent discussions in the Press or even the Motion, can doubt that we are discussing a most important subject—perhaps even a potentially explosive subject, since education in every free country is a potentially explosive subject. I think that discussion is one of the great means of relieving the tensions to which genuine differences of opinion give rise.

I saw in the Press that I was supposed to be moving a Motion of censure on the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Education and Science. I hope that he will not take it like that. In my opinion, Motions of censure relate to actions taken or not taken in the past. We are still, in this matter, at the stage of forming policy and if Parliament is not to be an elective dictatorship, but a means of forming policy as a result of reasoned arguments, then this is the time when we can all express our opinions both by voice and by vote without, I hope, giving undue offence to one another.

I will, if I may do so without presumption, make this observation: education has been explosive party politics in many countries in Europe—indeed, in our lifetime, although not recently, in our own as well. I do not believe that either the cause of education or the cause of party politics have ever really gained when that has been so.

One of the great services which my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) did to the public life of the country when, in the midst of the war, he was responsible for the passing of the Act which now forms the basis of our education service, was that, by the very diplomatic and wise way in which he handled the various conflicting opinions and interests, the educational service very largely proceeded for very many years on a bipartisan and all-party basis.

Although it is clear from the Order Paper that all three parties have committed their own views to paper, I would myself none the less hope that we can, by our discussion of our differences today, see how far we can reconcile those differences or, if we cannot reconcile them, find a way in which those differences can live together in what must, on any view, be a transitional period of British education—English education I fear, although I see with pleasure that the Secretary of State for Scotland is sitting beside the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

There are really four areas of potential disagreement raised by the Motion and the two proposed Amendments. The first is whether and to what extent it is desirable now to announce a national policy of secondary reorganization.

In a very remarkable speech on 27th November the right hon. Gentleman said that in his opinion the time had come to announce a national policy. The first thing, of course, is that we must be quite clear about what he means. If he means that it is his policy to coerce local authorities, to impose by means of compulsion on local authorities—whether they agree with him or not—a single unitary principle of reorganisation all over the country, then I think that he is undermining the whole philosophy of the Act of 1944 with which my right hon. Friend was associated. Indeed, he would be bringing back, I think, the bitterest political antagonism into the field of education.

As I understand it, the right hon. Gentleman has no power under existing legislation to do that. I was happy to note during Question Time—or I think that I noted—that he said nothing whatever in answer to two Questions put to him about the assumption of new legislative power. I hope that he will confirm that is so. I must also tell the right hon. Gentleman that I think he would be committing an almost equal error if, for instance, he used his power to approve or to disapprove building plans, or allocate money for building programmes, in order to bring in compulsion by the back door, when he knows that Parliament would not give him that power by direct means and he does not seek from Parliament the direct means of enforcing it.

Of course, the right hon. Gentleman may not have meant that. To announce a national policy is not necessarily to announce a policy of compulsion, but I must say, even so, to the right hon. Gentleman that, at any rate so far as I am concerned, I do not agree with him that the time has come to announce a national policy of secondary reorganisation, whether on the comprehensive principle or at all. I shall try to show to the House—I hope without wearying hon. Members—by quotation that the great weight of educational opinion, at any rate until recently, has been that the time has not come to announce such a policy. The Motion which I am proposing quotes words from the Newsom Report, which is only one of several examples of where that opinion has been expressed.

I would also say to the right hon. Gentleman that even if I held—which I do not—all the views in favour of comprehension that the right hon. Gentleman has himself expressed, I share the view hon. Gentlemen behind me expressed earlier today in saying that to proceed at this stage with comprehensive schemes before getting a definitive recommendation out of the Plowden Committee, and a definitive decision out of this House as to the age of transfer, would almost inevitably prejudice both the pattern of reorganisation when it takes place or, alternatively, the adoption of the ideal age of transfer when we decide upon it. A matter of this long-term policy is not, in my submission, one for which there is the smallest need for precipitance. What is needed is a right decision rather than a quick decision, or rather, a right series of decisions rather than a quick series of decisions.

The next area of disagreement is the present attitude of local authorities to existing schemes of reorganisation. The Government Amendment, which I understand the right hon. Gentleman is likely to propose, asks the House to view those efforts with approval. I want to make it clear that so far as I, and, I think, those who support the Motion are concerned, we do not, in the Motion, view those efforts with approval. Although it has been a matter of pride to successive Ministers of Education of the party to which I belong to allow a very wide measure of freedom and experimentation to local authorities—I see no reason why we should feel embarrassed or ashamed about that—at the same time I feel that many recent developments by local education authorities, particularly those in great centres of population in the country, have been unfortunate rather than fortunate in the last two years, and that what we have been facing is not a kind of purpose-designed comprehensive system, which the right hon. Gentleman advocated in his speech of 27th November, but a series of precipitate, makeshift proposals by individual local authorities, seeking to cram comprehensive schemes into a system which was designed for quite another purpose simply for the purpose of claiming to have achieved—as the phrase is—the abolition of the 11-plus.

In his speech on 27th November—

Mr. Charles Morris (Manchester, Openshaw)

What my right hon. Friend said on 27th November was: There is a great variety of method and of timing in what has already been done, and I fully accept that that must be so in the future."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 1784.] Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman withdraw?

Mr. Hogg

I do not see what I have to withdraw. I was quite well aware of what the right hon. Gentleman said and my experience of him as a debater leads me to believe that he will give a far more effective reply to me than the hon. Gentleman ever will be able to think of.

What I am saying to the right hon. Gentleman is that it is within the recollection of the House that he condemned, in words perhaps even more strong than those I have just employed, what he described as sham attempts to get a sham comprehensive system. I honour and respect the right hon. Gentleman for that outspoken statement, but I must tell him that to hon. Members on this side of the House there seems to be a marked divergence between the words which he bravely spoke on 27th November, about a sham system and sham proposals for reorganisation, and the approval with which, in the Amendment which he is to move, he asks the House to note what seems to us to be exactly the same set of evidence.

Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Colne Valley)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to local authorities engaged in actions for the reorganisation of secondary school education. He gives me the impression that these local authorities are engaged in the introduction of comprehensive education. The right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned no local authority by name, but I can tell him that one—Doncaster—is certainly engaged in reorganising education, not in an effort to introduce comprehensive provisions but to stave them off.

Mr. Hogg

If we are to discuss the 146 different plans of the 146 local education authorities, we are likely to lose sight of the wood for the trees.

The third area which I want to discuss is the position of the voluntary and direct grant schools. These are vitally affected by what the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do. Upon their position he has not yet, I think, fully declared himself. Therefore, I do not want in any way to impute to the right hon. Gentleman views that he does not hold. I would only say this to him, that I think it would be a grave breach of faith with the direct grant schools were he to use his financial powers over them to try to force them into a comprehensive mould.

I believe that if the right hon. Gentleman will go further into the administrative problems involved in such an exercise, he will see, also, that it is administratively impossible, although for a quite different set of reasons, I think that any attempt to compel the denominations into the same mould would lead them into difficulties and into positions which it is quite unfair to force them into. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to reassure us in due course upon this point.

Fourthly, I still think, despite all evidence to the contrary—and I admit that, in the light of what has been going on this afternoon, that is something of a paradox—that the elements of a bipartisan policy are still present if the right hon. Gentleman would choose to adopt it. In order that I may seek to develop that point and to indicate that the views which I and my right hon. and hon. Friends are putting forward are not simply the views of a party, may I, with respect, seek to quote from two or three passages—even though at some length—in documents of unimpeachably non-party authority in the educational world?

There is no doubt at all that both the Reports of the Central Advisory Council on Education—both the Crowther Report and the Newsom Report—which are relatively recent documents, express themselves in many ways in a sense contrary to, at any rate our understanding, of what the right hon. Gentleman meant. Crowther clearly indicated that there were four sets of situations—he enumerated them—in which, in his opinion, comprehension would be indicated in a local authority, in some of them alone, in some of them side by side with the more traditional pattern of schools. I accept that. There are many situations, he wrote, …in which a comprehensive school is a sensible way, perhaps the only sensible way, of meeting local needs.…There is in many districts no reason why one school should harm the other. Indeed, they may gain from being neighbours.…But there are other situations where a comprehensive school could only be established by doing harm to existing schools which are doing a very good job. He added: We cannot afford to lose any good school. whatever its classification. The conclusion to which the Crowther Report came was that at present the only sensible attitude to comprehensive schools 'seems to us to be a non-dogmatic one which neither condemns them unheard nor regards them as a prescription of universal application. This is certainly my attitude and I believe it is an attitude which commands a very great deal of respect, both in the party to which I belong and outside that party in the educational world.

It is fair to say that this was exactly the point of view stated by the Newsom Report, also a non-party document. It said: We agree with the first Chairman of the Central Advisory Council, Sir Fred Clark, who said that only after a diagnostic study of 20 years would it be possible to decide whether a particular structure of secondary education was likely to be beneficial. It is misleading to assess the success of secondary modern schools when they are still a long way from having had the period, with adequate resources, to achieve this purpose. It is, of course, even more premature to attempt a reasoned judgment on comprehensive and other types of secondary education. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State seems to have come to a different conclusion from that.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)

The right hon. Gentleman quotes the words of Sir Fred Clark. Could he give us the date on which they were made?

Mr. Hogg

The hon. Member is mistaken. What I was quoting from was the Newsom Committee, where it said that they accepted the words of Sir Fred Clark of an earlier date. The Newsom Report was only a year ago, Your Lordship. It is in the introduction on page XIV. I have been addressing the court recently. I will try to remember to say "Mr. Speaker" every time.

Then there was—this, I think, is also material—the very objective view contained in the memorandum submitted to the Secretary of State in October, 1964, by the National Union of Teachers and the Joint Four. While not express- ing a concluded view upon the whole subject—perhaps they thought it was outside their terms of reference—they gave some very shrewd and objective advice to any Secretary of State of any party as to how he should handle this matter. They say: The provision of availability of suitable buildings is obviously of great importance. Schemes which rely on improvisation or sketchy adaptation of existing buildings are unlikely to receive our support. The deployment of teaching staffs to the best educational advantage are of no less importance. Schemes which assume that school staffs recruited and trained for one purpose can readily adapt themselves to another would have to be examined very carefully before approval by members could be secured. It is, of course, accepted that frequently some compromise has to be reached between the administrative problems relating to the provision of buildings and the reasonable deployment of teaching staff. They went on: Neither the union nor the Joint Four could support schemes of reorganisation which disregarded local needs and aspirations; which hastily abandoned school units of proved success in meeting those needs; or which would be put into operation in inadequate or unsuitable accommodation. No scheme could be supported which did not offer able children as good an opportunity as they are now receiving; or which appeared to deny less able children the opportunities of developing their particular capabilities to the full; or which would take a final and irrevocable decision about the nature of the education a child is to receive at the age of 11 or even later. This appears to me to be the basis of a bipartisan policy which could well be adopted by any Secretary of State of any party without any loss of party dignity or loss of face.

There is only one other quotation which I would like to make and that is from the extremely able and statesmanlike speech of the Senior Chief Inspector of Schools to the Association of Headmasters, last year. It was made at Whitsuntide. In this speech, he said: The only thing I need to add is that not only are the friends of these innovations"— that is, in the context, various schemes of reorganization— almost wholly opposed, theoretically anyhow, to any measure of co-existence with the grammar schools in their present form, but that they are sometimes opposed to coexistence with one another. In such cases each wants to go the whole hog, in its own way, over the whole country. They cannot therefore claim tolerance as one of their aims even though they may and do claim democracy, equality, fraternity, efficiency and sometimes, it would seem, the millenium. It seems to me necessary that the innovators should tolerate each other. We don't want, at least I don't, a uniform national plan. What we do want is that each local plan shall be carefully thought out, discussed with the teachers, accepted by them, and operated in the interests of the whole local community without respect of social class, income groups, occupations or political affiliations.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Hogg

I hope that hon. Gentlemen will also cheer at the next part of this quotation, because I agree with both of them. He goes on: My second requirement is that the innovators should be willing to live at peace with such parts of the established system as give good value for money and are willing to adapt themselves to the requirements of an open society and a modern outlook. In other words, I personally see no reason at all why good grammar schools or technical schools or modern schools should be swept away to make room for something else that may be no better and might be worse. The good comprehensive school is not necessarily defeated or even seriously harmed by coexistence with good selective schools or good modern schools. I have seen the proof of this both at home and abroad. I can only say that I echo every word of that, and I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman replies he will be able, on reflection, to echo a great deal of it, too.

Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)

Was my right hon. and learned Friend quoting a statement by the inspector?

Mr. Hogg

A statement made by Mr. Percy Wilson, the Senior Chief Inspector of Schools, last year at Whitsun.

In his remarkable speech of 27th November the right hon. Gentleman said that the time had come to declare a national policy. When the right hon. Gentleman said we ought now to accept that the reorganisation of secondary education on comprehensive lines should be national policy, he seemed to complain that he would be treated as dogmatic, and he said that to treat him in this way would be to substitute abuse for criticism. Certainly, my very last desire is to abuse the right hon. Gentleman or to substitute abuse for criticism. But, having reread that speech, and admired it almost as much the second time as I did the first time, I still think that in the first of his two propositions the right hon. Gentleman was being more than a little dogmatic. It is, of course, difficult to know exactly what one means by dogmatism. By dogmatism I certainly mean a tendency to state in unqualified terms propositions for which there is not enough empirical evidence and which are certainly outside the general consensus of informed opinion on that particular subject.

I think that I have said enough to show that at any rate there is a contrast between both the content and the tone of the right hon. Gentleman's first proposition and the numerous considered statements from non-party sources which I have been quoting. I do not want to embark upon a discussion of particular schools which has been much canvassed in the Press during the Recess. After all, there are the parents and the children who are attending those schools to consider, and I think that our first duty is not to undermine either the authority of the teachers or the confidence of the parents in the educational institution which their children are attending.

I therefore say only this: if one looks at the evidence in the matter, the case for the comprehensive school as it exists at the moment, on the basis of, in some cases, 10 or more years of experience, is not indisputable. It is something which is still open to dispute. I must say to the right hon. Gentleman that, I at any rate, do not accept all the advantages claimed for the comprehensive school, at any rate in its classical form. The comprehensive school is said to favour the ordinary boy or girl. If that were established it might not be a conclusive argument in its favour but I would accept it as an important argument in its favour. Indeed, I would underline what the right hon. Gentleman said in his speech, which we all remember, during the debate on the Address—that our civilisation will very largely be judged not only on the level of achievement of our gifted children, but on the level of achievement which we obtain with our ordinary boys or girls.

But I do not believe that it is necessarily in the interest of the ordinary boy or girl to be sent at the age of 11 to a unit of 2,000 pupils, and I do not believe that it is possible to run—I know that this is disputed—a comprehensive school with an age of transfer at 11, and carrying on a viable sixth form, at very much less. That is my belief. I do not think that units of this size are inherently desirable either in the interests of the gifted or in the interests of the ordinary boy and girl. I believe that a school of much smaller size is much nearer the optimum, and I believe that this is particularly true of the ordinary boy and girl.

Mr. Henry Solomons (Kingston upon Hull, North)


Mr. Hogg

I have given way many times and I am anxious not to detain the House. I am usually willing to give way, but perhaps I have been overdoing it a bit.

Most of us would, I think, accept that extra-curricula activities are almost as important as the curriculum. Ordinary boys and girls are helped and not damaged by relatively small units. It is to the advantage of ordinary boys or girls that they can hope during the course of their secondary education at their school to manage to rise somewhere near the top and to hold positions of authority and responsibility inside the school, which trains them for responsibility and authority in the outside world. They are very much less likely to get it in units of 2,000 or more, when they are brigaded together with a number of boys and girls who may be academically much quicker and academically much more advanced.

I am a little sorry that both on 27th November and this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman suggested that we on this side of the House had nothing to say in favour of the secondary modern school. Let me assure the right hon. Gentleman that he is wrong about that. I know that it is not true of myself and I know that it is not true of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle).

It is not a coincidence that so many of those who have spoken from the other side of the House have spoken with legitimate pride of their relations with grammar schools, which has tended to make them underestimate both the purpose and the achievement of the good secondary modern schools. It is true that no one defends a secondary modern school which is put in old buildings, in an old all-age school. Nobody defends a secondary modern school which has no wide availability of O-level courses inside the school. But more than half the secondary modern schools have such courses and the number is increasing.

I can assure hon. Members opposite that if they would go to study what is now being done in good secondary modern schools, they would not find a lot of pupils biting their nails in frustration because they had failed the 11-plus. The pleasant noise of banging metal and sawing wood would greet their ears and a smell of cooking with rather expensive cooking equipment would come out of the front door to greet them. They would find that these boys and girls were getting an education tailor-made to their desires, their bents and their requirements. They would find that the best of them were getting their O-levels with the equivalent degree of skill and ability of those who had been selected for grammar school education.

I am not prepared to admit that the party opposite has done a good service to education, or to the children of this country, by attacking that form of school, or seeking to denigrate it. Nor do I by any means accept the right hon. Gentleman's definition of the existing pattern as what he called separatist. In a sense, all schools are separatist. They are small communities of boys and girls, but the difference between the comprehensive and the present pattern is that the comprehensive school tends to separate on area only, and this does not necessarily get a good range of social representation inside the school.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)

Like Eton.

Mr. Hogg

This is a serious debate and I hope that it will be treated so.

For instance, if all the children in a highly-rated area like Bromley, for instance, are brought into a neighbourhood school I do not believe that the purpose of social democracy is served better than by sending them from a wide area of a great conurbation, with all the advantages of modern traffic communication, as happens at the moment, to a wide variety of schools. At the other end of the town there may be another low-rated area so that in another area school and comprehensive catchment area exactly the same thing happens. On the contrary, so far from achieving a wide range of social representation, one would be achieving the very opposite by forcing a comprehensive pattern.

As we well know, we are not discussing only the purpose-designed comprehensive systems of the educational theorists. We are also considering a number of existing plans by existing local authorities. I do not want to go too much into detail about individual authorities. Some proposals are, or will be, before the Minister and the Minister would not wish to discuss them even in the House in any detail. I will only quote not my own opinion, but the opinion of The Times Educational Supplement about the plan put forward by the Liverpool education authority: The Liverpool decision this year to go totally comprehensive at breakneck speed illustrates how ignorant crusaders can be even of the history of their own crusade. If London experience showed anything, it was that the expedient of linking two schools, not next door to one another, in one comprehensive organization, while you were putting up a new building, did not work. It was better, so it was said at the time, to wait until you had the new building. But Liverpool has learnt nothing from this. They will go comprehensive higgledy piggledy, pairing separate schools in gay abandon. First confusion, then more money for more new buildings; it does not seem an ideal use of resources. Manchester has had four successive schemes. The first three are already scrapped. All of them involved all these disadvantages—the brigading together of different schools in different school buildings under a single headmaster and pretending that thereby a single comprehensive school had been achieved. In one of the schemes there were as many as five schools joined together in this way. Each time a new scheme has been promulgated, the parents of the district have had greater and greater anxiety about the future of their children.

I will not go any further, because in principle all the schemes tend to show the same defects of hasty preparation, absence of adequate consultation and a desire to prefer a makeshift system, a sham comprehensive system to the genuine. I only wish that all the local authorities controlled by the Labour Party would take to heart the right hon. Gentleman's own words, which I now quote: …I would reject any plan for educational reorganisation which imagined that it had become meritorious merely because it had abolished separatism, but, whether by undue haste or inept choice of method, had done it in a way that merely abolished separatism without having created schools that would give the variety of courses that a number of children require. I would rather wait a bit for a good comprehensive system than to push a sham version in its place."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th Nov., 1964; Vol. 702, c. 1786.] I endorse every word of that, but I note with alarm that instead of standing up to his brave words, the right hon. Gentleman has signed the Amendment which notes the efforts of those local authorities with approval.

There are two further arguments which the House would not wish to leave out of account. The first is the position of the voluntary aided schools, whether denominational, direct grant or in some other category. The denominational schools have always been a question for both parties in the House. For many years—and I hope that we shall continue—we have taken denominationalism out of the sphere of party politics. I do not think that either party would gain from reintroducing it. It is very much to the credit of both parties that they have succeeded in keeping it out of politics. In making this quotation from Archbishop Beck, I am not seeking in any way to make a party point. Both sides have to face this issue. Obviously, the denominational voluntary schools and the voluntary schools which are not denominational will be profoundly altered in their prospects and in their position by what the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do.

Archbishop Beck said: Hitherto, the Roman Catholic boys in Oldham and Rochdale who have qualified for grammar school education have been able to take up places in the four-form entry Cardinal Langley Grammar School at Middleton, which is within the area of the Lancashire County. Under the new proposals these boys would be debarred from attending the Cardinal Langley School and would be expected to attend either a comprehensive school in Oldham or junior and senior high schools in Rochdale. The alternatives available to the more highly qualified boys could not compare with what they are now offered at the Cardinal Langley School.…The problem illustrated by the Oldham. Rochdale, Lancashire situation illustrates the general problem confronting the denominational schools. While wishing to co-operate with the plans proposed by the local education authorities, the diocesan authorities are unwilling to provide weaker and less satisfactory alternatives to children than they are at present able to offer. He went on: The diocesan authorities and the promoters of voluntary schools are naturally loath to commit themselves to a pattern of secondary education which has no guarantee of permanence. They would prefer to maintain the present tripartite organisation until they are convinced that the 'comprehensive' pattern has such outstanding advantages as to justify its introduction, even at considerable financial cost. In general, therefore, the diocesan authorities and the voluntary bodies are anxious that no precipitate decisions should be made before the question of secondary school reorganisation has received much more careful study. This is a situation in which hasty decisions may do incalculable harm and where from both the educational and the financial points of view delays and careful reconsideration may well be in the interests of all who are concerned with providing our boys and girls with the best possible pattern of both primary and secondary education. I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman not to force the voluntary schools, whether they be denominational or otherwise, into a pattern which perhaps does not correspond with their needs or with their desires, or with the educational convictions of their leading authorities, especially bearing in mind that, whether one likes them or not, their congregations have contributed really spectacular sums of their own money in assisting in the education of their children according to their deepest convictions.

I would say only this about the direct grant schools. There was certainly a clear understanding at the time of the Education Act that they should retain control over their own entry. I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not seek to abolish these schools or their special status, or bully or bribe them into abandoning the position which they negotiated with the authorities under the Education Act. They serve an extremely useful purpose. They probably cover a wider social range than any other—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and some of them are among the leading educational institutions of the free world. I should regard it as a crime if they were allowed to die.

I believe that the tragedy of all this is that there still exists, and can exist, the basis of a bipartisan policy. It is not a party policy for which I am asking. It involves no more than an acceptance of the position which I endeavoured to outline at the beginning of my speech by quoting from the two Reports of the Central Advisory Council and from the Senior Chief Inspector and from the Joint Four Secondary Organisations. I am simply not prepared to accept the view that a system of selection at 11 is the ultimate evil.

I am prepared to admit, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Handsworth has admitted in the past, all the disadvantages of the original 11-plus written examination. But I am not prepared to believe that assessment at 11 years of age, humanely and wisely undertaken—though it may well be that 11 is not the ideal age—made with a reasonable degree of flexibility, is inherently so bad that it justifies throwing into confusion plans of proved worth or depriving teachers of objective tests of pupils' ability.

I believe that were it not for a doctrinaire approach a bipartisan policy would develop itself quite naturally. I saw the seeds of it before I left office, and I believe that if the Secretary of State spent a little more time on the subject before making up his mind he would see them, too. I can see the grammar schools quite naturally desiring to cater for a wider range of ability than the most selective of them do. I can see secondary modern schools developing O-level courses as the natural achievements of their top form. I can imagine, though I do not wish to anticipate it, the Plowden Report in the year after next recommending or at least countenancing a transfer age of 13 and thereby making even comprehension much more easy. I can imagine, as in my constituency, three schools of different kinds—comprehensive, modern and grammar school—in a single urban area each making use of the transport facilities available.

I cannot imagine, nor do I wish to see, unanimity on this issue. But I can imagine and I do desire to see the sting taken out of the lack of the unanimity which most certainly exists. I am convinced that that could be done if there were a tacit agreement between the parties at national and local level to show a little more tolerance, humanity and common sense and to use their legal powers to discourage the makeshift and the doctrinaire and not to use them, or better still not to take legal powers, to coerce those who on respectable educational grounds prefer to differ from the party for the time being in power.

I have only one other thing to say, and it is a personal thing. Hon. Members opposite are constantly trying to twit Members of the House of Commons—though why they do not twit members of their own Front Bench I do not know—because some of us send our children to independent schools. Personally. I prefer to be independent. But if the right hon. Gentleman is sincere, as I know he is, in his desire, as I am sincere in my desire, to create a varied and truly comprehensive system of education—not in the sense which we have been discussing, but in the sense in which it is used in Section 1 of the Act—he will find it a very great deal easier if he persuades the parents who wish to send their children to selective schools that there are selective schools of adequate quality to which they can send them.

It is all very well to say—and I agree with the Secretary of State when he says it—that we shall be judged by the general level of education which we administer to our population in the coming years. But a democracy cannot afford to lower its academic standards. It cannot afford to neglect its gifted children. It must give them the best, because a democracy which despises the gifted as egg-heads is a democracy which has abdicated to dictatorship.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Dr. Horace King)

I am asked by Mr. Speaker to announce that he has selected the Amendment in the names of the Prime Minister and some of his right hon. Friends, and that the Amendment in the names of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and his hon. Friends is not selected.

4.48 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Michael Stewart)

I beg to move, to leave out from "levels" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: and regretting that the realisation of this objective is impeded by the separation of children into different types of secondary schools, notes with approval the efforts of local authorities to reorganise secondary education on comprehensive lines which will preserve all that is valuable in grammar school education for those children who now receive it and make it available to more children; recognises that the method and timing of such re-organisation should vary to meet local needs; and believes that the time is now ripe for a declaration of national policy". I think that I should say at the outset that this is a Supply day and that the choice of subject rests with the Opposition. I make that point because people, in writing and speaking about the topic which we are discussing, have sometimes tried to reproach those of us who hold the view which is held on this side of the House in these terms, "Why do you talk about this? Why do you not rather talk about the many other major aspects of education policy on which so much remains to be done?" I want to make it clear that we in the Labour Party do not regard this as by any means the only important reform in education which needs to be carried through. The greatest part of the education problem remains a quantitative one.

May I quote from the statement of policy of our party, published some years ago: The chief thing wrong with English education is that there is not enough of it. I regard the subject which we are debating as one of the important issues, though only one.

Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)

What is the date of that quotation?

Mr. Stewart

It is from the document "Learning to Live", published in 1958. I was making it clear that this is the view which we have held for some time. The statement that "there is not enough of it" is still true, and I trust that hon. Members opposite will not dispute that.

Sir E. Boyle

I was thinking, as the right hon. Gentleman made that quotation, that the proportion of the national product devoted to education had risen by about 50 per cent. since that statement was made.

Mr. Stewart

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the number of people of the age at which statutorily we have to provide education for them has also risen. I have made the point to make it clear that if anyone criticises the House for giving priority to this subject, the House is doing so at the deliberate choice of the Opposition. I do not complain of that. If they choose the subject, we will deal with it. It is their choice.

Had the Opposition wanted to have a day on education, they might, for example, have chosen the subject of school buildings. This Government have provided the House with material for such a debate instead of concealing it from the House and the country, as the last Government did. Or the Opposition might very properly have wanted to debate teacher shortage. Lord Eccles, whose disastrous decision not to take steps to deal with this in 1956 is largely responsible for our present situation, is not here with us now and would not be embarrassed by such a decision. I merely make these points to establish that the subject which are debating today, although unquestionably an important issue, is only one of the educational issues. As I say, we are debating it because it is the choice of the Opposition.

The real subject which we are debating is the one which the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) approached at the end of his speech. We are debating whether it is a good thing to have a separatist system of secondary education. That, at bottom, is what it is all about.

The House will, I am sure, understand what is meant by separatist: a system based on the principle that when children are about 10½ years old, one endeavours by some means or other—in my judgment, what means are used is a minor question—to decide, "This is a child of one type with a certain character, capacity and career ahead of it, and this is a child of another type with very different capacities and career ahead of it"; and the children are then put into schools designed to cater for that type and that type only. That is what separatism means. That is what still, in the main, prevails, although it is now—I understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman rather to regret this—rather blurred at the edges. That, however, is the nature of the separatist system.

I want to quote from an important authority on the merits or demerits of that central principle of separatism: It is no longer necessary to amass examples of children who fail to get to grammar school at 11 and who later make good. The serious weaknesses of selection at 11 are now acknowledged. There is nothing to be said in favour of a system which submits children at the age of 11 to a competitive examination on which, not only their future schooling but their future careers may depend. That comes from a document called "Educational Reconstruction", published as a Government White Paper in 1943. I am very happy to see with us the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), who was then Minister of Education. Indeed, at one time I rather hoped that he would be taking part in this debate.

Surely, here is a possible beginning of the bipartisan policy for which the right hon. and learned Gentleman asked. If he would begin at least by stating that he rejects the principle of separatism, there might be a possibility of getting towards the bipartisan goal that he has in mind.

But it is not only the principle of separatism: it is the deplorable practice of it. I shall quote now from a document known to those who follow these matters as List 69, which records the varying proportions of grammar school places available in different local authorities. Among English county boroughs, it ranges from an authority where one finds only 8 per cent. of the children able to get into a grammar school to an authority where 34 per cent. are able to get in. The range among English counties is from 13 to 29 per cent. Over England and Wales as a whole, the range is from 8 to over 40 per cent.

That means that we have a separatist system condemned in principle in a Government White Paper over 20 years ago and working in practice in a way that says, "We not only separate the children, but we do it in a way where your chance of being regarded as what is called a grammar kind of child is five times as great in one local authority as it is in another, or a situation in which your chance of being regarded as a grammar type child is much greater in the same authority if you happen to be of one sex rather than the other." The right hon. and learned Gentleman said not a word about these notorious difficulties of the 11-plus.

Furthermore, we had a document more recently from the last Government called "Secondary Education: A New Drive", which asserted again that it was wrong to make irrevocable decisions at the age of 11 and went on to say that the idea that that could be remedied by later transfer of the children from one school to another was an illusion. Having got that far, however, it did not go any further.

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman earnestly seeks a bipartisan policy, I suggest Whim that he and his hon. Friends should pronounce and genuinely mean the rejection of separatism. They must understand what is involved in that. The rejection of separatism means that in time—and in pursuit of agreement I will go a very long way over the question of timing and method—we will not have schools whose entry is based upon selection and presumed judgment of a child's abilities at the age of 11.

The trouble is that when that proposition is set forward, hon. Members opposite immediately say, "Oh, you are destroying a good school." Some of them take the view that the virtue of the school consists in its having a selective basis. Unless they are prepared to move further than that, it is idle for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to try to talk of an agreed policy.

I listened most carefully as the right hon. and learned Gentleman sought, it seemed, to woo me, but he did not seem to be quite certain what kind of wooer he was. Was he going to play Romeo, or was he going to play Petruccio?

Sir E. Boyle

I apologise for this Falstaffian interruption, but I do so purely for accuracy. Did I hear the Secretary of State say that his concept of rejecting separatism was not taking a final judgment of a child's ability at the age of 11? If that is what he said, I think that the prospects of bipartisanship are greater.

Mr. Stewart

Then let us try to build on that basis, although some of the things that the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone said about the virtues of a separatist school do not quite square with what has been said now. I do not doubt that before the debate is over, we shall get a number of very different views from hon. Members opposite.

There are really two main problems here. One is a declaration of general principle that we genuinely want to get away from separatism and not say, "We will do it in a few rural areas, but if we have a school where there happen to be people who are extremely vocal to keep it on a selective basis we shall always let them have their own way." If that is what they say, it is a sham for hon. Member opposite to suggest that they are rejecting separatism. There is that question, the main question of separatism or not.

Secondly, there is the more elaborate question of methods, timing, and the road towards the transformation, all problems of transition. The trouble with the right hon. Gentleman's wooing was that he would not be clear on whether he really rejected separatism in principle, and his catalogue of all the efforts that have been made to get away with it was practically to condemn the lot of them.

If he is not going to give way on either general principle, and if he is going to reject and sneer at every attempt made by local authorities to move away from separatism, how can he say that he is trying to search for agreement? I think that it is still possible that agreement might be obtained, but he will have to examine his own position a good deal more closely.

I have stressed these evils of the separatist system, these grotesque injustices, without rhyme or reason, between areas, and between sexes, and the fundamental absurdity of thinking that one can make a right judgment at this age, because I was implored so often to wait a very long time before doing anything, to wait until there had been some final pronouncement by somebody. But while we wait, these injustices, this waste of talent, goes on all the time. There must be some limit to the time which we can wait, the time which we can consult.

I invite the House to consider the terms of the Motion moved by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It begins by being conscious of the need to raise educational standards at all levels… If I may say so, everyone has been conscious of that for quite a long time, but we feel that what we are proposing has a direct relevance to that.

I understand that both the right hon. and learned Gentleman and I have received a letter from Dr. Pedley, who has made a considerable study of this problem, and I do not see why, in studying this problem, we should confine ourselves to official reports and documents. The studies of private scholars in this field are also important. Admittedly, as he says, this is a provisional picture and not a definitive one, but he goes on to indicate that when we have had a fuller study of those schools which are fully comprehensive, instead of what he calls "creamed" comprehensive, it is likely to trend still further in the direction that his argument already goes.

He says: My information is limited entirely to G.C.E. examination results. That is, he is using that criterion, and that criterion alone, but it is quite a useful one when we are considering educational standards. He goes on to say: The fact that fully comprehensive schools do better in this sphere than local authority schools taken as a whole does not tell us any more than that they give more children a chance to take suitable subjects in G.C.E. It does not mean that the teaching given in these schools is any better or any worse than that in grammar or secondary modern schools. No one would claim that the quality of the teaching was necessarily better. That is a matter of the individual teacher. If we were to divide children up at the age of 11 according to the colour of their hair, I do not doubt that we would still find heroic teachers who would make the best within a fantastic system like that.

The significant thing is that without making any such claim about the teaching, it remains the case that the comprehensive school gives more children a chance to take suitable subjects in the G.C.E. That is to say, by raising the standards, it does the first thing which the Opposition Motion is concerned to do. This is a vital thing to do, because the kind of advance in education which I think the country particularly needs is to take people who may not become brilliant people whose names will be remembered in history, but who have an enormous fund of capability and talent which is not now properly developed. The party opposite has read the Newsom Report. That, particularly, is one of the lessons which they ought to have got out of it.

. It is because there is growing evidence that if we can get away from separatism we can open the door to more and more people that our case is strengthened, and I find in a recent issue of the periodical "The New Society" a further piling up of evidence on this point. I do not argue about educational standards measured by examination. They are important, and they are what part of the Opposition Motion has in mind, but if hon. Members opposite study what is written there they will see again that to get away from separatism and towards the comprehensive principle is the way in which we can increase the number of children who can get these qualifications.

Next, the Motion goes on to pray in aid the Newsom Report. We will not fuss too much over the fact that the Opposition call the thing a recommendation, when, in fact, it is only an obiter dictum in the Introduction to the Report. Indeed, the Newsom Committee was not particularly required to study this subject, and it took the view that there were other things more important than studying it. I understand that view, though I do not share it.

Let us move on to the actual recommendations. Whoever drafted the Motion got as far as page xiv of the Newsom Report. Let us just run over to page xvi. Then, and then only, comes the list of principal recommendations. Recommendation 11, on page xvii, says: The Ministry in conjunction with local education authorities should arrange an experimental building programme, to try out different forms of school organisation and teaching methods in buildings designed for the purpose; at least one such experiment might be run in conjunction with a teachers' training college. The Report was presented in 1963. At what stage did the Oppósition, who were then the Government, begin to act on that recommendation? If there were the really wholehearted, earnest, bipartisan attitude which the right hon. Gentleman wants to suggest there is, this recommendation surely would have been seized on by them. This could have been done without prejudice to the issue at all. I cannot accept this Motion which digs a bit out of the Introduction, calls it a recommendation, and comes from a party which has shown so little interest in the real recommendations of the Newsom Report.

After all, what is the quotation? It implies that we ought to wait 20 years before making up our minds. This seems illustrative of the difference of approach that one must have between a Committee like this and people who actually have to conduct Government policy. We all know—unless one is going to pack one's committee and discredit it—that if one appoints a number of eminent people in a particular field they will inescapably give an undogmatic conclusion on any matter which is merely a matter of argument, because if they did not they could not possibly produce a unanimous report. These committees often take the view, and I think rightly so, that it is probably more useful for them to tackle and make recommendations on all those things on which they can be unanimous, and deliberately avoid those on which they cannot.

If we accept that view, it means that we are to say forever that we must wait 20 years before we can make up our minds whether secondary comprehensive schools, or as a matter of fact, secondary modern schools, are good or not. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was singing a paean of praise for secondary schools. Does not he realise that this passage in the Newsom Report says that he ought not to pronounce opinions like that until 1983?

What did the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) say about this? Addressing the Conference of the Association of Education Committees, in 1963, he said: We shall be in a much better position to reach something like definite conclusions about the optimum future pattern of secondary school organisation in two or three years' time than we can hope to be at the moment. That was in 1963. Time is marching on. It will not be long before the right hon. and learned Gentleman, according to his own statement, will be prepared to give an opinion. He may feel that we are being a little premature, but in view of his statement he cannot accuse us of being all that premature. At any rate, he is a two-year man and not a 20-year man.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

We have had the right hon. Gentleman's comments about page xiv of the Newsom Report. Would it be appropriate for the right hon. Gentleman to give us his comments on the remarks of the senior inspector, which run alongside?

Mr. Stewart

Certainly. Why should not the senior inspector express a view? Hon. Members opposite might care to read the many features in the extremely useful document produced by the National Union of Teachers on this matter, or the earlier book produced by the Association of Education Committees. Many of the features contained in that book were written by people with great experience and knowledge, and they come down very heavily in favour of the view held on this side of the House.

I am not pretending that everyone is agreed on this matter. We know quite well—and if we did not know, the last leading article in The Times on the subject has made it clear for us—that social implications are bound up with this matter, unfortunately. Therefore, we are not likely to get a unanimous opinion. The only reason why I was bringing the Newsom Report into the argument is that it is referred to in the Motion.

Mr. Christopher Chataway (Lewisham, North)

Since the right hon. Gentleman has accused us of not implementing Recommendation 11 of the Newsom Report, perhaps he will read on and tell us what is contained in the chapter which deals with Recommendation 11. It says: Fortunately, the Development Group of the Ministry's Architects and Building Branch were already thinking along similar lines, and we are grateful to the Ministry for making available to us the Diagrams and Comment which follow. That shows that the recommendation refers to something which had already started by the time the Report came out.

Mr. Stewart

It refers to the provision of diagrams and comment. Can the hon. Member say where this experiment was carried out?

Mr. Chataway

I think that the right hon. Gentleman will find that it refers to London and also to Oxford. If the right hon. Gentleman inquires from his Department he will be able to find out.

Mr. Stewart

I shall find out that we start off with a purpose-designed building in the experimental form recommended by Newsom. I am delighted to hear that the Architects and Buildings Branch in that special unit, which was inspired by the work of the late George Tomlinson, has proved so useful.

Next, the Motion asks us to discourage local authorities from adopting schemes of reorganisation at the expense of grammar schools and other existing schools… Surely, the moment the party opposite says "at the expense of", it is begging the whole question. We all agree—as I said very plainly in November—that a scheme of reorganisation which is carried out at the expense of the children's education is not one that I would accept. The point that is legitimately regarded as a field of argument is the question: what can we do to reorganise, and at what rate must we do so, if we are to progress purposefully towards our goal without doing damage to the children on the way?

I believe that this can be done; the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not seem to think that it could be. He was very contemptuous of all the efforts that we made. If it is shown that a scheme of reorganisation is being carried out at the expense of schools, we would reject it. To say that we discourage that is not adding to knowledge at all. As I said at Question Time, I welcome the addition of the words "other schools" besides grammar schools. If I had got the impression, hitherto, that hon. Members opposite were greatly concerned about grammar schools and thought about secondary modern schools only as an afterthought, whose fault was that? I did not draft the Motion on 27th November. It is within the recollection of the House how the argument was couched. However, I see that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has been visiting secondary modern schools, and that they were full of hewers of wood and bangers of metal.

Mr. Alan Hopkins (Bristol, North- East)

The Motion of 27th November, to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, was drafted by me and stood in my name. It referred to grammar schools, but I made it clear at all times that hon. Members on this side of the House felt as much interest in secondary modern schools as in grammar schools. I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not attempt to pour cold water on the very sincere feeling that exists on the matter on this side of the House.

Mr. Stewart

If that is really so, for the life of me I still cannot understand why the hon. Gentleman did not make that clear in his Motion and his first statement, when his name was drawn out of the hat.

I have never poured cold water on the feelings of many people—and not only hon. Members opposite—for the grammar schools. If we take a school to which old pupils look back with affection—a school to which the staff is deeply attached—and propose a major change in its function or constitution, there are bound to be worries, anxieties and heartburnings. I have never disputed the sincerity of the feelings of those people. But we must say to every-one who feels like that, "Remember that the ultimate unit that you are thinking about in education is the child, and not the school, and that institutions must change if the children's needs are to be met."

As for the hewers of wood and bangers of metal, I know that it is proper to provide a more manual content to education for some people than for others, but I am always a little suspicious when I hear a secondary modern school described, at first blush, as if this was its main feature. I see the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) shaking his head. I am sure that he does not take that view. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman took that view.

Mr. Hogg

The right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong about that and should not make a point which is wholly unjust to my argument. My argument about secondary modern schools is that all of them should do what more than half of them do at the moment, namely, provide an adequate number of O-level courses. All that I was saying, in the context to which the right hon. Gentleman was referring, was that we do not find a lot of miserable children biting their fingernails because they have failed the 11-plus; we find them enjoying themselves.

Mr. Stewart

I accept the need for O-level courses, but does the right hon. and learned Gentleman remember what proportion of secondary modern children take O-level courses? The national average is only about 10 per cent. That means that we have still a long way to go. If this is what is regarded as the future development of the secondary modern school, we are really saying, "We want to make the secondary modern school more like the grammar school in its range of studies and the opportunities it offers." Then we are bound to ask ourselves: what is the point of going all through this 11-plus business in order to put the children into different schools, only to say, afterwards, "We will put it right by making the two kinds of school as like each other as possible?" Hon. Members opposite must think out the implications of the argument.

It is with rising standards and with the prevention of damage to the chances of children now in school that I am concerned. That was why I stated our policy in the terms I did in November. I wish, without tedious repetition, to emphasise that I believe, for the many reasons I have mentioned on more than one occasion, that separatism is wrong. The damage to primary education, the fallibility and arbitrariness of the 11-plus, the holding hack of many children from fulfilling and developing their abilities in the way they really could, the depriving of the nation of a proper number of people of well-trained talents and the general poisoning of the educational atmosphere by encouraging children at an early age to concentrate more on their differences than on their common humanity—because of all these things the Opposition ought at least to say, "We will get to work and get away from separatism. We will accept the comprehensive principle".

If we went as far as that together I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he would find my hon. Friends and I fully conscious of all the difficulties and concessions that must be made. I believe that many of those difficulties would fall into proper perspective if there were an acceptance of the principle at the start. I am afraid that, because of the way the argument is conducted now, there is a tendency in many quarters to hunt around all the time for as many local, particular difficulties as can be found as a way of dodging acceptance of the general principle.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman rather fell into that error, because every comment he made about schemes which local authorities had introduced was contemptuous. He should think twice, because he and his right hon. Friends have approved some of them. I mentioned one at Question Time, earlier, an example from my constituency; a school in widely separated buildings. There are a great many defects about it, although it is working well for this reason. If those schools had been separate, neither of them would have been of a size to provide the variety of courses that can be provided in a larger school, even if it has the defect of separate buildings.

In every case, when a local authority puts forward plans, a whole string of questions are asked. Are they separated buildings? How widely are they separated? Will you be able properly to staff the children in one building and another? What range of courses is offered? If you do not make the reorganisation, what narrowing of opportunity may there be? The answers are not the same for every local authority.

What I could not accept from the right hon. and learned Gentleman was his contemptuous dismissal of any solution not involving completely new purpose-building from the start as a makeshift and unsatisfactory solution. It is not a judgment that is in line with his own actions and the actions of his predecessors when they were in office.

On the question of need for local variation, I stress again that this is a reason why local authorities, when they are preparing plans, should have consultations with parents and teachers. I have found out that in a number of cases some, though not all, of the criticisms made of local authorities for not doing so have not been well founded. Sometimes the course of events is this. To consult, one must at least have a draft plan for consulting. The draft plan begins to be prepared in the offices of the local authority. Sometimes, before intended, news of it gets abroad and it is then represented as a final plan which the authority is trying to impose on teachers and parents without consultation. I urge hon. Members, when they hear accusations of lack of consultation, to remember that these are sometimes, I do not say always, not well founded.

On the question of makeshift schemes the hon. and learned Gentleman quoted in aid what The Times Educational Supplement had said about experience in London, or was it Liverpool?

Mr. Hogg

We must get this right. It was discussing the Liverpool plan. It said, during the course of the discussion of the Liverpool plan, that a lesson was to be learned from London.

Mr. Stewart

Exactly, but the lesson to be learned from London, it said, was that if one does this thing, separate or old buildings did work badly. We must go to sounder authorities than The Times Educational Supplement if we want wisdom in this matter.

Next, the Motion deplores any proposal to impose a comprehensive system on local authorities. Really! This, from the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the party opposite. Miss Florence Horsbrugh, as she then was, actually invited parents to send to her their objections so that she could have an opportunity of turning down a scheme—announcing in advance, in fact, the conclusion she was to come to on what some people would have regarded as a quasi-judicial operation.

What about the question of the enlargement of the school at Tooting Bec? There was the most sound advice, as subsequent experience has suggested. Then the repeated attempts by some hon. Members opposite to suggest that I should use exceptional powers to interfere with the City of Bristol. As for the right hon. and learned Gentleman saying that I should not use building programmes to influence policy, the L.C.C. was hampered a great deal in its attempt to develop comprehensive schools by the fact that it had to struggle with Ministers who did not agree with the principle and who made the planning of the buildings as difficult as possible.

I do not say that this is an example to be followed, but I do say this. Let the Opposition consider how they apply the principle of local liberty. They say that it would be wrong for me in any circumstances whatever to say to a local authority, "You must prepare a plan for comprehensive reorganisation", but they do not work the principle the other way round. They have repeatedly when local authorities wanted to go further on this line stopped them doing so. In other words, they interpret the principle of local liberty to mean that if a local authority wants things to stay as they are, it is to be left free to do so, but that if it wants to change the extent of the change must be controlled from the centre. I can understand Conservative policy taking this view; that it should be made easy to maintain what one already has but difficult to make a change. However, one cannot really say, when advancing that proposition, that one is laying the foundations of a bipartisan policy.

Mr. Hogg

The right hon. Gentleman has twitted me or my predecessors about giving approval to schools in separate buildings in his constituency, on a principle which, frankly, I do not like. One can say, and say with legitimacy, that when one approves that kind of thing from the centre one is laying the foundations of a bipartisan policy. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will show himself as liberal-minded as did my predecessors and I.

Mr. Stewart

We are still left in the position that if a local authority wants to go wholly comprehensive the line of the party opposite has been that if that interferes with the selective basis of certain schools the change will not be permitted. There is no local liberty there. It is the proposition that there is to be local liberty if a local authority wants to leave things unchanged, but restrictions if it wants to make a change. It is not in the mouths of hon. Members opposite to say that they are the defenders of local liberty on this issue.

Why do I stress the need for national policy on this issue? One thing I must make clear. I have said that I will ask for complaints. I explained at Question Time that I believe that there will be a very large measure, indeed, of willing co-operation from the local authorities, and that I would not go further than that; that I would not ask the House for legislative powers unless that were absolutely necessary for the continuation of policy. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has asked me a question, and I have answered it.

Why do I take this view about national policy? Because we have this ferment—and very natural ferment—among local authorities. Through the deep dissatisfaction with separatism we are getting a variety of experiments of differing degrees of wisdom, some of which have by law to go to the Ministry and some of which do not—and it is not necessarily always the more important ones that have to climb over the legal hurdle that brings them to the Ministry. I believe that we shall get a better result if, instead of taking the negative attitude of the Motion of discouraging those whom we think will do it wrongly, we give them a lead, and the guidance which the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself suggested to me in a Question today as to how they could do it right. For goodness' sake let us do that.

In our Amendment we welcome …the efforts of local authorities to reorganise secondary education on comprehensive lines which will preserve all that is valuable in grammar school education… etc. We do not say there, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to think, that we will welcome any effort whatever. We lay down the sort of effort we should welcome, but we at least give a positive word of encouragement to local authorities that are aware of the problem and trying to solve it, instead of the scowling negativeness of the Opposition Motion, which assumes that most of those who are doing it are doing it wrong, and must be discouraged.

It is a difficult matter for local authorities to get right, particularly in view of the very important point that the right hon. and learned Gentleman raised about denominational schools. It would be quite wrong for either of us to suggest that the religious denominations, the organised Churches, have committed themselves in any way to a view for or against comprehensive secondary education. I know some individual people who have expressed the view—and I know that some people hold the view—that what we propose is more in line with a Christian philosophy than is the separatist system, but they do not pretend that this is, or could be, an official position taken up by any denomination. Let us, therefore, be clear about that; neither of us can pray them in aid in that way.

Nevertheless, I welcome the fact that the denominations have made it clear that, where there are schemes of reorganisation, they would certainly rather take part in them than be left out in a sort of enclave on their own. I further recognise that if they are to take part in those schemes it will, in a great many cases but not in all, mean that if it is to be done properly there will be special financial problems to be met, and until we are in a position to meet those problems, which would require legislation on which it would be proper to have all-party consultation, there might have to be a slowing down of the rate at which we would proceed. We therefore recognise that the claims and rights of the denominations are one of the very important co-ordinates within which the whole problem is to be solved. If respecting them means that we have to go slower than we otherwise would, or would wish to, we have to accept that.

Similarly, I accept that the rate at which we move depends on the nation's whole resources and on the extent to which we can expand educational building. To take an extreme example, if we could wave a wand and say to a local authority, "You can have all your buildings new at once," reorganisation would be much easier, and I recognise that the more difficult the financial situation is so we must be prepared to take longer. I recognise that it may sometimes be a case of "cheaper and longer"; what I would not accept would be the idea of "cheaper and worse". If one were told that this could be done properly in a particular area unless there were this, that and the other expenditure, one would not push a local authority by saying. "Do it somehow, even if you do not do it right."The answer would be. "Wait until the nation is in a position to go ahead."

I have deliberately stated the difficulties—there are a great many areas in which the authorities can go ahead to a very considerable extent—but the fact that I am trying to respect the difficulties does not mean that I want to exaggerate them—

Mr. L. M. Lever (Manchester, Ardwick)


Mr. Stewart

No, I really must get on—

Mr. Lever

It is about the denominational schools—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker


Mr. Stewart

I have made my position clear on that matter.

We are asked by the Opposition to pass a highly negative Motion—there is not that dynamism which the newspapers had led us to expect from the Opposition when the House reassembled. Hon. Members opposite are conscious of something of which everyone has been conscious at least since the end of the war. They find it premature to express a judgment quoting in aid something that they call a recommendation, but is not. They want to discourage local authorities, because they think that local authorities usually do it wrong, and they end by deploring the proposal.

We should look with more faith at this matter, and with recognition of the positive case. I gave earlier today, as I gave in November, my reasons for believing that it is not only getting rid of the evil of separatism but the opportunity of giving to our children a form of education that will enable them, as Dr. Pedley suggests, to develop the talents they possess, and will create an attitude towards education which I believe to be healthier and nobler than that bred in the atmosphere of the 11-plus, and the driving of competitive attitudes into people's minds at so early an age.

That was well illustrated by a recent article in The Times, which actually ended up by saying that, after all, society is divided up into what it called subcultures, and doctors are one and dockers are another. It argued that one of the purposes of our educational system was to preserve those sub-cultures. Dockers, it said, like their sons to be dockers, and so on—[Interruption.] This is really there; I am not making it up.

Whatever one may think even of the justice of that statement, what appalling nonsense it is in view of the kind of society in which we live. Surely, the whole aim of our economic policy is to help mankind get its necessary work done with more wit and less drudgery. That means that if we talk to working men about the need to have labour-saving machinery brought into their occupation, we must accept that there should be open to their children jobs very different from those their fathers pursued.

That means a generous attitude towards education—not the kind of attitude presented by one writer in the recent controversies in the Press, who said that people do not like comprehensive schools because they might find their children sitting next to a social outcast. What a description to give to a child! And if there is a child who has the frightful misfortune to have a home so bad that he or she will be regarded in that way, where is that child to be educated?

Or is it a feature of the tripartite system that the highly selective grammar school is not to take the child who is difficult, and that the modern school is not only to deal with those believed to be less able but with the difficult and the tiresome as well? I am afraid that it is all too often that that happens. All credit to the modern school for solving the problem, but it is not what was meant to happen, and it is not right.

I detest this separatism because with it go people who look on education, not as something whereby we can all find out our talents and develop them to the full, and so contribute to a united but varied community, but as something that encourages the feeling, "What I want to do is to get the kind of education that will get me a better job than the other fellows, and put me in a rather different class"—or "sub-culture" as The Times is pleased to call it—"in society", the attitude that seeks to turn education into a status symbol. I believe, as Francis Bacon said, that we should regard learning, not as a bond woman just for profit, or as a courtesan for vanity, but as a wife for mutual help and comfort.

5.41 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Grant (Harrow, Central)

It is with trepidation, but none the less with a sense of very great honour, that I address the House for the first time, and, in customary form, ask for its indulgence.

First, I pay tribute to my predecessor, Sir Patrick Bishop, whom I am so proud to follow. He was held in highest esteem and affection, not only by all his constituents whom he served so loyally for 14 years, but also by his many friends in this House. I do not believe any new Member could have had greater help, kindness and advice from his predecessor than I have had from Sir Patrick. The reason for his retirement was ill-health. All his friends in this House and elsewhere will be glad to know that he is now enjoying good health and, I believe, enjoying his retirement.

I am particularly pleased to speak in this debate, because many members of my family have been engaged in one form or another of education. On one occasion, I asked a cynical member of the family to define education for me. She said that it was the art of casting fake pearls before real swine. We have moved a long way from that conception. I hope that the Minister will feel with equal passion as I do that education is no longer a technical means of providing someone with a job but is a continuing process which goes, on throughout the life of the persons concerned.

It is natural that in Harrow we should be concerned and interested in education. Within our boundaries is a famous school, which may not provide so many members of the Front Bench opposite as another school, whose name escapes me for the moment, but which is renowned throughout the world as the place where a great man, on whom our thoughts are very properly focussed tonight, received his education. Harrow is also proud of all its other educational institutions. We have no comprehensive school there, but we have 10 independent grammar schools, eight maintained schools, including two Roman Catholic voluntary aided schools, one most notable direct-grant school, 12 secondary modern schools, a great number of primary, infant and independent preparatory schools.

This wide range of educational establishments is rendering a very fine service to the children of Harrow and to the community at large, but many members of the local authority in Harrow, many parents and many of those concerned in education, are quite genuinely concerned and alarmed at the policy of the Government. They fear that this policy will disrupt a system which has worked very well, and is serving the community well, and that it will be replaced by a system which to a large extent is still unproved.

Although we do not deny that this system is very appropriate in many parts of the country, we do not feel that it is applicable everywhere or that it should be imposed in a district where the present system is working extremely well. We are very proud in Harrow of our grammar schools, which are first-class and which provide students who achieve the highest possible scholastic attainments. No doubt hon. Members will have seen last week in the Daily Telegraph, in the list of university awards, that the names of Harrow grammar schools figured very highly.

Tonight, however, I refer particularly to secondary modern schools in the constituency. From what the Minister said, there appeared to be an idea that we on this side of the House were not so strongly in support of secondary modern education. I can tell him that the 12 secondary modern schools in Harrow are very fine schools which are doing great work. All of them run G.C.E. O-level courses, and the proportion of pupils who pass averages 57 per cent. Approximately one-fifth stay on after the statutory leaving age.

I do not believe, however, that schools can be measured in academic terms alone. Sometimes we overstress the academic results. Shortly before the General Election I addressed the pupils, boys and girls, of a secondary modern school in my constituency on political subjects. They were all pupils who had failed to gain entrance to a grammar school. I was most impressed, not only by their courtesy and ease of manner, but by the very intelligent, searching questions and comments. I wish I could remember them all, because I could make use of them as Questions on the Order Paper.

Shortly after this, the school held a mock election. I regret to inform the House that the Labour Party won it. That was no doubt because of my advocacy, but I was able to redress the balance somewhat in the actual General Election. Those pupils were playing their parts in extra-curricula activities and were developing initiative and leadership from which they would probably have been inhibited if they had been herded under the same roof with academically sharper contemporaries in a comprehensive school. This point about extra-curricula activities is confirmed by the Newsom Report, which examined these activities from the point of view of average pupils in comprehensive and secondary modern schools. It came to the conclusion that the children would have had a much smaller chance of reaching a position of authority or playing for a school team if they went to a comprehensive school. No doubt that is because they would have still been in the middle school.

Confidence among children is very important. It produces leaders and responsible citizens. It is something which may be lost if one is in a large organisation. In anticipation of making this speech, as a nervous new Member, I could not help cherishing the wish that we were less comprehensively organised in this House so that the less experienced and less fluent speakers such as myself would not be overawed by the brilliance of the Front Benches. There is sometimes a substantial advantage in being a big fish in a small pool rather than a small fish in a big pool. The danger is that some comprehensive schools may become such large pools that quite big fish may be lost.

Another point is discipline in schools—I realise that this is an unfashionable word and that we do not wish to go back to the days of Dotheboys Hall and Tom Brown. But we have perhaps allowed the pendulum to swing a little too far the other way. I believe that the problem of discipline, which is so necessary in schools if our children are to take advantage of them, is aggravated rather than relieved by increasing the size of the school and the number of children under one roof. I am also sure that far too much blame for the misbehaviour of children is laid on the shoulders of teachers and far too little blame on the shoulders of the parents.

The principle of separation, to which the Secretary of State is so much opposed and on which I disagree with him entirely, because I believe that it is necessary, need not be rigid. I agree with many of the Secretary of State's criticisms of the 11-plus method of selection. I understand only too well the frustrations of the rejects and the irritations that this causes, but it is flying in the face of reality to suppose that some sort of selection can be dispensed with or, as is very well brought out in an article by Mr. Burston in The Times Educational Supplement, that comprehensive schools themselves do not involve selection of some sort, albeit that it is under one roof. I believe that selection can be flexible. I disagree entirely with the Secretary of State, who seemed to approve the notion that it is an illusion that there can be an examination at 11 with the possibility of transfer later from one school to another.

There are many possibilities. It is flexible. In Harrow we use what we call the collegiate system. This is where one grammar and two secondary modern schools group together. After the first two years there are consultations, as a result of which they may recommend and effect the transfer of one pupil from one school to another. The same procedure takes place at sixth form level. A most notable example which disputes the Minister's view on this point is that of a boy who failed his 11-plus. He did not make any particular mark at his secondary modern school for the first two or three years, but he developed and matured later. Under this system he was able to transfer at sixth form level to grammar school. From there he attained entry into Dartmouth and has been able to follow a distinguished career subsequent to that.

On a different aspect of transfer, only the other day I was harangued at considerable length by a young man of 13 with a high piping voice but in very fluent and well informed terms as to why my party lost the last election. I shall, of course, convey his views to my right hon. Friends. I am glad to say that he forecast that we shall win the next election, for very good reasons. This little boy has gone to the Harrow public school, having started with no monetary advantage at home. He comes from a humble but worthy home with no advantages. Entirely by his own abilities he has translated himself from his State school to the Harrow public school. I do not believe that we should be dogmatic as to which form selection should take, but we must face the necessity of some sort of selection. I am certain that it is wise, although this may irritate the Minister, to await the result of the Plowden Report on this point.

Hon. Members opposite in particular will appreciate that selectivity aids especially more able children who come from humble and sometimes very undesirable homes, because it enables them to be lifted from their environment and by the spur of competition they can achieve much greater attainment. I know that hon. Members opposite hold quite sincerely to the view that there is some form of social barrier in the present system which is not apparent in the comprehensive system. This is a valid point. None the less, I command them to the very tragic letter, published in, I think, the New Statesman, by a man who states that this has not been his experience and that in some circumstances putting large numbers of children under one roof can exasperate rather than relieve those social tensions and barriers which hon. Members genuinely wish to see swept away.

The broad view of educationists on this issue is that perhaps the comprehensive system raises the academic level of the ordinary child but at the same time it tends to lower the level of the brighter child. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] This is a view which has been put to me by educationists. None the less, it is a dilemma. We must ask ourselves whether we want to move towards the common mean or whether we wish to encourage outstanding ability. In view of changed world circumstances, ever increasing competition from abroad, the fact that we are in a dynamic scientific age, and the fact that the only natural resources of this country are the brains and enterprise of our people, I have no doubt that our educational system should be geared to give free rein to the qualities of enterprise, ability and brains, rather than to doctrinaire egalitarianism.

I am grateful to the House for its indulgence and for the privilege of being able to take part in a debate which is so important not only to our children but to the future of the nation as a whole.

5.55 p.m.

Mr. Gordon A. T. Bagier (Sunderland, South)

As this is my maiden speech, I know that I need not elaborate to older Members on the peculiar feeling which is at the moment situated somewhere down in the pit of my stomach, but I am aware of the traditional friendliness of the House and of the tolerance it shows new Members, and this provides some sort of sedative.

The subject before the House has probably excited more heat, more intense debate and occupied more time at both national and local government levels than practically any other subject which activates the minds of politicians. Personally I think that this is a very good thing, and it emphasises the tremendous importance of this wide-ranging subject. When planning the educational future of what I believe is our greatest national asset— our children—we cannot afford to give it too little time or too little money.

My constituency is Sunderland, South, part of a town which only within the past fortnight has decided at local government level to go completely comprehensive for all pupils of secondary age within the borough. This has been guided through its local government channels under the very able chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) in his position as chairman of the Sunderland Education Committee. As I know that my hon. Friend is keen to acquaint the House with his experiences, I wish him luck in catching the eye of the Chair.

May I say straight away that I welcome this innovation in Sunderland? It will ultimately provide 11 comprehensive schools in the borough. There will be one with 12-form entry, four with 10-form entry and six with 8-form entry. As we have heard in the House and in other places where comprehensive education has been introduced, there is much controversy and we have had our share about it locally. I believe that it is natural, as my right hon. Friend said, that pupils who have attended the town's existing grammar schools are proud of the school they attended. It is only natural that present and past pupils should make their feelings felt if they honestly feel that a school will be adversely affected by the proposals put forward in Sunderland. I believe that it is significant that most of the objections which we hear against comprehensive education and which come from grammar school sources come either from present or from past pupils. Not many objections come from parents thinking of the education of their children in the future.

I want to state this evening categorically that I believe that there is no intention of interferring with the academic standards of grammar school education in Sunderland. I believe that no such interference will take place. If I did not believe these things, I should have to consider the matter from a different point of view.

No one has seriously suggested that our grammar schools have not done a good job and are not still doing it. We want to extend that opportunity to more of our children, and it is at this very point that we come to the roots of this debate. It is the existence of segregation at the age of 11 that is wrong. It is the 11-plus examination as it is that is wrong. If as a nation we could say that a set academic examination at the age of 11 could decide the quality of a child for his future advancement in any sphere there might be a reasonable case for retaining the 11-plus examination, but that is not the end of the story. Once the child has sat the examination he has to face the physical disability of probably not having a place provided for him. It is in this context that I want to mention Sunderland in particular.

Early in his speech today my right hon. Friend mentioned the Ministry's List 69 of secondary education provision in each local authority area. If there is one basic argument which can condemn the 11-plus for ever, it is that list. In January, 1963, in Sunderland only 12.7 per cent. of 13-year old pupils were receiving grammar school education. This was the physical number of places available, compared with the national average for England and Wales of 18.9 per cent., for Cheshire of 29.2 per cent., Eastbourne 25 per cent., Grimsby 18 per cent., Huddersfield 26.8 per cent., up to the peak of the list—Merthyr Tydvil at 40.1 per cent. Surely this illustrates the absolute stupidity of having a system based on selection at 11 when that system cannot be followed through because there are no places available.

I had occasion to look further into the position in Sunderland. It is one of the attributes of the headmasters of secondary modern schools in the borough that when a child blossoms out a little later than the age of 11 and a headmaster feels that the child could benefit from a grammar school education a recommendation to that effect is made, but of the number of children so recommended only a small proportion have been able to find a place in Sunderland grammar schools. We have headmasters of secondary modern schools saying, "I have children who would be beneficially served by grammar school education but I cannot possibly get them in. I am pleased that by the introduction of a comprehensive system in Sunderland we shall iron out these difficulties.

There is another important point which I do not think has been mentioned so far in the debate. When I was a member of an education authority in Yorkshire I felt that one of the greatest tragedies of the competitiveness of the 11-plus examination was its effect upon the primary schools. That effect can hardly be measured. Such is the competition for places that very often a school is judged on how many pupils it can get into a grammar school. The West Riding Education Authority has specifically instructed all its teachers that they must not cram, but unfortunately headmasters feel that because of the competition for places there must be cramming. This is my experience in primary education, and this is another serious reason why we should dispose of the 11-plus examination.

As I have outlined, I believe that a great advance can be made through the general introduction of a comprehensive system of education. I hope that I have shown by the figures that I have quoted that there is a tremendous waste of talent in the country. The nation cannot afford this waste. Our system of education must be geared to provide the best education, with the widest possible curriculum, aimed to secure that every child capable of benefiting from higher education will do so. I sincerely believe that this can be done only by a system largely of a comprehensive nature.

I thank the House for its tolerance in listening to me and I hope that when the Division takes place I shall find that some of the views which I have put forward are accepted by hon. Members on both sides of the House.

6.7. p.m.

Mr. Anthony Berry (Southgate)

My chief feeling is of envy of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant) and the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier) and of the relief which they must be feeling at having got through their first speeches in the House. It is a great privilege to be making my maiden speech and to be making it on a subject of such importance. I believe that this should not be a controversial subject, but it is one, and I realise that in making my maiden speech on it I may be infringing the rules which maiden speakers are supposed to keep.

I believe that there are areas in the country where all three types of schools—secondary modern, grammar and comprehensive—can work very well for the community. Equally, I believe there are areas where the comprehensive system on its own may be best. It may well be that this applies to Sunderland, South, and I should like to discuss this with the hon. Member for Sunderland, South on some future occasion. But I also believe that there are areas where this does not apply and where the grammar schools and secondary modern schools, and not comprehensive schools, are the best answer for the neighbourhood. It is because I represent such a constituency that I am making my maiden speech on this subject.

Before turning to the subject of the debate, however, I should like to follow custom and pay a tribute to my predecessor. It must be a rather sad one, because, as hon. Members know, Sir Beverley Baxter did not live to enjoy his well-earned retirement, or even to complete his term of office in the House. I have not been surprised, in the short time that I have been here, to learn that he was well-liked and respected by hon. Members on both sides. He was also much loved in his constituency, of which he was a freeman and which he represented for nearly 30 years. He held views sometimes different from those of his own party, but he always held them sincerely. He came to this country as one of the Canadians who came to fight in the First World War and he remained to make his mark, as I know from personal experience, as one of the great journalists of his day, and his writings aroused much interest on both sides of the Atlantic. Since, unfortunately, he was ill for a considerable time before his death, it seems a long time since Southgate had a speaker in the House. Therefore, I would like for a moment to refresh hon. Members' memories about Southgate.

Southgate lies to the north of London. It is a residential suburb, at present in the county of Middlesex but, as from 1st April, to be part of the new Greater London Council, and also on the same day to become part of the larger borough of Enfield. We are bordered on the north by the Green Belt, an area about which we hold very strong views and which we should hate to see altered in any way. To the south, the North Circular Road runs across the constituency. At this point, it is, perhaps, at its narrowest, and plans are in hand to widen it. I hope that the Minister of Transport will be able to carry these plans out fairly soon. We have other traffic problems—for instance, lorry routes through streets normally intended purely for residential areas.

There are about 25,000 houses in the borough, and many of our people commute to London by tube. But, of course, they spend their leisure hours in Southgate, and we are fortunate in having many cultural facilities available, including a live theatre.

We are particularly proud of our technical college, which was officially opened only in July last year by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). We have two grammar schools and three secondary modern schools. For our grammar schools there are, each year, twice as many applications as there are places, and in the last two years numbers in the sixth forms have doubled. Our grammar schools have 80 per cent. successes in A-levels, and most of these pupils go on to universities or similar institutions. Over 300 pupils at our three secondary modern schools took the G.C.E. last year. It is of interest also that 12 pupils from one of them transferred at sixth form level to one of the grammar schools last year. I am glad to say that one of these schools, like Harrow, had a mock election shortly before the General Election, but, probably because the candidates themselves were not invited but pupils were chosen, it correctly forecast the result of the General Election in Southgate.

If the comprehensive system were to be initiated in Southgate, where would it begin and how would it work? Where would the buildings be? No one will suggest that new school buildings would be built. The cost would be prohibitive and the land is not available. But, if two or three of the existing schools were joined together and called one comprehensive school, that would not be a step in the right direction. I believe that, in Southgate, parents want to have a choice as to what sort of school to send their children to, and I remain at this moment completely unconvinced that the imposition of schools of that kind would bring the backward pupils forward rather than cause the clever ones to suffer. I believe, also, that the secondary modern schools are perfectly arranged for the less bright pupils, who receive encouragement and achieve positions in them which they would never be able to attain in comprehensive schools.

I am frightened also of the danger of larger classes. If we were to do anything in this direction, we should certainly be putting the clock back. The personal approach in school teaching is invaluable. Speedy recognition of the pupil by the master makes all the difference to the pupil's confidence. In a school where one master is teaching the same subject to several streams, it is very difficult, and it takes a long time, for him to get to know his pupils, and the older they become the more important it is for them to be known in that way.

The Plowden Report will be out soon, and I hope that it will make recommendations changing the age of selection from 11 to 12, or even to 13. I hope, however, that before they make any major decisions, the Government will consider the whole subject most carefully. I hope that they will have second thoughts after this debate and institute a thorough inquiry so that places like Southgate, where, I believe, the comprehensive system would be thoroughly wrong, may have their best interests taken into account. I am sure that the Government ought to have such an inquiry before imposing the comprehensive system, and, in particular, that they should consult the masters concerned before doing any such thing.

This debate has covered many wider points, but I have tried to concentrate mainly on my own constituency. I believe that we in Southgate represent an important cross-section of an urban community, and I ask the Minister to consider the points which I have raised. It has been a great privilege to address the House for the first time, and I much appreciate the way in which I have been received. It is not our lives that we are talking about today. It is the lives of our children and our grandchildren, and it is no small matter to tamper with their future.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. J. Idwal Jones (Wrexham)

It is an almost unique experience to follow three maiden speakers, but it is my great pleasure to do so on this occasion. I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant). Harrow, of course, is a very interesting place. It has a public school, but I was glad to hear that it has secondary modern schools as well and that the hon. Gentleman had visited these schools. I enjoyed his speech considerably.

Listening to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier), we were in a different country altogether, and I was very pleased to learn that Sunderland had gone over completely to comprehensive education.

The hon. Member for Southgate (Mr. Berry) told us of the two grammar schools and three secondary modern schools in his constituency, and I listened with great interest to what he had to say. I know that I voice the opinion of all hon. Members here today when I say that we look forward with pleasure to hearing further speeches from the three hon. Members who have just addressed the House.

I confess that my personal reaction when my right hon. Friend sat down was that there was hardly anything more to say on this important question. It is a subject of tremendous importance not only to the present generation but to the future of our people. We are concerned with the educational opportunities open to our adolescent population. We are concerned—at least, we on this side of the House are concerned—not with a section of our secondary school population but with our entire secondary school population.

It is not a question of being pro-grammar school or anti-grammar school. This is not the question. What we are concerned about is grammar school education, and we must see to it that a grammar school education becomes more readily available than it has been hitherto to some of our secondary school children.

It is a truism that education deals with children, and with children of varying abilities, both intellectual and practical. The range is very wide, far too wide to be reduced to three neat little groups, the technical group, the grammar school group and the secondary modern school group. This conception of technical, grammar and secondary modern school groups arose naturally out of the application of universal secondary education after the 1944 Act. Before that Act, the question of selection did not really arise. People who could afford to pay fees could send their children to the grammar schools, and the few children who were able to pass the so-called scholarship examination could go there on their intellectual merit. But, when secondary education became universal and free, it was then that the question arose and the principle was accepted of a technical grammar school, a grammar school and a secondary modern school. That was the origin of what is known as the tripartite system.

Immediately the tripartite system was established in this country, the question naturally arose, how were children to be chosen to go to the different schools. Who was to decide? We were then told and we are still being told that there is such a thing as parental choice. A great deal of lip-service has been paid to the choice of parents. There is no choice. It is not practised. Parents have not the choice whether to send their children to a technical grammar school, a grammar school or a secondary modern school. The choice was and is left to the 11-plus examination, plus the intelligence test which was regarded as an infallible and unchangeable decision about the I.Q. I want to stress these two points—the 11-plus and this so-called infallible determination of the I.Q. It is understandable why that was set up in 1944 to 1945, immediately after the war. It was a very convenient arrangement. It was a pragmatic approach. It was done, I believe, in all good faith, but today the position is different. We have had 20 years' experience and we can ask this afternoon, has this system worked? We know quite well that it has not worked.

In the first place, the 11-plus examination and the intelligence tests resulted in the streaming of our primary schools. When I was in a primary school there was no streaming at all.

Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)

None at all?

Mr. Jones

There was no streaming. There may have been some streaming in the hon. Member's school but not in mine. What I am saying now is this—

Mr. Jennings

I did not hear what the hon. Member said. I was not interrupting. I only wanted to know what he said. Do we now gather that there was no streaming in his school? If so, it was an exception.

Mr. Jones

When I was there as a boy there was no streaming in that school. I know that, after 1945, streaming became the universal practice in our primary schools. There was an undue concentration on the bright boy. Not only that, but there was a tendency to concentrate less on the less bright boy, and the unfortunate position was that that less bright boy had been labelled with a certain I.Q. and it became very difficult for that boy to go from one stream to another.

Moreover, it resulted in an unhealthy educational method. By that I mean that schools were judged by their 11-plus successes. In addition, the secondary modern school assumed the character of an inferior secondary school. That was generally felt all over the country. Of course, we were promised parity of esteem. We heard "parity of esteem" over the years until we were tired of the expression. After 20 years, parity of esteem has not arrived. There are a large number of secondary modern schools today in Victorian school buildings, buildings which were never meant for secondary education, buildings which can never be adapted for secondary education, and yet they have been tolerated for the past 20 years.

There is no parity of esteem with regard to playing fields in our secondary modern schools. I asked a Question a few years ago of the then Minister of Education about the playing fields of secondary modern schools in North Wales and the reply was that the information was not available. That is the position regarding school playing fields. There is no parity either with regard to school libraries in our secondary modern schools, as the Newsom Report points out so effectively.

The result of all this is that the secondary modern school became unpopular and the 11-plus examination became unpopular as well. Moreover, the 11-plus failed—as has been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South—because it was not a qualifying examination. I want to stress that point—it was not a qualifying examination. Indeed, it was only a means of selection. The deciding factor was the number of places in a grammar school. The result was that it was possible for a boy in one area to go to a grammar school, although he had less intellectual ability than a boy in another place. That could happen even within the area of a single local education authority. The evidence of the failure of the 11-plus examination is overwhelming and is to be found best in our secondary modern schools. That is where we get the evidence of the failure of the 11-plus examination.

We have heard references this afternoon to the wonderful work the secondary modern schools are doing in regard to the O-level and, in some, the A-level examination. Indeed, in the debate of 27th November I read this: It is the case today that over 60 per cent, of the children now attending secondary modern schools in Bristol are going on to O-levels and some are obtaining A-levels."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 1710.] That is considered as evidence of the success of the secondary modern school. It is nothing of the kind. It is actually evidence of the failure of the 11-plus examination to select children, because those children doing the O-level examination in the secondary modern school should never have been there in the first instance. They should have gone to the grammar school. That is the explanation.

The 11-plus system has broken down. I know that a great deal of good work has been done in secondary modern schools. I think that my hon. Friend will substantiate me when I say that I have championed the cause of the secondary modern school pupil all along the years. If there is any pupil in this country who has had a raw deal, it is the secondary modern school pupil. I am really surprised to find hon. Members so very much concerned about the direct grant schools and so pathetically unenthusiastic about giving the proper opportunities to the children of our secondary modern schools. Why this concern about direct grant schools? That is a very important question. The position at which we have arrived is that the 11-plus has failed, and the tripartite system has broken down. Even the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) said on 14th May last year: I thought that the tripartite system had already broken down seven years ago…"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th May, 1964; Vol. 695, c. 577.] I thought that he was championing it this afternoon.

Mr. Hogg

The hon. Member should not say that. The tripartite system, of course, contrary to what he says, was never really put into effect at all over the greater part of the country. The system has been bipartite from the first. The tripartite system was done in a number of areas and was recommended in the Spens Report, but it has never been a fact.

Mr. Jones

The point is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the tripartite system had broken down. I do not know whether he will go further and say that the bipartite system has been a success. This is the question. I know that 90 out of 140 local education authorities have been altering the system in the last year. This is taking place in the light of 20 years' experience. If that is so, if the 11-plus tripartite system has broken down, an alternative must be found. We have to face the situation. We cannot shirk it.

As I see it, the problem hinges on the potential ability of our secondary modern school pupils. We have committed two errors in this context. First, we have accepted too easily the view that ability is inborn, that it can be measured accurately by tests and that the consequent calculation, once made, cannot be changed. But the fact is that ability can be acquired. We live and learn, and schools are meant to help children to acquire ability. The second error has been our readiness to believe that all pupils develop at the same rate and "arrive" at the same age. I want to emphasise this because it is the reason for the 11-plus examination.

I have known brilliant boys and girls of 7 or 8 years of age "fizzling out" by the time they have taken their 11-plus examination. On the other hand, I have seen boys with apparently average ability blossoming at the age of 13 or 14 or 15 years of age. Secondary education will never be sound unless it is geared to this type of unexpected development.

We need a system which readily senses the development in the individual pupil. That is the alternative we require to the present system. We mast also avoid another error, which is the assumption that the children of the working class are less educable than the children of other classes. That cannot be true because intellectual ability is not the monopoly of any one class. If statistics are against me on this point, then those statistics are an indictment of the social structure and not of the potential educability of our people.

I do not know very much about grammar schools in England but I know them very well in Wales. I am the product of a grammar school and proud of it. It was founded in 1575 in the days of that great Welsh dynasty, the Tudors. The children of our grammar schools in Wales come from ordinary homes and go from grammar school to university, taking their degrees, their post-graduate degrees and their doctorates.But they are not lost to the community. They are respected and recognised. The grammar school in Wales is not a snob school at all. That is our tradition in Wales arid it is proof, if proof be needed, that we can fill our grammar schools with pupils from ordinary homes.

What is the answer to the problem? It is not easy. I make that plain. It cannot be accomplished speedily. The answer is comprehensive education—there is no question of that. Perhaps I may be personal at this point and recall that, 23 years ago, I was asked to draft a memorandum on secondary education after the war. I recommended junior grammar schools for all up to the age of 15 and senior grammar schools for those beyond that age who wished to pursue higher education. The principle I saw in 1942 was that of comprehensive education.

The two-tier system may be necessary in some places and comprehensive schools of the usual kind may be the answer in other places such as in Anglesey and Merioneth; we can see perhaps in some localities newly-built secondary modern schools being changed into junior comprehensive schools and the old grammar schools becoming senior comprehensive schools or junior colleges. It should not be beyond the wit of educationists to solve this very important problem.

There is another factor in the present situation. Under the old tripartite system, the grammar schools and the technical schools pursued recognised studies to the Ordinary and the Advanced level, while the secondary modern schools were free from examinations. They were not meant to prepare children for any examinations of any kind. They were unshackled and free to experiment.

That was the system for the first few years after the war. Perhaps I should say that I was headmaster of a secondary modern school for 17 years so I have some experience of this kind of work. I have seen children being in the woodwork room for the whole day or in the garden. I have allowed girls in the top school to spend a whole day in domestic science. It was a free school and we were free to experiment.

But there has been a change in more recent years. Secondary modern schools are now preparing children for the G.C.E. They are giving to some of their children grammar school education and this year we are to have the Certificate of Secondary Education. That certificate is meant mainly for secondary modern schools but in practice it will be used also in grammar schools.

The result is that, in future, we shall have both the grammar schools and the secondary modern schools doing the G.C.E. and the Certificate of Secondary Education. Consequently, the partition between the two types of schools is being eroded and we are moving towards the comprehensive system whether we agree with it or not. I agree with it. The new development of the examination system is compelling us to that point of view.

Some people suggest bilateral schools. I do not agree with that. I wish to see comprehensive education in the same school so that if a boy in one of the so-called secondary modern school types shows particular ability in any subjects or even in only one he shall have the opportunity to pursue his studies. The comprehensive system of education is the only answer.

Will grammar school education suffer? I cannot see why. The staff will be there, the experience will be there and the equipment will be there. I do not see how the so-called grammar school pupil will suffer, but I do see how a boy or a girl who would otherwise be in a secondary modern school would greatly benefit by being in a comprehensive school where there would be the opportunity to study some subject at grammar school level.

Why is there so much concern about the direct grant schools'? Was The Guardian correct last Monday when in a leading article it said that one could not help thinking that some parents at least welcomed direct grant schools as a chance to escape contact with working-class elements in the maintained schools? If that is so, it makes me all the more enthusiastic for the comprehensive school, because I believe in an educated democracy.

6.41 p.m.

Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)

This afternoon we have had three brilliant maiden speeches. As the first Member on this side of the House who is not making a maiden speech, I have the pleasant duty and privilege of congratulating the Members concerned on their performances. Listening to the speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant), the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier) and my hon. Friend the Member for Southgate (Mr. Berry) and to all the maiden speeches since Parliament reassembled in October, I have thought that they have had such a quality that there must be much good in our educational system, and it has come across the Floor of the House. I do not think that in the history of Parliament there has been such a plethora of brilliant maiden speeches, with hon. Members speaking with aplomb as though they had been in the House for 20 years.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central, speaking of education, said that it was better to be a big fish in a small pond. I think that he will rapidly become a big fish in this small pond. He was far more brilliant than many of the Front Bench speakers, on both sides of the House, to whom he will have to listen in the years ahead. The hon. Member for Sunderland, South said that he had a weight in the pit of his stomach when he rose to speak, but it seemed to keep his feet firmly anchored to the ground, because he spoke eloquently and forcefully and with much knowledge from his own experience on Sunderland's education committee. All I will say about my hon. Friend the Member for Southgate is that my old colleague Beverley Baxter would have been honoured and proud had he been able to listen to the way my hon. Friend spoke.

Coming to the subject of the debate, I will try to follow the advice of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), who said that we should try to keep the debate as non-controversial as possible. I do not think that he was met half-way by the Secretary of State. In November, the Secretary of State made an excellent and remarkable speech, but I thought that his speech today was too bitty and rather small-minded. It did not make on me the impression which his speech of 27th November made.

Before going further in my campaign to be non-controversial—and I do not think that it will last very long—I want to say that I have always been against the 11-plus. I am against it because I am myself a late developer and no doubt there are many hon. Members opposite who would say that I have not developed at all.

Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)

The hon. Gentleman has a long way to go, that is all.

Sir D. Glover

Hon. Gentlemen will agree that I am making progress and I am grateful for their generosity.

It is true that children develop their abilities differently at different ages and over different times. The speeches of hon. Members opposite have been a criticism of the 11-plus examination and they have used that as the only argument for a comprehensive system of education. There are several ways in which children can be streamed to decide which type of education is best suited to them and to which school they should go. The real argument of the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. J. Idwal Jones) was that we probably needed a big expansion in our programme of grammar school building. He said that the walls between the grammar schools and the secondary modern schools were breaking down, but if standards in secondary modern schools are rising rapidly and there is a greater demand for places in grammar schools, then the sensible thing to do is to produce more grammar schools.

To say that the answer is the comprehensive system, without producing any argument for the comprehensive system beyond saying that children in secondary modern schools are becoming as able as those in the grammar schools, is to say that there has been a good deal of progress in the last 20 years and is to pay an indirect compliment to the teaching profession for what it has achieved in this direction. [HON. MEMBERS: "Thank you very much."] There are always exceptions to everything.

We are debating whether the country should go over to a complete system of comprehensive schools as a matter of State policy. I am informed by one of our leading educationists that, with the exception of Anglesey and the Isle of Man, there are no comprehensive schools in the country. The arguments of the Secretary of State and of hon. Gentlemen opposite is that there must be no selection. In other words, they say that the children from an area should into an area school. Yet in London and Coventry and other places where the so-called comprehensive system is operated there is still pride in the record of the grammar schools running alongside the comprehensive schools, grammar schools which are streaming off many children who might otherwise have gone to the comprehensive school.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that in speaking of London he is describing a very large place and that there are areas of London in which the ideals which my right hon. Friend seeks have been achieved? I have the honour to represent one of them.

Sir D. Glover

I do not make it a powerful argument when I say that there are no comprehensive schools. That is the view of one of the country's leading educationists. He holds an official position or I would mention his name.

At the moment, I am having an argument with the Lancashire County Council about the introduction of a comprehensive school, in Formby of all places. My attitude is that one should be without any idée fixe and that when there is a situation in which a comprehensive school can be tried out over a number of years, one should experiment. I should be glad to see the comprehensive school at Formby rising from the ground, and I hope that many people in Formby will get great value from the education provided there.

The answer to all this is that there is no system which, at this stage, any hon. Member can say categorically is the proved and tried system which cannot be improved. We should go on, as I have suggested in the case of Formby, with opening some more comprehensive schools. But as yet they are not proved. There are many things which we shall find out about comprehensive schools in the years ahead. To try at this stage, as some local authorities are trying, to produce what I think my right hon. and learned Friend called a "phoney" comprehensive system out of present buildings which are widely scattered will, in the long run, do more harm to comprehensive education than any other single step. At the moment, people are saying, "It looks good, but we will have to see how the system develops". But if some comprehensive schools do not work people will say exactly the opposite. It will not help in removing selectivity from our educational system if there is revulsion against the system and if people say, "We have had it in our area and it is a nonsense". I am sure that that is what will happen. I will refer to that matter at greater length later.

Certain arguments have been emphasised in our discussion. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central talked about the big fish in a small pool. There are some first-class secondary modern schools in my constituency, and I believe that the masters and mistresses and boys and girls in them are doing a first-class job. But, in most cases, they are big fish in a small pool. The boy who, if he went to a school of 1,500 pupils, would never become a prefect and would never be in a position of authority is now in those schools in a position of authority. He is learning leadership and other attributes which he could not possibly learn if he were a small fish in a big pool through being transferred to a large comprehensive school.

Mrs. Reneé Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)

Has Eton any prefects?

Sir D. Glover

If the hon. Lady wishes to interject, it is usual in this House to do so on one's feet.

Mrs. Short

I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker. May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether Eton has any prefects, or the Manchester Grammar School? Both schools have well over 1,000 pupils.

Sir D. Glover

I am prepared to accept that and to say that in Eton and in Manchester Grammar School, which have over 1,000 pupils, there are probably people who, if they were in a smaller school, would finish up as prefects but who because they are in a school of 1,000 pupils do not do so. Therefore, they do not get the chance to learn leadership. They are in a school where, because of the competition, they do not get that chance. As a result, they are probably less able when they leave school than they would be otherwise.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

What does the hon. Gentleman think the maximum size of a secondary school should be?

An Hon. Member


Sir D. Glover

I do not know who remarked "Twenty four", but there is a good deal to be said for it. One could have two football teams and a touch judge on either side. It is, I suppose, about the minimum number one could have in a school. A fluid figure—[Laughter.]—Hon. Members opposite think that this debate is a joke. It is a very serious matter, but it is being treated rather like the question, "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

The point is that size depends on the community—whether it is a rural area or a tightly-knit community. I should say that anything below 350 pupils is too small and that anything above 650 or 700 is too big for a secondary school. That is my own personal assessment. However, I must not be diverted by the Liberal elements in our ranks.

I turn to some of the problems which hon. Members opposite say comprehen- sive education will solve. Hon. Members opposite too easily think that it will solve the education problem. Take the intermixture of population, which is the avowed aim of hon. Members opposite. The idea is that there shall be no distinction. Suppose that there is a school of 2,000 in a catchment area. If it is in a wealthy catchment area, all the children in that area, with no streaming, will stay together. If it is in a dock area they will all stay together. There will be no streaming out of the area into another where the children will begin to mix because there is no selection. I am not prepared to go any further on this. There are hon. Members opposite who say, "So what? We accept that". But I do not accept it. I do not think this is an improvement on the present system. I think this is regressive. We want to break down the distinction, but this is the way to perpetuate it.

I thought that the Secretary of State was about to burst into tears when he spoke about the deprived child. Everyone in the House agrees that the deprived child must go to school and must be looked after. But where will he get the most personal and sympathetic treatment—in an enormous school of 2,000 children, or in a secondary modern school where he will not be as far behind as the rest of the children and can receive the personal attention of the masters and mistresses because each pupil is known to the headmaster or headmistress? This cannot apply in a school of 1,500 to 2,000 pupils.

I turn to the question which affects me as well as many other hon. Members, namely, implementing the Labour Party's policy on I think a crazy basis in north-west England. As I said earlier, there may be arguments for comprehensive education. It may be possible to amalgamate two schools which are almost alongside each other and to use the buildings as a comprehensive school. But if we are to create the right system of comprehensive education, we cannot turn the educational pattern of a city in six months, as Liverpool is doing, into a comprehensive pattern on the basis on which Liverpool is doing it. My information is that the average distance between some of the schools to be amalgamated—I will not say all of them; I do not want to exaggerate—is .6 of a mile, just over half a mile. The greatest distance is two miles. The hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. J. Idwal Jones) was a schoolmaster and will know these things. The boys and girls will spend half their time walking up and down the street. One cannot make this into a comprehensive school in the context of what we are talking about as a comprehensive school. We will get entirely the wrong system.

I agree that if a boy has one talent, the advantage of a comprehensive school is that that talent can be brought to fruition. That means that in a comprehensive school we expect the boys and girls to be in different streams for different subjects; their abilities for different subjects will vary. That means that inevitably there will be a great deal of inter-change between the buildings. There might be one headmaster or one headmistress, and the school can be called a comprehensive school, but what will be happening is that half of it is run as a grammar school and the other half as a secondary modern, but we will have taken away from the parents the fact that their children are in a grammar or a secondary modern school. Constant changing between streams which means travelling two miles or so between the buildings is nonsense, but it is being done.

Lancashire, with its scattered areas, is to bring in the same sort of system during the next two years. It will make the grammar school and the secondary modern school which are a distance apart into a comprehensive school. Manchester has had four schemes but has not been able to decide upon one of them to put it into operation. I think that Manchester is beginning to appreciate the difficulties and is facing the matter much more objectively. The problems in Liverpool and Manchester are much the same. Liverpool, apparently, can do all this in six months, but the great City of Manchester has had four schemes and argued them out and decided that they were not workable.

What is being done in education is not something that will last for only five or ten years. We are building a pattern which will last for a very long time into the future. There may be a great deal to be said for comprehensive education, but if, as appears to be being done in Liver- pool and Lancashire, the authorities go off half-cock into schemes before the buildings or anything else are ready to provide an efficient basis, in the long run they will do great damage not only to comprehensive education, but to the whole educational structure, by destroying the grammar schools before they have produced anything as an alternative, breaking down the well-known and accepted system of education and producing something which in practice will turn out to be nonsense.

I ask the Minister of State to ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to use all the influence he possesses—because in November he accepted that when something was not workable it was a sham—to have another look at these things. As the right hon. Gentleman said in his speech, we are talking not only about buildings, but about children and their future in education.

7.4 p.m.

Mrs. Freda Corbet (Peckham)

I feel sure that the House has today been weighing carefully all the pros and cons on this issue. It is not for any of us to sneer at anybody else, because if ever there were a mystery which the human race has not yet solved, it is surely that of education.

I have maintained a constant interest in education from the days when I first began to teach, and I first noted that in my classes there was usually about one child in 30 who had what I call intense receptiveness—in other words, who would need to be told only once and would then appreciate and understand—and that all the others went through an infinite gradation of ability which made it impossible, and makes it impossible for us today, adequately to divide and to select among our youth. This is one of the things that people cannot get down to and grapple with unless they have the opportunities that we in London are beginning to perceive are available with the comprehensive arrangement of schools. I say that we are only beginning to perceive it because, as the House is well aware, it was not until 1954 that our first comprehensive school building was available in which the experiment could be carried on.

It is true that immediately after the war London tried to experiment in existing buildings, usually amalgamating two or three or attempting to do so as an interim measure, and got valuable experience. In passing, I could tell the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover), who shows so much sincerity and concern for the fact that educational experiment and reorganisation should be properly carried out, as it must be, that London can say that that experience of its interim comprehensive schools was extremely valuable.

One of the things that that experience included, apart from learning the kind of things that were necessary for the children themselves, was the training of staff. One of the schools with which I have been, and still am, intimately connected, both before it got its new buildingings and subsequently, has been able to contribute to the London education service many members of the staff who have been able to go out further afield and help to run other new comprehensive schools. Valuable experience can be gained if authorities will start gently on what, I think, most of us today are beginning to regard as essential.

I was extremely interested to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Mr. J. Idwal Jones), who was a Welsh schoolmaster for 17 years, remind the House of the set-up before the war. By and large, it was a comprehensive system. When I taught, I taught in a fee-paying school. It was comprehensive. The ability of the children varied from those who could not possibly do sums and the odd one who could not read to the genius who, at the age of 7, because he was the child of an artist, could draw as I shall never be able to draw, and to children of the type to whom I have earlier referred to whom it was necessary to tell something only once before they were able to do it and who could write English as well as most adults were able to.

That was the position in the London grammar schools. Parents paid for the children to go to a grammar school if they could afford it. The test to get into those schools was very slight. A small number of places were, of course, set aside for scholarship children from the ordinary public schools.

Since the war, however, the whole situation has changed. Those grammar schools which used to be more or less comprehensive, with a wide range of ability, have now become the preserves of the highly intelligent children. This is something which, when we talked about secondary education for all, never entered our minds. It never occurred to us that parental choice would so determine the situation that the ordinary grammar schools, with their academic form of education, not by any means suited to all the children whose parents regard them as suited to it, would become full of the very intelligent children and that the other schools would be sadly creamed off, so much so that many teachers in the so-called modern schools have a very thin time of it. Teachers can get very disheartened if they do not have some ability in their schools, if they do not have some encouragement, some objective to work for, and if that happens it reacts on the children, because they need teachers who have some stimulus to carry on their work.

One of the dangers of maintaining the system as it is today, were it not for this new development in comprehensive ideas, is that the grammar schools with their highly intelligent children prove fatally attractive to probably the cleverest of the teachers. It is wrong that clever children, who need less teaching, should attract the best teachers, but it is true. It is easy to teach bright children—I have been doing it all my life—but it is very difficult to teach children who have to be told a thing seven times before they can take it in. It needs a great deal of patience, insight and understanding to teach such children.

For a long time I have been saying, "Put the intelligent children into large halls, give them one good teacher who can tell them once what they ought to know, and they will know it. Let them get on with their work, because that is what they want to do…" Less intelligent children need to be grouped in small numbers and to be exceedingly well staffed to enable them to achieve the results which the nation needs. Such results will be achieved, because the ability is there.

What has always puzzled me is that there are these bright children who learn easily, the perfect examinees, yet when they move about among the rest of the community one cannot pick them out. I do riot know which of my colleagues won scholarships to schools. I have no idea whether any of them can learn easily. I do not know whether I could sit down and teach them Latin, or mathematics, or French.

Sir E. Boyle

I am interested in the hon. Lady's arguments. What she has just said rather contradicts what she said a moment ago. If children have far more possibilities than we often realize—and I agree that they have—surely secondary modern teachers can have many more opportunities than is sometimes supposed; hence the development of G.C.E. courses in modern schools, the new Certificate of Secondary Education, the raising of the school leaving age, and all the opportunities today for further education. What the hon. Lady is saying about the wide amount of talent in children makes the lot of the secondary modern teacher more hopeful than was suggested.

Mrs. Corbet

I agree, but I did say that the situation to which I referred would arise but for this new development in comprehensive education. This is something which teachers in the comprehensive schools are able to find out because of their numbers, because of their opportunities for varied courses, and because so many different kinds of people, such as headmasters, headmistresses, tutors, heads of departments, and so on, take an interest in the children. In addition, of course there is a large secretariat which enables a headmistress to be freed from a good deal of administrative work.

What is ability? Where is it? It never develops in some people. I do not know whether this applies to hon. Gentlemen opposite. Being a woman, I maintain that men remain children, but then children develop too, do they not? This is the kind of problem which we are facing today, and we are all sure that we do not want children to pay for their education. They ought to receive the education which fits their aptitude and ability. We know that there are infinite gradations of ability, and we want to find out how we can get the best out of every child and fit him to take his place in the life of the nation and make the best possible contribution to it.

Quite naturally, we are afraid of destroying anything that is good, and I sympathise with those who are worried lest the grammar schools, with their fine traditions, are in some way undermined. I do not hope to convince such people that they need not worry. I cannot do that myself this evening, but perhaps I might refer to a document which was published by the London County Council in 1961 when the comprehensive schools had not been going for very long. This document contains the result of a survey of 16 schools. I am sure that hon. Members who are interested in education will find this document extremely illuminating.

The school to which I have referred, and in which I have taken an interest for many years, is the Peckham school for girls. It caters for between 1,400 and 1,500 girls. The number of pupils in London County Council schools varies betwen 750 and 2,100 in schools with large sixth forms. Most of the large schools were built because sites were available on the outer fringes of the area, but smaller ones are being built now.

About 140 of the girls in the Peckham school are in the sixth form. We have to be clear about the fact that the sixth form contains children who are in their sixth year of school life and not, as is the case in many grammar schools, only those who have passed their O-levels. Of these 140 girls, 50 are in that category and are studying for their A-levels in academic subjects. The interesting thing is that only 11 of those girls were of grammar school standard when they entered the school. This means that the comprehensive system has made it possible to keep 39 children at school and at the same time provide the opportunity, which otherwise would not have been available, for them to obtain their A-levels.

The other important fact about the school is that 73 per cent. of the girls stay on until they are over 15, while 64 per cent. of them complete the five-year course. This contrasts with the average national figure of between 29 and 31 per cent. This year about 28 girls from that school have gone in for teacher training, and all but one of them have been accepted in the colleges of their first choice.

There is something rather special about this school, in that in the fourth year half the subjects which a girl can take are optional. When a girl is about to choose her subjects, she is invited to discuss her future career, with the result that the optional subjects may well be linked to the career which she has in mind. When the girl has chosen her subjects, which is done in consultation with her parents, the subject mistress, and so on, she is able, in two years, to attain the standards necessary in those subjects to qualify her for the career or profession of her choice. This apparently results in many more girls desiring to stay on at school. That is probably why we have these very good figures.

Last year one girl obtained first-class honours in English, although when she went to the school her I.Q. was 106, which hon. Members will realise is a very average figure. We all know that children have many latent capacities. What we want to know is whether we are bringing them out in the schools.

As the hon. Member for Ormskirk said, Peckham School is not fully comprehensive. A fully comprehensive school should cater for all the children in the neighbourhood. It should include every range of ability. In Stockholm an experiment was conducted in which all the children living to the south of the city went to comprehensive schools and all the children living to the north went to selected schools, on the basis that exists in this country. After the experiment had been going for some time—and it was conducted by someone who had no axe to grind—the Swedish authorities decided to extend the comprehensive system throughout the country. We should study that experiment.

In London, however, because of the existence of about 50 voluntary-aided grammar schools, and also because of the attitude adopted by past Conservative Governments, when the London County Council wanted to make its maintained grammar schools the core of the new comprehensive schools it was not allowed to do so. Some of those com- prehensive schools have been regarded as complementary to the grammar schools. Some of the schools that are classed as comprehensive schools cannot really be comprehensive, so long as the children are creamed off to go to voluntary-aided schools, which are so popular with parents because they have long traditions.

Some of our schools are partly comprehensive, and are planned to be complementary to the grammar schools, while others are fully comprehensive. The London County Council lists five ranges of ability—from A to E—and provides that fully comprehensive schools must take 20 per cent. of each range of ability. It also provides that 80 per cent. of the children should be taken from the neighbourhood, and that schools should endeavour to balance their intake with equal numbers of children in each category. It then provides that the remaining 20 per cent. of the children can be taken from areas decided by the schools. This allows brothers, sisters and cousins to go to the same schools, very much as happens now in the case of grammar schools.

It is a little far-fetched to believe that children have to do a lot of travelling about London in order to get to grammar schools. I know that that is the case with religious schools, especially Catholic schools. The parents hate having to send their children to the East End, because they cannot get them into any nearer school. Peckham School is complementary to a neighbouring grammar school, which has a very high reputation. I have been a governor of that grammar school for 30 years, and I have nothing but the very highest praise for it. I frequently congratulate it, with a twinkle in my eye, upon its luck in having all the ability.

In Peckham School the two highest groups, A and B, have to be put together, so that they account for 25 per cent. of the pupils while the remaining categories, C, D and E, have 25 per cent. each. It will therefore be appreciated that the scales are loaded against the school. In spite of that, it has achieved the results that I have described. I have pleasure in referring to that school, because I want to convince the House that there is a good deal to be said for this way of educating children. We avoid the terrible business of selection at the age of 11 or 13, nobody really knowing when a child will develop.

As a young teacher I was very impressed with the number of girls who did not respond until they reached the age of 15. Fortunately they stayed on until they were 18. I was delighted, and took the view that that was what should be done with all children. I thought that they should stay on at least until the age of 16. Now we think that they should stay on until they are 30, so that we can have a chance really to educate them.

I listened with great interest to the Minister's remarkable speech, which was so clear and witty. It was just what we all expected of him. He put the case so well that none of us can add very much to it, except by way of personal anecdotes, of the kind that I have been relating. The proposition that he has put to the House is a thoroughly good one, and I support it with all my heart. About 30 years ago I was one of a little group of people who went round the schools of London, especially the primary schools, and came to the conclusion that the right sort of school was the comprehensive school. I was one of those who battled in the London County Council to get the comprehensive system adopted and one of those who were present when the London County Council made the decision to adopt it. I therefore derive great pleasure from the line taken by the Minister. I have great confidence in him, and am sure that he will see that nothing rash is done—nothing that will in any way undermine the standards and the objects of education in this country.

7.26 p.m.

Mr. Joseph Hiley (Pudsey)

I listened with a good deal of interest to the hon. Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet), particularly since she spoke as a former teacher. The argument she put forward in the earlier part of her speech could be applied with equal truth by those of us who believe in the present tripartite system, preferring it to the pattern now proposed by the Government. Both my right hon. and learned Friend and the Minister quoted experts whose statements happened to suit their respective cases. I speak as one who for many years has been on the Leeds Education Commit- tee and who has been chairman of the West Leeds Area Board for nearly 20 years. West Leeds is not my constituency, but I have already told the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) that I proposed to refer to my experiences there.

In that area there is one grammar school—in my day it was a secondary school—and four secondary modern schools. All the secondary modern schools are new, whereas the grammar school was established in 1907. For the benefit of those hon. Members opposite who seemed to be very worried about which schools hon. Members attended, I should point out that I attended what is now the grammar school. I stayed there for 13 years, and it was the only school that I ever attended. I have met people who are closely connected with these schools, and from my experience I am satisfied that, at any rate in West Leeds, the tripartite system is the best one.

It would be unfair, wrong and dangerous for me to attribute this idea to the headmasters or teachers in those schools, because threats amounting almost to victimisation have been made against those teachers who have dared to criticise the comprehensive system. I can assure the House that West Leeds is very happy with the present system, with its four excellent secondary modern schools and a grammar school.

As I understand it, the fundamental reason for the suggestion that we should change is that we would avoid selectivity. Why do we bamboozle ourselves by thinking that the comprehensive system would avoid some form of selectivity? When we try to convince ourselves that it would and when we speak about comprehensive schools we are merely speaking about selectivity with a different name.

I am certain that no one has yet thought of a better system than that established by the 1944 Act. If anyone doubts this, consider that at present there are many schemes in operation throughout the country, very few of which have been adopted in more than one place. It indicates that, apart from the districts from which these schemes emanate, other local authorities have not been prepared to adopt them. The Leeds Education Committee has been thinking about this matter for many months and even now its members are not in a position to announce their proposals. Some time ago the Leeds Education Committee made tentative suggestions to the area advisory boards, but they were so criticised that they were ultimately abandoned and work is continuing in an effort to find a satisfactory scheme.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) said that the 11-plus system had failed. I do not think that it has and I am certain that there is no better system, simply because no one has yet suggested one. [Interruption.] It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to interrupt me, but I urge them to consider what has caused the trouble over the 11-plus. The scheme has been killed by mass parental hysteria. Many hon. Members opposite have particularly contributed to this state of affairs because many people, not knowing exactly what they were talking about, have built up such animosity against the scheme that it has broken down in many places.

Opposition to the 11-plus system has been expressed by so many teachers because their lives have been made almost intolerable by this parental hysteria. Had we had a little more patience and allowed it to operate for another year or two the position would have been different and the opposition and antagonism towards the scheme would have gradually died away. If only parents had stopped being so anxious about it, if politicians had not attempted to make political capital out of it, I feel sure that the system would be operating and we would not be wasting our time today.

What do we want in our educational system? Do we want it to be a social institution or a method of producing trained individuals for our system of meritocracy, producing them in the most efficient way? I believe that we want the latter and that we can gain nothing by attempting to level down to the lowest possible denominator the methods of teaching in our schools.

The attitude in many places rather resembles the Elizabethan theatre, with the scenery, or what takes the place of it, being merely a noticeboard—and it looks as though in some places we are merely changing the scene by adding the notice-board with the word "comprehensive". If that is the sort of thing that is being done, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk suggested, there will be a serious defect in any system being established.

It would be wrong to have makeshift arrangements merely to satsify the institution of a doctrine. If we ultimately and unanimously decide that we must have a comprehensive system, surely we should give it a chance to operate properly and make sure that the buildings provided for it have been built for that purpose, taking into account the special standards required and the particular difficulties of staffing.

In Normanton, in the West Riding, two schools have recently been amalgamated, whatever that means. One is the Normanton Boys' Grammar School and the other the Normanton Girls' High School. This amalgamation has taken place contrary to the views of everybody in the district who knows anything about the problems of education. The two schools are a considerable distance apart and there is no hope of any possible assembly together. There can be no doubt that in this little district of the West Riding, where all the committees and so on are dominated by people put in because of their allegiance to this or that political creed, the teaching staffs are being disturbed to the great disadvantage of the children.

It has been proved that in the past 13 years Tory Ministers of Education have not taken a doctrinaire line on this matter, otherwise so many comprehensive schools would not have been established. Every scheme should be considered on its merits, taking into account the district, its geography and population. I am certain that in West Leeds it would be entirely wrong—indeed, too costly for one thing—to force the proposal because we already have brand new schools working well and maintaining high standards. One of the secondary modern schools has, I believe, attained probably the highest standards for drama of any school of any type in the country. The schools in this area are doing tremendously good work and should not be sacrificed on this altar of egalitarianism.

7.38 p.m.

Mr. L. M. Lever (Manchester, Ardwick)

The debate is timely because it enables the House to consider a problem which has afflicted so many of our fellow citizens since the introduction of the 11-plus. There is a common desire on boll sides of the House to see that every child has the best possible education, makes the most of its life and contributes to the country as a good citizen.

The fact that even during the war we passed the 1944 Act, at a time when Britain was being assailed on all sides by the enemy, shows that we in this great country took time out to consider the future of our children. That is an example to the world of how a country at war was willing and able to take immediate steps to preserve its future by introducing a Measure like the 1944 Act.

That Act was designed to give every child an equal opportunity to make the best of his or her life. With the introduction of the 11-plus system, however, we find that the greatest worry parents have is anxiety whether or not their children will pass the 11-plus examination as a condition precedent to going into a grammar school. Our sympathies go out to parents who face this anxiety.

This is not a question of a person possessing sufficient money to pay for his child to go to a grammar school. Every parent and child is affected in the same way. It means that at an impressionable age in a child's life, at a time when the child's mind is developing rapidly, a social problem causing great anxiety is placed on its shoulders.

The nature of our problem today is how, by eliminating the 11-plus examination, we can give to every child the opportunity of a grammar school or advanced education, and the sooner the House faces that problem the better. I am a product of an elementary school. I am also a scholar of a school that has been referred to very often in this House and in the country, the Manchester Grammar School—and what a school that is! It is a very great school. I was a scholar in it, and am now a governor of it, and I also represent it in this House. But the Manchester Grammar School of today is not the same school as it was 30 or 40 years ago, except in attainment.

In terms of opportunity no boy, however well-to-do, can get into the Manchester Grammar School unless he passes not only the 11-plus examination but a special examination set by the school it- self. There is no criterion of wealth there. Boys of working-class parents are there, making the fullest use of the education provided, and they will be first-class citizens in the future.

There is no particular measure of snob value in our schools as they have developed. We find that boys in all strata of society are in our grammar schools, and our public schools, and every other school. All those old barriers are being broken down surely—and quickly, too—because we really want every child to have the best possible education—

Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

But would not the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that if we have the comprehensive system this wonderful grammar school is at risk?

Mr. Lever

I do not think that this wonderful grammar school will be at risk at all. What the Ministry is trying to do is to see that every boy or girl has an opportunity of being educated to the standard of the Manchester Grammar School. It is not a question of bringing that school down—no Minister of Education on either side of the House will ever do that.

The problem is to see that every boy and girl gets a chance of the education offered by such schools as Manchester Grammar School—and the Manchester High School for Girls, which is another first-class school—where working-class children have the right to go, irrespective of the purse, if they pass the necessary examination. We have in Manchester famous denominational schools such as the Xaverian College, St. Bede's, The Hollies and Loretto.

What we have to do is not to rush the whole question—[Interruption.] Some people think that the comprehensive school will be the answer to their prayer, and in content and thought the comprehensive school has many virtues. It will give children the chance of being educated to grammar school standards in the subjects for which they are best suited, but I say quite frankly that we cannot rush this question not only because of the difficulties of finance and land, and the disturbance that it is bound to cause in some spheres, but because if it is done gradually, we can evolve a system that will give every child the sort of education he or she should have.

I repeat, we do not want to rush this matter. We do not want to be like the good old Duke of York, who marched his troops up the hill only to march them down again. We must work together—all parts of the House and all elements in the country—to see that every child is given the chance to be properly educated. We must not damage the direct grant schools—if we do, it will be at our peril. The direct grant schools have evolved only by trial and error. When we get the rest of the educational system up to their standard there may be some sort of marriage or understanding in relation to who shall cater for whom, and for what.

There are many secondary modern and technical schools in my constituency, all of which have to be considered. They and technical schools in my constituency—Ardwick secondary technical school, St. Gregory's secondary technical school, St. Joseph's secondary technical school, Hallowfield church school and others—all of which have to be considered. They are served by a body of teachers who are devoted to their work and are determined to give to the children the best opportunities they can give. We should encourage those teachers, and we should give them more scope in addition to co-ordination with the work of the comprehensive system that will evolve in due course. There is scope for all patterns in education—we do not want one uniform pattern. We were not all made alike and we do not all look alike—which may be a good thing. The mind of a child is plastic, and differs from one individual to the other and, obviously, a system should cater for the individual child to enable it to make the most of its talents.

The denominational schools play a fundamental part in our educational system. We want to bring up our children each according to his or her own conscience. We want them to have full opportunity in their schools of having religious or denominational teaching, thereby giving them guidance for their future in addition to secular knowledge of the other subjects they are taught. The place of the denominational school is fundamental. After all, before education evolved here, before we had any State schools, it was left to the Churches to provide education—they were the pioneers of our educational system.

By the 1944 Act, the place of the denominational schools in our educational system was recognised once and for all. Since then we have had various amending Acts, all designed to help in some way or another the denominational schools. We had the 1952 Act. We had the 1959 Act which gave those schools a 75 per cent. grant for improvements or for new technical and grammar and secondary schools in conjunction with their existing primary schools. Many of the denominational schools are working on the basis of that 75 per cent. grant.

If we suddenly say to them, "We told you to go ahead on that basis and we have given you this 75 per cent. Now, change the whole course and start becoming comprehensive", where will they find the money to do it? I want to know, here and now, how and where these denominational schools—and their excellent promoters, who have given their lives to their creation—will find the money if they are suddenly asked to become comprehensive.

I do not care what the denomination is, they all have their problems, the Church of England, the Roman Catholic, the Jewish and others. In this question of reorganisation of secondary schools we ought to have some regard to their position. If they want to come into the comprehensive system, I am sure that no one would be more co-operative than the denominational authorities in education today.

There is no greater statesman than His Grace Archbishop Beck, chairman of the Catholic Education Council. He understands the nature of this problem. I am sure that he is most anxious to co-operate with the local education authorities and the Ministry, but he is quite right to ask, "How are my people to find the money?" They have already had to find 25 per cent. to add to the 75 per cent. provided under the Act. Costs are not going down, but are going up.

We have to try to understand the nature of the position of the denominational schools, of all denominations. In talking about the reorganisation of secondary education we might lose sight of the whole problem of education. When we talk about this reorganisation we must remember that secondary education is not the only form of education. It is time that primary education received a little more attention. Have we solved all our educational problems? Have we reduced the numbers of overburdened classes? Have we replaced outdated schools with new ones and stimulated the number who should come into the teaching profession? It is a very fine profession of which everyone in it can be proud. We should encourage more to go into the teaching profession.

We have not reached Utopia in our educational system. Some may desire comprehensive schools to give all children an opportunity of grammar school education. I am in favour of their being tried out, but it must be an ordered progress, not a rushing at it like a bull in a china shop. Education is not a static problem, but a highly dynamic one. At all times it is good to see where we are going, and to consider where we are going with the suggested proposals in relation to denominational and direct-grant schools.

We were all deeply impressed by the Minister's brilliant speech today. It emanated from a man who, I feel sure, commands our complete confidence. I am sure he does so in denominational spheres and in every part of the country. He is the right man in the right place, but I plead with him to bear in mind some of the problems to which I have drawn attention. I have been connected with this subject in Manchester and elsewhere. I have been on the local authority for 33 years, although I may not look so old. Perhaps that is because my association with education has given me a sense of rejuvenation. In God's good time, with good will among all sections of the community—not in the spirit of party capital but in the belief of every child having a proper opportunity—we shall solve this problem just as we have solved so many national problems.

7.54 p.m.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

I certainly echo the statement of the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. L. M. Lever) that we must very soon solve these problems. We are discussing this question against the background of an Opposition Motion to which I wish to direct the attention of the House. In our opinion the Motion is extremely negative, and I agree entirely with the remarks made by the Minister in this direction. The Motion does not suggest any particular course of action except to discourage a certain course of action. It does not make any particular judgment except to reiterate a statement of the Newsom Report, which in itself was a postponement of judgment.

It is all very well to say, as the Motion says, that it would be premature to attempt a reasoned judgment on comprehensive and other types of secondary education. I doubt if there will ever be a time when we shall get a committee to present a reasoned judgment on secondary education. Educationists are in many ways like politicians. Usually they can find some measure of agreement on what the problem is, but once they start looking for solutions they make all sorts of divergent suggestions. If we go into any school, be it a grammar, comprehensive or secondary modern school, and ask the teachers what they think, we get all kinds of different views and suggestions put forward.

The basic problem is that there is a severe wastage of talent. To quote from the Robbins Report: The proportion of middle-class children who reach degree-level courses is eight times as high as the proportion from working-class homes. That is appalling. It is not that middle-class children are in any way innately more clever than working-class children. It is a question of opportunity and also to some degree of background, as is readily admitted. We know enough about genetics to know that breeding has nothing whatever to do with educational ability and has no relation to intelligence. With due respect to another place, this is true.

One hon. Member described this wastage as deprivation. We are not allowing a certain group of people to develop themselves properly. This has been intimately connected with the system of 11-plus selection, despite what the hon. Member for Pudsey (Mr. Hiley) said, in what I thought a series of quite remarkable statements. He stated that the 11-plus system was an excellent one and that nothing better could be devised. I think it much past the time that something much better should be devised.

I agree that the tendency to stream which has been moving back into the primary school at times to the age of eight is very harmful. I do not want to rehearse a whole system of arguments against the 11-plus, for we have heard them many times before. It is an arbitrary method of selection with an error potential of 5 per cent. to 10 per cent. This lesson has been learned by the Americans and by the Russians. It has been learned by the Swedes, as was mentioned by the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet). The French have put back their age of selection to 13. The simple lesson of all this is that it is absolutely essential to devise a system of non-selective entry to secondary education. We are somewhat afraid that in the furore which is building up on comprehensive versus grammar school education this simple fact may tend to get lost.

One would think from the way some Members on this side of the House spoke that when they heard the word "comprehensive" they were thinking of a definite form of school. They were thinking, for one thing, of a large school. The figure of 2,000 was frequently mentioned. It was argued that this was too large a school community to be of any value. I myself have taught, not for a long time but for about three years, in a Scottish comprehensive. I would think that the standard there was every bit as good as that which obtains in England and the schools are probably very similar. The problem of the school community was the same. The total size was not so important a factor as the size of the class. That, in turn, was naturally directly related to the teacher shortage.

Contrary to what everyone may say, it is not true that 1,500 or 1,600 is very large. Five hundred and fifty pupils went through my hands every week. I knew them all by sight and by name. I knew a lot about them individually. It did not take long for this to happen. Thus, I do not believe that size is quite as important a factor as has been made out. Nor, indeed, is it a fixed factor. The hon. Lady the Member for Peckham pointed out that many comprehensives were much smaller, going right down to 800 or 900 pupils.

We on this bench would accept broadly that there is a real need for a much wider introduction of comprehensive education. Just how it is to be done is a much more difficult and delicate question and one which demands the cooperation of teachers and parents. I was horrified to hear the hon. Member for Pudsey suggest that schooling was nothing to do with parents and that parents were grossly interfering with the excellent operation of the schools in his area. That is a strange outlook, to put it mildly. The type of comprehensive will obviously vary according to the geography and the population spread and according, to some degree, to the tradition of the area. It must not be forgotten that our educational system is often directly related to the tradition of an area, and prejudices are connected to these traditions. It might not be possible to introduce a certain system quickly or easily when these prejudices exist to jeopardise the success of the scheme.

Again, account must be taken of the existing school buildings available, because it would require the colossal sum of about £1,300 million to put primary and secondary schools in England and Wales into modern order. Existing buildings have been taken into account in the Leicestershire experiment, and that has been generally successful.

We believe that a variety of experiment into what is the most satisfactory form of comprehensive in a certain area is necessary. I am glad to see from the Amendment that the Government recognise this, because these words are used: the method and timing of such reorganisation should vary to meet local needs". However, we are not altogether certain what the Government mean by the last part of their Amendment, to which the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) referred, when a clear national policy in comprehensive education is spoken of. We feel strongly that this should not be done by way of compulsion. I am glad that the Secretary of State expects to obtain a great deal of co-operation from local authorities. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to indicate that he does not expect that he will have to return to the House and ask for powers to compel the introduction of such a system. Nevertheless, he seemed to hold out the possibility. This point may be clarified by the Minister in winding up. Until we can be certain that this will not be made the subject of compulsion, if the Amendment is voted upon we shall abstain. We would vote against the Motion and abstain on the Amendment.

8.7 p.m.

Mr. W. T. Williams (Warrington)

Speaking for myself, I have found this a difficult debate, partly because it has been difficult to follow a debate which has run on parallel lines which have never seemed likely to meet. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) said in opening that he hoped there would be some grounds for bipartisanship in dealing with the vexed question of education. However, his advocacy is of a somewhat orgiastic kind. The time almost invariably comes when he forsakes reason for emotion, and at that point any possibility of bipartisanship goes out of the window. It would have helped if he had attempted to define his terms. The Motion gives no clue as to what the Conservative Party is really defending. We know that the right hon. and leaned Gentleman is critical of us. We have only to sit on opposite benches from him for his gorge to rise.

The Motion is based on false premises, to begin with. Nothing in his speech resolved the ambiguity that it is impossible to get a sensible debate either in the House or in the country. The Conservative Party in Government or out of Government has never publicly declared, except with the public hypocrisy that it regards as necessary to oil its own wheels back to Parliament, what real system of education it approves of. I thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman was going to begin his speech from the point at which he left off on 14th May last year, when he said that the tripartite system of education broke down in 1957.

I gather from him today that what he really means is that that tripartite system never had a fair opportunity. Is that what he is saying? Is the Conservative Party wedded to the return of a system under which at 11½ years, 10½ years or 13 years—it does not matter which—the great majority of our children are to be streamed into streams in which for the rest of their lives they will stay?

Mr. Hogg

The hon. and learned Member is asking me a question and I find it very difficult to see how he gets the material for his question out of either the speech I delivered this afternoon or any other speech to which he has referred. I have made clear in the House, not once but I should think four or five separate times, that I have never believed in the tripartite system. I said that it had never been applied, and that happens to be true over the greater part of the country. I simply do not believe and I never have believed and never will believe that children are to be divided into three rigid categories. Why the hon. and learned Member should ask a question which supposes that I harbour this belief, which may or may not be true but is wholly alien to my thought, I do not know.

Mr. Williams

I am happy to know that. I shall never be in doubt again, but I should be interested to know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman is speaking for himself, which he sometimes does, or for his party.

Mr. Hogg

I speak not only for myself but for my party. I believe that there is nobody in the country who has accepted since the Spens Report for any period of time the theory on which the Spens Report was based. It was based on the very best and most fashionable theory of the time which seems to me to bear no relation to any common sense at all.

Mr. Williams

I am glad to have this much elucidation from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He says that he speaks for everybody, but he does not speak for his hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) or his hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Hiley), because both of them have spoken today and said that the present system of education seems to them to be the best possible in the best of all possible worlds.

Mr. Hogg

I do not want to keep interrupting the hon. and learned Member's speech and I will try not to do so again, but the present system is not the tripartite system. This is what the hon. and learned Member must try to get into his head. The tripartite system has never been introduced, except into a few areas. What my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) was defending was a much more sophisticated and possibly less logical status quo which happens to exist in the country at present, but it has nothing at all in common with the so-called tripartite system which places three tiers, one above the other—secondary modern, technical and grammar schools—in three separate categories.

Mr. Williams

I do not want to start a private argument with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. This is a quibble, but the point has been made and a point to which many of his hon. Friends and many of his friends in the country are committed and about which they get so excited and full of emotion. Whether it is a bipartite or tripartite system, it is the division of children at a particular age by test into a particular type of school where they stay until their education is completed. Why does the right hon. and learned Gentleman take up the time of the House in quibbling between bipartite and tripartite when the position is clear?

Another thing which would have been of great help in the debate would have been if we could have got from the Conservative Party and its friends in the country, and the people who write the sort of articles that appeared in The Times on Monday, whether or not they are in favour of a selective system based on an examination or any other kind of test which divides people according to a so-called permanent unalterable intelligence quotient taken at any particular time in their lives. If we had agreement on this we would begin to have some basis on which a bipartisan educational policy could be developed.

As long as there are people in Britain who are committed to a doctrine that it is a good thing to deny to our children the advantages of a quality education and that there is some advantage in giving some children a standard of education which they deny to other children on a quite artificial basis—and from time to time educationists and psychologists change their minds—we shall never have that basis.

What is the Conservative Party defending when it is attacking us and talking about our doing things at the expense of the grammar school? Are hon. Members opposite saying that to ensure that some children will have better education in better schools with better equipment and better teachers it must be at the cost of other children being denied it, because the children who are to have this privilege are the ones who on a particular day or during a particular part of their lives seem to have greater ability and aptitude than other children? If this is what the Conservative Party is concerned about, it would seem that the whole of the Motion has been vitiated by something which is from the beginning utterly negative and utterly contrary to what we on this side of the House believe to be the way education should go.

We have tremendous problems in creating a comprehensive system of education. I do not want to spend the time of the House in talking about them now because my speech has perhaps already gone on for too long, but at least one thing must be clear to men of good will who have no private social reasons for wanting to propagate a system which has so many manifest injustices about it. What must be clear is that if we open the doors more widely and abolish artificial tests which are unfair to children we are not doing it at the expense and to the injury of grammar schools.

If all that hon. Members opposite are saying is that if we bring in 600 children in an entry instead of 60 children we are doing injury to quality education, that is one thing. But if they are saying that we must now prevent children of lower ability from mixing with children of greater ability, and if this is what they are defending, it is a gross offence against all true democracy. It is a gross offence to try to pursuade the people of this country that what they are doing is preserving the quality of education and that, somehow or other, there is an inherent merit in children being segregated in the way in which the present educational system segregates a great number of our people.

If we agree that selection at 11 or 13 or any other time is a bad thing, if we agree that in a society where we constantly talk as though there are no real differences between people save the accidents of birth and upbringing, it is wrong to reject pupils who want a grammar school education or a quality education and cannot pay for it or children who might develop later and thereby benefit by grammar school education, it may be that the divisions across the parties in the House and across the opinions of people in the country can be overcome. But they can never be overcome—this is what offends me so greatly—so long as the party opposite and its friends in the country carry on talking as though, somehow or other, educationists and members of this party, in wanting to open the door wider and make it possible for more children to come into the precious stream of education, are doing something which is destructive of grammar school education.

So far from the British system of education giving to the best of our children opportunities of leadership and education and improvement, the reality is that far too many children have latent abilities which are completely wasted by the way our system is run. From the beginning, children in poorer areas who go to primary schools go to schools which have been propagated or permitted to remain by the party opposite, primary schools, that is, which are below the standard of those attended by middle-class children. The process begins there.

It almost invariably happens, and has happened since the pernicious system of streaming began in British education, that such a child, streamed at 7 or 8 years of age on the basis of reading ability, is likely to be left in the lower stream for the rest of his educational life. Plainly, this puts a grossly unfair impediment upon children from poorer homes and homes where the family cannot cope. Once the division has been made, the children tend to conform to the pattern of the stream in which they are put. What Dr. Douglas has revealed by his research, the only real piece of research in this matter which appears to have been done, is that children in lower streams deteriorate whereas children in upper streams improve their educational standards.

It is nonsense to talk, as we have heard people talking in this debate today, as though anything done in our grammar schools or secondary modern schools makes a real attempt, once children have been put into a lower stream, to get them into the grammar school stream. It is rubbish to talk as though it is a matter for pride that one child in 40 leaves the secondary modern school and goes to the grammar school. If a child has been put into a school and streamed at 11, by natural development or, rather, natural deterioration, it becomes ten times more difficult for him, a child who needs greater help to develop his abilities, to get out of that stream and into the grammar school stream.

As we go into the matter further, we discover that, as a result of a psychological mistake which has bedevilled our educational system for years, the child from the poor home, from the family which cannot cope, never has any challenge to his ability put before him when he is put into a stream below his true ability. He is kept in a school in which, for the most part, children are expected to leave at 15. There is a sense in which it is true that the age at which a child leaves school is more closely related to the type of school he attends than to his measured ability. Moderately able children in grammar schools stay at school longer than very clever or able children in secondary modern schools.

Thus, we fall into the trap, the trap which has been set and reset in the Press when this subject has been discussed and which represents so shameful an indictment of us all, that we make judgments and predictions about schools and about children which are self-fulfilling. Our system of education ensures that, once a child has been streamed and given a school, inevitably, because the challenge is not presented to it, we can, having made our initial judgment of the child, reinforce our view of its work by the quality of the teaching which is given, the opportunities which are offered, and the kind of school it attends.

The result is to be seen in the fact that social class differences in Britain affect opportunities of educational advance. It is still true that the university entrance examinations and the G.C.E. results show tremendous advantages to well-to-do children as against poorer children, although it is a remarkable fact that, in general, working-class children who do go to university, having overcome all the initial difficulties, leave university with better degrees than children coming from middle-class homes.

The time has come when a breakthrough must be made out of this vicious system which is so penal in its effect upon so many of our children and so wasteful from the point of view of the well-being of our country.

My final word to my right hon. Friend is this. I hope that, having done as he has with courage and with grace, making quite plain the difficulties, problems and wastages which have gone on for too long in our educational system, he will not permit the new system itself to propagate the problems, difficulties and wastages of the system which he is sweeping away.

I do not believe—I am really no doctrinaire—that comprehensive education offers the solution to all our problems. Enormous difficulties will still remain. There is the danger of creating social ghettoes if we too rigidly stick to the catchment areas for children attending our comprehensive schools. There will remain the problem of wastage which can be perpetuated by maintaining the streaming system in our comprehensive schools, producing the result criticised by, I think, Miss Lang of Kidbrooke, that, even in comprehensive schools, once children are put into a stream they never get out of it. When my right hon. Friend sets up his new comprehensive system, which will be under criticism from the beginning, I hope that he will take care to ensure that this more hopeful system will not perpetuate the evils and dangers of the bad system which it replaces.

8.29 p.m.

Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

Having listened to most of the debate today, I found that the only speech which seemed to make complete sense to me was the one delivered by the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. L. M. Lever). Although I suspect that, in spite of all he said, he will go into the Division Lobby against my party, his speech was really in support of all that we are saying.

I am convinced of two things at least. The Socialist Party programme for the future is pretty sure to destroy the grammar schools of this country as we know them, when the only real argument that has been put up against the grammar schools with any sense to it at all is that the 11-plus selection is at fault. Surely we ought not, in common sense, to blame the grammar schools for the method of selection which is carried out. Few would argue that that method of selection is the right one, but nevertheless it has been the one which has served the country reasonably well in the past. In the absence of anything better it has at least produced some wonderful success in the grammar school.

The other matter to which I wanted to refer was the speech by the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston). He spoke, I believe, for the Liberal Party when he supported, almost in entirety, everything which has been said by the Government and everything which is intended by the Government. All that I can say of his speech is that I am not at all surprised—nor should any of my hon. Friends be surprised—at the Liberal Party's point of view. We have become used to them supporting everything which stems from Socialism. The only thing which surprises me about the political situation today is that the general public do not seem to realise it. The sooner they do realise it, the better.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

Look at the battalions on the hon. Member's benches.

Mr. Gurden

That has nothing to do with what I am saying at the moment. I should like to make it clear that the party opposite mean to destroy the grammar schools—no matter what they have said today—yet they have not quite admitted that the grammar schools must go. In fact, in practice, we see that the grammar schools are going where local authorities bring in this comprehensive system.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

I wonder if the hon. Member is aware that two-thirds of the children of secondary school age live in the authorities which have already reorganised or are intending to reorganise along comprehensive lines. A number of these authorities are under Conservative rule. What does he thing about them?

Mr. Gurden

I cannot quite understand the hon. Gentleman's point, but I think that whatever the local authorities decide to do they should in the main preserve the grammar schools as they are today, even if it means changing the method of selection for those schools, or any other schools.

As I understand the arguments put forward by hon. Members opposite, they do not like to retain grammar schools as such, or, in fact, many other types of schools. They wish to replace them with a completely comprehensive system. The main complaint is this question of selectivity, all built up on a case against the 11-plus, which my party have rarely tried to defend. The fact is we have to have some means of selectivity at some stage or other, and sometimes, of streaming. Even in comprehensive schools it is accepted that there has to be some means of selectivity, of streaming, of different abilities.

I should have thought that the principle of streaming and selectivity must go on if we are to have any efficient form of education at all. If this is not so, what are we to do about universities? Are we to say that every child, no matter what ability, must not be examined or tested for ability, that he should have the right to go to a university, no matter what his ability in any sphere at all? If we are saying that there is some sense in the argument against grammar schools and their selectivity, we are saying that selectivity is useless at any stage of education. If there is anything wrong with selectivity at 11, surely this is not an argument for bringing in a completely comprehensive system and doing away with grammar schools.

I do not make any apology now of at any other time for mentioning my own city of Birmingham. I can assure hon. Members in all parts of the House that the Socialist Party will be very unpopular so far as education is concerned if they attempt to destroy the grammar schools. The King Edward's Foundation, I know, is one of the finest in the country and has a wonderful reputation. I am sure that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Victor Yates) will thoroughly agree with me here. It has a fine reputation and has turned out some of the finest students we could provide from Birmingham. In fact, they could match those of any other part of the country. If we have this completely comprehensive system, these wonderful schools in Birmingham—not only King Edward's but denominational schools and grammar schools—would have to go.

The fact that we are assured that they will all be changed over to comprehensive schools and that they will be just as good makes nonsense, because by doing that we shall destroy the opportunity for those other talented ones who ought to have the opportunity, as they do at present, to go to universities or to special schools.

Mr. Molloy

I am trying to follow the hon. Member's argument. If it is right, what he says, that there has been a wonderful achievement in that particular grammar school for maybe half a century, is he really saying that, year by year, the exact number of children went to it and that they were the correct children over half a century, or would he reasonably suppose that perhaps some slipped through the net and did not actually get there? To prevent this happening, is not the answer a comprehensive system?

Mr. Gurden

Answering the hon. Member simply brings me to my next point. It is quite logical with the excellence of these grammar schools that what we really need is not a new type of school but more grammar schools to take all these children who could qualify by ability to get into them. There is no reason at all why the secondary modern school could not cope with the remainder. Let us face it, there are many children who do not wish to go on to better education. In some cases the parents do not wish them to. There is no reason why they should be forced into these comprehensive schools if they do not wish to follow an academic career. There are many jobs in this country which will have to be filled for a long time to come by people with no special academic ability, and the general public recognise this. There are still many children who will not like to go on at school to the higher age limits which we are to have. We must face the fact whether we like it or not, or whether or not we believe it to be right for the country.

I want to stress my support for the retention of the grammar schools at all costs, even thought we are bound to have to modify the system of selection. Let us by all means extend grammar schools and build more of them and not more comprehensive schools, since we know that some of the local authorities which have gone over to the comprehensive system have done so purely at the expense of the grammar schools, and, indeed, are eliminating them. No matter what is said by hon. Members opposite, that is the fact.

We must provide a greater range of schools. Let us encourage the voluntary schools and have more of them. Let us have more denominational schools. They have done a fine job. Let us have a greater range of selection of schools so that there shall indeed be freedom of choice for parents and children. Certainly the children must be able to change from one school to another at almost any age.

Mr. M. Stewart

I am following the hon. Gentleman with great interest. He says that there should be freedom of choice for parents. Will people be able to get their children, if they wish, into grammar schools as he sees them in future?

Mr. Gurden

Most certainly.

Mr. Stewart

Then they will not be the same as they are today, will they?

Mr. Gurden

The right hon. Gentleman is right—of course they will not be the same. Of course I am not satisfied with the educational system exactly as it is at the moment. It has not, indeed, been advocated by the majority of my right hon. and hon. Friends that we should retain exactly the present system with no change. I have not attempted to defend the 11-plus system. Nor have I said that we should not have any comprehensive schools anywhere.

The whole world knows that my party has supported comprehensive schools where they are suitable and not at the expense of grammar schools—and that is the qualification which I make. If the country is to progress as we want and expect it to and as we need it to, we should give greater opportunity over a wider range of choice of almost any type of school that we have so long as the ability of the child is there to meet it.

Our problem is that of selectivity and the method we should use to qualify children for these schools. I hope that, whatever happens, the Birmingham authority, so long as it has freedom of choice from the Government, will not abandon the grammar school system and will not affect the denominational and voluntary schools because, in Birmingham, we have produced some wonderful talent from the system we have, which could, of course, be improved.

8.44 p.m.

Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)

I have sat through the whole of the debate and have listened with interest to the speeches by right hon. and hon. Members opposite. This is their Motion that we are debating. In the last two-and-a-quarter hours there have never been more than five hon. Members on the Conservative benches, apart from the Front Bench. Yet well over 100 of them signed the original Motion. Where are they all? Have they gone back to Portsmouth and other places? Where is their interest in their own subject? My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that this educational topic was the one on which hon. Members opposite feel most strongly in defending the grammar schools which so few of them attended. I know that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) did attend one, but I am thinking of other people who make even more vigorous and telling speeches than he will ever do.

I have some interest in this subject. I am an old boy of a selective grammar school in Liverpool, which is concerned in the reorganisation attacked by two hon. Members opposite today. No Liverpool Member from my side of the House has yet been able to speak in the debate to defend Liverpool against this unwarranted attack. Part of the evidence on which the attack is based is from that nasty little newspaper, The Times Educational Supplement, which I can describe only as being as pathological in its hatred of the Labour Party, particularly in London, and comprehensive schools as The Times itself.

My old school was a comprehensive school completely at one time, except perhaps in one respect. It was the comprehensive school of the Liverpool merchants. They sent their sons to be educated at the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys. Some went to the art school, some to the commercial and some to the high school. That was a comprehensive school. But it was built on the foundations of another institution in Liverpool, the Mechanics Institute, which was founded primarily for the benefit of skilled operatives in Liverpool in 1824. The merchants pinched it for their sons, and they also pinched the endowments.

That was a comprehensive school, but it is now a selective grammar school. I am very proud to be an old boy of this school. I was never a prefect, for I was much too much against the establishment, but several other members of my family have been proud to have been educated at the Liverpool Institute and I share the honour with my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman), who, of course, went there a few years before I did. We also share it with two other gentlemen distinguished in entertainment—two of the Beatles. I am not sure that my old headmaster would have been very proud of them—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]—because he was a "square". They were Harrison and McCartney. In its history this school has performed many functions and there is no reason why it should not once again become a comprehensive school and have as honourable a future as it has had a past.

I should like to take up some of the objections of hon. Members opposite to some of the Liverpool schemes. It is thought that it might mean creating a new comprehensive school in separate buildings. I remind the House that there is a very distinguished indepedent school in Liverpool, the Liverpool College, which for many years has never been in one building. It does not have quite as long a history as the Liverpool Institute, but it has a fairly long history and I am told that it has a reasonable academic record, although not quite as good as that of the Liverpool Institute, perhaps because the Institute has comprehensive origins. It has never been in a single-purpose building.

The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), in a very long and powerful speech, in which he covered most of the arguments from his side, did not put forward the view that the only viable form of a comprehensive school would be one in a single building. The Opposition do not like comprehensive schools even in single-purpose buildings. Here I must declare another interest. I represent Woolwich, West, which contains two comprehensive schools, Eltham Green and Crown Woods, and many of the girls in the constituency go to Kidbrooke.

I should also declare my other interest. My daughter goes to Kidbrooke. I think that I am the only Member of the House of Commons at present with a daughter still at Kidbrooke. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a daughter who went to Kidbrooke in its early days. Those of us who know the history of those early days and the record of some right hon. and hon. Members opposite know very well that they consistently opposed this school. Throughout its history they have consistently attempted to denigrate it, even though it fulfils some of the conditions of which they have made so much in today's debate.

I should say this about my daughter's school. As some hon. Members know, it has been in the news of late. There are some very distinguished citizens of Woolwich who have sent their daughters to this school in the last few years. The town clerk of the borough, the borough treasurer, the leader of the Council, and the headmaster of Crown Woods school as well as their latest Member of Parliament have all had daughters at Kidbrooke in the last five years. Their children are not members of the worst gangs in London. We will find those, perhaps, more in Marylebone and places like that.

I was very surprised that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in his excursions into local experiments or local plans for the reorganisation of secondary schools, never once mentioned London except in an interjection. Never once in his hourlong speech did he call on the experience of the London County Council which, with his family background, rather surprised me.

Mr. Hogg

As a matter of fact, the hon. Gentleman is wrong. As he cares to speak derogatorily of my constituency, may I say that I mentioned explicitly that my constituency, which is in London, has a very good grammar school in a purpose-designed building and a very good comprehensive school in a purpose-designed building and a very good secondary modern school in a purpose-designed building. I therefore referred to the experience of London.

Mr. Hamling

I beg the right hon. and learned Gentleman's pardon, but I am sure that when we consult HANSARD tomorrow we shall find a fairly short paragraph on the matter in an hour-long speech. If he calls that referring to a local government programme, I am not sure what words mean. He has made many speeches this afternoon. He has mentioned Liverpool. We have had no mention of Bristol. London has been concerned in this campaign for 20 years. Is its experience not worth lengthy examination in an important debate like this?

May I again refer to Kidbrooke? As I say, it has had to contend with a great deal of denigration over the years—with stories about half the sixth form being pregnant, and things like that. [Laughter.] I cannot see anything amusing in that. My daughter goes there. I am sure that other hon. Members would not like stories like that to be told about their daughters' schools.

Hon. and right hon. Members say that people do not like these schools. Let me recall the history of local elections in south-east London. We have had three elections in the Borough of Greenwich in the last 12 months, as a result of one of which we now have a new Member of Parliament for West Woolwich. My opponent made the preservation of grammar schools a point at every one of his indoor meetings. It was in his election address. He was soundly beaten. So he did not gain many votes on that issue. We had an election in Greenwich for the Greater London Council and the Tories took one of the most almighty beatings of their career in my borough—and this was a major issue. They fought us in the borough election on the same issue and they were trounced—three times. That is a good hat trick. So that the people of Woolwich have spoken after 11 years of experience of Kidbrooke.

I remind right hon. and hon. Members opposite that they had 13 years to deal with education. They have been judging Kidbrooke in the last three weeks on 11 year's experience and on the basis of that some of them have said that Kidbrooke is a failure. They have had 13 years to deal with the other educational failures, and where are we? We are having at this moment to speak about the reorganisation of secondary education after 13 years of fumbling by right hon. and hon. Members opposite.

The teachers in London are behind the London County Council and the N.U.T. members at Kidbrooke are behind the L.C.C. The parents are behind it. I fail to see the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) in his place. He wandered in for 10 seconds or so earlier in the debate. I was reminded that quite a few of his electors are so enamoured of comprehensive schools that they send their children to Kidbrooke rather than trust them to the selective and non-selective schools of Kent. I wonder how many of them voted for the right hon. Gentleman. We get girls these days from all over south-east London coming to schools like Kidbrooke because they believe in them.

I should like in the last few minutes of my remarks—so the Whips can breathe again—to ask hon. Members opposite whether they agree with The Times that the present system is a "proven success". That was what The Times said last Monday. Does that mean the present system of grammar schools, which is selective, the present system of developing comprehensive schools that we like in London, or does it mean the present system whereby two-thirds of our children go to secondary modern schools? I take it that it means the selective system. Do right hon. and hon. Members opposite share this view?

The question has been put to right hon. and hon. Members opposite in this debate whether they stand for selection at 11-plus and whether they stand for segregation. We have had several discordant voices from the other side in reply to that question. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle), when he winds up the debate for the Opposition, will, no doubt, add his voice to that confusion.

This is a real question. Do right hon. and hon. Members opposite believe in segregation? Do they believe in selection? If they do not believe in examinations, what other form of selection do they want? Do they also believe in parental wishes being taken into account? If they do, that means free choice. If they believe in free choice, they cannot believe in selection. Or is it that they really want free choice for middle-class parents and to hell with the working class? Is that their opinion?

I am sorry that I may have outstayed my welcome a little, but this is a significant debate. We on this side are entitled, when we put forward our plans after 13 years of Toryism, to ask what are the Tories' plans for the reorganisation of secondary education.

9.0 p.m.

Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)

In answer to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling), may I say that while I have twice paid a fairly extensive visit to Kidbrooke, it would excite comment if either my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) or I had a daughter there.

Mr. Hamling

I was going to suggest that if the right hon. Gentleman took a wife and had a daughter to send to Kidbrooke it might improve his chances of the leadership.

Sir E. Boyle

One thing at a time.

I have two other things to say in answer to the hon. Gentleman's speech. First, with regard to what he said about elections in his part of London, if the electors could have forecast the statement from the Deputy Secretary of State and Minister of Defence for the Army on the subject of the Woolwich Arsenal, those elections might have gone differently.

The hon. Gentleman spoke about the L.C.C. I am glad this evening, as I have done on many other occasions, to pay my tribute to so much of the L.C.C.'s work as an education authority, but it is my recollection that in its last development plan it quite definitely envisaged a number of aided grammar schools remaining side by side with London's comprehensive schools, and I think that it is important to remember that.

In this debate, which has been a very interesting one, it is extremely important that we should be neither too optimistic nor too pessimistic about secondary education as it has developed in recent years. I could not help thinking during the debate of the last occasion on which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Education and Science and I took part in a debate on this subject. It was almost exactly six years ago to the day. It was on 22nd January, 1959, to be precise. On that occasion I mentioned in my winding-up speech that about 10,000 children took the G.C.E. examination from secondary modern schools in the previous year. According to a recently published volume of statistics, in 1963, the last year for which we have figures, about 55,000 children took the G.C.E. examination from secondary modern schools, and whereas the proportion in 1958 was 1 to 10, the proportion in 1963, with the grammar schools, was about 1 to 3.

When one bears in mind the fact that over the last 10 years, in real terms, expenditure per child in secondary schools as a whole has gone up by just under 80 per cent., and when one considers the 630,000 new secondary places in the building programme between 1960 and 1964, I do not think one can deny that this has been a period of considerable progress in secondary schools of all kinds.

I think, too, that there is today much more concern than ever before about the importance of secondary standards, and I want to emphasise that we on this side of the House fully share this concern. We share it for three reasons. First, because there is the great economic importance to our nation of raising secondary school standards. After all, it is no good having the best system of technical education in the world unless we build it on a first-class system of general school education, because today people have to learn to take their part in much more complex processes of production.

Then there is the social argument—the fact that we want, because it is right in itself, to bring about the social enrichment that progress in secondary education can mean.

Finally, and not least important, there are the large numbers of young people who today, far more than ever before, want to get qualifications—not only those who want full-time higher education, but a great many people of more modest educational attainments who want to get lower qualifications also. Therefore the House is entirely at one about the importance to be attached to rising standards of secondary education.

It has always been the view of the Conservative Party that we can achieve rising standards and a higher average standard in our schools without sacrificing the best of what has come down to us. I would here pray in aid an article which interested me very much recently, not from a supporter of my own party but from the Provost of King's, in Encounter a month or two back, in which he pointed out that while he and others wanted to see educational reform, our educational system from the age of 15 onwards is incredibly economical. [American academics] are alarmed that we will destroy what they regard as the main educational asset of this country—a sixth form that works and a first degree course that represents a respectable level of achievement. It seems to me that we want to achieve both rising secondary standards all along the line without sacrificing those achievements which are greatly admired in many other countries besides our own.

In his interesting speech to which the House listened with great admiration, the Secretary of State had a good deal to say about what he called "separatism", I could not help feeling that there is some danger of the word "separatism" clouding certain distinctions as well as helping understanding. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that "separatism" is in some ways a better word than "bipartite", but it can mean two different things. If by separatism the right hon. Gentleman means—as he seemed to mean at one point in his speech—not taking a final judgment of a child's ability at the age of 11, we have absolutely no quarrel with him. That is exactly the policy in which we have believed for many years.

Our policy, as declared in the 1958 White Paper and proclaimed frequently since, is that every child, no matter what kind of secondary school he attends, should receive the kind of course that enables him to travel on the educational road as far as his ability and perseverance can carry him.

I have never believed—and very few of my hon. Friends, if any, would believe today—in the idea of a strict tripartite system, in which children of three sharply defined kinds attended schools of three sharply defined kinds. On the contrary, we entirely reject the idea that any school should try to cater for a sharply defined range of ability. But neither do we accept the view—and I shall refer to this point in greater detail in a moment—that every school should try to cater for the full range of ability. For many years we have believed that there is a third possibility, namely, that there should be an overlap in the range of ability for which different schools attempt to cater. Our view is that there should be opportunities in all secondary schools for boys and girls to go forward to the limit of their ability. If the brighter children in the secondary modern schools can benefit from extended courses which overlap with the standard of the lower streams of the grammar schools, those courses should be available to them.

Having been Minister of Education, and having visited considerably more than half the local education authorities, I realise the danger of underrating what many boys and girls can achieve. To use a familiar image, often quoted in the Robbins context, I do not believe that what is often called the "pool of ability" is infinitely deep. But it is considerably deeper than we have often realised in the past. The Robbins statistics, and the evidence that has been published, show that very clearly. But we say that we can make a reality of secondary education for all, in securing for all children those opportunities which their potential abilities require, without having to abandon all those grammar schools of whose past achievements in educating the ablest of our children there can be no doubt.

Having stated Conservative policy, I turn to the other concept that is often held by those who support comprehensive education. It is the other concept of separatism. Many people—and I mention, for example, what is said by those who are urging the present Bristol proposals—wish to see secondary schools providing for the children in their own areas in the same way as is found in the primary schools. That is, they wish to see a series of neighbourhood secondary schools exactly like neighbourhood primary schools.

I recall the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, in debates we had in the latter 1950's, saying that he wished to see all secondary schools catering for the whole range of normal ability. That is a very different matter. To say that there should not only be an overlap between schools and to say that not only should selection not be final in terms of the course a boy or girl can receive is one thing, but to go further and say that all schools should cater for the whole range of normal ability, so that all grammar schools should lose their integrity, as it were, is a much more radical proposal.

I wish to address myself to this matter because my hon. Friends and I are not prepared to go as far as that. We are not prepared to go as far as the Secretary of State seemed to go on 27th November last when he said that …we ought now to accept that the reorganisation of secondary education on comprehensive lines should be national policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 1785.] I will explain the reason for our objection because I know there are many people who sincerely support the view that if one truly believes in secondary education for all, one should not wish to see any separate grammar or modern schools at all. I will explain why that view seems to us to go too far.

To begin with, I believe that those who argue for this view on the grounds that we shall then at last achieve parity of esteem for secondary schools are grossly deluding themselves. The right hon. Gentleman said—not today but quite recently—one thing with which I cannot possibly agree. He said that he was for a system in which "no child will be put in a position of being sent to a school which is accepted from the start as not possessing as good facilities as some other schools for advanced academic education."

Whatever advantages comprehensivism may have, it is at least certain not to make all secondary schools equally good or sought after. This point was made earlier in the debate from this side of the House and it has often been made by writers outside. The fact remains that if one has a series of neighbourhood schools, however the neighbourhoods are defined and whatever the zoning arrangements for the schools may be, it is in my view inevitable that some of the schools will develop a sort of hierarchy and that some will attain a higher repute than others.

The Economist was perfectly right when, commenting on this matter, it pointed out that universal comprehensive schooling might even intensify the class barriers which are so often co-terminus with geographical barriers. It was also right when it went on to say: The brilliant child from a tough area, who will now often find his way to a good grammar school a short distance away, could find himself handicapped by confinement to his home area from which the comprehensive's pupils are recruited.

Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)


Sir E. Boyle

Hon. Members opposite should remember this, and it is no good pretending that it is not something to be borne in mind. I will explain why to the hon. Member. Areas differ. One book after another has been written emphasising the social background to our national system of education and the relationship between school and home—for example, there is Dr. Wiseman's recent book or Jackson and Marsden, for that matter. They emphasise the relationship between the school and the home. I am certain that neighbourhood comprehensive schools, as I have pointed out, would soon develop their own hierarchy. This must be an important consideration at a time when we are all bothered, and rightly, about the relatively small proportion of the children of manual workers who succeed in proceeding to full-time higher education. There is a real danger that the working-class child, already handicapped by his home background, could be further handicapped by the fact that his neighbourhood school would contain a smaller proportion of university entrants than its neighbour. There is the further point, made in a letter to The Times today, that the less-favoured comprehensive schools could easily, also, attract fewer graduate teachers.

I do not want to develop this other aspect too much, but I was very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant), in his striking maiden speech today, raised the point that social tension can take place inside a comprehensive school as well as between separate schools. Indeed, there was some correspondence in the New Statesman just before Christmas on precisely that subject. It is rather interesting that one correspondent actually went so far as to write that streaming is completely alien to the comprehensive school philosophy and that any comprehensive school that fails to recognise this relinquishes the right to its name.

I must say that for anyone seriously to maintain that there shall be no streaming or setting in comprehensive schools—[Interruption.] If hon. Members disagree, I am delighted to hear it. I hope that they will bear that in mind in view of the support there is for the opposite view which I have come across myself in a London school. Whatever one's views on separatism, strict internal selectivity will be necessary if academic excellence is in any way to be attempted.

I want to deal a little further with this matter of doing away entirely with separate schools, and I should like to approach the subject not by talking about schools but about categories of children. However much we may rightly feel in this House that children cannot be precisely divided into categories, one can none the less, for rough purposes, say that boys and girls in secondary schools can be reckoned in three main categories. The first category consists of those who have shown by their work in school that they are obviously suitable for the traditional academic education—children who can cope with reasoning and appreciation in subjects like the additional humane studies, the more intellectual aspects of maths, and so on. I am quite certain that the crux of the matter we have before us today lies in the proposals of a number of big cities to do away with separate schools altogether and to abolish old-established grammar schools in those cities. I do not believe that we have any idea of just what a serious thing this will be for the educational—and, indeed, the cultural—life of the nation.

I am not, let me make it clear, attacking comprehensive schools as such. I am on the record many times as Minister as having said there are occasions when comprehensive schools are perfectly right—in a new housing area or in scattered country districts. Neither do I say that never, in any circumstances, should a grammar school lose its identity. As Minister I always tried to judge these matters fairly—in fact, I defended one last year when such a case arose. But I believe that the wholesale drive against separate grammar schools in big cities is bound to lead to the intellectual impoverishment of this country.

The second category consists of those boys and girls who may not be suitable for the whole of the traditional academic education but who can, none the less, prove themselves at 13 or 14 years of age capable of doing far more advanced work than anyone could have guessed when they were 10 or 11; that is to say, boys and girls in the middle G.C.E. bracket, or the sort who will soon be doing well in the Certificate of Secondary Education. Let me say here that I am quite ready to agree that many of those children will do as well in comprehensive shools as in modern schools or even better—I do not dispute that—but I think that it is a very big assumption indeed to assume that all those boys and girls would do better in a comprehensive school than in a modern school.

I do not in any way want to gloss over the defects there are in many of our modern schools. Broadly speaking, I think that at the top many are getting pretty good G.C.E. courses in a wide range of subjects and doing well. How many modern school boys and girls are doing subjects such as algebra which no one could have guessed they would be doing only 10 years ago? At the bottom, many modern schools are coping most conspicuously with a number of difficult cases, but I recognise that there are often weaknesses and that many children in the "Newsom" range are getting much less out of school than they should.

I do not want to play down what is said in the Newsom Report about weaknesses of modern schools, but I ask hon. Members to bear in mind the important paragraphs 619 to 625 in the Report, pointing out that it is precisely those in the middle of the school who may well have greater opportunities in certain respects in modern schools than in comprehensive schools. There they will play a bigger part in the school life and many would have had a smaller chance of reaching a position of authority or playing in a school team in the comprehensive school. The Newsom Report puts this very fairly. Then, thirdly, there are boys and girls who can make little showing with a traditional academic course but who can greatly gain from a course geared specially to their ability and interests. It is important to keep this less academic section in mind at a time when, before long, we shall be raising the school leaving age.

Many books have been written to show that this ability range will often do better in the smaller type of school. There is a real danger here which I would ask hon. Members opposite to take seriously, the danger in a comprehensive school, as part of the desire for levelling up, in trying to give all boys and girls a watered down version of an academic course. I agree very much with what was written by Mr. J. B. Mays on "Growing up in the City", in which he rightly says: Schools should not be thought of as educational factories turning out so many boys and girls each year of a standard type and a uniform level of ability. Our educational system is still in thrall to the Grammar School tradition with its somewhat bookish curriculum and theoretical bias. That bias is all right for those who can benefit from it, but it is not the right bias for other Toys and girls. That is another reason why I say that we should not assume that for everyone the comprehensive pattern is better than the secondary modern pattern.

There are two other points which tell against the belief that we should no longer have any separate schools at all. The first concerns school buildings. When the results were published the other day of the amount needed to put schools right many people compared the total with the sum of the total of the annual building programmes, but that is a wrong comparison. I think Ministers will agree that it is the amount we annually spend on improvements—this year and next, about £30 million—which has to be compared with the £1,368.

There is a growing need which we all accent, having had five years of concentration on secondary schools, for more to be spent on improvements to primary schools. I cannot believe that more school building to bring about the ending of separate schools is more important than certain other subjects of high priority. Finally in regard to schemes for complete organisation within one big city, surely everyone must recognise that there is enormous difficulty in reorganising the city completely on comprehensive lines. It is not only in London but in other cities—Manchester and Liverpool have been mentioned—where there has long been a tradition of travelling some distance to school.

Manchester in many ways has tried extremely hard to produce a workable plan. I have seen many details of what one might call Manchester Mark IV. I believe the trouble here is not the particular mark that Manchester has now produced. The trouble concerns the whole exercise—the attempt to reorganise a big city conscientiously on comprehensive lines so that there are no separate schools.

It is for all these reasons that we on this side disagree with the idea that, in our desire to level up secondary school standards, we should altogether do away with separate grammar and other schools. We recognise that we are likely to move more in a comprehensive direction, but we would ask right hon. and hon. Members opposite to bear the points I have made very fully in mind. I have in my time often been critical of some grammar school attitudes. I will be again tonight. I have constantly reminded people on grammar school speech days that it is not only in grammar schools that one finds boys and girls who can do academic work. They must not talk as though they were a tightly knit academic community threatened by barbarian hordes outside. None the less, I believe that we should do a great injustice to children and to parents if we tried to bring an end to the grammar school tradition in our big cities.

There are only two further things I want to say before I sit down. One thing I have done partly but I apologise very much for not having done it fully before. I should have congratulated not only my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central but also my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier) and the hon. Member for Southgate (Mr. Berry) on their excellent maiden speeches in the debate some hours ago. I am sure we all hope to hear them again before long.

We all listened with great interest this afternoon to the impressive peroration of the Secretary of State. It is very important that we should consider exactly what is, as it were, the end product of our education system and why we are devoting year by year rising proportions of our national wealth to this service. It is partly because of rising numbers, but, as the Secretary of State will know well, we are committed as a party, and he is now committed, not only to providing for rising numbers, but also to a steady rate of improvement in the education service. I believe that the ultimate purpose of our educational system is to promote civilised values in our community. I believe that, among those civilised values, perhaps the most important of all is the desire to focus on the needs of children of all ranges of ability and to do the best for them.

It is highly important in educational matters to remember to think in terms of the goals that are right for the children themselves, and not necessarily the goals we want to impose on them. This is clearly important with the less academic type of child. After all, the Newsom children, to put it in that way, do not teach one another. I believe it is equally true of children of all levels of ability. We must think all the time in terms of the sort of course that is right for them to follow, so that either a fully academic child, a partly academic child or a non-academic child can be carried as far as possible and fully prepared for life after school. As I have already intimated, I recognise the importance of school not only doing justice to ability but also, as far as possible, drawing out ability. The hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet), to whose speech we all listened with interest, had much to say on this. She was perfectly right. Schooling can help children to acquire intelligence, as well as doing justice to the levels of ability that they have already reached.

I say finally to right hon. and hon. Members opposite: do not do less than justice to the abilities of able children through the pursuit of an abstraction—like "the classless society". Let us rather see how we can level up standards while at the same time maintaining those fine schools and those fine traditions which still, I believe, have value in the modern world.

9.29 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. R. E. Prentice)

I should like to begin by referring to the three maiden speeches we have heard in the debate and to say to my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier) and to the hon. Members for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant) and Southgate (Mr. Berry) that I am sure the whole House enjoyed listening to their speeches. We shall look forward to hearing them speak again. One thing that all three hon. Members avoided was paying too much attention to the tradition of being non-controversial in a maiden speech. They paid the right kind of attention to that, but not too much. In other words, they all contributed to the debate in a controversial way, and that was probably a very good thing.

At the beginning of the debate the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) appealed for a bipartisan policy on this matter. I must say that, listening to his speech, I felt that what he meant by bipartisan was that we should agree with him and that he was not prepared to come any way to agree with us. Yet the debate which has followed has at least been bipartisan to a very large extent on this point—that very few of the Members who have spoken have had anything good to say about selection at 11-plus. Yet the real policy issue is whether a system of segregating children at 11-plus, on a test which often takes place at the age of 10-plus and in circumstances often decided much earlier by streaming in the primary school, a system which is still that under which the majority of children pass from the primary to the secondary stage, should be changed or not.

This is the issue in front of the country and in front of every education authority. This is the issue in front of the Government and of the House. Yet on this issue hardly anyone who has spoken in the debate—and I have heard nearly all of it—had anything to say in favour of 11-plus selection, except for the hon. Member for Pudsey (Mr. Hiley). Everyone else was admitting that it was a system which to some extent or other was a bad system, unfair and unjust to large numbers of our children.

The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) said that he was against it. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) said that the Conservative Party was against it. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Sir E. Boyle) said that the late Government was against it. He went on to produce figures of academic successes in secondary modern schools which showed the extent to which children at the age of 11, adjudged unfit for grammar school education, had been surpassing the standards of at least a quarter of those who passed into the grammar schools at the age of 11-plus.

In other words, as far as we can judge from the debate, the House is almost unanimous in agreeing that 11-plus selection is a bad thing for our children. The difference between the two sides of the House surely is, then, that we are prepared to do something about it and hon. and right hon. Members opposite are not, because the sum total of the advice given us by hon. Members opposite boils down to the fact that here is a system which is educationally unsound and socially unjust to large numbers of our children, and this they condemn, but they are prepared to advocate policies which mean the continuation of that system into the indefinite future. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If they do not mean that, they must come along with us in the Amendment.

The country is faced with a choice, and it is the function of Government to make a choice. The late Government did not make a choice and are rather shaken by the fact that we intend to do so. This is the essential difference between us. I, therefore, do not intend to spend any time in going into arguments against the 11-plus. They were stated with great force and clarity by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science in his remarkable opening speech, and they have not been seriously contradicted by anyone in the debate.

I should like to examine the reasons put forward by hon. Members opposite for asking us as a Government to take up a posture of impotent neutrality on this important issue for the future of our children. Many of the arguments fall into the following category. There are difficult problems of working this out in practice. So hon. Members take the worst possible way of dealing with the problem and then assume that it is the only way, ignoring the manner in which many local education authorities are solving it in a very statisfactory fashion.

For example, the assumption has been made in many speeches from the opposite side that a comprehensive school must be very large, and that a very large school must, by definition, be a bad school. There is a great deal of expert opinion on both sides of the argument on the question of whether a school should be large or small. Hon. Members have quoted educationists in favour of small schools. One could equally quote other people out of context in favour of large schools. Certainly, many of the most successful schools in this country—both Eton and Manchester Grammar School have been referred to in this connection—are big schools.

A number of very good secondary modern schools are large. I went into a large secondary modern school in East Suffolk a few weeks ago, a school in which, because of size and the economies of size, it is possible to teach Spanish in the fifth form. This school is able to offer in its practical wing a course in motor mechanics and other courses of this kind to a viable number of children because it is large.

In other words, there are arguments in favour of the large school and arguments in favour of the small school. But, of course, as my right hon. Friend made clear earlier, to require of local authorities that they go comprehensive offers them a range of choice. A Comprehensive system does not have to consist of schools catering for the whole range of children from 11 to 18 years of age. There are the alternatives mentioned by my right hon. Friend. But even those schools, especially purpose-built comprehensive schools, catering for everyone from 11 to 18, do not have to be anything like so large as people were accustomed to assume only a few years ago. It used to be assumed that, to have a comprehensive school for everyone from 11 to 18 and to have a viable sixth-form in it, required a school of about 2,000. Now, most people looking at the question would say, I think, that because of the tendency in all secondary schools for the sixth form to grow, one can do the same job with a school of little more than 1,000. Here again, it can be argued that that is still too large and, as I said, this is a point on which there are differing opinions. But it is not right to argue that, automatically, they must be very large schools and, equally automatically, that this is wrong.

Another point assumed by so many hon. Members opposite and by many of those who have commented in the Press and elsewhere on this issue is that, if one cannot have purpose-built comprehensive secondary schools catering for pupils from 11 to 18 years of age, one must group a lot of existing buildings together, and that this is automatically unsatisfactory. My right hon. Friend has made clear to the House both in the debate today and in the earlier debate that he would not be prepared to accept unsound schemes for grouping schools together into one which did not take proper account of the buildings, the distances between them and all the other factors.

I remind the house that a great many authorities are already making a success of comprehensive education under arrangements which group separate buildings together. There are many in London and elsewhere which are achieving very good results. The hon. Member for Ormskirk was quite wrong to suggest that, automatically, children have to go to and fro all the time throughout the day. It can be done in several ways, of which the most common and the most practical is to have a junior school of the first and second forms, or first, second and third forms, in one building and a senior school in the other. This, after all, is a common feature of schools which were built to a pattern of that kind.

Therefore, I beg hon. Members not always to assume that the worst way of doing it is the only way, but to give local education authorities the credit for doing what many are doing already, taking a practical view of things and finding the answers to those problems which arise.

I come now to what I think is the most plausible of the arguments which have been advanced from the benches opposite, the argument developed by the right hon. Member for Handsworth when he spoke of the alternative method which he described as overlap. This has superficial attractions. It can be argued, and it is argued, that one can enlarge the opportunities in the secondary modern school by the development of a wider range of courses, and one can, perhaps, widen the intake into the grammar school, thereby taking account in one way or another of the fallibilities of the 11-plus. Of course, if one does that one treads on fewer corns. If one does that, one gives less offence to those who are attached to the grammar schools and one achieves, perhaps, a little of what we are trying to achieve on this side of the House.

I would ask hon. Members again to consider these two points. First, if one takes overlap to its logical conclusion, if one develops the wide variety of courses in a secondary modern school needed to provide a really wide range of opportunities, and if one extends the intake into the grammar school to widen its basis, of course one gets to the position which we want to achieve. If this is taken to its logical conclusion, we go comprehensive, and anything less than that is a failure to go comprehensive.

The other thing which I would ask hon. Members to consider is that if this is not taken to its logical conclusion, if the grammar school is still to be a different place from the modern school—and that is what many hon. Members opposite mean—selection at 11 must be retained. It must be decided who is to go to the grammar school and who is not to go. Some must be selected and, by their selection, others must be rejected. Many children must still be prevented, at the age of 10½, from receiving the type of education which their parents would prefer and which the children are being taught is the best kind of education. The primary schools will still be distorted by having this concentration on the test lying ahead, for which the ambitious headmaster will be preparing his brightest pupils. In other words, this overlap theory is not an adequate substitute for comprehensive education. Of course it is better than too rigid an application of old ideas. of course it is some advance, but it is not comprehensive education, and no one could claim that it is.

I should like to go on to what has been the punch line of the propagandists on the other side on this issue. It is the attack on us on the grounds that, in some way or other, our policy means destroying the grammar schools. I want to say, here and now, that those who demonstrate in the streets against the "destruction" of the grammar schools would be every whit justified in making this demonstration if this Government or any Government were really intending to do anything like destroying the grammar schools. Many of us would feel the same. I myself could not belong to such a Government and, indeed, would join such a demonstration. Of course, the reality of our policy is described in the words of our Amendment, which is to: preserve all that is valuable in grammar school education for those children who now receive it and make it available to more children. I should like to quote the case of an individual school. I do this with caution, because I know that anyone can quote individual schools on either side of this argument. There are good schools and poorer schools of all kinds, whether selective or comprehensive. This is fairly obvious. I should like to quote the individual school which is typical of a number of others, and which I spent an afternoon visiting last Friday. It is the Wandsworth comprehensive school. It was originally an old grammar school founded in 1895, and in 1955 is became a comprehensive school. It was, in fact, married with the junior section of the Old Brixton School of Building, and it has, since then, taken in a wide range of boys of all abilities. Indeed, it is one of those comprehensive schools which has achieved an intake which presents a fair picture of abilities of all kinds.

I should like to give the House three figures relating to the achievements of Wandsworth comprehensive school in the matter of examination successes. Before I give these figures, I would readily agree that examination successes are only one, and not necessarily the most important, of the indices of the success of a school. Nevertheless, these figures tell a story. In the last year, 1955, when this school was a separate grammar school the boys in the fifth form taking O-level secured between them 197 O-level passes. Last year, the fifth form gained 717 O-level passes. In 1955, the last summer as a grammar school—[HON. MEMBERS: "It grew bigger."] The school is larger but the grammar school intake is smaller. In other words, if there were not the advantages of comprehensive education a very different story would emerge.

In 1955 in the sixth form of the grammar school there was a total of 34 A-level passes. In 1964 the sixth form total was 125. In 1955, ten university places were won. In 1964 this figure was 24. Whatever else it may be, this is not the destruction of a grammar school. Indeed, the grammar school has continued, has flourished and has expanded in the new comprehensive school.

Those who use emotive terms about the so-called destruction of grammar schools should think of the harm they are doing to education and the fears they are implanting in the minds of some parents about the future. Whatever is done in this school is clearly in line with the words of the Government Amendment. This is the kind of record that can be repeated with regard to other schools in London which have been developed from grammar schools to comprehensive schools and, no doubt, with regard to other schools in other parts of the country.

A great many of the boys who have gone through to the fifth and sixth forms and have got these results, and some who have gone on to university, were 11-plus failures when they transferred from primary to secondary school. The figures of Dr. Pedley, already quoted, published in the Observer last Sunday following his survey, not in London but among certain comprehensive schools in rural and semi-rural areas, show that at O- and A-levels they have achieved better results than the national average.

Sir E. Boyle

Until we know the location of the schools on which Dr. Pedley based his figures—not just comprehensive but grammar and secondary modern—those figures have no value because, as the hon. Gentleman knows, neighbourhood traditions and environment make a great difference both to staying on at school and the ability to pass examinations. The whole case for raising the school leaving age was the difference in opportunity between, for instance, Surrey and Durham. Until we know where these schools are these comparisons are not of much value.

Mr. Prentice

I was careful to say before quoting the figures that we ought to be cautious about reading too much into them and that there are good and bad schools in all types of secondary education. But the figures are valid in relation to the claim made by hon. Gentlemen opposite that, in some way or other, going comprehensive is the same thing as the destruction of grammar schools. The fact is that grammar school education has flourished in these comprehensive schools and has been extended, as the Amendment says, to a wider number of children. That is the point I am seeking to make. I am not seeking to make more out of it.

But if one looks at other comprehensive schools in London and elsewhere which did not start from a grammar school and which have not, by and large, been getting very many children at the age of 11 who would have gone into grammar schools, one finds again a success story—and again that success story varies from one school to another. Once more, I say that I would not want to read too much into it.

Recently I visited the Haverstock comprehensive school in London. It is not one of those which took on a grammar school as part of its foundations and it has had very few children going to it who would have gone to grammar school. I saw the school's sixth form of over 100 pupils and was told stories of O- and A-level successes and of university places gained. I was informed that 97 per cent. of the pupils reaching the sixth form in recent years failed the 11-plus examination. Pupils of comparable ability and of the same age in other counties are being denied that kind of opportunity. Hon. Members opposite are saying that they should continue to be denied that kind of opportunity for the indefinite future. Hon. Members opposite must face up to the logic of their position. If they cannot defend, as indeed they cannot, 11-plus selection, they must frankly admit what it is they are seeking to do.

Many people have been saying that we need some kind of experiment. Some hon. Members have spoken on this subject as though there had not been experiments. Of course there have been comprehensive schools in many parts of the country for some years, not only those which I and other hon. Members have mentioned. There have also been comprehensive schools in other countries. One hon. Member referred to Sweden and the deliberate experiments in Stockholm when, for some years, half the city was organised on a comprehensive basis and half on a selective basis. The evidence was such that the Swedish Government decided to go comprehensive and now seven-eighths of the total number of Swedish children are educated under a comprehensive system. I do not know whether those hon. Members opposite who call for experiments would volunteer their constituencies for that kind of experiment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nor their children."] I do not think that many people in this country would want that sort of experiment, because the evidence of the success of these schools is already available to an extent of which we should take note.

I should like to add one or two other comments about the comprehensive schools, in London in particular, which I have used to make a personal study of the problem in the last few weeks. Going to the schools and talking to the children, the staff, the L.C.C. inspectors and Her Majesty's inspectors, I have found that certain points emerge. First, there is no evidence whatever that the brightest children in these schools are held back. If there is any difference of opinion on this issue, it is between those who say that they do as well and those who say that they do better. I have not found anyone with experience of these schools to present any kind of argument the other way.

Secondly—and I was very careful to ask about this—there is no evidence that the very slowest children are handicapped by being in a large school or by having a lot of bright children in the same school. The teachers said that because of the organisation of the school, they were able to take extra care of the slowest children and were able to pay greater attention to providing them with a range of choice and, particularly, individual care to see whether there might be some method of developing their talents which would not be available in the segregated system.

Thirdly, a very important part of the success of the schools, a part which has not been discussed very much so far, is the way in which the diversity of courses for the fourth, fifth and sixth formers can be tied in with careers advice from the council's offices. Surely what we need to develop over the whole country to a much greater extent is a period of transition from school to work, so that during the later years of school a great deal of care is taken to advise the children about the work they do in school and the further education they can take afterwards and the kind of job which they can follow. This is very much in line with the Newsom Report and is something which we have to develop. The comprehensive school gives an impulse to this because of the variety in the school which is stimulated in many of them.

There is one other advantage to which I draw particular attention. One of the faults of our traditional concept of dividing children at 11 is that we assume that the bright children will do academic work and the children who are not so bright practical work. We too easily cut off people of high ability from practical work. One of the healthiest things I saw in the Wandsworth school was the number of boys being given the kind of course associated with a grammar school and also the kind of course associated with a technical school, boys doing A-level mathematics and A-level physics and a practical course in the engineering workshops, or A-level mathematics combined with a practical course in the building trades in that part of the school taken over from the Brixton School of building.

These are the technologists of the future. These are the kind of people of whom the country is desperately short. Because of its artificial nature, our present educational system has helped to deprive the community of people of this kind who have received training of a high level in both academic work and practical work at the same time.

When the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone spoke in lyrical style about the banging on wood and the clanging of metal in secondary modern schools, he was unconsciously giving support to the idea that this sort of thing was all right for secondary modern schools but not for the top brains of this country. When we develop the idea of combining academic and practical training in the right sort of atmosphere, we go a long way away from bilateral and multilateral schooling.

A comprehensive school is not just a grammar school and a modern school under the same roof. It is a school which can offer all kinds of combinations of courses and all kinds of new interests, varying with the individual. There are not just two or three kinds of children. There are dozens of different kinds of course which should be available in different combinations and permutations, because every child is an individual. It is strange that hon. Members opposite, who talk so much about individualism, have not been seized of this point.

We on this side of the House are often accused of wanting to sacrifice standards of education to our own social theory. But I think that it is fair to say that almost all of the argument from this side today has been about the educational case for comprehensive education. We have considered and dealt with that and put it at the top of our list. I believe that we are right to do this. The reason for preferring a comprehensive system is that it gives maximum educational opportunity to every boy and girl. That is our aim. It is a difficult ideal. In some ways, it is a remote ideal, whatever is done about the organisation of education. It depends on the quality of the schools, on the teachers, on the building programme and on many other things. But surely the country should now make this decision, that we are not prepared to hang on to an outmoded form of organisation which impedes the educational opportunities of the individual. This is the logic of the case of hon. Members opposite.

But side by side with this educational case there is an economic case and a social case. The economic case is simply that the nation cannot afford to cut off the potential development of its future citizens by putting a label on them at the age of 10½. The right hon. Member for Handsworth was eloquent on this point, reminding us that we needed not merely technical education, but technical education grounded on better general education. If this is so, we cannot afford to waste our potential talent, which is one of the effects of segregation at the age of 11.

It may be said that we have political and social reasons for supporting this policy. Of course we have. Surely anyone who considers a major problem of reform in education should have a vision of the kind of society which he wants to see develop. There has been precious little vision from hon. Members opposite in the debates on this subject.

I think that we can claim that our goal is a country in which there is less snobbery of all kinds, including the inverted snobbery which is such an unhealthy feature of some of the relations between classes in this country, and in which there is less intellectual snobbery, which can, in many ways, be the most cruel form of snobbery of all. We can move towards that goal by

educating children in communities in which they can learn to live with each other, play with each other, have friends of different kinds and learn to respect each other's talents.

We want to produce a society which is not disfigured by class differences or by a struggle for status symbols. We want to produce a society in which people have mutual respect for each other. Our educational reform constitutes one of the many reforms which the Government will carry through towards that end. This is a time for decision. Hon. Members opposite want to shirk that decision, but we are determined to make it and to go forward to a better and fairer educational system.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 279, Noes 306.

Division No. 48.] AYES (10.0 p.m.]
Agnew, Commander Sir Peter Chataway, Christopher Gammans, Lady
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Chichester-clark, R. Gardner, Edward
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Gibson-Watt, David
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan
Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W.) Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)
Astor, John Cooke, Robert Glover, Sir Douglas
Atkins, Humphrey Cooper, A. E. Glyn, Sir Richard
Awdry, Daniel Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.
Baker, W. H. K. Cordle, John Goodhart, Philip
Balniel, Lord Corfield, F. V. Goodhew, Victor
Barlow, Sir John Costain, A. P. Gower, Raymond
Batsford, Brian Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Grant, Anthony
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Grant-Ferris, R.
Bell, Ronald Crawley, Aidan Gresham-Cooke, R.
Bennett, Or. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver Grieve, Percy
Berkeley, Humphry Crowder, F. P. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Cunningham, Sir Knox Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)
Biffen, John Curran, Charles Gurden, Harold
Biggs-Davison, John Currie, G. B. H. Hall, John (Wycombe)
Bingham, R. M. Dalkeith, Earl of Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Dance, James Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)
Blaker, Peter Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Bossom, Hn. Clive d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Harris, Reader (Heston)
Box, Donald Dean, Paul Harrison, Brian (Maldon)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J. Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Boyle. Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Digby, Simon Wingfleid Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd)
Braine, Bernard Dodds-Parker, Douglas Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Brewis, John Doughty, Charles Harvie Anderson, Miss
Brinton, Sir Tatton Drayson, G. B. Hastings, Stephen
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hawkins, Paul
Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry Eden, Sir John Hay, John
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward
Bryan, Paul Emery, Peter Hendry, Forbes
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Errington, Sir Eric Higgins, Terence L.
Buck, Antony Farr, John Hiley, Joseph
Bullus, Sir Eric Fell, Anthony Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Burden, F. A. Fisher, Nigel Hirst, Geoffrey
Butcher, Sir Herbert Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen) Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden) Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton) Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin
Campbell, Gordon Forrest, George Hopkins, Alan
Carlisle, Mark Foster, Sir John Hordern, Peter
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Hornby, Richard
Cary, Sir Robert Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)
Channon, H. P. G. Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D. Hunt, John (Bromley)
Hutchison, Michael Clark Monro, Hector Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher
Iremonger, T. L. More, Jasper Spearman, Sir Alexander
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Morgan, W. G. Speir, Sir Rupert
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Stainton, Keith
Jennings, J. C. Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Stanley, Hn. Richard
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Murton, Oscar Stodart, J. A.
Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green) Neave, Airey Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Jopling, Michael Nicholls, Sir Harmar Studholme, Sir Henry
Kaberry, Sir Donald Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Summers, Sir Spencer
Kerby, Capt. Henry Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Talbot, John E.
Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge) Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Kershaw, Anthony Onslow, Cranley Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart)
Kilfedder, James A. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Kimball, Marcus Osborn, John (Hallam) Teeling, Sir William
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Temple, John M.
Kitson, Timothy Page, John (Harrow, W.) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Lagden, Godfrey Page, R. Graham (Crosby) Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Lambton, Viscount Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Lancaster Col. C. G. Peel, John Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter
Langford-Holt, Sir John Percival, Ian Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Peyton, John Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth Tweedsmuir, Lady
Litchfield, Capt. John Pike, Miss Mervyn Van Straubenzee, W. R.
Lloyd, Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield) Pitt, Dame Edith Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Lloyd, lan (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Pounder, Rafton Vickers, Dame Joan
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Walder, David (High Peak)
Longbottom, Charles Price, David (Eastleigh) Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Longden, Gilbert Prior, J. M. L. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Loveys, Walter H. Pym, Francis Wall, Patrick
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Quennell, Miss J. M. Walters, Dennis
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Ward, Dame Irene
McAdden, Sir Stephen Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Weatherill, Bernard
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin Webster, David
Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain Rees-Davies, W. R. Wells, John (Maidstone)
McMaster, Stanley Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Whitelaw, William
McNair-Wilson, Patrick Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)
Maitland, Sir John Ridsdale, Jullan Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Marlowe, Anthony Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Marten, Neil Robson Brown, Sir William Wise, A. R.
Mathew, Robert Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Roots, William Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Mawby, Ray Royle, Anthony Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Russell, Sir Ronald Woodnutt, Mark
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Scott-Hopkins, James Wylie, N. R.
Meyer, Sir Anthony Sharples, Richard Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Shepherd, William Younger, Hn. George
Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Sinclair, Sir George
Miscampbell, Norman Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mitchell, David Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John Mr. McLaren and Mr. MacArthur.
Abse, Leo Buchanan, Richard Dunn, James A.
Albu, Austen Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Dunnett, Jack
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Edelman, Maurice
Alldritt, W. H. Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Carmichael, Neil Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Armstrong, Ernest Carter-Jones, Lewis English, Michael
Atkinson, Norman Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Ennals, David
Bacon, Miss Alice Chapman, Donald Ensor, David
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Coleman, Donald Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)
Barnett, Joel Conlan, Bernard Fernyhough, E.
Baxter, William Corbet, Mrs. Freda Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)
Beaney, Alan Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J. Crawshaw, Richard Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)
Bence, Cyril Cronin, John Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Crosland, Anthony Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S. Floud, Bernard
Binns, John Dalyell, Tam Foley, Maurice
Bishop, E. S. Darling, George Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)
Blackburn, F. Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Davies, Harold (Leek) Ford, Ben
Boardman, H. Davies, Ifor (Gower) Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)
Boston, T. G. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Freeson, Reginald
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S.W.) de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey Galpern, Sir Myer
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Delargy, Hugh Garrett, W. E.
Boyden, James Dell, Edmund Garrow, A.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Dempsey, James George, Lady Megan Lloyd
Bradley, Tom Diamond, John Ginsburg, David
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Dodds, Norman Gourlay, Harry
Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan) Doig, Peter Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury) Driberg, Tom Gregory, Arnold
Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.) Duffy, Dr. A. E. P. Grey, Charles
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) McGuire, Michael Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Griffiths, Will (M'chester Exchange) McInnes, James Rose, Paul B.
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. McKay, Mrs. Margaret Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty) Rowland, Christopher
Hale, Leslie MacKenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Sheldon, Robert
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land) Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Mackie, John (Enfield, E.) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Hamling, William (Woolwich) MacMillan, Malcolm Short, Rt.Hn.E.(N'c'tle-on-Tyne,C.)
Hannan, William MacPherson, Malcolm Short, Mrs. René(c)e (W'hampton, N.E.)
Harper, Joseph Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Silkin, John (Deptford)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)
Hart, Mrs. Judith Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Hattersley, Ray Manuel, Archie Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Hayman, F. H. Mapp, Charles Skeffington, Arthur
Hazell, Bert Marsh, Richard Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mason, Roy Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Heffer, Eric S. Maxwell, Robert Small, William
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur Mayhew, Christopher Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Mellish, Robert Snow, Julian
Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) Mendelson, J. J. Solomons, Henry
Holman, Percy Millan, Bruce Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank
Hooson, H. E. Miller, Dr. M. S. Spriggs, Leslie
Horner, John Milne, Edward (Blyth) Steele, Thomas
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Molloy, William Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Monslow, Walter Stonehouse, John
Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Stones, William
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Morris, Charles (Openshaw) strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Howie, W. Morris, John (Aberavon) Summerskill, Dr. Shirley
Hoy, James Mulley, Rt.Hn.Frederick(SheffieldPk) Swain, Thomas
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Murray, Albert Swingler, Stephen
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Neal, Harold Symonds, J. B.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Newens, Stan Taverne, Dick
Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Hunter, A. E.(Feltham) Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn.Phillp(Derby, S.) Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Norwood, Christopher Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Oakes, Gordon Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Ogden, Eric Thornton, Ernest
Jackson, Colin O'Malley, Brian Thorpe, Jeremy
Janner, Sir Barnett Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham S.) Tinn, James
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Orbach, Maurice Tomney, Frank
Jeger, George (Goole) Orme, Stanley Tuck, Raphael
Jeger, Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Oswald, Thomas Urwin, T. W.
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Owen, Will Varley, Eric G.
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Padley, Walter Wainwright, Edwin
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull,W.) Paget, R. T. Wallace, George
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Palmer, Arthur Warbey, William
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Watkins', Tudor
Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Pargiter, G. A. Weitzman, David
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Jones T. W. (Merioneth) Parkin, B. T. White, Mrs. Eirene
Kelley, Richard Pavitt, Laurence Whitlock, William
Kenyon, Clifford Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Wigg, Rt. Hn. George
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Wilkins, W. A.
Lawson, George Pentland, Norman Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Leadbitter, Ted Perry, Ernest G. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Ledger, Ron Popplewell, Ernest Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Prentice, R. E. Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Williams, W. T. (warrington)
Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Probert, Arthur Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Randall, Harry Wilson, William (Coventry, S)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Rankin, John Winterbottom, R. E.
Lipton, Marcus Redhead, Edward Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Lomas, Kenneth Rees, Merlyn Woof, Robert
Loughlin, Charles Reynolds, G. W. Wyatt, Woodrow
Lubbock, Eric Rhodes, Geoffrey Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Richard, Ivor Zilliacus, K.
McBride, Neil Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
McCann, J. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
MacColl, James Robertson, John (Paisley) Mr. Sydney Irving and
MacDermot, Niall Robinson, Rt.Hn. K.(St.Pancras,N.) Mr. George Rogers.

Question put, That the proposed words be there added:—

The House divided: Ayes 297, Noes 278.

Division No. 49.] AYES [10.15 p.m.
Abse, Leo Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Bagier, Gordon A. T.
Albu, Austen Armstrong, Ernest Barnett, Joel
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Atkinson, Norman Baxter, William
Alldritt, W. H. Bacon, Miss Alice Beaney, Alan
Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J. Hale, Leslie Milne, Edward (Blyth)
Bence, Cyril Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Molloy, William
Bonn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Hamilton, William (West Fife) Monslow, Walter
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Binns, John Hannan, William Morris, Charles (Openshaw)
Bishop, E. S. Harper, Joseph Morris, John (Aberavon)
Blackburn, F. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mulley, Rt.Hn.Frederick(SheffieldPk)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hart, Mrs. Judith Murray, Albert
Boardman, H. Hattersley, Roy Neal, Harold
Boston, T. G. Hayman, F. H. Newens, Stan
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Hazell, Bert Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S.W.) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby, S.)
Boyden, James Heffer, Eric S. Norwood, Christopher
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur Oakes, Gordon
Bradley Tom Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Ogden, Eric
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) O'Malley, Brian
Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan Holman, Percy Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury) Horner, John Orbach, Maurice
Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Orme, Stanley
Buchanan, Richard Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Oswald, Thomas
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.) Owen, Will
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Padley, Walter
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Howie, W. Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Carmichael, Neil Hoy, James Paget, R. T.
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Palmer, Arthur
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Chapman, Donald Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Pargiter, G. A.
Coleman, Donald Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline) Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)
Conlan, Bernard Hunter, A. E. (Feltham) Parkin, B. T.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hynd, H. (Accrington) Pavitt, Laurence
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Crawshaw, Richard Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Cronin, John Jackson, Colin Pentland, Norman
Crosland, Anthony Janner, Sir Barnett Perry, Ernest G.
Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S. Jay Rt. Hn. Douglas Popplewell, Ernest
Dalyell, Tam Jeger, George (Goole) Prentice, R. E.
Darling, George Jeger, Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras, S.) Price, J. T. (westhoughton)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Probert, Arthur
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham S.) Randall, Harry
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Johnson,James(K'ston-on-Hull,W.) Rankin, John
de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey Jones, Dan (Burnley) Redhead, Edward
Delargy, Hugh Jones,Rt.Hn.SirElwyn(W.Ham,S.) Rees, Merlyn
Dell, Edmund Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Reynolds, G. W.
Dempsey, James Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Diamond, John Kelley, Richard Richard, Ivor
Dodds, Norman Kenyon, Clifford Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Doig, Peter Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Driberg, Tom Lawson, George Robertson, John (Paisley)
Duffy, Dr. A. E. P. Leadbitter, Ted Robinson,Rt.Hn. K. (St.Pancras,N.)
Dunn, James A. Ledger, Ron Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dunnett, Jack Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Rose, paul B.
Edelman, Maurice Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Rowland, Christopher
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Sheldon, Robert
English, Michael Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Ennals, David Lipton, Marcus Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Ensor, David Lomas, Kenneth Short, Rt.Hn.E.(N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)
Evans, Albert (Islington S. W.) Loughlin Charles Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)
Fernyhough, E. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Finch, Harold (Bedwellty) McBride, Neil, Silkin, John (Deptford)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) McCann, J. Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)
Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.) MacColl, James Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) MacDermot, Niall Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) McGuire, Michael Skeffington, Arthur
Floud, Bernard McInnes, James Slater, Mrs. Harriet (stoke, N.)
Foley, Maurice McKay, Mrs. Margaret Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) MacKenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Small, William
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mackie, John (Enfield, E.) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Ford, Ben MacMillan, Malcolm Snow, Julian
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton) MacPherson, Malcolm Solomons, Henry
Freeson, Reginald Mahon, Peter (Preston S.) Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank
Galpern, Sir Myer Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Spriggs, Leslie
Garrett, W. E. Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Steele, Thomas
Garrow, A. Manuel, Archie Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
George, Lady Megan Lloyd Mapp, Charles Stonehouse, John
Ginsburg, David Marsh, Richard Stones, William
Gourlay, Harry Mason, Roy Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Maxwell, Robert Summerskill, Dr. Shirley
Gregory, Arnold Mayhew, Christopher Swain, Thomas
Grey, Charles Mellish, Robert Swingler, Stephen
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mendelson, J. J. Symonds, J. B.
Griffiths, Will (M'chester Exchange) Millan, Bruce Taverne, Dick
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Miller, Dr. M. S. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.) Watkins, Tudor Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.) Weitzman, David Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) Wells, William (Walsall, N.) Winterbottom, R. E.
Thornton, Ernest White, Mrs. Eirene Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Tinn, James Whitlock, William Woof, Robert
Tomney, Frank Wigg, Rt. Hn. George Wyatt, Woodrow
Tuck, Raphael Wilkins, W. A. Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Urwin, T. W. Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick Zilliacus, K.
Varley, Eric G. Williams, Alan (Swansea W.)
Wainwright, Edwin Williams, LI. (Abertillery) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin) Mr. Sydney Irving and
Wallace, George Williams, W. T. (Warrington) Mr. George Rogers.
Warbey, William Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Agnew, Commander Sir Peter d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hutchison, Michael Clark
Alison, Michael (Barkston, Ash) Dean, Paul Iremonger, T. L.
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Digby, Simon Wingfield Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Dodds-Parker, Douglas Jennings, J. C.
Astor, John Doughty, Charles Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Atkins, Humphrey Drayson, G. B. Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Awdry, Daniel du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Jopling, Michael
Baker, W. H. K. Eden, Sir John Kaberry Sir Donald
Balniel, Lord Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Kerby, Capt. Henry
Barlow, Sir John Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)
Batsford, Brian Emery, Peter Kershaw, Anthony
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Errington, Sir Eric Kilfedder, James A.
Bell, Ronald Farr, John Kimball Marcus
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Fisher, Nigel King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Berkeley, Humphry Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen) Kitson, Timothy
Berry, Hn. Anthony Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton) Lagden, Godfrey
Biffen, John Forrest, George Lambton, Viscount
Biggs-Davison, John Foster, Sir John Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Bingham, R. M. Fraser Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'ford & Stone) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Blaker, Peter Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Bossom, Hn. Clive Gammans, Lady Litchfield, Capt. John
Box, Donald Gardner, Edward Lloyd, Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(SutnC'dfield)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J. Gibson-Watt, David Lloyd, lan (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)
Braine, Bernard Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Longbottom, Charles
Brewis, John Glover, Sir Douglas Longden, Gilbert
Brinton, Sir Tatton Glyn, Sir Richard Loveys, Walter H.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col.SirWalter Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn
Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry Goodhart, Philip Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Goodhew, Victor McAdden, Sir Stephen
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Gower, Raymond Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Bryan, Paul Grant, Anthony Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Grant-Ferris, R. McMaster, Stanley
Buck, Antony Gresham-Cooke, R. McNair-Wilson, Patrick
Bullus, Sir Eric Grieve, Percy Maitland, Sir John
Burden, F. A. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Marlowe, Anthony
Butcher, Sir Herbert Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick) Marten, Neil
Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden) Gurden, Harold Mathew, Robert
Campbell, Gordon Hall John (Wycombe) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Carlisle, Mark Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mawby, Ray
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Cary, Sir Robert Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Channon, H. P. G. Harris, Reader (Heston) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Chataway, Christopher Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Chichester-Clark, R. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd) Miscampbell, Norman
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Mitchell, David
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Harvie Anderson, Miss Monro, Hector
Cooke, Robert Hastings, Stephen More, Jasper
Cooper, A. E. Hawkins, Paul Morgan, W. G.
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hay, John Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Cordle, John Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Corfield, F. V. Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Murton, Oscar
Costain, A. P. Hendry, Forbes Neave, Airey
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Higgins, Terence L. Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Hiley, Joseph Nicholson, Sir Godfrey
Crawley, Aidan Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver Hirst, Geoffrey Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard
Crowder, F. P. Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Onslow, Cranley
Cunningham, Sir Knox Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Curran, Charles Hopkins, Alan Osborn, John (Hallam)
Currie, G. B. H. Hordern, Peter Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Dalke[...]th, Earl of Hornby, Richard Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Dance, James Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington) Page, R. Graham (Crosby)
Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr) Hunt, John (Bromley) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Peel, John Shepherd, William Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Percival, Ian Sinclair, Sir George Vickers, Dame Joan
Peyton, John Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick) Walder, David (High Peak)
Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Pike, Miss Mervyn Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Pitt, Dame Edith Spearman, Sir Alexander Wall, Patrick
Pounder, Rafton Speir, Sir Rupert Walters, Dennis
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Stainton, Keith Ward, Dame Irene
Price, David (Eastleigh) Stanley, Hn. Richard Weatherill, Bernard
Prior, J. M. L. Stodart, J. A. Webster, David
Pym, Francis Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm Wells, John (Maidstone)
Quennell, Miss J. M. Studholme, Sir Henry Whitelaw, William
Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Summers, Sir Spencer Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)
Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Talbot John E. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Rees-Davies, W. R. Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart) wise, A. R.
Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Teeling, Sir William Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Ridsdale, Julian Temple, John M. Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Woodnutt, Mark
Robson Brown, Sir William Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury) Wylie N. R.
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Roots, William Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn, Peter Younger, Hn. George
Royle, Anthony Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Russell, Sir Ronald Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Scott-Hopkins, James Tweedsmuir, Lady Mr. McLaren and Mr. MacArthur.
Sharples, Richard van Straubenzee, W. R.

Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.


That this House, conscious of the need to raise educational standards at all levels, and regretting that the realisation of this objective is impeded by the separation of children into different types of secondary schools, notes with approval the efforts of local authorities to reorganise secondary education on comprehensive lines which will preserve all that is valuable in grammar school education for those children who now receive it and make it available to more children; recognises that the method and timing of such re-organisation should vary to meet local needs; arid believes that the time is now ripe for a declaration of national policy.