In these Amendments I wish to make a distinction in practice between the primary schools and the secondary schools, because the Clause describes the practice already in existence in the primary schools, but it does not describe the practice already in existence in the secondary schools. There is a large number of secondary schools, both in England and Wales—the Central Welsh Board schools in Wales, in particular— where the appointment and dismissal of teachers is in the hands of the governing body, and not in the hands of the local education authority. This advantage—and I think most hon. Members will agree with me that it is an advantage—is to be confined to aided schools, whereas the tendency in all county schools, I take it, in spite of what the Minister has said, will be in time to come down to the same level, and for all teachers, from headmaster down to the lowest teacher on the staff, to be appointed by the local education authority, which is very largely out of touch with the school. I am quite certain that the people whose interest is in the aided schools really wish the county schools to have the same advantage as they have, and that the aided school protagonists are as anxious as we are to see that the county schools will be at no disadvantage in regard to the type of staff which will be appointed. Experience has shown that in a secondary school it is possible to appoint teachers to the staff only on the broad general principle of nomination by the headmaster and confirmation by the governors, and not by a general method of the drawing up of a short list by the local education committee and an interview of the candidates after they themselves have already interviewed the local education authority privately. Members of the staffs are often appointed without any reference to the headmaster. You may think that that is impossible. I have known it happen scores of times. It happens now in those schools in Wales and probably in England as well where there is no provision for appointment by the headmaster. My object is to prevent the secondary schools of England and of Wales which are under the old system, and some under the new system, and I think all the grammar schools of England which have not become public schools, from being at a disadvantage in staffing.
Unless this Amendment, or the spirit of it, is accepted, it will be quite clear that in future all teachers who wish to make a mark in their profession will definitely choose to be on the staff of an aided school, and not on the staff of a county school. Already the aided school enjoys the same advantages as the public school, and I want to give the county schools that advantage. That is the only way of getting a democratic standard of education in this country. It is no good talking about the public schools and their prestige: let us put that prestige into the county schools. Let us not endeavour to denigrate the public schools, which have done magnificent work for this country. Under this Bill, we hope there will be chances for the county schools to do magnificent work for this country as well, but I am convinced that unless something is done about the staffing it will be very difficult for that to happen.
I intervene from a point of view contrary to that of my hon. Friend. I do not at all share his attitude on this question. I know the teachers, and I can say quite definitely that in the secondary ranks, particularly amongst secondary assistants, for years the grievance has been that they have not had a chance of being appointed by the local education authorities. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] I know what I am talking about; I am not talking about the headmasters, but about the assistants. The men and women of the secondary schools have a deep sense of grievance that they may be at the mercy either of a headmaster or of a non-elected non-representative body of governors. This raises again a great issue of public policy. Education is a public service: teachers are public servants, not the servants of the headmaster, not the servants even on a non-elected, unrepresentative, irresponsible body of governors. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I mean irresponsible in the sense of not being accountable to anybody—non-democratic, if you like.
I was hoping to tell my right hon. Friend on some other Amendment that he would ease the situation very much and make a contribution which would be accepted by the overwhelming mass of the secondary assistants, both men and women, if he would relieve them, as it were, from the fear of headmasters and governors. The secondary assistants want to be directly under the local authority. I do not see why we should be afraid of democracy in this matter. I would rather put up with all the pains and penalties of democracy than with the autocracy of governors and headmasters, working behind the scenes. You have a chance to remedy things when you have elected authorities. I believe profoundly in the power and prestige of local authorities. It would be a splendid thing in Wales if the intermediate system and the county school system were amalgamated. Twenty years ago, I should think, the Bruce Committee recommended that there should be fusion and amalgamation, because it was a bad thing to have two parallel systems in the secondary sphere running in Wales. About twenty years ago, the Bruce Committee recommended this fusion—that there should be the abolition of the privileged, or relatively privileged, intermediate system, and that the intermediate secondary school system should be absorbed in the general municipal secondary school system in Wales. One of the things necessary is that the appointment of headmasters and the appointments of staff should be in the hands of the local elected authorities. They do the duty, under this Bill, of raising the money. They find the capital for the buildings; they—not the governors, or the headmaster, but the public authority—find the salaries of the teachers, and where the responsibility for finding the finance rests I say it should be followed by control over the staffing of the school. I am bound to intervene on this because of the great public principles involved, and because I know that secondary school teachers, thoughout the length and breadth of the land, would appreciate coming more and more under the control of the local authority, so far as their services are concerned.
I rise to support my hon. Friend and not to continue the discussion on democracy. I support the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd) because I do not agree that it is the experience of assistants that they are at the mercy of headmasters. I have a wealth of letters to show the contrary. I want to emphasise once more, as regards the principle of who is to be responsible, whether governors or local authority, for the appointment of teachers, the point that we are still in the dark as to the make-up of these new secondary schools.
I have listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd), to whom I always listen with great respect, but I am bound to say that, on this issue, if I held the views that he holds about local education authorities, I should not have put down this Amendment. I should have put down an Amendment to abolish local education authorities. After all, if we are to have local education authorities, and we have taken care under this Bill to ensure that they shall be the larger municipalities of the country, we must trust them with such things as the selection of the appropriate people to conduct these schools, where they pay the whole of the salaries and where no religious test is to be applied to the teachers. I am not sure that we get rid of nepotism and favouritism by removing the appointments from the local education authority and putting them upon a body who cannot be challenged.
I once visited a school in North Wales, and, afterwards, a very responsible official of the Board told me this story. There was an occasion when an assistant mistress was to be appointed. The local Methodist minister was chairman of the managing body. At the commencement of the meeting, he led his brethren and sisters in prayer, pointing out to the Almighty how important the task was that they had to discharge that evening. It is believed that his prayer was answered, for, an hour and a half afterwards, by his casting vote, he appointed his own daughter. If the will to nepotism is there, it can more easily make itself effective on a managing or governing body, than it can when the the appointment has to be made or ratified by the local education authority. There it can be challenged in the open council meeting. I agree that there has been a difficulty in the past that, quite wrongly, on certain occasions and in certain schools of certain authorities, the head teacher has not been consulted on the make-up of his staff. That, obviously, is a thing that must be provided for, in the new articles of government, and, in this Bill, for the first time, we bring in the head teacher and assure him of a place in the scheme of things, because, if he is not to be consulted in regard to the appointment of his staff, it seems to me that the articles of government would be very strongly lacking.
My right hon. Friend has given an undertaking that the principles on which these articles are to be laid down, will be brought before the Committee, and I do not think we ought to press on every occasion to have the curtain lifted a little higher. I believe that the great majority of local education authorities in this country, who have to deal with this issue, arrange that the appointments in this type of school, where they are entirely responsible for finance, shall be recommended to them by the governing body, who meet in consultation with the headmaster. They can challenge the position, if such instances as have been mentioned occur. I venture to suggest that it would be quite wrong to remove these appointments from the effective control of the local education authority. It is up to them to devise a scheme which shall ensure, in consultation with the management, that the school is adequately staffed, and I believe that the Amendment would, in fact, create a worse situation than that which he proposes to remedy.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 2, at the end, to add:
but the authority shall not unreasonably refuse to comply with any recommendation by the managers or governors of the school as to the dismissal of a teacher and any dispute
between the authority and the managers or governors as to such compliance shall be referred to and determined by the Minister.
Whether we like it or not, the Committee have clearly accepted the principle that the local education authority should have the power to dismiss teachers. Nevertheless, my hon. Friends and myself feel that, in certain cases, the Minister should have an overriding authority if the recommendations of the governors concerned are unreasonably turned down by a local education authority. It might well be, from our point of view, that a difficult local education authority might refuse to dismiss a teacher on certain grounds. A teacher might be extremely efficient in his job but, as a result of contact with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) or with the principles in which he believes, he might suddenly adopt a Communist frame of mind and a Communist outlook on religious matters. It is obvious that, if a teacher found himself in that position, he would be unacceptable to the Catholic authorities. In another instance, a nun might suddenly renounce her vows—while remaining a very efficient teacher. In that case, she would obviously not be acceptable to the Catholic authority and she could not remain in her teaching capacity. There are other cases which will occur to hon. Members, but in the case of disputes we wish to ensure, beyond any shadow of doubt, that my right hon. Friend the Minister would be consulted before such a decision was taken. It may be that the case is covered by Clause 64, but we are advised that there is a little uncertainty on that score, and, in order to make it positively clear, I hope that my right hon. Friend will find it possible to accept the words on the Order Paper. It is obvious that, if such a wrongful dismissal took place, it would have a most unfortunate repercussion on the morale and esprit de corps of the school.
I have no doubt that the hierarchy of my hon. Friend might take the view that it was a wrongful dismissal, but as the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd) pointed out in a previous discussion, morale and esprit de corps are just as important to these aided schools, as they are to the public schools.
The Amendment to the proposed Amendment was called because there is a doubt whether the point is covered. If the point is covered, as I think it probably is, then obviously we cannot go into the wide implications of that Amendment.
Clause 64 (1) is quite clear. If there is any doubt whether that particular Clause is sufficient to deal with the point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend, we will undertake to look at it, in consultation with him, before we reach Clause 64. We deliberately drafted the Clause in order to make it as wide as possible, and I hope that those advising my hon. and gallant Friend, if they still have any doubts, will enable him to put the point to us privately, so that we can make Clause 64 wide enough, if, in fact, it is not.
I realise that the Minister does not intend to accept the Amendment to the Amendment. I consider that it is very undesirable. I have very many good friends who are Catholics and I hope that they are sensible enough, as far as politics are concerned, not to suggest that any of these teachers should, if they accepted my political views, immediately be recommended for dismissal. I hope that those who represent a particular denomination will never try to act on a basis of that kind.
I was endeavouring, I am afraid rather facetiously, to pay a compliment to the persuasive powers of the hon. Gentleman, and I did not submit that point seriously to the Committee. I moved the Amendment to the Amendment in order to get the assurance which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has been kind enough to give us, and in view of his speech, I shall be glad to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.
I beg to move, in page 19, line 8, to leave out "shall make provision," and to insert:
may make such provision as may be agreed between the local education authority and the managers or governors of the school, or in default of such agreement as may be determined by the Minister.
I hope that the intention of this Amendment is clear and I do not propose to take up the time of the Committee in explaining it. I may be told that, if this proviso is not already under the overriding control of Clause 61 (1), arrangements can be made at a later stage to put it under that control. If that is the Ministerial answer, I do not think it necessary for me to argue at any greater length. If that is not the Ministerial answer, perhaps I might just say that it is clear that the greater the proportion of agreement between the managers or governors and local education authorities, and the headmaster about the composition of the staff of a school, the better. Therefore, the more, not merely the appointments to the staff, but the retention on the staff or dismissal from the staff—the continuing composition of the staff—is made, necessarily, a matter of agreement between the governors and the authority, the more efficiency will there be and the less friction and the less argument. That is the main object of this Amendment. If—as it did not seem to me, not being a lawyer—it is true that Clause 23 (2, a) is really governed by Clause 64 (1) and that that machinery can be invoked under the (a) proviso, then it would be wasting the time of the Committee to argue this any
further and wasting the attention of my right hon. Friend to ask him to consider this point; but if that is not so, I hope there will be serious consideration for this point and for assimilating (a) and (b), either by my form of words, or by some other.
I should point out that this Amendment has been selected because it covers the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for West Lewisham (Mr. Brooke)—
In page 19, line 22, after "prohibit" insert "on educational grounds.
and also the Amendment put down by the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin)—
In page 19, line 9, after "school" insert "after consultation with the local education authority
which have not been selected.
I find myself in substantial agreement with the arguments put forward by my hon. Friend the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). Under the Clause a local authority will have considerable influence, to put it no higher, in securing the dismissal of a teacher, but it appears to have no authority in the appointment, and I agree that that position does leave the way open for considerable friction. Both parties ought to have an equal voice in both the appointment and the dismissal, and therefore I feel that some amendment of these provisions is necessary, or at any rate we ought to have some assurance that the point is covered. I am sure that it must be a bad thing that A should appoint and B should dismiss, because it gives an opening to B to exercise his authority if the appointment is not to his liking.
After consultation with the Chair I was given to understand that it would be in Order to discuss the Amendments standing in my name and the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Cardiff (Colonel A. Evans):
In page 19, line 12, at beginning insert: "(b) shall in the case of a primary school make provision
In page 19, line 18, after "may" insert "in the case of a primary school.
Is that now not the case?
I want to detain the Committee for a minute or two to make one or two points. Our case is that the Clause as drafted lumps elementary and secondary schools together. It re-enacts the existing arrangements for elementary or primary schools, and with that we have no disagreement, but in our opinion it interferes too much with the rights and responsibilities of the governors of secondary schools. We do not dispute that the local authority ought to fix the number of teachers and we feel that it should not be within the powers of the governors to go outside that limit, and we also agree, naturally, that it is the right of the local education authority to insist upon teachers of the right standard and quality. But we do not want the governors to become merely rubber stamps for local education authorities, and as much latitude as possible should be left with the governors in regard to the making of the actual appointments. We submit that the governors are really the best people to judge. In the previous Clause the Minister made provision to prevent injustices by insisting that the local education authority should have a say in the dismissal of teachers, and we feel that the Clause should be so amended as to permit the widest latitude to managements and governors in the actual appointments feeling that they are the best people to judge all the circumstances in their own schools.
I, too, am waiting with great interest to hear what the Government will reply upon this Amendment, because the issue seems to me to be quite a simple one. We want to ensure the best possible co-operation in the exercise of these various powers. The duty of the local authority, I submit, is to ensure that the educational standards of the teachers shall be satisfactory, and it should be for the governors and managers of aided schools to carry out their duties in such a manner as to preserve the kind of character which they desire the school shall have, the kind of character which the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer) referred to earlier to-day as that which goes with a pupil for the rest of his life after he has left school, not to his disadvantage. I hope the Government will be able to give us an assurance that these are the two functions which they are contemplating and that there is not to be arbitrary interference by the local authority with the governors or managers of aided schools.
Several points are raised by these Amendments, especially by the one which has been selected by the Chair, and I think that on the whole the Committee would be wise to leave matters as they are. The position is, I think, fairly set out. This hinges on what I was saying earlier on behalf of the Government. Here certain specific points are set out in regard to the appointment of teachers. The proviso says "the rules of management … shall" and the Amendment in the name of the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) wishes the word "may" to be inserted instead of "shall" so that agreement may more likely be reached. In our opinion things may perhaps cut the other way. I am addressing myself to the hon. Member's Amendment with an open mind, but it seems to me that it is better here to define the two matters as they are defined in the proviso. If we do not define them I think there is more likelihood of discussion, and possibly dissension, between the governors of such schools and the local education authorities than there would be if those particular definitions are put in. Here, again, the Sub-section is so arranged that the managers and governors can feel themselves safeguarded in regard to the appointment; the local education authority, who, it must be remembered, pay the teachers, are safeguarded in regard to the numbers; and in regard to dismissal, teachers may feel themselves safeguarded against being dismissed simply at the capricious whim of the governors of the school. We have the matter carefully balanced and compensated, and it would be a pity to upset that balance. I therefore hope that the hon. Gentleman will not press his Amendment.
He asked about Clause 64 (1). I am advised that this would fall within the purview of that Clause, and we are examining that Clause in order to see that the various references to it which have been made not only to-day but on other days are covered. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Cardiff (Colonel A. Evans) has already been told that before we reach that Clause we shall examine it in the light of these discussions, and I would be glad to do so again in the light of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cambridge University. That being so, I hope that he will not press the Amendment. I will undertake before we reach Clause 64, which is the Clause dealing with disputes, that the hon. Member's point is fully considered.
Will the Minister answer my point about secondary schools and governors? Does he substantially accept the point I was trying to put forward that it is not his intention that governors and managements should develop into rubber stamps for local authorities, but be given as wide latitude as possible, so that while it is the responsibility of the local education authority to prescribe the number and the standards of the teachers the governors shall have as wide latitude as possible in their actual appointment?
I should like to thank my right hon. Friend for his assurance, and I apologise to the Carrunittft for taking another half-minute, in order to make sure that I have understood him aright. I understand that if an authority were either prohibiting or requiring the dismissal of a teacher under paragraph (a) of Clause 23, and if that were contrary to the desire of the governors or management, that then such disagreement would be a proper subject-matter for inquiry under Clause 64 (1), or, if that is not so as the Bill is drafted, that care will be taken that that shall be the position before the Bill becomes a statute. If that is clear, I shall beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
I beg to move, in page 19, line 27, at the end, to add:
() No regulation of a local authority or rules of management or articles of government of any school shall provide that a teacher shall be subject to dismissal solely by reason of marriage.
The object of this Amendment is to ensure that no teacher shall be dismissed solely on account of marriage. When my hon. Friends were considering the putting down of this Amendment they felt it
would be good tactics if I were asked to move it, my one qualification, alas, being that I am a soured and seared bachelor, broken on the wheel of life. I must confess that since my name has appeared to this Amendment by a study of my letter-mail my prospects seem to have improved, and I now feel like an autumn crocus blooming in the sunshine of feminine favour. I will address myself to lofty moral arguments, for I feel that my right hon. Friend, being an ornament of that great University which the famous Erasmus favoured in ancient times—although he did not drink its beer—would be best pleased by such a course. We have been told recently in speeches that if we are to maintain our position after the war, we must concentrate on quality. If that be true of industry and commerce, it is equally true of education, and we must attempt, by all means to draw the best brains and best ability into the educational field. Take the case of parents who have an exceptionally able girl. They may well hesitate to use their savings month after month and year after year to send that girl to a university and to higher forms of education if they feel that their girl may on marriage have to give up a promising career. That girl may, on the other hand, if she has abilities, find far greater material rewards in industry than in education. From the point of view of the girl herself it is a hard choice to make, if she feels she has a profession before her, to have to give it up on marriage. Surely if we are going to raise our school-leaving age to 15, and subsequently to 16, it is in the interests of the children themselves that they should have experienced teachers.
I pass rapidly to more material arguments. Surely two problems face my right hon. Friend after the war. The first is teachers and the second bricks and mortar. If he is to get teachers he will have to try to keep as many as he possibly can in the profession. If we are going to raise the school-leaving age to 15, and later to 16, and reduce the size of classes to 30, we may need many thousands of teachers. From the last figures available, in 1938 no fewer than 6,500 teachers left the profession, and that not on account of death, old age or illness. If we lost 6,500 a year then, probably that number will be accentuated in the period after the war. I believe the education authorities in London and Manchester already employ married women teachers, and that in London alone there are no fewer than 3,000. I believe that my right hon. Friend, who has been so reasonable during the course of the proceedings on this Bill, will lend a willing ear to our arguments, but I more than suspect that the Treasury may be a little difficult in this connection, fearing that once—
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Williams. I was only trying to convey a tentative threat that action might be taken in Parliament if some of my right hon. Friends did not concede the wisdom and moderation of our points.
I think that my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment has shown from every point of view that it is wise and right and necessary. I believe that the President of the Board of Education would not only be strengthening the Bill by accepting it but would be meeting the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the people of this country and particularly the parents. My hon. Friend has shown by very strong arguments that the removal of the marriage bar is not only desirable in itself but is also a necessity if we are to be able to recruit sufficient teachers to put this Measure into active operation after the war, with a real reduction in classes. I have heard on good authority that many young women to-day are hesitating to enter this profession because of having to resign on marriage. How much more will this be the case when, as most of us expect, the McNair Committee will recommend a three-year training period instead of the present two-year period? It simply will not be worth while from the financial aspect for young women to enter this profession.
At the present time many schools would not be carrying on at all if it were not for the willing return of thousands of married women teachers. In the days of peace we shall need every teacher we can lay hands on, married or single, full-time workers as well as part-time workers. Part-time work, I believe, is eminently suitable for married women, and I understand it is being encouraged by the Board of Education at the present time. The arguments in favour of the desirability of this Amendment are overwhelming from every point of view—of children, staff and parents. As my hon. Friend has said, the experience of marriage and motherhood are really a great asset in dealing with children, especially young girls. I think it would be very bad indeed for girls in the schools to think that teaching is a celibate profession. A mixed staff of married and single teachers is the most natural and best and would give a feeling of confidence to parents when sending their children to school. It would be just as undesirable, if my hon. Friend will forgive my saying so, to have a school staffed entirely by bachelors as to have one staffed entirely by spinsters.
As far as I can see, there are only two or three arguments which could be advanced against this Amendment. The first is that it would take away from local authorities rights which they have enjoyed for a long time. But surely this is a national matter, and not a local matter. My hon. Friend was ruled out of Order when he wanted to talk about the Treasury disliking this, so I must not mention that again but there is a difficulty with which local authorities will have to deal, when married women, as they should, have babies. They will have to provide proper schemes for confinement, as some local authorities already do. The London County Council have an excellent scheme. The teacher leaves school four weeks before the birth of a child and remains away for 13 weeks afterwards. During that time she is paid half her salary. If a teacher wishes to stay away longer the London County Council allows her to do so up to 12 months—obviously in that case without pay. I understand that this scheme and others are working very satisfactorily at the present time.
This Amendment should be judged by one thing and one thing alone: whether it is in the interests of the children. We believe it is. That being so, it would be absolutely wrong to allow some local authorities to make Regulations which would deprive some children in certain areas of the benefits of what we think is really in their interest and for their good. This question must be settled once and for all by Statute, and I cannot believe that two persons so enlightened as my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education and his Parliamentary Secretary will not be willing to accept the Amendment. If they do accept it, they may be sure it will add further to their stature.
On behalf of my hon. Friends I would like to support this Amendment and to be allowed to congratulate the hon. Lady on the clear and convincing manner in which she put her case. It is very difficult indeed to imagine what the Government reply can be if this Amendment is opposed by them. The Government, through the Minister of Health, have made a most important and solemn pronouncement on the need of doing everything to increase the birthrate, and as my hon. Friend pointed out, surely a practical mother in the school can bring an influence to bear which perhaps might be denied in some instances to a single lady. In addition to that, we have practical examples which operate in wartime. Under the stress of war women are serving in many capacities under the Crown and in munition works of all kinds and in certain cases they have retired temporarily from those activities because of the birth of children. That does not necessarily interfere with the efficient conduct of the establishment where they are engaged. It only means that for a time they are not available to the authorities who employ them. It has been pointed out there is going to be an acute shortage of the right kind of material of both sexes which the Government can draw on for teachers in the immediate after-war years. I doubt, too, whether we can afford to lose this excellent material because some of the teachers follow a course which is natural to nine out of 10 women. Therefore, I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to accept this Amendment.
I want to say a word or two in support of this Amendment. When I look around me I sometimes wonder why women get married at all, but it seems to me that if they take on that responsibility, in certain respects at any rate, they become even more valuable for teaching in schools, particularly in infant schools. One of our gravest problems has to do with domestic science and nutrition. Teachers should develop the greatest understanding of domestic science and nutrition, and association with the kitchen and the work of the home would be of the very greatest value in helping to provide that understanding. Of course, there is the difficulty of these teachers becoming mothers, and it is obvious that a teacher who is a mother engaged in the process of rearing a child will have her time taken up to a considerable extent in that way. I cannot help feeling, however, that while there would be considerable disadvantages in having a home and a husband to look after, those disadvantages are outweighed by the greater knowledge and experience in connection with domestic science and the care of children possessed by married women.
Then, of course, there is the question of principle. How is it that men can get married and keep their jobs, while women are supposed to look after the home? When a woman gets married there is no suggestion that she should keep her job and the husband do the work at home. It is a wrong attitude. It goes right back to the time when a woman was considered to be blindly subject to her husband. It goes back to the old period when in the Army women were classed as bag and baggage. I think that, when we are considering an Education Bill that is so far reaching in its character, we should strike out completely the old tradition of the inferiority of women and the idea that certain tasks ought to be allotted to women as theirs and theirs alone, that all the time they must be more or less subject to the male animal. We should take this opportunity of saying that married women should be treated in the same way as married men as far as jobs in the schools are concerned.
I will not keep the Committee more than a minute—or at any rate not more than five minutes. I have heard many people get up and say they will not detain the House for more than a second and then go on for two hours. I cannot believe that the Minister will not accept this Amendment. It is not necessary for me to go into all the reasons why we should give married women their chance. The primary things the Government and the country want in teachers are character and ability. Some women's characters are improved by matrimony, and some are not. It is quite obvious that some are embittered by marriage. That is obvious to anybody. The real point is that we have now come to an age when the country says we must have the best brains and best ability and best character. That, we know, does not depend on matrimony, it is something inside the individual, so I hope the Committee will not detain the Minister a second longer and will let him get up and say that naturally they are going to do the right and proper thing, as they so often do when pressed.
The fact that I rise now should not prevent others from joining in our discussion, but the Government have come to the conclusion, and it is reinforced by the Debate to-day, that they should take action on the lines suggested in this Amendment. The time has come when this matter should be considered nationally. At present, as the Committee know, it is decided locally, and there is a variety of practice. If the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment will not press me to accept his wording at this stage, for various reasons which I will give him, the Government will undertake to include at the next stage an Amendment which will provide that a teacher shall not be dismissable solely on grounds of marriage. I have to make certain researches. The hon. Member who spoke was pulled up for making reference to certain other authorities involved. This question is not one of extreme simplicity, and it is necessary for me to carry the matter a little further before I can actually lay down the terms of the Amendment which I will place on the Order Paper. But I would like to say that the Amendment, and the spirit in which it has been moved, have the entire approval of the Government at the present time.
We cannot, of course, follow the discursive and attractive arguments which have been used in the course of our short Debate. I would like simply to say to the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment that it is a source of some anxiety to his friends that he should be engaged in so wide a correspondence with married women teachers. We hope that, as a result, some gay widow may come his way to solace his declining years. The position as put forward from the opposite side by the hon. Member who contributes so frequently and so brightly to our Debates, is also accepted by the Government, namely, that there is no reason, in our view, why women should be treated in this matter differently from the men who serve in the school. He is quite right in saying that we have at present a very great need of teachers, and we shall have for many years ahead. There is also no doubt whatever, as has been said, that women, and married women especially, will be most valuable in the great age range of the educational facilities we now have to offer ranging from two right up through the adolescent sphere to the age of 18, and whether in the very young, adolescent, or intermediate sphere, it will be most valuable to have a mixed staff in a school, because there are many problems in which the married woman may well be able to help and give friendly and sensible advice. I do not think I need trouble the Committee now with the technical points. It is a fact that the McNair Committee, as has been mentioned, will be reporting, I hope now before very long. I hope I shall have time to examine their views before I actually frame the final Amendment. I should like to look at this question against the general background of the views of the country for teachers in the future.
I would like to conclude by paying a tribute to the many married women who have served the country as teachers in the schools. Many of them have come into the schools after having been teachers there before, and have literally saved the day for us, because in some schools the teaching position is so tight that we are only just able to carry on. I should like to thank those older women who have returned, as well as those younger ones whose husbands may be fighting abroad, for the work they have done in the schools in war-time. It is their example which has caused the Government to make this change in policy; it is their example which should fortify those who go into the schools in future. I will only conclude by saying that all notable Amendments to Education Bills are moved by those with double-barrelled names—you have only to look at the history of Education Bills to see that this is true, especially in religious matters. I must, therefore, congratulate the hon. Member and his friends for their support.
Mr. R. Morģan:
I beg to move, in page 19, line 27, at the end, to add:
(3) Notwithstanding any of the foregoing provisions of this section, or any other
enactment, the dismissal of a teacher employed in any school or college maintained or assisted by a local education authority shall not take effect nor shall the authority give their consent to such dismissal, unless and until the teacher has been given a full opportunity of making representations to and of being heard, either in person or by a representative, by the authority, except where the managers or governors of any such school are expressly empowered by this Act to dismiss teachers without the consent of the authority, and the rules of management or articles of government shall provide accordingly.
This Amendment deals with the security of tenure of teachers. I must emphasise how very keenly the National Union of Teachers and, indeed, all teachers, feel about this question of tenure. They seem to think, and I agree with them, that there is a weakening in regard to security of tenure as compared with the last Act, and I will only occupy the Committee for a very short time to show the sort of thing that we are anxious to avoid. In the case of reserved teachers, the security of tenure may be very much threatened. It may well be that, having been found not quite acceptable by the managers of the school, teachers may be dismissed. All we ask for is that the decision should go back to the authority for their approval before the teacher is dismissed. I should like to use the word "removed" instead of "dismissed" because, in many of these schools, where the teachers fail to satisfy the managers, they can be turned adrift. We want to see now that that dismissal shall be submitted to the local authority, and the teacher concerned shall have the right of appeal or a hearing, or, if necessary, be represented at this hearing. You may, for instance, have a very enterprising headmaster who decides that a certain teacher is not modern enough and under this they can dismiss the teacher and look round for a younger and more useful person. It may be that there are many cases of these square pegs in round holes, but that is no reason why they should be removed altogether, and the local education authority might transfer that teacher to another position where he or she would fit in.
The Amendment provides that the teachers shall have at least an equal right to that which they have in the existing Act. If there is anything that is going to make this Bill work more smoothly than anything else, it is a contented profession, but you will not get that if they have this sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. Therefore I beg the Minister to see there is put into this Bill some safeguard that the teachers may be heard and represented. I myself hope that if there are many of these distressing cases of dismissal, we shall have at the Board itself a court to which appeal can be made in the case of any dispute between the local authorities and the teachers themselves, because I think it would be very helpful indeed.
I would like to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend and I hope that the Government will be able to accept it. I want to keep on insisting that the teacher is a public servant, and it is not only in the interests of the teachers but also of the education service itself that teachers should be safeguarded against arbitrary dismissal. If there are such cases, then that sours the whole of the teaching service and is very bad for education too. The Amendment does not involve any interference at all with the ultimate right of the local education authority; it leaves that exactly as it is now, and does not take from the local authority any of the power at present possessed. I think myself that the right this would confer upon teachers would prevent arbitrary dismissal and, indeed, the right in itself would minimise any use that might require to be made of it. I gather from those who are intimate with this problem—and I know my hon. Friend opposite will agree—that the National Union of Teachers has had large experience as far as the tenure of teachers is concerned. I understand that since 1902 most education authorities have adopted reasonable procedure enabling the teachers to be heard. Therefore, we are only trying to gather up into a Statute what has been the continuous and increasing practice of local education authorities since 1902.
I think the Parliamentary Secretary will agree when I say that the dismissal of the teacher is something more than the mere "sack." If a teacher is dismissed, it is an extremely serious business. His whole career has gone; he cannot walk about from pit to pit or from factory to factory and pick up a job. His superannuation rights are involved and, from a professional point of view, dismissal to a teacher means professional condemnation. Hence it does seem to me, as a matter of public policy, that teachers should be given an
opportunity of being heard either personally or through their representative. I notice that Sir Percival Sharp, the distinguished editor of "Education," had an article called "The Teachers' Safe-guards" in the official journal of the authorities of 7th January, 1944, in which he said:
Notwithstanding the evident intention of the Bill to give reasonable security of tenure to the teacher, power is given to the managers to dismiss a reserved teacher or any teacher in an aided school 'for reasons relating to religious instruction.' No machinery of appeal is provided for the teacher: no remedy for dismissal where 'reasons relating to the religious instruction' may, as they have on occasion in the past, afford a colourable pretext for what in fact may be an arbitrary dismissal. Agreed, that the teacher should be required to do the reserved work for which he has been appointed and dismissal should follow incompetence or negligence. But to place the power of dismissal of thousands of teachers—servants of the State paid by the State—in the hands of bodies of managers without appeal to the courts, to the local authority or to the Board of Education is bad public policy.
That is carrying my argument a little bit further, but I hope the Minister will find himself in a position to accept this Amendment. As I said, it does not impinge upon the power of local authorities, but it will give that security of tenure in the public service which I believe is good for that service, not only in the interests of the teacher himself or herself, but in the general interests of the service. I think it is a good thing that in every way possible tenure should be strengthened.
I wish to support the Amendment, and I want to draw attention to what I think is its importance in this case. The teacher is very much at the mercy both of the central and the local authority, and if this protection is afforded by this Amendment—which I hope it will be—he will get a rather better status and will be in a rather more secure position than he otherwise would be. I have a large proportion of teachers in my constituency and I can assure the Committee, from the correspondence I have had, that there is a great deal of unrest among them. We are aware at all the universities that the teaching profession does not attract our best university graduates as it used to do and that is a great misfortune, because teaching ought to be the most attractive of all professions.
As I have just said, teachers are at the mercy of two authorities. Let me give a simple example. During the last two years the opening of schools in holiday periods has been required by the joint action of central and local authorities—a very foolish requirement, as I characterise it, and one which is to be enforced again this year, as a Parliamentary answer to me indicates. This opening of the schools was carried out, completely regardless of the convenience of teachers. Extraordinary things happened. I have letters in my possession which show that teachers were called upon to attend children at the schools, not for educational purposes but as dry-nurses, looking after the children while their parents were otherwise occupied. Quite frequently, there were more teachers present than children and the exasperation of the teachers in those circumstances can well be imagined. It is that kind of thing which accounts for a good deal of the dissatisfaction which undoubtedly exists among teachers to-day.
I hope we can convince teachers that Parliament is anxious to give them that status and standing which would prevent, or at any rate help to prevent, actions of that kind in the future. I hope the Committee will accept this Amendment, because it has a bearing on our future supply of teachers. Where are we to get 100,000 new teachers if the whole profession is utterly discontented with present conditions? This Bill will take a long time to put into operation if you cannot get the teachers to carry out its provisions. It is quite useless to make suggestions if there is nobody to carry them out. Parliament must make our teachers more contented, satisfied, and willing to take an active part in the running of their schools. If they do not, then the scholars will suffer.
I think the hon. Member for London University (Sir E. Graham-Little) has given an altogether distorted view of the present feelings of the teaching profession. It is true that, like the rest of us, they have had to suffer some inconveniences in war-time, and that they have expressed their feelings with regard to some of those inconveniences with some strength. But the spirit with which they have acted throughout, shows that, after enjoying the Englishman's privilege of grumbling, they have gone on with the job and have recognised that in these days one has to make the best of things. There are one or two reasons which make it diffi- cult for the Government to accept this Amendment. In the first place, the teacher is a servant of the local education authority. We have secured that his dismissal shall be in their hands, and it seems difficult to argue that he should be put in a superior position to other servants of the local education authority who enjoy the same status, salary and general conditions. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) hinted that this was not a very widespread problem at the moment, because a large number of local education authorities—I should imagine the majority of counties and county boroughs which will be the local education authorities in the future—do, in fact, operate some such provision as this at the moment.
I suggest that the practice may be followed, with regard to secondary schools, that a provision of this kind will appear in the articles of government. I know it appears in the articles of government of my own authority and that in that way the position is amply safeguarded. I would point out, too, that the drafting of this Amendment—and I am not suggesting that this is the sole reason why it should not be accepted—would place us in a rather difficult position, because it would give a local education authority the duty of determining disputes between teachers and the governing authority of the schools in the case of any school which happened to be assisted by the local education authority. A mere grant of £50 to a school would confer on the local education authority the responsibility of adjudicating in disputes between the staff of the school and the governing body. I am quite sure that my hon. Friend did not mean that any such thing as that ought to happen. I hope the Committee will feel that the Government recognise it as desirable that this kind of machinery should be employed; that local education authorities should make provision, not merely for teachers but for other members of their staffs, whereby, in a case of dismissal, it may be certain that the education authority knows the point of view of the employee, as well as of the body of governors or the senior official who may be recommending the dismissal of the employee.
I had hoped that I had answered that point. Frankly, I do not think you could confer such a right on only one branch of local government service, and certainly this Bill is not the place in which we could extend the right of all local government servants, as I think they should be extended, and as, in practice, I have always endeavoured to get it extended. There is great difficulty in conceding the Amendment in the form in which it is drafted. The Government, however, view the working of the principle of the Amendment with the utmost sympathy. What is said in this Assembly is occasionally studied in local government circles and when future articles of government are being drafted, I have no doubt that the views expressed here to-day will be borne in mind.
I must confess to a feeling of disappointment with my hon. Friend's reply. He seemed to think that the teacher was at present sufficiently safeguarded, because the right of dismissal rested with the local education authority. What the Amendment proposes—and we are not committed to a particular form of words—is that the local education authority should really be in a position to know the case of the teacher, so that he might be able to put it himself, or have it put through his representative. We are told that in practice many of the more enlightened authorities already allow this procedure. We propose that the less enlightened should be brought up to their standard. Another argument used by my hon. Friend was that this would put the teacher in a superior position, presumably because other local government servants have not this right. But you have to begin somewhere, and it would set a good example to begin here. It would make it easier for extension if you were to begin by taking a step of this kind now. Some of the enlightened authorities which give the privilege to their teachers already give it to other employees.
I hope my hon. Friend will reconsider the matter and say that he is prepared to accept the principle of the Amendment and to consider later a form of words which would overcome the particular drafting difficulties he raised. He said that this was a matter to be put into articles of government, but, as I understand it, that will benefit only the teachers of secondary schools. What about the teachers in other schools? I am anxious to break down the barriers between one section of teachers and another. They have done infinite harm to education in the past and now, when we are extending secondary education to all from the age of 11, here is an opportunity of breaking down those barriers between primary, secondary and other teachers.
I would like to join in the appeal made to the Parliamentary Secretary to reconsider this matter with a view to the possibility of inserting in the Bill, at a later stage, some provision which will secure the principle which he wishes to see established by all local education authorities, and by all governors of secondary schools. My hon. Friend said that it would not be suitable to put a provision of this kind into an Education Bill, but surely that is the place for it. The teacher is not in the position of other local government servants. He is in a special position; he is partly under the local authority, and part of his salary is borne by national funds. The dismissal of a teacher, as has been said, is far more serious than the dismissal of a coal miner, or a clerk or someone who can easily get, with his qualifications, another job. If a teacher is dismissed by the local education authority, it is extremely difficult for him to find alternative employment. Therefore the penalty is more serious in that case. It is very encouraging to know that the Government's view is that it is desirable that opportunities should be given, as they are already given by good education authorities, for safeguarding the rights of teachers and securing them against any kind of arbitrary dismissal, but it would surely be far better that we should secure in the structure of the Act the principle which the Minister himself acknowledges.
I am also very disappointed with the reply that we have had. It is all very well for the Government to give their sympathy to the proposal, but what the teachers want is not sympathy but action which will remove a well-founded injustice, it may be in exceptional cases but in cases where it does occur that the teacher gets dismissed without any reason, as the result of which a stigma attaches to him which may seriously damage his career. I cannot see why the hon. Gentleman cannot follow the practice of the Civil Service and the Services, where an officer has a right of seeing an adverse report. Surely such a scheme should be brought into an Education Bill in order that injustice may be avoided.