I beg to move,
That this House notes with concern that the educational policy of Her Majesty's Government, as expressed in its recent actions, is inadequate to the needs of the nation.
At a former General Election there was once a candidate elected to this honourable House by a majority of one. When asked by pewspaper reporters to comment upon this majority he replied simply that it was adequate. He did not enter into calculations of percentage votes. He did not discuss the comparative fortunes of his party at that and the previous contests. He confined himself to a straightforward comparison of what the needs of the moment required and what, in fact, had been achieved. It is that kind of comparison which I invite the House to make this afternoon.
We speak in the Motion of the Government's recent actions. It is those which we ask the House to weigh against the educational needs of the country. The period which I have particularly in mind is that from last summer to the present day. At the beginning of that period we noticed the appearance of a disappointing Circular, No. 327, and about the same time the publication of the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates, severely critical of some of the work of the right hon. Gentleman's Department, As the months proceeded we had the appearance of the usual Report of the Ministry of Education.
Then we had the Second Reading of the Local Government Bill, we had the Parliamentary Secretary's reply to a debate on the supply of teachers, we had Circulars Nos. 331 and 334; and the period culminated in the publication of the Estimates and the Memorandum thereto a few days ago. It is that string of actions, and others in the period, to which subsequent speakers in the debate will no doubt refer, which we have to set against what is required.
If one were to try to list the educational needs of the nation at the present time, I suppose that everyone would have his own list and everyone his own favourite emphasis, but I believe that I shall carry a great many people with me, both within the House and outside, if I say that the first and most pressing requirement is that the education which is now required to be carried on by statute ought to be carried on in smaller classes and in better conditions. That fact is so obvious and has been so often repeated that it might be necessary to make some apology for saying it yet again were it not for the fact that it is the foundation upon which every kind of educational progress depends.
None of the arrangements which we are making for further education or for higher education in any form will be of any value unless that basis of education, in the primary and secondary schools, is soundly laid. If we are to have the small classes and the better conditions, it means more new school building, and it means more teachers. More teachers, in turn, mean not only getting new recruits into the profession but encouraging those who are already in to stay there, and not to disappear in the rather alarming numbers in which they have been disappearing recently, and re-attracting into the profession people who have previously practised it but who, at the moment, are pursuing some other occupation.
If we are to have that effect on the teaching profession we must not only have more school buildings but, in many cases, better buildings. If we want to keep people in the teaching profession it is not useful to allow them to continue their work year after year in squalid conditions. Therefore, the first educational need is a combined need, for new buildings, better buildings and more teachers, all those factors reacting upon each other.
The second need is that the nation should be concerned that nobody's talent is neglected, that we should not only be concerned with some of the most brilliant and gifted people but that we should realise that we cannot solve this country's economic and social problems unless we harness to that task all the natural ability that we can find. We have to encourage not only the more gifted, but the less gifted, and some of those whose abilities will always be on a limited scale. We shall need them all, and we can get that general harnessing of ability only if, so far as is humanly possible, we see that no unjustifiable factors hamper people's chances of developing their talents. The part of the country in which they were born, for example, ought not to be a factor which lessened people's chances of educational development and intellectual advance, as too often it is at present.
Third among our educational needs I would put the development of scientific and technical education. I do not wish unduly to exalt certain parts of education against others, but I think it true to say that at the moment our shortcomings in the sphere of technical education are greater than in others, and, therefore, we must include it in our catalogue of the immediate educational needs of the country.
There are other items which one could add to that list of things, but those three will do to go on with. Against them let us set some of the acts of the Government to which I referred a few minutes ago. Take, for example, Circular 331. The first thing that that circular does is to deal with major building projects of local authorities related to the first need that I mentioned. The circular tells local authorities that they are to defer work designed to improve present conditions in schools. It offers the consoling phrase that the number of authorities affected by this prohibition—for that is what it amounts to—is relatively few.
Let us investigate why the number is relatively few. For some considerable time now the rule about educational buildings has been that local authorities can carry out new school building only where the increased number of children made it absolutely necessary for them to do so. They could not carry out new building merely to replace old and to improve standards. We were arriving at the point where some of the more vigorous and progressive authorities were coping with the increased number of teachers and were looking forward to starting a substantial remodelling of old and inadequate schools. The reason why relatively few authorities are concerned is that we had just reached that point where the most vigorous authorities were at last looking forward to being able to do something about their old schools, and exactly at that moment the Ministry comes out with a circular telling them that they can do no such thing.
A great authority like London, for example, quite recently obtained, as it thought, approval to go ahead with substantial projects for remodelling old schools. It now finds that that permission is cancelled by the issue of this circular. I mention that point particularly, because the campaign for the London County Council elections is just beginning to warm up. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman does not know that the Conservative Party, in its triennial search for a plank on which to lose those elections, has on this occasion chosen to say that the Labour Party in control at County Hall is concerning itself only with putting up new schools, and why does it not do more to improve the old schools? I trust that the Minister will point out that any shortcomings in the matter of old schools are the direct result of the policy of his Ministry and that this is another push in that direction.
This remodelling of old schools, this improving of conditions in which school work is done, is not only desirable on general grounds but would make possible considerable improvement in scientific and technical education. So this part of Circular 331 strikes not only at the first of the things I mentioned, the need for better buildings, but at another of those things, the need for improved facilities for scientific and technical education.
Circular 331 does not stop when it has discouraged authorities about their major works. It then deals with the minor works, that is to say, building projects any one of which does not cost more than £10,000. As a result of this circular, local authorities find that the programme of minor works which they had drawn up for 1957–58 is affected. They are now told that any part of that programme which they had not started by 31st December last will not start for the rest of this financial year.
As a result, some counties, Surrey is an example, are badly caught out. Owing to the problem of arranging when building can be started, a substantial part of their minor work programme for 1957–58 was due to be started in the last three months of the financial year, from January until March. Now they find that they are cut off from doing that work altogether. Other authorities who had carried through nearly all, or started nearly all, of their minor work programme before 31st December would normally use the last three months to go ahead a bit faster with other projects. They are now told to mark time for the remaining three months of the financial year.
What is the nature of these minor works? They are more important than their official title might describe. For example, they may be laboratories and classrooms for scientific work. Here we see another blow to the development of scientific education. I am told that in Essex, as a direct result of this circular, projects, totalling £100,000, for the improvement of scientific education in their schools has been abandoned. It may also mean sanitary improvements, and heaven knows, in some of our schools such improvements are badly needed. Going back to his former incarnation as Minister of Fuel and Power, the Minister may be interested in the fact that minor works may include the substitution of central heating for open fires in a great many schoolrooms.
The right hon. Gentleman says that he pressed that, but now he is pressing it back again in the wrong direction.
It may also mean larger playgrounds. All these projects help to make schools not only more efficient places, but more civilised places and local authorities are discouraged from doing this work by Circular 331. The effect will be to discourage people who may be just returning to part-time teaching and who will find that they are being asked to do their work in overcrowded surroundings. If asked to put up with this kind of thing for a limited time, they may cheerfully accept it. But if it goes on and on it is not only a discomfort, but the implication behind it is that the nation does not really care about what are the conditions in which these people have to do their work. When the Minister finds that the wastage from the teaching profession is substantially higher than it was expected to be, he ought to consider whether this making of schools less efficient and civilised is not doing a very serious injury to the future prospects of education.
There is one other comment that I will make on that matter. In referring to minor works the circular says that proposals for minor works should be submitted individually for the Minister's prior approval. That refers to special schools and certain others, but there are similar phrases in every paragraph relating to minor works. How does this tie up with the statement that the Local Government Bill will give local authorities so much more liberty? The introduction of the block grant will not make the slightest difference to the power of the Minister to issue this kind of order, with any amount of red tape and restrictions upon local authorities.
The third thing that Circular 331 does is to tell rural authorities that their schemes of reorganisation will have to be halted. The great majority of our people live in cities—as I do, and always have done. I am not sure whether we always realise the problem hidden behind the official words "rural reorganisation"—the problem of the inadequate village school; inadequate, however devoted its staff may be in trying to give children what should be a secondary education in conditions in which it cannot be done.
One in ten of our children aged 13 are trying to get what is supposed to be their secondary education in all-age schools. Some years ago the present President of the Board of Trade cheerfully waved rural authorities ahead and told them to get on with rural reorganisation. If it were possible to do that now, why should they now be given the red light rather than the green light?
Once again, just at the time when it looked as if we might be breaking the back of the problem of the all-age school, a barrier is put in the way of further progress. The right hon. Gentleman nods in agreement; he has been doing so to almost everything that I have said so far. I therefore have good hopes of the Motion being accepted.
The neglect of rural reorganisation also affects one of the three educational needs of the nation that I have mentioned. It affects the prospect of getting real equality of educational opportunity for all our children. It is profoundly undesirable that, merely because they live in the countryside, children should have less opportunity of developing their talents than if they lived in the towns. It is one of the factors causing inequality of opportunity. It is an evil that we ought to be trying to remove rather than do what the Minister is doing, which is to stop the measures which could, in time, have removed it.
In Circlar 331 local authorities are flatly told that there are certain important parts of their work which they must not get on with. But in case anything should be omitted we then have Circular 334, which looks round at all the rest of their work, and, although it does not tell them positively that they cannot get on with it, tells them that the Government will be delighted if they get on with it as slowly as possible.
The bark of Circular 334 is louder than that of Circular 331, but it is at least some consolation to know that its bite is not so sharp. Circular 331 strikes incisively at all authorities Circular 334 is simply an encouragement to the niggardly to go on being niggardly, and it suggests one item of educational advance after another in connection with which they can restrict if they have a mind to, and can quote the Minister's authority for their niggardliness.
It ranges over so varied a field as provision for recreational, social and physical training, and awards for further education. It suggests that authorities ought to see whether they have been giving awards which are not fully justified. Is it seriously suggested that local authorities are in the habit of giving university awards or awards for higher education which are not fully justified? I put down a Question to the Minister asking for examples of their doing so, and he was not able to provide me with any.
The circular also covers equipment. I wonder whether the Minister reads at all frequently the reports that he receives from Her Majesty's inspectors of schools. If he does he will find in them such sentences as, "This school runs its handicraft and art classes in an enterprising manner, but it could do them rather better if it had, say, pottery kilns or other items of equipment," or, "This school is scattered over a number of buildings, and telephone communication would be desirable." What is the use of the right hon. Gentleman's inspectors saying things like that when his own circulars tell the schools, in effect, that they are not to get improvements of that kind?
A circular like Circular 334, with its general exhortations to local authorities to do as little as possible, combines with what is done about rural reorganisation to increase inequality of opportunity. If we issue a general invitation to local authorities to restrict the result we get is a wider difference in standards as between one local authority and another. If we add to that the future effect of the block grant these differences in standards will become ever more and more marked.
The general effect of the measures that we have so far examined, therefore, work out in an exactly opposite way to the three national needs that I mentioned at the outset. Circulars 331 and 334, together with the Local Government Bill, when it becomes law, will have the effect of exaggerating the inequality of opportunity, discouraging the teaching profession—because of the conditions in which teachers will have to do their work—and hampering, at point after point, all along the line, the development of scientific education.
A policy of this kind is all the more remarkable when we notice what is happening, in the sphere of private education, in the great public schools. At the time when the Minister is issuing circulars like this, industry is making available to the public schools—the private sector of education—generous funds to improve their scientific equipment and increase the number of pupils to whom they can give a good scientific education. I hold no brief for the public school, but when I hear of any school, private, public or whatever it may be, being given the opportunity to give its pupils a better education, I rejoice—whatever the school and from wherever the funds come. We want more people of good scientific education from every possible source.
I do not say that it is undesirable that industry should do this; I do say that the fact that industry is doing it underlines the shortcomings of the Minister in his treatment of the nation's schools. If the community as a whole is rich enough to afford that advance in an already privileged sector of education it ought to be wealthy enough to afford a comparative advance in the nation's schools, for which the Minister is responsible and with which the House is chiefly concerned.
I would add a further word on the question of the supply of teachers. I shall not say much about it, because we had a full debate on a Friday upon the subject not long ago. Since that debate I have studied with care the speech made by the Parliamentary Secretary on that occasion. He described the problem of teacher shortage in the fullest possible detail, and gave us all the reasons that could be put forward for it. He described particular forms in which the shortage occurred. His speech reminded me rather of those doctors described in Hillaire Belloc's poem, who
murmured, as they took their Fees 'There is no Cure for this Disease'.
One suggestion—and one only—for dealing with the situation came from the hon. Member. He said that there would be a meeting of the National Advisory Council on this subject and that at that meeting
an increase in the training college plant will be one of the measures considered and discussed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th February, 1958; Vol. 582, c. 794.]
Unless it is to be not only considered and discussed, but adopted and acted on, we shall not get anywhere in educational advance. I beg the Minister to realise that. I have begged his predecessors to realise it for some time past. Ministers of Education come at two-yearly intervals, unlike Ministers of Defence, who change every twelve months. I have had experience of more than one of his predecessors on this matter.
May I say one further word on technical education? I know that a number of my hon. Friends will want to develop I hat, and to ask what progress is being made in the plans for technical education described in the White Paper on that subject. We should like to know the latest news about the building programme, and what progress is being made in getting a co-ordinated policy amongst local authorities, to prevent overlapping of work, uneconomical use of staff and to see that students, wherever they live, get the facilities they require.
I want now to say on that subject only that the Minister should remember that the foundation of all this is laid in the schools. It will really be of no use his carrying out to the letter everything in the White Paper if policy in the schools is still to be governed by Circulars 331 and 334, the Local Government Bill and the general attitude shown during the past eight or nine months, with which I am primarily concerned.
I have mentioned three needs that the nation has in the educational sphere. I have suggested to the Minister, and, I think, with a considerable measure of agreement from him so far, that the policy of the Government of which he is a member—to put it in the kindest way possible to him—is working in exactly the opposite direction to the way those needs require——
The hon. Gentleman really must not think that I agreed with him to that extent. What I was agreeing with was the number of educational objectives. I disagreed, however, with the conclusions he drew about the Government.
Well, on that we shall hear the opinions of many hon. Members and, of course, those of the right hon. Gentleman himself.
I wanted to refer to two other needs that are coming more and more to the fore at present. Increasingly, the nation is asking itself, "What about our young people of the age when they leave school—the ages between 15 and 18?" It is right that that question should be asked more and more loudly, because, in a few years' time, their numbers will increase very greatly.
Perhaps I may say, in passing, that I am not in the least associating myself with the suggestion made in some quarters that there is growing up a generation of young delinquents. If people would just look at what proportion of our youthful population ever sees the inside of the juvenile court they would talk with a rather better sense of proportion about that. We are not considering educational advance solely as a way of preventing young people becoming delinquents. We want to do something more positive than that; to make it possible for them to live a really rich, and full and enjoyable life, happy themselves, and of service to their fellow men.
That has to be done in a great variety of ways—the development of many forms of further education, recreational activity, and the kind of work covered by the Youth Service. What is the Government's record on the Youth Service? The Select Committee on Estimates, having heard the evidence, said:
The impression gained from the inquiry is that the Ministry is little interested in the state of the service and apathetic about its future.
But it is fair to say that the Ministry's representatives before the Select Committee put up a stout defence to this charge. As the Committee says:
…they denied suggestions…that the youth service was a 'Cinderella'
for they pointed out that
…Nursery schools, for example, had made even less progress.
That is really a climax of bureaucratic excuse. It does not matter if a particular thing is being neglected, provided one can find another branch of one's work that is being neglected even more severely. The Minister knows very well that the charge of apathy towards the Youth Service has been made out, and, to my mind, it has never really been effectively answered.
In the sphere of further education, we should notice that the extent to which a local authority makes provision for it is not as strictly defined as is the education that it has to provide for children of the statutory school age. Consequently, the amount of provision so made is considerably affected by the complexion and policy of each local authority, and any step taken that tends to encourage local authorities to be niggardly will affect further education, and the Youth Service, more than it affects the schools, because the extent to which niggardliness can be practised in the school service is limited. It can be practised much more in those parts of education where the exact responsibilities and minimum standards are not so precisely laid down. We have expressed our concern about the effect of the Local Government Bill on this, and, again, we have never had a real answer.
The one other educational need that I will mention is this. I think that the nation needs to develop a positive and enthusiastic appetite for education, and not to regard it merely as something a fixed amount of which is provided by Statute and there we are—with, perhaps, a few brainy ones getting a bit more—and that is that. We must awaken in our people a, real desire for knowledge, both for its contribution to our economic problems and because it is part of the development of happy and civilised life.
I believe that the nation was getting to the point where it was beginning to realise that; where the appetite for education was awakening. One of the signs was the increased number of children voluntarily staying at school, with the parents' consent, after the statutory school-leaving age. Some of the parents, as my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen (Dr. King) pointed out in a debate some little time ago, are doing so at great cost to themselves. This matter was considered by the Ministry, and a working party was set up to deal with the scale of maintenance allowances that should be provided.
The working party approached its duties in a most responsible frame of mind. It said very firmly to itself, "We will not attempt to bribe children into school by suggesting extravagant allowances. We will not proceed in this matter like an Oriental bargainer, and put before the Minister a really high figure, knowing that he will cut it down and we shall then get what we think is reasonable. We will treat this as severely and reasonably as possible. We shall calculate the bare minimum figure that should be paid if real hardship is to be avoided when parents make the wise choice of keeping their children at school."
On that basis the working party produced a report. What reply did it get? The Minister treated it just as if it had, indeed, behaved like an Oriental bargainer. He slashed its proposals—which were already cut to the bone—by f10, £10 and £15, according to the age of the children concerned. By that action he produced a profound vexation in the working party itself, and disappointment among the more public-spirited authorities—and, I am afraid, gave a "get out" to the less public-spirited.
Here, again, just at the moment when, throughout the country, we had the sign of a growing appetite for education, we have an action by the Ministry to throw us back. Several times during these months, when we have criticised the action of the Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary has said, in effect, "Wait until the Estimates are published. That will make up for it all." Well, the Estimates are published, and I have no doubt that we shall be told that they show an increase of about £26 million over last year, or rather more than £40 million when one includes local authority expenditure. On the Ministry's own showing, two-fifths of that is due to the rise in prices. The rest is described as due to the growth of the service.
I am afraid that that does not mean an all-round improvement in standards. The growth of the service is occasioned largely by an increase in the number of children. What matters now is not merely that educational expenditure should increase; as the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor pointed out it has to do that anyhow whatever Government be in power. We have to consider, as the Motion suggests, whether the rate of increase is adequate. In fact, the rate of increase of our education service, when we look at the Estimates over a period of years, is now slowing down. When one makes allowances for the effect if rising prices that fact is even more marked.
I have listed a number of recent actions of the Government which have shown them to be not conscious of the great variety of the present educational needs of the country. I do not believe that the Minister will be able, looking back over a similar period, to produce any actions of Her Majesty's Government that are a counterpoise to those which I criticise. The most that he will be able to do is to suggest that these actions of his are not perhaps quite as harmful to education as we on this side of the House may fear.
There will not be, in the record of the Ministry, any awareness of the need for a real, positive and lively advance. The Ministry's attitude has been at the best plodding, and, at the worst, hostile and discouraging. When the Minister comes to his ministerial—not his actual—deathbed, when he, like each of his predecessors, has to move on, I fear that, like another famous man, he will be found murmuring the words, "So much to do; so little done"
I am sorry that I make my first speech as Minister of Education in a specifically education debate in reply to a critical Motion by the Opposition. I hold that the Motion is totally unjustified, but I must spend a few minutes dealing with it before I come to what I am sure the House would like me to do, which is to make a survey of our educational progress. In the circumstances, this is bound to be somewhat shorter than I should have liked it to be.
The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) seems to have done his very skilful best with a very bad Motion. All the time he has been labouring under one very great difficulty, which is that the Motion concentrates its criticism on Her Majesty's Government's "recent actions." But what is the most recent important action of the Government in this connection? Yesterday, all the newspapers carried headlines announcing a big increase in next year's Education Estimates.
Although the hon. Gentleman may try to make these seem very unimportant, it is not fair to do so. In my experience, the educational world, in spite of its idealism, attaches great importance to hard cash. It is greatly encouraged that the Estimates for my Department are up by £26 million and that the educational expenditure of the Government as a whole will rise by no less than £44 million next year. This is the Government's most recent action, and it makes nonsense of the Motion.
I would remind the House that a very different view is held in educational circles from that which was put forward by the hon. Gentleman about the circulars, and, in particular, Circular 334, which he thought had such a terribly restrictive influence upon education. Let me read a short extract from The Times Educational Supplement which is by no means always friendly to the Government on educational policy. On this issue it said:
If … Circular 334 is all that is going to happen to education everyone has cause to rejoice. There have been major savings in
many directions; there is to be none in education … it is not in any way surprising that the local authorities should have been urged to walk carefully. There has been no interference with the main structure.
It goes on to suggest that the Government, far from being berated, ought to be congratulated on their wise forbearance. That puts the matter in a very correct perspective.
I want to make it clear at the outset that the Government are very proud of their educational record. No Government have ever before been faced with such a gigantic increase in the school population. We are still under very great strain, but we can now say with confidence that we have kept pace and that we are dealing successfully with this tremendous problem. Indeed, even under this strain, we have launched important improvements in the educational service.
I want to face squarely the problem of rural reorganisation and minor works, which was raised by the hon. Member for Fulham. This is certainly one of the things on which I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I go round the country visiting schools and I have no doubt at all about the importance of minor works. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the programme is badly named, for what is a minor work to Whitehall is often a major improvement to the school concerned.
I have also seen the very great importance of the programme of rural reorganisation. I think, therefore, that the House would like to know that we are still making very considerable progress with rural reorganisation, in spite of the restrictions we had to impose last autumn. At the present moment for example 224 schools under this programme are either under construction or are approved to start. That means that two-thirds of the whole programme is either completed or is going ahead untouched. The House will be encouraged to realise that only one-third of the programme has had to be postponed.
Hon. Members might like to see in perspective the effect of these restrictions on our school-building programme. In 1955, capital expenditure on the school-building programme was £40 million. In 1956 the figure went up by £11 million to £51 million. Last year there was an all-time record of £63 million. This year, under the effect of the restrictions, we estimate that the figure will be about £60 million. This is, of course, £3 million less than last year, but it is still £9 million more than the year before and no less than £20 million more than in 1955.
Perhaps I might be allowed to adapt the metaphor which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister used last week of the brake and the accelerator, when he applied it to the economy as a whole. I would say that our school building programme was, a short time ago, running at a rate of 40 miles an hour. We applied the accelerator and our speed rose to 63 miles an hour. Now, by a moderate use of the brake, our speed is falling back for a time to about 60 miles per hour. Nevertheless, I cannot conceal from the House that I look forward keenly to the time when I can press the accelerator once again and go forward with rural reorganisation and give back freedom in minor works to local authorities.
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the figures he is quoting so enthusiastically, may I ask whether he does not remember that the programme was moving towards £70 million a year, which was judged necessary in 1950, but his predecessors cut it back? When he presses the accelerator it is against the deceleration his predecessors proposed.
I could not accept that. I do not want to spend too much time in controversial debate, but since the Government have been challenged by the Opposition, I think I am entitled to put on record the following facts. Every year since the present Government took office up to the present time the number of teachers has increased by thousands; every year the number of school places has increased by hundreds of thousands; every year expenditure on educational building has increased by millions; and every year the Estimates have increased by tens and scores of millions of pounds.
As a result of this, if the Opposition really wants comparisons—which it invites by the Motion which has been moved today—they are as follows. Under this Government expenditure on educational building is running 100 per cent. higher than in the last year of the Socialist Government. We have provided twice as many school places as they did, and for every pound they were spending we are spending two. The Government have already been responsible for one of the greatest periods of expansion in British education, and we intend to continue. I say we have today the moral right, as well as the material power, to reject this Motion decisively.
At this stage, I want to speak to the House seriously about economy in educational expenditure, and I make no apology for doing so. As my argument unfolds, in spite of first appearances, hon. Members will appreciate that I am trying now to leave the realm of party controversy and enter the sphere of objective educational problems. In 1949 the Labour Government faced serious economic difficulties and they produced an economy circular very much like the one I put out last autumn. In fact, if I were in that mood, I could spend an amusing five or ten minutes of Parliamentary time in making the comparisons. If I quoted some of the phrases, it would be very difficult for the House to know out of which circular they came.
The Socialist Government went further in that circular than injunctions to economy. They imposed a cut of 12½ per cent. in the cost of schools. What could be more unpromising from the point of view of educational enthusiasts than that? Yet that cut began a new system of cost limits allied with radical innovations in design. That new system, admittedly developed far beyond its original intentions and pushed home with great determination by my Conservative predecessors, has produced what I am sure is one of the most brilliant technical and administrative successes in this country since the war.
A fortnight ago I opened a delightful new junior school in Buckinghamshire. The teachers, the children and the parents were all delighted with it. It is indeed quite a famous school, because it created a stir when it was exhibited in replica last year at the Berlin Trade Fair. It created sensation and interest among German architects and educationists. That school cost £44,000 as compared with £84,000 at present prices for a junior school of the same size built ten years ago. In other words, in real terms, the cost of school building has been reduced by nearly half, yet the new schools are splendid. At present prices this has saved the country £200 million of public money.
I own to a feeling of exasperation that this magnificent achievement, so well-known and admired among educationists and architects all over the world, is still so little known and appreciated in this country, except by experts. I think the big public ought to know about it, not only because of its massive importance in money terms, but because it has been done by sheer trained brain power. On two separate counts it is something which we as a nation ought to be really proud about. This is what I call constructive economy, and I hope that I shall have the support of the House in pressing ahead with it.
I should like now to make a brief survey of educational progress. As hon. Members know, the field is vast. I should like, therefore, to approach it in a special way, which I shall explain. I think hon. Members will agree that when parents ponder about the schools their children are going to attend, in addition to the question of general education and character training, they think of those schools in relation to the careers the boys and girls are to follow. I want to ask the House today to think in broader terms about our educational system as a whole. In order to make my conception more precise, I wish to quote a short extract from the new publication called "Technology", which is produced by The Times newspaper. At the end of its leading article in the first issue it says:
The national destiny takes various forms. In Tudor times we were drawn across the oceans; in the nineteenth century our best young men were trained to administer the world. Today the path is different, but as plain. Scientific manufacture is our business, the source of our power, and the means of our livelihood. It is the splendid vocation of our times.
I accept that as a good, broad, rough definition of the career which lies ahead of us as a nation. I like very much the tingle of excitement and encouragement with which it is presented, particularly in the last sentence.
I must emphasise, perhaps to make quite certain that I am not misunderstood, that while I am concentrating today on this important practical theme I know very well there are other immensely significant sides of education with which I cannot deal in such detail. Of course, I accept unreservedly the point made by the hon. Member this afternoon that science and technology can only develop well with healthy primary and secondary education.
The primary schools are among the most delightful schools in our country because the children are in a stage of development when they are not only unselfconscious but when their individuality is beginning to unfold. As the hon. Member so rightly said—he will understand that I agree with many parts of his speech—personal attention by the teacher is particularly important at this developing stage.
As the hon. Member also said, these schools have been under great strain for many years. It is therefore specially pleasing to note that at last the pressure on the teachers is beginning to ease a little. I am very glad, therefore, to tell the House that the number of oversize classes has fallen by about a quarter in the last three years, and the number of much oversize classes—those of over fifty—has fallen by a great deal more than half. This trend is very important, not only for the health of the schools in general, but because it makes it possible for the primary schools to perform better one of their most essential functions—that is to give the children a good grounding in English, which is the language of ordinary life, and also in mathematics, which for my purpose this afternoon is the basic language of science.
I turn to secondary education. Here, unfortunately, the pressure of sheer numbers is still rising. The number of senior children has increased by half a million in the last five years, and yet, I am glad to say, we have succeeded in providing even more than that number of new places. In the next three years we shall provide another half million places, and as the number of children will not increase by as much we shall be making a further gain.
In the grammar schools, two great changes are taking place. The first is the swing to science and the second is the trend towards staying longer at school, often long after the compulsory age. Those two changes react on one another, but taken together they are bringing about a very great increase in the output of scientific ability of a high order.
For example, in 1956, of the boys entering for scholarship level of the G.C.E. examination, 70 per cent. were taking mathematics or science. Indeed, the swing towards science seems to be accelerating, and it is greatly helped by the technical schools, which are really grammar schools in a modern idiom. More than 100 new grammar schools have been built since the war, and 80 more are under construction at present—all, of course, with fine science laboratories. In addition, we are now giving specially favourable consideration to projects for adding laboratories to old schools. Eighty of these projects are in the programme for this year, and another 80 will probably follow next year.
The hon. Member for Fulham was perhaps a little too pessimistic about this, as he will see from the considerable progress which I have mentioned. I am glad to be able to tell him that we have also given the Essex authority an increased allocation to help it provide additional science laboratories, which was one of the matters which the hon. Member raised. All this is largely for boys and girls staying on for extended science courses.
Every year the number staying on increases by more than 5 per cent., and that leads to one of the most healthy developments of all, which is the phenomenal increase in the number of pupils in the sixth forms of grammar and technical schools. The figure is now nearly 70,000 pupils in the sixth forms of these schools, which is a 30 per cent. increase in the last four years. That is a picture full of vitality and growth. There is no stink of defeat about this. When I made inquiries about the educational background of the famous Zeta team at Harwell, I was not surprised to learn that the overwhelming contribution came from the grammar schools. Anyone who harms these fine schools will be striking a blow at the future of the country.
I come now to the secondary modern schools. I must tell the House that getting to know more about these schools as I have visited them while going around the country has been the most stimulating single experience. I have had since coming to the Ministry of Education. They are tremendously important, and three-quarters of all our children go to them. They are the one almost entirely new element in British education as it develops under the 1944 Act.
Hon. Members will agree that our people do not, on the whole, take too easily to new institutions. I admit therefore that I have been a little surprised, but immensely encouraged, to find how strongly these schools are beginning to take root in the local communities. For example, when I was in Northampton a fortnight ago I noticed the evident pride they have in the secondary modern schools there and the way each was developing special links with particular local industries. Again, when I was in King's Lynn about ten days ago I noticed the same pride and was told how closely the schools were co-operating with the farming courses at the East Anglian technical colleges.
I emphasise, particularly, that I have been immensely encouraged by meeting some impressive heads in charge of these schools who left me in no doubt about their sense of mission—about what they intend to make of their schools in the life of the local district. Another of the most encouraging features has been the way in which the trend towards staying on at school beyond the compulsory age is spreading to these schools and gathering momentum.
There has been a most interesting experiment in this respect in seventeen secondary modern schools in Birmingham. Her Majesty's Inspectors carried out an inspection of this work, which is particularly interesting, and I am placing a report in the Library for the benefit of any hon. Member who cares to consult it. Meanwhile, I will read some extracts from the report. They are:
The striking increase in the overall demand for courses "—
that is, extended courses beyond the compulsory age—
is, however, abundantly clear and appears likely to become a major development. In almost all schools with courses Heads are expecting substantial increases in numbers next session, and in some cases fifty per cent. of those eligible to leave these schools will probably elect to remain…
In general, the presence of older boys and girls has had a steadying effect in the schools. A marked improvement in the pupils'
demeanour and in their attitude towards work is apparent, and the influence of this is widespread; in some schools levels of achievement are said to have been raised in all streams and and years…
It is now common practice for the oldest pupils to visit factories, offices and shops as part of their preparation for employment, and in this way the schools have established their own liaison with industry and commerce.x2026; It is because of personal contact with employers that some Heads have felt able to guide pupils into suitable employment and there are those who are approached directly by employers who are anxious to find other pupils like those who have already succeeded in their employ.
Once again the House will agree that this is a picture of enterprise, vitality and healthy development which makes one realise how much we owe to the teachers, often, as in Birmingham, working under difficult conditions.
However, I must state one strong impression which I have about all this. There is no doubt in my mind that a new school building is by far the best setting for these developments and that it contributes enormously to the prestige of the school for both the parents and the children.
If the House will bear with me for a little longer, I want to make a brief survey of the dramatic surge forward in our technical college system, which receives so many of the children from the schools I have been describing. It is easy to criticise the technical college system or the way in which, as I think, the nation has neglected it in the past. However, it has one great merit, which is that it has been always extremely flexible. It provides an enormous variety of courses and gives a large number of late developers a second chance to mount the ladder of success.
No less than three-quarters of all the professional technologists qualifying at present have risen by means of technical colleges, mostly by part-time study. At the moment, there is great activity in remodelling the courses to meet the present and future needs of industry. Of course, this means working for higher standards at every level all the time and producing a constantly higher proportion of highly skilled people. The courses for young workers are being remodelled into four main classes. The first is for semi-skilled operatives—this, by the way, is a new departure. The second is craft courses of the traditional type for apprentices. The third is higher grade courses for technicians and junior supervisory staff; and fourthly, the well-known courses for professional staff or high grade technicians.
A great deal has been done by part-time day release combined with evening study, but the complexity of modern industry is leading more and more to the rapid development of full-time and sandwich courses.
We have great hopes of the sandwich courses which, as I am sure the hon. Member knows, is a course which is taken alternately, first in the college, then in the works, then in the college, and then in the works again. The time spent in the college and the work done there and the time spent in the works are both part of an integrated course of study. We believe that this blend of theory and practical experience will produce people with a high grade of skill and will suit many boys who might not find their full expression in other parts of the educational system.
At the summit, so to speak, there is the advanced sandwich course leading to the Diploma in Technology, which is to be the equivalent of an honours degree. Again, the great advantage here is that this course, which will be at the highest point of our technical education, can be taken both by the 17- or 18-year old boys from the schools or those who have worked their way up through the technical colleges. These men, with their colleagues from the universities, will, we believe, be the top technological brain power of British industry in the future.
Now I wish to give a few brief facts on the pace of progress, which, of course, depends on intimate co-operation between industry and the colleges. We have already reached in pure numbers the first stage of the necessary annual intake of technical college teachers, but we are not yet satisfied on quality. We are taking numerous measures to make teaching in technical colleges more attractive. Already, as far as building is concerned, and the hon. Gentleman asked about this, we have approved £60 million worth of building on over 300 major projects of technical college building. Part-time day release by employers is increasing at the rate of 30,000 a year, and is now ten times the pre-war figure, but we want the rate of growth to increase further. The number of sandwich courses has increased five-fold in the last five years and the number of passes in all the technical examinations shows a striking increase year by year.
It is not often that I feel sorry to come to the end of a speech in this House, but in education there are so many important and indeed vital subjects which one would like to deal with that I have that feeling today. I cannot deal with any more in detail, but there are two which I should like to mention, because I should like to have the benefit of the opinions of hon. Gentlemen later on today about them.
The first is the teaching of science to girls and the contribution that women can make in the future to the scientific life of the country. I think we ought to ponder that question. Secondly, while I naturally do not accept the specific criticisms which the hon. Gentleman made about the youth service, I do agree on the crucial importance of the age from 15 to 18. There lingers in my memory a sentence which I read from Sir Eric James at a conference of industrialists quite recently, when he said this:
We must always remember that the school-leaver of 15 is still a child.
That, I think, is a simple sentence, a poignant sentence, a true sentence, and I think we all want to think a good deal about the problem of that period of development, which includes the years which may make or break the character of the individual.
I conclude by saying that since the war this nation has been under heavier test and challenge than ever before in peacetime. Hardly a day goes by without someone in some part of the world writing us down in one way or another. If anyone is feeling a bit dispirited or disheartened, let him visit our schools. There he will find devotion in the teachers, ultra-modern design in the new schools, and a whole young world of energy, experiment, enterprise and expansion. There, above all, he will see the finest children that even our race has ever produced learning better than ever before to bring true renown to the British name.
It is a very happy tradition that when a Member makes his initial essay from these benches he receives the indulgence and sympathy of the House and, in return, endeavours to be non-controversial. I feel sure that I shall have both the indulgence and sympathy of the House, and I am confident that I shall not arouse any strong feelings among any hon. Members opposite.
I have no intention of entering this debate in an academic sense, purely and simply because I have not the qualifications for doing so, and if I appear in certain aspects to be a trifle carping, may I remind hon. Members, that I have only just arrived in this House and until fairly recently have lived with this problem in my division and have seen the effect at divisional education executive level of the circulars which have been mentioned in this debate.
Perhaps it may be politic at this stage to declare why I have such a fervent interest in this question of education. Many years ago, at the age of 11, I had the opportunity of attending a well-known grammar school. Hon. Members will remember that in the 'thirties, while the scholarship boys' fees were paid, there were certain books, clothing and uniform which had to be provided. At that time, my father had been off work for quite a considerable time, and my mother regretfully came to the conclusion that she could not afford to send me. Consequently, I carried on at the elementary school until the age of 14, and then continued my education either before going to work or at night school after coming home from work. I am just wondering whether my arrival in this House is a recommendation for or an objection to further study among children.
Somehow, inadvertently, I received this determination that if ever there was anything I could do to ensure that a boy whose abilities entitled him to academic education should never be refused the chance because of family circumstances, I would do it, and the whole of my local government life—and I am now chairman of a divisional education executive—has been bent towards this end. I am glad to say that I have had the pleasure of seeing many boys and girls from ordinary homes making the grade and offering the results of their education to the country. The ideas that I wanted to see realised so many years ago have almost come to pass, although I feel that I would be less than generous if I did not admit that other people have also been working along the same lines.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), in his excellent opening speech, mentioned three things that should be done. One of them was the provision of better facilities for the teaching of our children.
The divisional executive, of which I am proud to be chairman, has just opened a new secondary modern school. I am one of those who believe completely and utterly in parity of esteem for secondary modern schools. The tragedy is that, side by side with this magnificent new building, we have in the same division schools which should have been—indeed, they were—condemned many years ago. It is, unfortunately, upon these latter buildings that the weight of Circulars 331 and 334 is falling.
I was very pleased to hear the Minister say, that, in his opinion, the so-called "minor project" was very badly named. I heartily echo his sentiment that what can be a minor project at Ministerial level is a life and death project when it arrives on the floor of the school. If I may, I will draw from my own experience to explain why I say that.
In my division, we have many schools —some of them, to be quite fair, are Church schools—in which the condition of the sanitary accommodation is such that none of us would tolerate it for one moment in his own home. Recently, we have had outbreak after outbreak of dysentery, and the medical officer and sanitary inspectors, after inspecting the schools, have issued reports saying, in no uncertain manner, that it is purely and simply the condition of the sanitary accommodation which is responsible for the spread of the disease.
The outside sanitary accommodation is often in the school yard; in winter, it freezes up and becomes completely useless. When a school is equipped with cold water basins, and not enough to go round, the result is that the children have, in effect, no facilities at all for washing their hands or for personal hygiene after using the sanitary accommodation. The educational executive committee has made application for money to put matters right, but, because the letter of Circular 334 is being accepted, no allocation can be made along the lines requested.
Not unnaturally, parents are becoming very anxious. The last time I was home, a parent made a very significant remark. She asked me to find out what was the dividing line between economy and criminal negligence. She feels that, if we do not do anything about these things and a child dies, the education committee itself will be responsible. That is the tragedy which the economy measures in these circulars evoke at divisional education level.
In Lancashire, there are thousands of schools such as I have described. They are the remnants of the Industrial Revolution, of development which, paradoxically enough, went far too fast. In Rochdale, the town I have the honour to represent, there is a system for doing minor repairs and decorations. I spent last week in the boys' and girls' technical schools, which have not been decorated for over twenty years. Architects have been let loose on one school and the place is now resplendent in pastel shades. It is astonishing to go into the building and see the result, but the headmistress assured me that, psychologically, the effect upon all the children has been tremendous. The unfortunate thing is that two other schools which were scheduled to have the same treatment have had it stopped because there is no money available as a result of Circular 334.
The second matter mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham is one in which I, too, take a very great personal interest. In speaking about education, we tend to talk about the development of the bright pupil. We speak of universities, grammar schools, secondary modern schools, and even comprehensive schools. Incidentally, I must say that it is not true that a comprehensive school is a school in which the teachers are understood. Running side by side with the general problem of education, but educationally miles away, is the problem of the educationally subnormal child. Nothing at all, or very little is being done for this class of pupil. The Minister rightly says that our primary schools are the nursery of our education system, but, nevertheless, the fact remains that a cancer is today creeping into the primary schools which will, unless it is checked, ultimately destroy their use and purpose.
All hon. Members must recognise that many of our classes in primary schools are overcrowded, and it is very difficult for the teachers to give to their children what they need as a basis for their future education. How much more difficult must it be if there are one or two of these unfortunate, educationally subnormal children in the same class. We place a terrific responsibility on the teacher. It is not enough to say that the subnormal children should not be there with the others. If they are not there, where shall they go?
If a teacher gives individual attention to them, the rest of the class suffers. When the examinations come along, parents have no hesitation in telling teachers that they have not done their job. If, as is usually done, unfortunately, the backward child is pushed farther and farther aside in order to develop the bright pupils, he is pushed into a dark abyss from which, in later years, there is no escape. Educationally subnormal children are not eneducable. They are not mentally handicapped. Surely the purpose of education is to bring a fuller and better life to those who can grasp its principles. Those who are slower to grasp them should not be denied the right to do so.
Paradoxically, I think, because I have two normal, healthy children, I have taken an interest in the mentally handicapped and educationally subnormal child. I have experienced the joy that such a child feels when he can tell the time or recognise a word. I have sat for hours allowing such children to tell me it is five to four, or ten to five, or that something is "cat" and not "dog". I have seen the eyes and heard the voice of parents when they realise that, instead of being left with a liability, they have a child who is developing into a person who can enjoy to the full the pleasures of life.
After many years of trying, we have in my division succeeded in getting one school between two divisions. The amount of joy and pleasure which is being brought to the children far transcends any money which has been spent upon it. I try to think of the many avenues of adventure which are open to the child who can read. The books of the great of this world can pour through the windows of his brain.
The education of the subnormal child is a humanitarian and worthwhile project. I ask the Minister to consider making a survey of the problem to find out exactly how matters are developing. There are suspicions in my division, and I have no doubt, in many other divisions, too, that the nature of the problem is being concealed as a result of a failure to ascertain the facts. For obvious reasons, medical officers may be inclined to say, "Why should we go to the trouble of ascertaining a child's I.Q., when there is nothing we can do about it when we have done it?"
Some of us feel that the problem is more widespread than is generally imagined. It would be a great thing if the House were to decide to root out all the facts and, having ascertained the true nature of the problem, to do something about it. Not only should we bring joy and happiness to many people who may otherwise he deprived in later life of the benefits which education could offer them, but we should earn the gratitude of all teachers and parents who, faced with almost insuperable difficulties, try to give these children a future.
When I heard the result of the Rochdale by-election, my enthusiasm was remarkable for its absence, but I must frankly say that, having heard the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann), whom the electors sent to this House, my fears as far as the House is concerned are very much mitigated.
I have seldom heard a maiden speech made with more sincerity and knowledge. I can tell the hon. Gentleman frankly—and I am sure that everybody will agree with me—that even when he takes part in far more controversial and hard-hitting debates than we are having at present he will find that, if he speaks with knowledge and sincerity, he will always get a hearing. I liked the way in which, as he spoke, the hon. Member approached nearer and nearer to the Front Bench. I like to see a chap who knows where he is going. I am sure that the House will join with me in hoping that we shall hear him on many occasions again. I am sure that we shall listen to him with great interest.
When I worked in Lancashire a word was used—although it did not come my way much—to describe something that was good. In Lancashire, they said that it was "jannock", and I think that the hon. Gentleman's speech was jannock. He has done one other thing: he has made me forget most of the things that I was going to say myself.
As the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) knows, I have spoken in almost every education debate during the approximately thirteen years that I have been in the House. This is the first occasion upon which I have ever seen what amounts to a Motion of censure mounted on a debate on education, and mounted with all the panoply of three-line Whips. Frankly, I think that that is a great mistake. I may be wrong, but I believe that education is far better out of the prejudice and over-statement of high-powered party politics. It is an experimental service, and it must be so in many ways. It suffers considerably if prejudice is brought into discussions on educational matters
I believe that the Motion is entirely wrong and false. People who are not blinded by party political prejudice, and who have a real knowledge and interest in education, do not agree with the Motion. They consider that the Government have a first-class reputation in education. If, as has happened, not only with this Government, but with the Socialist Government, we have had to draw in our horns and to hold our horses, one may be certain that the advance will continue again very soon.
I want to talk about a matter which is not controversial. A great challenge educationally is being made to this country by the cessation of National Service and all that that means in a young man's life. There are many different opinions about whether National Service is good or bad for young men. Obviously, there are bound to be differences of opinion. But I do not think that anybody can deny that it is a great character-forming opportunity, something which, in many cases, strengthens a man's character and, in some cases, perhaps, makes it deteriorate. I feel that the Government have an obligation now to accept the challenge and meet it by providing improved youth services.
Recently, I served on an Estimates Sub-committee—which, as the House knows, is an all-party Committee—which examined the youth services. Frankly, I was not happy with what we discovered. One must, of course, realise that the youth services are extremely difficult to administer. They always will be. The youth service is a hybrid service. Part of it is voluntary and part of it is run by State money or local authority money. It differs according to its geographical area and in what it sets out to do. It will always be a great problem. But at this juncture, which is an important one in our history, it is in far too much of a mess.
I should like to make two quotations from the Youth Employment Service and Youth Service Grants Report. The first quotation is in the general report that we made. We said, in paragraph 26:
The impression gained from the enquiry is that the Ministry is little interested in the present state of the Service and apathetic about its future. Your Committee considers that this apathy is having a deeply discouraging effect on the valuable work done for the Service, much of it voluntary and unpaid, and must thereby be reacting unfavourably on the value for money obtained from the Grants
I should like also to quote the answer to Question 1232, in which our witness
I think it would be unfair to say that they"—
that is, the Ministry of Education—
did not support the Youth Service, but I do feel that possibly they have been afraid to support it too publicly in case that resulted in consequential demands for mare cash
In all honesty, I must say that there was a fairly healthy reaction. If one digs Government Departments in the ribs hard enough, one always gets a reaction, whether one is right or wrong. However, having served on that Estimates Sub-Committee, I must stand by the Report that we made.
Not only is there at this juncture in our history—the cessation of National Service and all that that means—but there are other elements which need help at this time. One reads about the Teddy boy problem, and there is no doubt that in this period of doubt, when there are so many difficult problems in front of the country to worry about and to solve, young men and women need all the guidance that we can possibly give them. There are all sorts of services which can be brought in to help, such as "Outward Bound". I have a personal knowledge of this organisation. My own boy wanted to go to it, so I sent him. It was very successful, and I was very pleased with the way that everything was done. It is a fine organisation. The Government might take note of what is happening there from the point of view of character training.
I would like to make one suggestion, because I think that the whole service is in need of a general re-examination and shake-up. It is a rather curious suggestion, perhaps unorthodox. During the whole of our investigation, there was one Minister to whom several of our witnesses referred with great affection. Obviously. he had won their confidence. That Minister was the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Vosper). As the House knows, my right hon. Friend became Minister of Health, but, to our great regret, he became very ill and had temporarily to leave the House. We are all very pleased to know that he is getting well now and will be in full harness in the summer. But I suggest to the Government that during his period of convalescence he should be given a free hand to see whether he can pull this service together and to see what ought to be done to reorganise it.
When I say that. I am not in any way criticising the present Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister. They have many tasks to keep them busy. I regard this as a matter, however, of great importance. It is a difficult job, a job for one man who thoroughly understands it and who is interested in it. I believe that it could be tackled and that we could make a great service out of it.
May I suggest that it is a very big job for one man? Does the hon. and gallant Member not think that it is a job that might be tackled by a commission of inquiry which could consider the whole question of the Youth Service?
Having been through all the business of the investigation which we made, I should have thought not. I would say that it is the duty of the Government. It is fairly and squarely upon the shoulders of the Government, whatever complexion, to ensure that this service is properly run. I did not necessarily mean that one man should do it all himself. He should be given a free hand and allowed to choose his assistants and to get on with the job as he thinks best. That is what I had in mind.
One of the troubles today, particularly among young people, is their anxiety about the great and almost insoluble problems which face the present generation as, for example, our entry into the nuclear age and all that that means. That is what is unsettling people. Too many, perhaps, are inclined to give all their thoughts to the solution of these difficult problems; and almost everybody has his own solution. It would be far better for us as a nation to concentrate on some of the things that we can do. This problem which I have been discussing is soluble. It needs imagination and hard work. I appeal to the Government to make a great effort to see whether it cannot be tackled and solved in the immediate future.
I am sure that my right hon. and hon. Friends would wish me to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann) on his maiden speech today. We on this side rejoiced when we knew of his great victory at the recent by-election. We have all the more reason for rejoicing now that we have met and heard him in person. All of us who are deeply keen on the subject of education are more than ever pleased that he has thought fit to make his maiden speech on this subject, to which he brought such a deep knowledge and depth of human sympathy that we are sure he will be a tremendous asset to us in this subject in the future.
The Minister of Education made a most agreeable speech today, but he seemed to be much happier in the second part of it, when dealing with his enthusiasms, than in the first part, when he tried to make what was purely a political, debating speech. The bricks that he had to hand were not very many, as I hope to show.
I agree with the priorities as laid down by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart). I have no desire to belittle what has been done so far. Indeed, it would have been miraculous if as much as we have done had not been done after a period of war and at a time when so much needed to be done. We can all point to wonderful new schools and say how much we prefer them to whatever has gone before, and the Minister can take great pleasure in going to a primary school and saying how happy everyone is. At the same time, we must remember that there are many more schools which are not in that condition, that well over 40 per cent. of the children are still in overcrowded classes and that the "black list" schools still remain. On that score, the Minister was rather too complacent.
The right hon. Gentleman, as I expected, took some pride in his recent Estimate and in the achievement that he has been able to get an extra £25 million this year. When it is examined carefully, however, we find that the Estimate is really a slowing-down in the momentum of educational progress. In fact, as the right hon. Gentleman admitted, he is applying the brake and also, I am afraid, he is reversing the direction.
In actual terms, the Estimate shows an increase on the previous year of £25 million, but this is the lowest annual increase for a number of years. In 1957–58, there was an increase over the previous year of £35 million and in 1956–57 an increase of £45 million. By adapting the present figure to recent prices and the value of the £, we see that we are doing little more than mark time with the education Estimate.
I have worked out some figures concerning the average amount spent per year by the Government on the education of a child in the primary and secondary maintained and assisted schools. The figures from the Government's own publications show that in 1955–56, the amount spent was £39; in 1956–57, £45; in 1957–58, £49; and in the forthcoming year it is to be £52. If we equate these figures to the falling value of the £, they do not represent very much of an advance. We cannot carry on a revolution in education, as the Minister would lead us to believe, when the fanfares to sound the advance are muted with Circulars 331 and 334. Therefore, at a time when we should be making a great advance, it can hardly be claimed as a great victory by the Minister that he has managed to stabilise our expenditure on education at just over 3 per cent. of the national income.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham spoke about the needs of today. Our complaint is that the Government's policy does not match up to those needs. I should like to make one or two quotations from what has been said by the Minister and his predecessors and also from The Times Educational Supplement.
In its editorial on 7th February, The Times Educational Supplement said:
Education is not welfare, but a weapon of survival.
The President of the Board of Trade, when Minister of Education, said:
Education is the first and fundamental guarantee of prosperity in this scientific and technical century. Here and now we must make a ruthless advance, no doubt at painful cost, if we wish to keep Britain a great Power.
But as soon as the cost begins to be painful, the Government start to reduce it. Lord Hailsham rang the bell when he said that education must be a first charge on the nation's resources. I could quote more of what he said, but he contradicts himself so often that it is not worth while.
The Minister himself, speaking at Wigan on 4th December—not so very long ago—said:
If we stand back and take a good look at British technical education against an international background, we cannot fail to be impressed by its total inadequacy to equip the nation for its part in a fiercely competitive world.
I shall use that to show that when we measure our advance against those of the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., for example, we are falling far behind.
Only yesterday, the President of the Board of Trade said:
I do not believe that the West can retain the economic championship of the world unless we organise our resources more skilfully than we do now.
The burden of our case is that to reorganise our resources more skilfully we must give a greater priority to education than we are doing even at present. Priority, in this case, means more and more money for education. It is no good blinking that fact.
A short time ago the Yorkshire Post in an interesting article under the heading, "Soviet Education Worries the United States", expressed the fear that the Soviet Union had already outstripped the United States in the education world of dynamic physics and other sciences. The fear was that the Soviets would soon outstrip the United States in the production and distribution of consumer goods. The article reviewed a new book called Soviet Progress versus American Enterprise, in which five experts expressed their warnings and fears about the degree of Soviet advance in this sphere.
Professor Wiesner, of the Massachusetts Institute or Technology, wrote:
When I really feel gloomy I think that five years from now the Soviets will be obviously superior to us in every area. But when I am optimistic I feel that it will take them ten years for them to achieve this position.
The Americans are very worried about this. I do not believe that they are in advance of us in quality, but they are in advance of us numerically. Therefore, we have every reason to believe that we are being left behind in this race. There is great need for us to catch up both in numbers and in quality.
In addition to this world position, we should also take into account the change in the climate of opinion about education in this country. There has never before been so favourable an opportunity for educational advance here than exists now. We have only to think of the large number of children who stay on at school after the age of 15, and witness the keenness and anxiety, however misguided it may be, of parents to get their children into what they think is the best school for them. The call is going out all over the country, "For heaven's sake let us do something about education ".
My quarrel with the Government is that they utter fine, high-sounding phrases and speeches but that their actions belie their words. I will not go into the question of the block grant for local authorities, but in our view that is an instrument of economy. The local authority is free to extend education if it is able to do so and if it wishes to put up the rates. In this respect the Minister of Education is in danger of becoming the handmaiden of the Minister of Housing and Local Government, with all the dreadful consequences that that would involve for him.
Did not the hon. Member make a mistake or a slip of the tongue? He surely did not mean it when he said that parents are misguided in wanting to send their children to the best available school. Surely that was a slip.
No, because there can be nothing more harmful for the child than that parents should push him into a school for which he is unsuited. It can mean a tremendous amount of misery, which could be avoided.
Circular 331 is part of the Government's overall plan to stabilise capital investment. It limits projects to accommodate more children and schemes to serve new housing areas and to provide additional accommodation for the teaching of science. It defers for the time being the starting of projects for rural education and certain other works designed to improve existing conditions. It defers projects dealing with teacher training, special schools, and special clinics, and it restricts the school meals service. Plans for minor works costing over £10,000 are severely restricted, and those which are allowed to proceed are spread over fifteen months instead of a year. The effect of all this upon those who have to do the administrative work has been disastrous.
The Minister quoted The Times Educational Supplement in his support, but he did not quote that same paper when it said, in an article on 1st November:
So it has come. The Government who protested a new concern for education show themselves as ready to cut it as the rest.
It went on to say how pitiful were the savings. The Minister should have noticed that article, instead of the less critical one on Circular 334.
These cuts are imposing a strain on local authorities who wish to go ahead and who are being frustrated by the stops and starts and jerks imposed upon their progress by the Government. No one would say that Durham County Council is not one of the best authorities in the country. It is one of the most progressive. That authority has been told that the total amount that it can spend on minor works has been limited to £175,000 compared with the £300,000 agreed upon for 1957–58. The total amount which the council says is necessary to create additional accommodation is just over £200,000, of which much is in respect of projects in the 1957–58 programme. The local education authority, therefore, has decided, under protest, to limit the cost of additional accommodation to £150,000.
Certain projects have had to be deleted and to the great disappointment of the authority, its officers, the divisional executives, the governors and managers, many schools which had already had to defer improvements have been told that for at least a further year, and it may be longer, they must continue to operate under the severe handicaps which are now inflicted upon them. The remaining £25,000 which they are allowed is to be spent on additional sanitary facilities and on projects from the 1957–58 programme upon which work had already been started.
Even in this case, accepting the situation as it does under protest, the authority has had to establish priorities and has had reluctantly to agree that, first of all, consideration must be restricted to proposals in the 1957–58 list. That puts further and further back the improvements which it hoped to make during this coming year.
Secondly, it has agreed that proposals for staff only are to be deferred. Therefore, we are now hoping to attract teachers to teach in schools where provision for extra facilities and amenities for staff has to be further postponed.
Thirdly, and this is disastrous, particularly in the rural areas, the authority has had to agree that proposals for the provision of hot water be deferred. An ordinary elementary requirement of that kind has had to be put back. Fourthly, no consideration whatsoever can be given to requests for additional lighting or heating, extensions to the tar-paved areas in playgrounds, the development of playing fields, the provision of sewerage facilities, the provision of staff rooms, cycle racks, and all the other things that go to make a decent school. All those improvements go by the board. The value of the projects which have been deferred is no less than £300,000. Therefore, as a result of Government policy, this one council alone can spend only £175,000 in fifteen months to do work for which it wanted £500,000 in twelve months. We must ask ourselves how such an authority can be expected to cope in the future when all the time it is fighting against this dreadful back-log. It is less than three years since previous restrictions were lifted and the council had hoped in that time to have brought conditions closer to the standards which the Ministry would desire.
Will the Minister give an assurance that the maximum period within which the sums available can be spent will be one year, or are the authorities still to work without knowing what they are to do in one, two or three years' time? This really is a gloomy picture. The Director of Education for Durham was instructed to send a strong protest to the Minister, and my colleagues from the North most strongly endorse that protest.
I want now to refer to the effects of the Minister's circulars on my own constituency. I am told that under the terms of the circulars it is not possible to proceed with reorganisation of the all-age schools. There are five of them all built more than seventy or eighty years ago. The one in which my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen (Dr. King) received his education is still in use. Nevertheless, so long as we have children in brand new schools and others condemned to use old schools, we cannot say that we have equality of educational opportunity.
I want to make a special plea for the Stockton-on-Tees Grammar School. It is an antiquated building and has a very good staff and very good children and it serves a useful purpose. However, owing to the restrictions, for the next two or three years many children who are capable of benefiting from a secondary-grammar education will not be able to have it because of the lack of space. My local education authority and the county have asked the Government to give special consideration to an application to transfer Stockton-on-Tees Grammar School from its present site. With the crying need for scientists, particularly on Tees-side, it is all the more tragedy that the Government have not acceded to that request.
On 5th April, the Parliamentary Secretary stated that he hoped to eliminate all junior classes of more than 40 pupils by 1961. Does he stand by that statement? I believe that there is not the ghost of a chance of achieving that, but if he has a wonderful plan so much the better.
The Times Educational Supplement has a report from the North Riding Education Committee stating that it has set up a special sub-committee to consider the effect of the estimates and the cuts. It gives reasons why it is clear that, except by cutting into ordinary items of maintenance, there is no scope for making reductions in its estimates. That authority, I understand, has made a 25 per cent. cut in science apparatus, a 20 per cent. cut in books and stationery, has had to defer getting new furniture which is badly needed, and to give up painting of both the outside and inside of some schools.
Another local authority close to mine, Darlington, has told the Minister of its dissatisfaction with the reduction in the amount which it may spend on minor improvements in 1958–59. That has been reduced to £18,000 from an estimated requirement of £31,415. In the education committee's view, that means that essential work will have to be postponed and that it will be able to undertake little more than half of the work recommended, so that its policy of bringing older schools to a standard comparable with the newer ones will have to be deferred.
I now turn to Circular 334. Our educational programmes have been badly mutilated by previous circulars, but now we have the refinements of torture added with a few more lacerations. The circular is the most depressing document which one can read. It says that expenditure which can be deferred should be deferred and that that should make reductions in estimates possible. In the sectors of further education for which the White Paper does not cater, the possibility of making further economies should be explored. Economies in recreation and physical training must be observed. Local education authorities are told that capital expenditure from revenue on projects which they could not otherwise finance must be postponed rather than be financed by borrowing. Worst of all, about the renewal and replacement of furniture and equipment, it says that expenditure of that kind should be reduced to the minimum. Anything which is not absolutely urgent has to be postponed.
There has been a natural reaction against the document. I do not have time to give the views of the Workers' Education Association, but I hope that some of my hon. Friends will. The Association protested vigorously against this general attack on education. The General Council of the T.U.C. has expressed its alarm. It has deplored the circular and has declared that it has revealed an attitude on the part of the Government towards education which must cause anxiety to all who place a high value on education or who are concerned with the future prosperity of the nation.
The "Joint Four" has expressed its opposition and The Times Educational Supplement has more or less said that the damage which the circular may do can frustrate the Government's policy towards universities. It says that the expansion of the universities will be useful only if the people going to universities are properly prepared, and it points out that if petty economies interfere with sixth form work and the provision of proper laboratory equipment the Government's policy, on which they are spending millions of pounds, will be botched for the sake of saving a few hundreds.
A convincing case against the Government over their recent action has been made and has fully justified our criticism. We still have a long way to go to implement the 1944 Act. Many children are still deprived of the opportunity of educational fulfilment and of serving the nation. We ought to be as concerned with quality as with quantity. We ought to be thinking not only about providing classrooms, but about what goe3 on inside the classrooms. The Government must meet this demand.
My regret is that the Government are not showing enough drive, enough urgency. We have to work up a campaign to show that somebody is doing something about education. The tragedy is that the children now at school, in the bad schools, in the over-crowded schools, subject to all these fits and starts, will never be able to regain what they lose now. It is not as in other things, a case of being able to make up lost ground later on. What is lost in these important years can never be regained.
The shadow of economy hanging over our educational system is to be deplored. I call upon the Minister to avoid a policy of expediency and to give priority to educational needs instead of merely paying lipservice to education and hoping that the local authorities will get the blame. I also ask him to double, if possible, the amount of money which he is prepared to spend on education.
The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) has referred to many admirable education projects in his own county and constituency which have suffered because of the lack of money. There is no disagreement about that on either side of the House. However, I could not help feeling that he had overlooked some of the difficulties which we have had to face as a debtor instead of a creditor nation since the war. He did not pay sufficient tribute to what has been achieved since then.
It is as well to remember that an additional sum of £25 million is worth while. As my right hon. Friend so rightly said, the amount of money from both the Exchequer and rates devoted to education has increased materially and rose by £45 million last year, so that it is estimated that in 1958–59 we will spend approximately £600 million on education.
I should be the last to say that that is sufficient, but we must bear in mind that everybody else is making demands upon the pool of available resources. The Opposition may call for additional food subsidies, more help for agriculture, education, housing or pensions, and all these things, in total, must involve a very large sum.
There is one other point which, I think, the Minister might have mentioned, namely, the extremely interesting statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 20th February. It will be in the minds of most hon. Members. He said that there was to be a university building programme of £60 million over four years, from 1960 to 1963, and that. on top of it, and concurrently with it. university grants in the next quinquennial period would rise from £30 million to £39 million, which is three or four times what they were ten years ago.
I dare say that is true; we all want more money for these things. Everybody wants a little more for his home and his children. That is natural and human. But somebody must make a decision about the distribution of what is available, and I think that the Government have done that extremely well.
The Minister referred to the circular issued in 1949. I remember it very well. I was then Vice-Chairman of the Essex County Council. It was a question not merely of a cut of 12½ per cent., but of two cuts of 12½ per cent.x2014;a total of 25 per cent., and a lot of very extravagant building was going on at the time. Then we had the devaluation of the £, and various economies were introduced in the interests of the nation. I do not think that at that time the same political opposition was put up as has been put up in recent months, when we are once again experiencing a certain amount of financial difficulty.
The Minister was absolutely right when he referred to the great saving in the cost of school places: in primary schools, from £195 to £150; in secondary schools, from £324 to £260. I do not think that anyone can say that the buildings put up today are shoddy. They are nothing other than extraordinarily good school buildings. I am sorry that the Minister is not here now. We look forward to seeing him tomorrow, when he will formally open the two-hundredth post-war school built in Essex.
Essex was referred to in connection with Circular 331. I was glad to hear the Minister recognise, as his predecessor did, the special problems of our county. Our school population has expanded well beyond the average over the country in the last ten years. As the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees said, in reference to Circular 331, three years ago there was no money for these minor projects involving expenditures of up to £10,000 each. I entirely agree with what has been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House, that although these may be minor projects in some ways, they are major ones in the rural areas. That is something which this Government have introduced and, unfortunately, have had to slow up for the time being. Despite that fact, £425,000 is being allocated for this purpose in respect of my county during the fifteen months from 1st January of this year to 31st March, 1959.
In the present estimates for my county for 1958–59 the ordinary revenue expenditure is up by £2½ million, and we have a capital programme of over £3 million. I would be the last to say that that is exactly what we want but, as I have said, we must remember all the other demands that are being made. Is there to be a temporary here and there cut, or do we want to risk another devaluation of the £?
We have had a very objective debate. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland). It is a pity that both here and in local authorities there is such a lot of politics about education. The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), who put his case with great force and clarity, as he always does, referred to the London County Council elections. At the beginning of this week I received an undated communication from the Mid-Essex Branch of the National Union of Teachers. It was in the form of a questionnaire of six questions, and was addressed to all candidates at local government elections, managers and governors of schools, and local organisations interested in education. The questions are of a kind which we all receive at Election time. They are asked for political reasons, and they are sometimes not very easy to answer.
I will quote the last one, which asked, under the heading of "Expenditure on Education":
If you affirm the need of the reforms mentioned above, can we assume that you are opposed to the operation of economies in education either by:
Attached to this circular letter there is a pamphlet headed, "Against Block Grants", which has been prepared by the Association of Education Committees.
One of the statements in that pamphlet, which is included in order to help answer the questions, is:
Will development cost the L.E.A.s more under the block grant?
and the pamphlet goes on to say:
Yes. The effect of the change will be to make each new project cost the L.E.A. two and a half times as much as under percentage grants.
A new project is a new school and this is quite misleading.
I do not know what kinds of reply will be sent to this document, but I cannot help feeling that tremendous political pressure has been brought in connection with the subject of the expense of education. It has been built up against a background of quite understandable disappointment in many respects, but it is very largely quite unjustified, having regard to the events of today and what hon. Members opposite had to do in similar circumstances some years ago. Anybody can see that very great progress has been made in education ever since the end of the war. It has been made by both parties and by all the 146 local education authorities—and yet it has not been sufficient.
I have mentioned that there is £600 million of public money being spent on education and that, in addition, very considerable sums of private money are being spent upon it, by parents, and from trusts, and also by church schools. Reference has been made to the fact that some of these church schools in rural areas are not in very good condition. That is quite true. On the other hand, we must bear in mind that there are no less than 8,000 Church of England schools. These were some of the forerunners in education. In no less than half these aided schools status is being maintained and denominational teaching is permitted. That is a source of pride to many of us. In my own village we are building a new church school.
Twelve years have passed since, in 1946, we began to implement the Butler Act of 1944. I want to ask some questions of my hon. Friend as to the deductions we can draw from the experience that we have had over this long period, during which we have spent considerable sums of money. He was good enough, recently, to visit one of our new towns—Harlow—where we had the chance of experimenting with bilateral schools. It is obvious that the tripartite system will have to be continued, and I agree with the comments that have been made about it; much more respect is being shown for the secondary modern school. I do not get so many parents coming to me now and telling me how desperately upset they are that their children have not been able to obtain grammar school places. All these developments are very much to the good. Indeed, there are many lessons to be learned from this.
The hon. Member for Fulham referred to the independent public schools, for which he said he did not hold much of a brief. Let us consider the comprehensive schools. I believe that now there are more than 40 actually in operation and another 10, shall we say, being built. I wonder what conclusions we can draw from this. I do not wish to be didactic or narrow-minded about education. We are all agreed that it is an important thing and that we should consider what sort of lessons we can learn, since local education authorities have tremendous responsibility vested in them. Can any guidance be given about what they should do, when they should go forward, or when to draw back? I hope that we shall get some guidance from my hon. Friend.
I shall gladly say something in reply on that point, but I hope that my hon. Friend is not suggesting that this kind of experiment goes on only in the secondary schools. I was very interested recently in an experiment going on in a primary school.
I am obliged to my hon. Friend. He travels the country widely and is in close touch with, and takes a great interest in, these matters. I hope that he will advise us on the widest possible basis.
Reference was made to the bulge moving from the primary to the secondary schools and, as was indicated by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Horncastle it will be moving from the secondary schools to the period of further education at a time when there may not be any National Service. I will not go into the advantages or otherwise for the country which may result from that. Many opinions may be held on that subject, but I think that the period in the life of children from 15 years to 18 years will prove during the years ahead to be a time which we must consider most carefully.
It has been said that our young people include a lot of Teddy boys. These things can be immensely exaggerated and I think that they are. But in the minds of many people there are anxieties and fears about incidents which occur in which knives are used by young people and fatal accidents happen. I am not sure whether we are tackling this problem in the right way; whether part of the blame should not attach to parents for some of the things that occur. We give children an apprenticeship in carpentry and music and other things and I wonder whether some attention might be paid to teaching them about the important questions connected with parenthood. I note that my right hon. Friend has re-entered the Chamber. I would mention to him that I was referring to the important points of parenthood—although he, being a bachelor, would not know very much about that.
So often our modern young people enter into a married state untrained and inexperienced, and if we could help them in some way, especially now, when so many marry at a comparatively early age, we might prevent some of the things which happen, like children being beaten, and boxed about the ears. and perhaps injured for life. These things would not be eliminated entirely, but they might be prevented to a great extent.
The Motion refers to expenditure on education as inadequate and the hon. Member for Fulham described that as a broad term. I believe that the country as a whole and the Conservative party has done an extremely good job for education. We want more money, when we can get it, to devote to education. I think that priority No. 1 is to get going once again with the reorganisation of rural schools. I hope that we shall continue the good-tempered and objective debate we have had up to now on this important subject of the education of our young people who may live their adult lives in a very different world, where all the modern inventions, pray God, will be used for the benefit of mankind and not merely for its destruction.
I was interested in the complaint of the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Ashton) about political pressure being exerted against the block grant. It is a matter of common knowledge that the whole Labour Party is opposed to the block grant. But the National Union of Teachers is a non-political organisation——
The pamphlet quoted by the hon. Gentleman is one of the many examples of the fact that the National Union of Teachers, as an educational body, like every other educational body in the country, sees a menace to the future of local government and of education contained in the block grant proposals. The hon. Gentleman must not imagine that everyone is a party politician who opposes, on educational grounds, something done by the Government which he believes to be contrary to the good of education.
I believe there is more discussion in the country now about education than ever before. More people are realising the simple truth that we cannot get by with a 3 per cent. education rate and a 6 per cent. Bank Rate—I would have said a 7 per cent. Bank Rate but for the comment made today at Question Time by my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton). We should have a better chance of survival if we reverse those figures and have a 6 per cent. education rate and a 3 per cent. Bank Rate. At the same time resistance to expenditure on education is growing up among groups of ratepayers, especially those organised into ratepayers' associations. My complaint is that this Government is fumbling instead of leading the country in a crusade on behalf of education. By the block grant it places education in the hands of those who are resisting further expenditure, because whatever else one may say about the Government's block grant proposals, they will deliberately add to the rate portion of the education burden; and I consider that rates are the least equitable and most burdensome form of taxation. However, I do not wish to discuss that in this debate.
I believe that the best local authorities in the country, Tory and Socialist, are miles ahead of the Government. By way of illustration I would recall that it was in 1955 that the Government discovered that we lagged behind in technical education. If we went to the Lancashire Education Committee we could get from it the very day on which this discovery was made by the Government. In that year the Lancashire Education Committee, a very progressive body, put to the Minister a programme proposing a vast expansion of technical education in that county. The Ministry slashed that programme by half, and then a fortnight later wrote to the Lancashire Education Committee asking it to double its first programme. The Ministry is now urging local authorities to release teachers for short courses as part of the drive for further technical and specialist teachers and promises that the salaries and fees of seconded teachers will be recognised for grant purposes. But the block grant proposals make such inducements meaningless. It is no use local authorities accepting the promise that this will be recognised for grant purposes because the new Bill is taking from the Government and the Minister all power to give such percentage grants to enlightened local authorities.
I thought that someone in this education debate should defend the teaching profession from recent attacks which have been made in the Sunday Dispatch and the Daily Express. The Sunday Dispatch linked the increase of juvenile delinquency with a recent decline in the percentage of men teachers. If the two sets of figures are put side by side, and if there really were any connection between them, one could say that the increased number of 18-year-old criminals in the country in 1958 compared with 1938 was due to the fact that they were in school five years ago at a time when we had a bigger percentage of men teachers than ever before or since. It is hardly necessary to say that no such link exists. The increase and decline in the percentage of men teachers is explained by the sudden intake after the war of 30,000 emergency trained teachers, mostly men, and the fall-off in the earlier recruitment of married women teachers.
To calm the fears of anyone who has been alarmed by the sensational articles let me state that practically all the boys in our secondary schools are taught by men teachers. The Daily Express, on the views of a few disgruntled headmasters and a couple of mispronounced words, recently proceeded to denigrate the great work that is being done in the nation's primary schools and secondary schools. I assume that the Daily Express itself would object, at any rate the Press as a whole would object, if we judged the Press by the headlines that I culled from the very same issues as contained the attack on the teachers. They are:
What a new nose can do for a girl
Danny did what the midwife told him.
Me go to his room in a see-through nightie? Never!
The fine quality of the work of our teachers is shown by the figures which the Minister has given this afternoon and to which I would add some others. The number of G.C.E. passes between 1951 and 1956 is up by 50 per cent. The number of advanced level passes school certificates is up by 40 per cent., and the number of ordinary national certificate passes is up by 200 per cent. Most of these children and possibly 90 per cent. of all our young men and young women who are at present in the universities and training colleges, began in primary schools and were taught in the nation's overcrowded infant classes by women teachers.
There is nothing so terribly wrong with the schools or with the teachers whose products can attain the sublime level of Zeta. On the lower level, I take a lowlier example which came to my notice today. The Annfield Plain secondary modern school entered 20 girls for the school certificate last year, and 18 of them passed in five subjects or more. By all means let us investigate the causes of the increase in juvenile delinquency. The Minister of Education ought to be anxious about this, and he and the Home Secretary ought to be starting a really serious inquiry about delinquency, for it means that the work we are attempting to do in our schools with the delinquent child has failed.
The headlines which I quoted just now illustrate what our schools are fighting against. Education means home, means school, and means the world into which we plunge our children after school hours and after school years. The teacher cannot take the place of the bad parent. The bad parent is the enemy of the best school. This week we have had the extreme case of Mrs. Winkler—who is to bear her child and then give it over to whoever will take it. We have also had striking cases of truancy. I suggest to the Minister that he can at least stiffen the penalties now imposed upon parents who wilfully keep their children away from school. There is a link between bad school attendance and juvenile delinquency which the Minister can get from any police court record.
The world into which we are plunging our children is one of over-paying youngsters who have just left school, of over-sensationalising news, of over-painting violence on the TV., of glamorising a handful of Teddy boys who do not represent modern British youth—I was glad to hear the Minister praise our young folk—of failing to punish them adequately, and of supplying them in the shops with flick knives with which one of them in the North last year committed a murder.
All this kind of thing ought to be troubling the Minister of Education. This new and revolutionary system of secondary education for all our children has to fight a hard battle against on the one hand the indifference, neglect or even the opposition of a handful of bad parents, and on the other hand a cheap and screaming commercial culture which pays a crooner more in a month than Elgar earned all his life for all his symphonies; which reports Parliament hardly ever, except in its off moments, and in which every school lesson and every value that we seek to commend to our children in school time is either denied, derided or cheapened.
As I was preparing this speech I came across a report by Dr. Rudolf, the psychiatrist, who is troubled at the effect of introducing even the B.B.C. television programme to children and the B.B.C. is much less dangerous to children than is the I.T.V. In a paper, he reported that introducing television into Yatton Hall Hospital for Mentally Defective Children increased the misbehaviour among those children by about 50 per cent. in twelve months. Educationists in Canada are also talking about the adverse influence that television is having on the posture and health of their children.
There is a tremendous investment in State education which needs the enthusiastic support of all people of good will and real backing from the Press. Our children deserve better newspapers. One can say with Milton:
The hungry look up, and are not fed.
Why do not newspapers feature the good parent and the good child, and some of the great work that we are doing in our schools, instead of splashing from one end of the country to the other the misdeeds of a handful of unfortunate children?
I think with the Minister that Britain has much to be proud of in post war years. We have built 3,780 new schools and we have provided places for 2 million British children in new classrooms. As the Minister says, the teacher force is rapidly expanding year by year. This debate is an opportunity for expressing our legitimate pride in the achievements of the British people in the very difficult post war years on the one hand, but also on the other for recognising that we are still far short of what we have to do if we are to carry out the 1944 Act.
Let me give some U.N.E.S.C.O. figures. They show that while we spent 24·3 dollars per head of our population on education, America spent 56·3, more than double, and the Soviet Union 79·2. We as a small country have much greater need to educate the native ability of our people than have those two giant countries. We have not yet started coping with the problem of youth education. We cannot achieve parity in secondary education whatever structure, tripartite, bilateral or comprehensive, we give to secondary education, so long as most children have only four years in secondary schools, or, if their birthdays are wrong only three and one third years, and so long as non-graduates have only half the period of university or college education that graduate teachers have.
Experts told us way back in 1950 that our building programme ought to be running, and should have been running now for years, at £70 million in 1950 money, which would be many more millions in present day money. That was why I interrupted the Minister in his very skilful re-presentation of the building figures to point out that what the Government did was to check the building programme.
It was steadily accelerating. The figures from the Minister's own report show that in 1950 the new building programme was worth about £70 million—I am missing out the decimals—in 1951. £59 million; in 1952, £40 million; in 1953, £49 million; in 1955, the first expansion, £76 million; in 1956, £83 million; and now it has been frozen at about £55 million. The Minister corn-pared recent figures with the decelerated figures that a previous Conservative Minister of Education imposed at that time on a rapidly expanding programme.
I do not think the hon. Member is being quite fair, because of the 3,700-odd schools built since the war 3,000 have been built in the time of the present Government.
With all respect to the Minister, that is far too easy to answer. He is taking to his credit the schools which came off the stocks from the vast building programme of his predecessor. I am sorry to have to make debating points, but it is just the same as when, in his speech, he took credit for the vast technical achievement of improving and cutting down the cost per place of school buildings which the country owes to the initiative of the late George Tomlinson, who set up the very able working party in 1949. School-building programmes are now frozen at between £50 million and £60 million. Local authorities, under the usurious rates of interest, will however be paying for those £50 million or £60 million programmes what they would have been paying under the old rate of interest for a £70 or £80 million programme. The Minister ought to be one of those leading the fight against high Bank Rate because the high rate of interest is the enemy of educational progress just as it is the enemy of public housing.
Incidentally, I think both sides of the House ought now seriously to consider the grievous financial burden imposed by the high Bank Rate, the credit squeeze and inflated costs on the Catholic community, which undertook certain responsibilities in 1944 but whose responsibilities have swollen colossally in the ten years since. What Britain wants at the moment is the voice of Hailsham in that inspired period of his a very short one—when he forgot to be a politician and was Minister of Education. Instead, we get Circular 334. What a pitiful little circular. Like Peer Gynt, it is not even wicked. Even the clerks at the Ministry must have been ashamed to post it. Most local authorities have ignored it.
The North Riding local authority classically stated the case against it. To paraphrase what it said, "Most of our increased educational expenditure is inevitable ";—it gives the causes, which every hon. Member knows—" we do not spend ratepayers' money for fun." As one who sits on an education committee, I know that to be true. "If we make any cut at all in response to the Minister's mean circular, the only way we can get anything like a reasonable cut is by reducing the maintenance charges. Cutting into the maintenance charges is false economy because, if we stop painting schools and doing necessary repairs, we shall pay in the years ahead three or four times over."
The circular says—I paraphrase again —" Put up the price of evening classes. Stop re-organising rural education, but re-organise evening classes. See that no child under the age of five sneaks into State schools surreptitiously. Stop saving the ratepayer money by meeting some capital expenditure out of revenue." Hampshire County Council hoped to economise by avoiding some of the iniquitous burden of interest and paying for some capital projects out of revenue. "Instead", says the circular, "squander money on heavy loan charges, or, better still, don't build the school."
Local education authorities ask for bread from this Minister and, like his predecessor, he gives them a stone. In the meantime some dozens of rural secondary schools have been cut out of the present programme, a Hampshire project among them. To my mind, this Minister will be responsible for cutting out of this year's programme the Stockbridge secondary modern school in Hampshire, as the first Tory Minister after the war was responsible for cutting out the Fordingbridge secondary school in 1950. Permission to build new schools is being refused while builders are out of work. There is also a cut-back, almost an abolition, of the work the Minister has seen with great joy in the improvements which a minor works programme can make to slum schools. In every corner of the country I have seen old schools transformed out of recognition by minor works programmes. Now local authorities are told to cut out minor works programmes unless they provide extra teaching space.
I urge the Minister to increase the size of grants to university students. In 1949 the grant for a provincial university was £215. It is now £245. The National Union of Students has stated a claim for £355. A few examples may be worth all the argument in the world. In a town I know, the health committee put a university student who had a T.B. infection on to the free milk list. Free milk is given on a kind of National Assistance scale. When the health committee totted up the student's incidental expenses it found that he was left at the end of the week with a few shillings and qualified for free milk.
will not name the local authorities to which I refer, but I can give the Minister chapter and verse for each case. One local authority assesses parental income not only on the parent's income, but on any capital the parent has. Parents under that authority have to realise part of their capital to meet the cost if they want to send their children to university. This is counter to Ministerial policy and also to the policy of most L.E.As. Another has carried out Circular 334 by restricting awards to non-degree courses. A graduate with second-class honours was recently refused an award to take a post-graduate social science diploma. In another local authority, a father with less than £14 a week is keeping his son at college to take a course as a veterinary surgeon. That boy had a scholarship level and two advanced level passes in the General Certificate of Education, yet he is refused any financial help from the local authority.
In another city, a 27-year old medical student qualified to go to medical school by studying at his own expense at a technical college. He applied to the local authority for some kind of financial assistance. His father's income was £12 a week, but the local authority will not help him. These real cases illustrate hardship even under full grants on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the determination of some youngsters and parents to get a university career even if the local authority will not help. But costs are mounting. Costs of lodging, books and food become astronomical.
Hon. Members who were lobbied by students a few weeks ago know that their claim for an increase is more than just. Even if a generous local authority is interpreting the Ministerial scales, as Hampshire has in the past, in the most favourable way possible, the students suffer. Others have stressed the claim for the abolition of the means test, or its modification. I support that, but I would press particularly the serious need for help for children getting university awards when their fathers and mothers are at the bottom of the income scale.
About the worst thing done by the last Minister of Education but three was when she lowered the point at which university grants were not entirely free and parents had to make a contribution. She reduced the limit from £500 to £450. Whatever the grant and whatever the parent's income, the long road from sixth form to university represents a sacrifice for the parents and the child. I think the time has come seriously to improve what is being done in that regard.
Industry is setting a good example. I should like to see industry represented on every education committee in the country. I would not have said that twenty years ago, but today enlightened industry is almost giving a lead to the Government in educational matters. We have had these industrial university scholarships worth £450 awarded without a means test. We have had industry giving science laboratories to private schools—and I share the joy of my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) at that gift. We have the Manchester offer of half a dozen part-time science teachers as a contribution to the science teacher shortage.
We have the grand educational work being done among apprentices in the best industries. For example, in my own town, there is the keen co-operation of the building and engineering trades in the building up of the Southampton Technical College. But I do not believe that it is right that the best industrialists should be ahead of the Government. Our general case, so ably put by my hon. Friend at the beginning of the debate, is that we have achieved a great deal since the war, but that this is not the time for pulling in. Our criticism of the Government is that, at a time when expansion should be becoming more and more rapid, and when there should be great leadership from the Ministry, we are not getting it.
The Motion before the House asks us to note
with concern that the educational policy of Her Majesty's Government, as expressed in its recent actions, is inadequate to the needs of the nation.
It is very mild and moderate in its terms, as was the speech of the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), although it was very straight and very clear. This is the type of Motion that could be moved by any Opposition against any Government at any time on educational policy. We who are interested in education and try to imagine that we are educationists, know that whatever is spent on education will never satisfy us. We would, therefore, be prepared to move a Motion like this against any Government.
The hon. Member for Fulham mentioned five objectives, with which I think both sides of the House would wholeheartedly agree. One was the necessity for more buildings and more teachers. Another was that nobody's talents should be neglected in the schools. Another, that there should be adequate development of scientific and technical education. We also said that we must develop in the country an enthusiastic appetite for education, and a real desire for knowledge. The other objective was the urgent necessity for the development of our youth service.
I am glad that, so far, the debate has, in the main, been bipartisan, and, therefore, while claiming for this Government credit for the development in education since 1951, I should also be careful to give credit to the previous Administrations for the carry-over. I also want hon. Members opposite to give us credit for our development, and not to be too carping in their outlook. This is a quid pro quo.
It is true, of course, that when we came into power in 1951 we took over from the previous Government the completed buildings, and those go down in our record, but that is all in the course of events. The thing that in the post-war years—and particularly since 1951—goes to the credit of the Conservative Government's education policy has been an ever-extending service, if we look at the Estimates issued yesterday we see that the money spent has consistently and progressively increased, even bearing in mind the change in the value of money. It is for that reason that I say that the Conservative record is one of which I, as a practising educationist until two and a half years ago, am not ashamed, and, indeed, of which I am particularly proud.
Why is that? Let us look at it generally. First of all, in the post-war years, and particularly since 1951, our education system has met the threat of the bulge. That, in itself, is a major triumph. Today there are a million more children in our schools than there were in 1951. Again, we have made remarkable progress in the provision of teachers. In January, 1951, we had 216,000 of them, but it is estimated that in 1959 we shall have 266,000 actually teaching in the schools. Since 1951 there has been an average increase of 3 per cent. in the numbers.
The hon. Member for Fulham mentioned more and better buildings. Here, again, the story is one of steady progress. Since 1951, one new primary school has been built, on average, every day, and, again since 1951, five new secondary modern schools have been built each fortnight. There is another comparison, and I do not wish to make this an odious party comparison. In 1951, the Socialists provided only two new places for every three new pupils, but, in 1957 and 1958, we, as a retrogressive Tory Government, have provided eleven new places for every three new pupils. All these facts can be verified from official returns.
I deplore the circular that stopped the rural reorganisation, the conversion of all-age schools to secondary moderns, and the like, but it is the fact that when we came into power in 1951, 16–9 per cent. of the school population was being educated in all-age schools. In 1956—and that is the latest year for which I have the returns, although my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary may have those for a later date—the figure was down to 9.7 per cent. Therefore, there has been some steady progress in that direction.
The hon. Member has played right into my hands, as I hope to prove in the next few minutes. Building restrictions were brought in by the Labour Government in 1947 and 1949. They were not our fault. What I am saying now, as my right hon. Friend has already pointed out, is that, in spite of the restrictions, two-thirds of the rural reorganisation work has been completed, or is in progress. Incidentally, in passing, I ask my right hon. Friend to look urgently, as an educationalist, at this question of rural reorganisation and the minor works programme. I was glad to hear him say that, in his estimation, £10,000 worth of work, considered in official circles as minor work, could be a major transformation in a village school.
I said that I did not want to be a party critic, and this debate has gone along on quite happy lines. On the other hand, beneath the velvet glove even of the hon. Member for Itchen (Dr. King) there has been hidden the sting all the while, particularly in regard to his criticisms of Circulars 331 and 334. I have a fairly long memory in education, and I was at the receiving end of circulars between 1945 and 1951 when the Socialists were in power. I was headmaster of a school, and I saw the effect of circulars like 331 and 334. No party and no Government, neither the Socialist Government nor the present Government, have any monopoly in the sending out of economy circulars. I have a list of them here, and I want to quote from four of them.
Here we have Circular 155. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) smiles at me, and we are good friends. I think he was in the House at the time that Circular 155 was sent out in December, 1947. This is what it says:
Even in 1949 it will be essential to avoid new building wherever possible.
Here is Circular 209, of October, 1949:
For projects to be started in 1950, the objective must be to achieve a 12½ per cent. reduction on cost in 1949 … For the 1951 programme, a reduction of 14 per cent… will not be sufficient.
Two cuts in successive years of 12½ per cent., making, as one hon. Member has said, a cut of 25 per cent. Hon. Members
opposite clothe themselves in white, put haloes round their heads, grow wings and then look with horror at my right hon. Friend the Minister on the Front Bench.
I am very sorry to interrupt the spate of the hon. Gentleman's oratory, but is he aware that the first economy circular to which he referred was sent out two years after the war? We are now thirteen years away from the war, and it is quite unfair to compare the two periods.
The hon. Gentleman has made my point. The point I am trying to make is that, in certain exigencies and certain circumstances, it is necessary for any Government to bring out circulars of this description and to call a halt. The hon. Gentleman will notice that I did not condemn the Labour Government for bringing them out. I am not saying that it was wrong. It may have been very necessary.
The hon. Gentleman complains of my quoting from a period two years after the war, but I also quoted 1949. Let us come a little nearer. Let us come to 1950, which is only eight years ago. Here we have again the rural reorganisation scheme to which reference has been made:
The value of improvements to old schools started during the financial year 1951–52 must still be restricted to about three-fifths of the figure for the calendar year 1949.
These are examples of economies by the very people who, in their Motion today, are condemning a Government who have a splendid record of progression, but who have had, for the moment, to call a halt to, or a slight deceleration of, the programme. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but the Socialists have wielded the axe on many occasions. In 1947 there was an almost complete embargo on the building of nursery schools. In 1947 they banned further major improvements of slum schools. In 1949 they stopped all new buildings for the school meals service in existing schools, and in 1950–51 they raised the price of the school meals from 5d., first to 6d. and then to 7d. In 1949, again, there was a 12½ per cent. reduction in the proposed pattern of spending and an overall reduction of educational expenditure in that year of 3 per cent. That is the party which claims the monopoly in defending education.
I am very glad to have listened to the impartial speech of the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), in which he attempted to commend to the House the progress that had been made in education since the end of the war under both Governments, which is the view, I believe, held by the right hon. Gentleman himself, and certainly is the one held by me.
I cannot understand why the hon. Member for Burton says that the threat of the bulge has been met. It was not met in the primary schools, and I would also point out to the Minister himself that the children who have passed through the primary schools with the bulge are now passing through the secondary schools with the bulge and will enter into employment with the bulge. It is the same children who will suffer this disadvantage through the whole system of education. That is really the problem, and the hon. Member for Burton is quite wrong in saying that the country has succeeded in meeting the problem of the bulge. It is only true to some extent.
The hon. Member for Burton also falls into the facile error that so often happens in this House of comparing two periods of time, one immediately following the Second World War and the other a period following, shall we say, the aftermath of the Korean War, which began in June, 1950. If he will consult the Report of the Cohen Committee, he will find there a description of the economic difficulties which came inevitably after the Second World War, which should warn him against ever again making that comparison between like and unlike which, at best, can only be a party debating point.
The Minister of Education is quite entitled to tell the House and the country that we shall be spending in 1958–59 over £600 million on our education service.
That makes it even better. I have no intention of denying the fact of educational advance. I hope I am right in the next figures that I shall quote.
There has been an increase in educational expenditure of over three-quarters since 1952–53, and an increase of over two and a half times since 1946–47. While it is true that this is only a nominal increase, nevertheless, there has undoubtedly been a real advance—an advance in real terms in our education service since the end of the war.
The problem on which I want to touch this evening is whether that advance meets the challenge of the times, and whether it is good enough. I was interested, therefore, in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), in which he indicated what he called certain outstanding needs in education today. I would say to him and to the Minister that the extent to which overcrowded classes exist, the extent to which obsolete schools continue, the extent to which inequality of opportunity exists as between district and district, all show our failure to meet the challenge of our time. I should like to say a few words about what I consider that challenge to be, and conclude by saying something about a matter to which the Minister himself referred, namely, the important period between the ages of 15 and 18. I shall indicate, if I may, some of the problems which I feel are likely to arise in the next few years, to meet which plans should be made now.
I was rather sorry that the Minister did not recall in his speech that education is concerned with more than mere technical efficiency. That was due to lack of time; I know that he believes that our education system exists to teach values and to develop character as well as to produce technical efficiency. This country has witnessed the growth of what we call political democracy, which, in the history books, is timed between 1832 and 1928. For some time now, political democracy and the philosophy of freedom in the world have been under challenge. Our education system must be good enough to fortify the beliefs which the individual should hold in a democratic society.
Britain, particularly during the twentieth century, has suffered from relative economic decline, and this decline has been accelerated by the impact of two world wars. The Cohen Report, in paragraph 50, describes some of the difficulties which inevitably followed the Second World War, and to this quotation
I should like to call the attention of the hon. Member for Burton:
This was the period in which—because of the successive demands of post-war replacement of rundown capital equipment, of the very big increase in exports needed and, after 1950, of the rearmament programme, the amount of goods available for personal consumption rose little.
It would be possible to attack the Labour Government because personal consumption rose little. The truth is that the Labour Government concentrated upon essential tasks of capital replacement instead of allowing personal consumption to rise.
Yes, I will admit that. Indeed, that task, together with many others, was begun during that period after the war. Some of my hon. Friends think now, looking back, that the post-war Government perhaps attempted too much. At any rate, a beginning was made.
In these circumstances, in a period of relative economic decline, it is absolutely vital that this country should enhance native skills by deliberate design, by planned educational advance. In other words, we must make the very best use of our human resources because, in the years to come, they will not be too plentiful. A country which is starved of capital for home and overseas development must make the best of its human resources, particularly of its children and young persons.
There has been a change in the composition of our society. Between 1871 and 1947, the number of people over sixty-five years of age increased fourfold, and the proportion rose from 4½6 to 10½4 per cent. I have with me the Report of the Carr Committee, called "Training for Skill", and I cannot do better than take a short quotation from it. On page 3, we are told that
… the population will, on average, be getting older, so that, in twenty-five years' time, there will be about 9,500,000 people of pensionable age compared with about 7,000,000 today.
This is part of the challenge to our system of education. It makes it clearer that we must develop the skill of our working population and young people
ever more urgently. Indeed, the Report says so. On page 2, when speaking of the bulge, which will soon be moving into the 15 to 18 age group, reaching a peak in 1962, the Report says:
They represent an additional supply of potential skill which we must not allow to be wasted.
On page 3, the Report says:
We cannot have skilled workers tomorrow unless we are prepared to train them today.
This is part of the context in which the education service must be developed.
There is often talk of the increased pace of technological change, which some scientists call the telescoping of time. I can use simpler language, because this was admitted in the White Paper on Technical Education, paragraph 4, where it is said:
The pace of change is quickening and, with it, both the need and the demand for technical education.
There is the development of nuclear power which has produced in the world a state of suspended destruction, and which, in my opinion, will cause the struggle between the Communist world and the West to deviate, so to speak, increasingly into the economic sphere. The more efficient is our production, the more skilful are our workers, the better able shall we be to lend economic aid in the uncommitted parts of the world which are known as the under-developed territories.
The final ingredient of the challenge stems from the fact that Britain is sandwiched between the gigantic bulks of the United States and the U.S.S.R. We cannot hope to match either of those countries in quantity, but we can in quality. It is fairly obvious that we are already doing so in quality in certain respects. My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King), speaking about the production of scientists, technologists and engineering graduates in the Soviet Union, began to refer to their quality. It is, of course, a fact that many of the products of the Soviet system of education are as good as, if not better, than our own. But in other respects they are not. The Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy in 1956 said that Russia
is well ahead of any other country both in terms of absolute numbers and in proportion to the population.
I need not stress the point too much. It is stated in a book on technological education published by the Conservative Political Centre that even little Switzerland is doing better than Britain. We should produce more and more top-flight scientists and technologists so that we do not need the numbers because we have the quality. I think the Minister agrees with my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham that we cannot do this unless we pay regard to the education system.
That is what worries me. Our children have been passing through almost indescribable conditions. I have one child who is passing through with the bulge and a boy who is passing through in a later age group. The conditions are infinitely better for him than they were for his sister. I think it will be difficult to overcome the disadvantage of having been forced to allow a generation of children to pass through school under these conditions. The Minister has admitted that it was not possible to teach them as they ought to have been taught or to ground them in English and mathematics. That is a disadvantage which will remain, although we shall do our best to put it right later.
I noticed that Mr. E. L. Britton of the National Union of Teachers in November, 1957, said:
If this country is to have the mathematicians and scientists, without which it cannot hold its place in the world today, the job has got to be started in the infant and primary schools
I need not labour that point, because I believe the right hon. Gentleman accepts it.
The Minister did not mention the wastage taking place from grammar schools which was mentioned in a report by the King George Jubilee Trust. It was there alleged that 4,000 boys and girls a year were leaving grammar schools who could have taken sixth form science. Does the right hon. Gentleman know what the figure is now, or can he say whether it has been reduced? Has he made any attempt to find out why these children are leaving the grammar schools too early, and has he taken any steps to remedy the problem? Like the hon. Member for Burton, I have first-hand experience of this matter, and I can tell the right hon. Gentleman some of the reasons why girls leave school before they ought; but, of course, he should have found out all this for himself.
Can the Minister tell us when he hopes to achieve parity of status among secondary schools? This has been mentioned already by an hon. Member opposite. Unless we achieve parity of status among secondary schools, in my opinion the only alternative is the comprehensive system. If we achieve parity of status and make it possible for children to receive the education which benefits them most, to whatever school they go, then we shall be arriving at a solution of the problem in a typically British way.
I have spoken far too long, but I should like to say a word or two about the 15 to 18 age group. As it will probably be a very long time before I speak again in the House, I hope hon. Members will bear with me for a few moments longer. The Minister will be aware that in 1962 929,000 pupils will reach the age of 15, which is an increase of 52 per cent. over 1956. He will be aware that in 1971 there will be still 25 per cent. more than in 1956. The Carr Committee Report thinks that staying longer at school will only slightly affect this problem. Fifteen-year old children will reach their peak in 1962. 16-year old children in 1963 and 17 and 18-year old children in the two following years, when there will be double the number that existed in 1956.
Anxiety has already been expressed about the problems that will be created. To my knowledge, in Wolverhampton, Cardiff, Portsmouth and Northampton the problem already exists. It is not merely being anticipated. Surely this is the opportunity to lay plans: I think the right hon. Gentleman will have to consult the Minister of Labour on this subject, because apprenticeship schemes and so on are involved. Unless something is done to anticipate this problem, a very serious situation will arise.
At the same time, we hope that National Service will be progressively abandoned. Between 200.000 and 250,000 men will be released from it. The right hon. Gentleman has to consider the secondary schools, where more and more intelligent boys will be receiving their education, and they will have to be given their chance to take the G.C.E. The grammar schools will not be able to receive them as their numbers Increase and as they pass through the secondary schools. The right hon. Gentleman ought to look at the problem of free apprenticeship courses and perhaps encourage their development in secondary-modern schools.
Another matter that I should like to mention to the right hon. Gentleman is the opportunity he will have, because of this development, of getting firms to take on increasing numbers of apprentices so that they can release trained men to teach in the technical colleges. While the Report of the Carr Committee does not come to any startling conclusions, it does provide us with some wonderful information. We can, by studying it carefully and by laying plans now, anticipate a great many of these difficulties.
Finally, educational advance has taken place in this country since the end of the war. Whatever happens in the next Election, I hope that it will go on.
It will be agreed in all parts of the House that the right and duty of the Opposition to examine every aspect of Government policy should not, and cannot, be questioned. It will be conceded on this side that it was proper and reasonable for the Opposition to examine the vital subject of education today. I sincerely hope, however, that at the end of the day, having heard my right hon. Friend the Minister and having heard the truly impressive record of the Government which has been revealed by different speakers on this side of the House, hon. Members opposite will say that their reasonable fears have largely been removed and that it will not be necessary for them to press their Motion to a vote tonight.
I would go further than some of my hon. Friends. I suggest that in all the circumstances, the record of the present Government and their predecessors of this party in education is a truly remarkable one. When we consider the many highlights in that record—and there are many of them —some of which have been referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), it is difficult to resist the conclusion that that record shines with particular lustre compared with the record of the critics among the party opposite.
In the first place, it cannot be denied by any test that since 1951 more of our resources have been devoted to education than ever before and certainly more than during the lifetime of the Socialist Government. I understood my right hon. Friend to say in a short intervention that the figure this year will be nearly £700 million, which stands in marked contrast to the £300 million spent by the central Government and local education authorities during the peak year of the party opposite.
During the time of the present Government, annual education expenditure from central and local funds has been at an average rate of £435 million a year, as against an average of £255 million when the party opposite was in office. Even if we make a generous allowance for the changed value of money, this substantial increase must be conceded by any reasonable-minded person. [An HON. MEMBER: "There are more children."] I will come to that in a moment.
More school places have been provided by successive Conservative Governments than by their predecessors. I understand that up to 1st October last year, no fewer than 260,000 new school places were completed. As my hon. Friend the Member for Burton pointed out, that compares with an average of 155,000 by the Socialist Government.
By way of comment upon the speech of the hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Moss), I should like to indicate that the Government have already adapted their policy to meet the need of the secondary "bulge", if I may so describe it. It can be noted that of the new places provided in the most recent year, something like 150,000 were for secondary schools. On an average, therefore, 65 per cent. more secondary places and 85 per cent. more places of all kinds have been provided by Governments of this party since 1951 than were provided during the years 1945 to 1951. This explains why——
I agree that secondary school places are being provided in an effort to meet the problem presented by the "bulge", but, nevertheless, there is a worsening of conditions in secondary schools. Apart from the general position, various places, such as the City of Birmingham, for example, have problems which are peculiarly difficult. The hon. Member should not go further than say that an effort is being made to deal with the secondary school problem when grave conditions nevertheless exist for the children who are passing through.
While not entirely dissenting from what the hon. Member says, I was about to say that the figures which I cited explained why such a great deal of success has been achieved in negotiating the primary "bulge". There are already signs that equivalent success may well be achieved in negotiating the "bulge" in the secondary schools.
I would not hazard an exact estimate, but I was suggesting that there are already signs that considerable success—I hope, equal success—will be achieved in negotiating the secondary "bulge".
The next achievement of which I would remind the House is the reduction in the cost of new school building, which has taken place chiefly under my right hon. Friend and his immediate predecessors.
Hon. Members will recall that my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Ashton) also paid tribute to what was achieved during the lifetime of the Socialist Government and mentioned the name of the late George Tomlinson. The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) was not in his place at the time.
We cannot over-emphasise this remarkable achievement in the reduction of building costs. Although by 1956 building costs were already something like 50 per cent. above the 1949 level, the cost of a school in 1956 was about 20 per cent. less than in 1949. When these two comparisons are combined, it will be conceded that this has been a wonderful achievement. Is this not something upon which all of us, irrespective of party, can take pride and regard as an omen of what may be achieved in this direction in the future?
At the same time, this has not been achieved at the expense of the style or quality of buildings. Last September, my right hon. Friend was able to say quite truthfully, in a speech at Acton:
Our educational prestige among other nations has never stood so high. Our new school buildings have caught the imagination of the world for their beauty, fitness and economy.
That is another quotation which can be repeated by us all. Is that really the sort of material on which the Opposition bases its Motion today? Are these the kind of statistics and circumstances on which the party opposite finds it possible to attack the record of the Government?
Although, doubtless, there is still room for improvement, there has also been a considerable increase in the expenditure on the salaries of teachers. The record 15 per cent. increase—£35 million a year—following the introduction of the new Burnham scale is a measure of that increase. In addition, under the present Administration, the increase in the number of full-time teachers has continued at the rate of 3 per cent. per annum, from 216,000 in 1951 to an estimated 254,000 last year.
Despite what has been said from the benches opposite, it must be stressed that, whereas there has been this huge bulge in the school population, the pupil-teacher ratio has been kept fairly stable. The percentage is 26·6 for the last year for which I have figures. as compared with 26·7 in January, 1951. That, too, is a remarkable achievement.
After six and a half years of Conservative Government, pupils are remaining at many of the schools to a later age than previously, and we can be very pleased that the number of 17-year-olds has been rising at the rate of about 5 per cent. per annum. For the first time since the war, we have also embarked upon a special programme for rural development. I was pleased to note that despite the temporary halt, or slowing down, my right hon. Friend was able to show that 234 proposals have already been completed or are under way. I appreciate that the financial measures which were taken some time ago led to a small reduction, but I would hope that my right hon. Friend will be able at least to say that this will be possibly the first priority when progress is resumed.
Another landmark of Conservative achievement has been the five-year programme for technical education. Let us not forget that the £97 million which my right hon. Friend mentioned are being spent without any cuts at all. There is evidence of this achievement in South Wales, and in my own city of Cardiff, in the enhanced status of the Cardiff College of Technology and, at a different level, in the extension of the Llandaff Technical College. Finally, we can take pride in the decision of the Government to embark upon an extended plan for university education. All these things are signs of progress.
The hon. Member for Itchen (Dr. King) referred to comprehensive schools. No doubt they have enabled some authorities to do away with the 11-plus examination. I recognise that this is a controversial matter about which different persons on both sides of the House and in all parties have different views. I deplore only the fact that in some parts of the country this subject has been made a party political issue by some people. I deeply regret that.
It is perfectly obvious that there may well be certain parts of the country and certain kinds of districts where the comprehensive school system may be the most advantageous and beneficial. It must be equally obvious that there may be other areas where the grammar school plus the secondary modern school system may be preferable. I have had contact with several masters in grammar schools who have expressed to me the deepest apprehension at statements by local authorities, or members of local authorities or of parties contesting seats on local authorities, that they intend to do away with certain grammar schools. Some of my friends who are grammar school masters have told me that if that happens they will be inclined to throw in the sponge, because they feel that to bring to an end the old grammar schools, with their splendid traditions built over many years, would be extremely unfortunate.
As far as I know, I have not referred to any particular city but, as the hon. Member has mentioned the matter, I can say that as a former student at Cardiff High School I should fight to the last ditch to preserve that school. I know that every other old boy of that splendid and remarkable school would do the same.
I sincerely hope that no education authority would feel obliged to take action which would imperil the existence of a school with such traditions. On the other hand, I appreciate that it is more difficult in a municipal area, or a city or a county borough than it is in a county area to introduce a system which gets rid of the 11-plus examination and of the secondary modern school without removing the grammar school.
I hope, for that reason, that whoever may be Minister of Education in the future will consider the possibility of having some different system for such areas where it is felt that it is not easy to introduce a comprehensive school without endangering the separate existence of the grammar school. The grammar school should not be destroyed in such cases. A comprehensive school should be set up side by side with the grammar school and then parents would be able to make a choice.
Some parents would say that they were disinclined to submit their children to the 11-plus examination, whereas others would say that they were perfectly prepared for their children to sit it. If such an arrangement were made, it might be possible for those children whose parents would not wish them to take the 11-plus examination to go straight to a comprehensive school, whereas those who took the examination and passed would go either to the existing grammar school or the secondary modern school. In the county areas, or in areas which are not adequately serviced already by grammar schools or other schools at that level, that problem would not arise, and it would be for the local authority to decide which it thought the most suitable form of new school for the area.
To summarise some of the highlights of this very splendid record of the Conservative Party in Government—more national resources have been devoted to education, more new school places have been created, there has been a remarkable success in negotiating the primary school bulge, and there are good prospects of meeting the challenge of the secondary school bulge. There is a reduction in the cost of new schools, there has been the maintenance of the standards of these schools, greater expenditure on teachers' salaries, an increase in the number of full-time teachers, more older pupils remaining at school, development in the rural areas, a five-year programme of technical education, and an expansion of the university programme.
Surely, these things, which are just the headlines, are not the sort of things upon which a Motion of the kind which the Opposition has on the Order Paper can be properly hung. I hope that, having considered the whole of the debate, the party opposite will not feel obliged to divide the House.
I will try to confine my remarks to as short a time as possible because I know that many hon. Members want to take part in the debate. I was specially interested in the picture which the Minister gave us of the primary schools, the technical schools and the secondary modern schools. A revolution has bee n taking place within our schools during the past twenty-five years. That revolution can be summed up by saying that the schools have moved more and more in the direction of becoming communities. When I was a pupil, a school was a conglomeration of class-rooms. Now a school is a community with each child living its life in the community.
If time allowed, I should have liked to speak of secondary education, but other hon. Members want to take part in the debate, and so I will say only that whatever is the solution to this problem, we must consider parity for our secondary schools to be of first consideration, and we should not regard a secondary modern school as merely a pink edition of the grammar school. In the long run, a secondary modern school may be more expensive than a grammar school and we must remember that 70 to 75 per cent. of the nation's pupils are educated in secondary modern schools. Although we must look after the highlights, we must also look after the ordinary children as much if not more than the children who can look after themselves.
The striking thing about the revolution in education which has taken place is that it has happened in spite of the frustrations emanating from the Ministry of Education. Those frustrations are not new. They are an old habit, a bad habit, and a bad habit which has gone a long way to becoming tradition. The time has arrived to break that tradition of frustrating the educational system all along the line. What has happened and what is happening is that policies are decided, programmes are adopted, authorities are asked to draw plans to implement the programmes, and just as the programmes are coming to fruition, suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, there comes a circular from the Ministry of Education to throw a spanner into the machinery.
Right from the First World War, with the exception of short periods when we had progressive Governments, the story has been one of programmes made and programmes scrapped, enthusiasms quickened and hopes dashed, plans drawn and plans withdrawn. The Ministry of Education is the cemetery of educational hopes and its pigeon-holes are packed with withdrawn projects and broken promises. That is the tradition and it is time that we broke it.
Circular 334 is the latest in a long series. It is in the tradition and that is why I challenge it tonight. It is a circular about educational expenditure and, of course, it is concerned with economy. The word "cuts" is omitted and the more respectable words "postponement" and "deferment" are introduced. What the Minister seems to forget is that whether it is a cut or a postponement from the Ministry's point of view, it is a cut from the child's point of view. The children are what matters in education, and by these cuts the children are being deprived of something to which they are entitled.
I have some experience of this. What happens is that a scheme is postponed and during the year or two of postponement new priorities suddenly appear, so that the original scheme is pigeon-holed and generation after generation of children is denied that to which it is entitled. I can give examples of that. I know of plans for a secondary modern school which were drawn up in 1937. Everything was ready. However, at the last moment it was postponed. The result is that it has not been built and it never will be built.
Another example from my experience concerns a school field. We wanted a field which was adjacent to my school and the plans and maps, and so on, were approved by the local education authority. Then, in 1952, a circular was issued which resulted in the whole project being scrapped and we had to do without a school field. We had a similar experience with a canteen. The gas mains were laid and all the equipment was delivered—I had to count and check it. At the last moment, there was a circular from the Ministry and the building of the canteen had to be postponed for many years. Throughout that period the children were denied that to which they were entitled, and, what is more, it was to them a loss which could not be regained.
The Parliamentary Secretary will forgive me if I say that in consequence I have been safely inoculated against the deadly disease of economy in education. Circular 334 is in that tradition and breathes the same deadening atmosphere. I do not propose to deal with all of its paragraphs, but I want to refer to that dealing with further education. Here the attention of local authorities is drawn to Circular 307 issued in 1956. It is always dangerous to prophesy on the Floor of the House, but when we discussed Circular 307, I ventured to prophesy that it would deal a mortal blow to further education, especially in the principality. I regret to say that that prophecy was well on the way to becoming fact inside twelve months.
Fortunately, only twelve authorities in Wales increased fees, as requested by Circular 307. The other authorities did not, but in those areas whose authorities had obeyed Circular 307 directives, the enrolment in the first following year fell from 69,000 to 63,000, a fall of 6,000 enrolments in one year. Now we have Circular 334 continuing the same principle and trying to persuade authorities to get further contributions from students in continuation classes. If it is the policy of the Government to destroy this form of further education, why do they not say so openly, rather than continue to wage this war of attrition with the obsolete and discredited method of fees?
I want to refer to paragraph 8 dealing with "Recreation and Social and Physical Training". We are told that expenditure on these things has increased by one third between 1955–56 and 1957–58. Is that extraordinary or alarming? Here is an aspect of education which, until recently. has been neglected down the years. Is not this expenditure a genuine attempt to make good that neglect? Public schools have always had their playing fields. Eton had its playing fields 150 years ago, and were it not so, some would have us believe, the Battle of Waterloo would not have been won in 1815.
What is the position of the secondary modern schools today with regard to playing fields? I tabled a Question to a Minister some time ago about the position of the secondary modern schools in North Wales. I wanted to form an assessment of the parity between grammar schools and secondary modern schools. I asked a Question with regard to secondary modern school playing fields in the six North Wales counties, and the answer I received was that the information available in the right hon. Gentleman's Department did not enable him to answer that part of the Question. In other words, the Ministry of Education was not in a position to tell me the situation with regard to playing fields for the secondary schools of North Wales. In view of that lack of knowledge I should like to know what right the Minister has to suggest that local authorities should cut down on the physical and recreational part of their educational budgets. I am sorry that I hurried through my observations, but I ask the Minister once again to look very carefully at these circulars.
I do not want to follow the argument of the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Idwal Jones) about playing fields—we know that it is a very difficult problem in many parts of the country—but I should like to follow him in his remarks upon the parity of status or esteem between the various secondary schools to which our children go. An enormous amount of harm is done by people putting out the idea that if a person's child does not pass the 11-plus examination and go to a grammar school its whole educational life is blighted. That harm is added to, in some cases, by parents who seem to imagine that their social status also suffers by the failure of their children to pass that examination.
Examinations come before most of us at some time in our lives, and there is nothing specially terrifying about them. But some people have to fail examinations, especially if they are competitive. We could do much more—especially through the Ministry of Education—to put across the idea that the 11-plus examination is meant to decide the type of education from which each child will benefit most. If we can put that idea across we shall have solved a great many of the difficulties, perplexities and disappointments of parents.
We can also help to solve them— and I am glad to see that my right hon. Friend is doing it—by doing everything possible to encourage children at secondary modern schools to take the General Certificate of Education. The more successes in the General Certificate that can be achieved by pupils at secondary modern schools, the higher the standing of those schools and the more parents will feel happy to have their children go to them.
In these days, it is not fashionable to congratulate the Government, but I wish to congratulate them on the steps they have taken, especially since the last Election, to encourage children to stay at school longer. The hon. Member for lichen (Dr. King) talked of the high wages paid to very young boys and girls on leaving school today, and of the enormous temptation it must be to any family which is not very well-off to see the high wages that are being paid to the school leavers of fifteen and sixteen years of age. The Government deserve some measure of congratulation for prolonging the period during which family allowances are paid to children who are having full-time education and for putting up the Income Tax allowance in respect of children undergoing full-time education. We are also grateful for the steps which my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipctenham (Sir D. Eccles) took when he was Minister of Education to get local authorities to increase their maintenance allowances. This is most important since, as more than one hon. Member has reminded the House, about three-quarters of our children are educated at secondary modern schools.
I now turn to the terms of the Motion, and to the problem of the successive educational circulars which have been sent out demanding economies. The hon. Member for Wrexham was very poetic when he spoke of programmes being made and programmes being scrapped-except, he hastened to add, under progressive Governments. I am happy to realise that he does not include either of the Labour post-war Governments under that head, because nothing is more certain than that the record of those Labour Governments in introducing economy circulars has beaten anything that my right hon. Friends at the Ministry of Education have produced since 1951.
It is no argument to say that there had been a war two years before. The 1947 cuts were not produced because of that. When the plans were made the Government knew that the war had just ended. That economy circular was produced because we had tried convertibility and failed. Most of the American and Canadian loans went down the drain because of the convertibility crisis. Again, in 1949, the cuts were not made because there had been a war four years before; they were made in the light of the economic crisis of that time, which culminated in devaluation. Equally, in 1950 and 1951, economic circumstances caused plans which had been made after the war to be scrapped, cut, deferred or postponed—whatever one likes to call it.
When the economic situation turns sour upon them any Government will always have to make economies. I do not blame the Labour Governments for having made them; I do blame hon. Members opposite, however, for not now being willing to recognise what they did when they were in power.
Does not the hon. Member agree that in those five years many problems, in terms of men, money and materials, arose from the war, and that the present Government have not had to face those problems?
That is quite true. Problems peculiar to that period did exist—but those problems were quite obvious, in terms of the resettlement of manpower, when the plans which were cut in 1947 were made in 1946, and when the plans which were cut in 1950 were drawn up. in 1948 and 1949
The hon. Member for Itchen said that the Tories had been wicked in cutting the school building programme when they came into power in 1951. We did delay starting any new schools, and how wise my right hon. Friend the Member for Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh)—the then Minister of Education—was in doing so. If we look at the figures of starts and completions during the period of the Labour Governments, it becomes painfully obvious that the whole process had got out of gear. Far too many schools were being started for the amount of labour, material or money then available. The consequence was that during the year ending October, 1950, the Labour Government started 233,000 school places and completed 129,000. If we take the average of their last five years of office, we find that in each year they started 188,000 school places and completed only 121,000.
What on earth is the use of a school which is started and not completed to the children who ought to be educated in it? No one but a Socialist has ever discovered that. If hon. Members opposite will consider the figures in respect of the years when the Tory Government have been in power, they will not only see that the number of completions has increased substantially, but also that there is a very much better balance between the number of schools started and the number finished in any one year.
I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Moss) concede that under the Conservative Governments definite educational advances have been made in real terms. Even if we allow for the maximum amount of increases in terms of wages, building costs, and prices, it is fairly obvious that the estimated expenditure of £382 million borne by the Exchequer for 1958–59 is about 25 per cent. higher, in real terms, than was the amount spent by the Central Government in 1948–49, for example. I regard the matter of school places as of primary importance. It is essential to have the teachers, and we are all pleased that the number is increasing by between 5,000 and 7,000 a year net. But equally, we must have the clasrooms in which to put the children.
As more than one hon. Member has said, we have achieved almost astonishing success in the battle of the bulge in the primary schools. A similar battle in the secondary schools will prove more difficult to win. Not only have we got the children coming in, but we have those who are staying on longer. Bound up with that is the whole problem of the movement of population and so on which we have experienced since the war. Whether or not we are successful in winning that battle, one thing is certain. We must go on finding new school places—even when the blacklisted schools have been swept away—at a fairly substantial level to provide the children with the kind of classrooms which they have the right to expect.
It is an achievement of the Ministry of Education that the number of classes in the junior schools of 40 children or over has gone down from just over 40,000 classes in 1954 to 32,000 classes in January, 1957. The number of classes of over 40 children in the senior schools is still, so far as I know, over 4,000. Surely that is something which we cannot regard with equanimity.
May I relate this to the problem of rural reorganisation? I apologise to the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) for not being present when he made his speech. I was detained in a Select Committee; I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman dealt with this problem. I believe that the Minister did. I understand that about two-thirds of the rural reorganisation programme initiated by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade when he was the Minister of Education has been completed. The remainder should be started as soon as it is possible to do so. It is absolutely essential to get rid of the all-age rural schools, and after that to make a start on those very old schools, many of which are church schools, aided or maintained. In the country villages, even in Hampshire, which is not very far from London, there are schools where conditions are disgraceful, with no sanitation and so on. The hon. Member for Itchen is a member of my local education authority and would be the first to admit the truth of that.
But let us remember that any Government faced with economic difficulties must inevitably defer plans made and projects dear to us all. Hon. Members opposite when they were in power had their own share of economic difficulties and had to defer plans which they had made and projects which they held dear. They cannot now say that we are wicked and heartless because we too have to defer some projects and plans dear to our hearts. At any rate, we have done much more for the children of this country than ever did hon. Members opposite.
Hon. Members opposite have taken some pride in what has been done for education by their Government and we do not deny them the right to be proud. But surely this is an occasion when we should took at what is yet to be done and consider what progress is likely to be made An the future. I should have thought that twelve or thirteen years after the war we are entitled to expect a much accelerated rate of progress rather than the rate that we have had since 1945 and 1946.
The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) said that we are setting aside a bigger proportion of our real resources than ever before. I wish to deal later with that point. It is a tragedy at this time that we should be debating not the possibility of a rapid expansion in our education service, but the possibility that there may be a slowing down of the rate of expansion; a limitation of the opportunity of the Minister to maintain standards; and that if expansion is to he undertaken by progressive authorities the cost will be met by passing the burden on to the rates and spreading it in an inequitable way.
We are entitled to say that since the war a new threat has appeared in the world and to our own country and society. Many nations, driven by a new awakening of nationalism and other forces, have developed a thirst for education the like of which has never been seen in the world before. This is very encouraging, but at one and the same time it creates for us both a threat and a challenge—a threat to our own economic existence. We have had many threats before, but most of them have been of a military nature. We have met them, often gloriously and have muddled through. I believe that this new threat cannot be met in that way.
I believe that the challenge will come in the acceptance of the obligation that I think, our tradition places upon us of trying to give a lead to the world in using the power that education and science have given to humanity in a wise way. I believe the threat to be even greater than I have indicated. It is, indeed, a test of democracy itself and if we in a democracy cannot develop sufficient social cohesion and a dynamic sense of purpose to match other countries, particularly totalitarian countries, we shall not survive in the fierce competition which we shall have to face. Education is the only insurance against that threat.
I believe that every person in the country, even if only instinctively, feels that we have an obligation to give a lead to the world. Yet we often seem to be poised uncertainly; unsure of our new rôle in the world; without a clear sense of direction and lacking the confidence and unity to take a leap forward. At this time, which should be a moment of great decision for our country in matters of education, we are having a debate about the slowing down of our expansion instead of increasing it. We seem to have a topsy turvy sense of values.
Reference has been made to £613 million a year as a huge sum of money to spend on education. We shudder to think where the money is to come from, but if we compare it with expenditure on other things in 1957 we realise that £979 million was spent on drink alone and £1,000 million on smoking and £500 million on gambling. Surely the figure of £613 million dwindles in significance when compared with them. Surely no hon. Member could seriously suggest that we could not afford this sum for education or that we cannot afford a vast jump forward in educational expenditure especially at a time when many other European countries are spending a bigger proportion of their incomes on education than we are.
An interesting survey has been recently published which I do not think many hon. Members have yet had the opportunity of reading. It has been produced by John Vaizey, of St. Catherine's College, Oxford. I do not know whether the Minister has yet seen it, but it is an academic and reputable survey of the costs of education from 1920 to 1955. The conclusions are summarised, both by John Vaizey and Professor Titmuss, in an introduction as "a melancholy conclusion".
John Vaizey says that if we take the real expenditure on secondary education, making allowances for such essential considerations as increased population, and so on, the cost per child-year is not greater than it was in 1938 and that even in the primary school, where we had included in the calculation the very high figure of capital expenditure on buildings, we have an addition of only one-eighth to one-quarter. If, in fact, we take away social expenditure such as school meals, milk, and the health services from the total expenditure we have for the year 1955—incidentally, although this is the figure for 1955 it does not invalidate any of the conclusions which it draws—and get down to education proper, not that I deny the value of those other things, we were spending a smaller proportion of our national income in 1955 than in any year between 1931 and 1935, which were years of world economic crisis.
The other figures which he showed controvert the figures which have been offered to us by Government supporters and by people through the country. It gives us some light on the effort that we had been making. The hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Denzil Freeth) talked about equality of opportunity. This writer took the expenditure between the grammar school and other types of school and shows that the grammar school child had 70 per cent. more spent upon him in a year, taking all the expenditure, than is spent on the secondary modern child and that the total expenditure throughout the length of school life was double—a very revolutionary figure which has a considerable importance in the discussion on the equality of opportunity.
Is not a good deal of that extra expenditure accounted for by laboratory facilities which are necessary in grammar schools and other expensive equipment which is not needed to the same extent in the secondary modern schools?
There are circumstances when grammar schools require more expensive equipment. But buildings are very much better and the staff is very much higher qualified academically, and in every way the opportunity for the grammar school child is much better and higher. If we look at the latest U.N.E.S.C.O. figures we shall find that we are lagging behind Canada, Denmark, West Germany, Iceland, New Zealand and Sweden in the proportion of our national income that we devote to education. John Vaizey was right: this "is a melancholy conclusion "in which the nation ought not to take much pride in this day and age.
I will read the hook which the hon. Member has mentioned, but I would point out to him that comparison with other countries can be very misleading when we do not take all the facts into consideration.
I accept the hon. Gentleman's point, but some of the comparisons are so greatly to our disfavour that even when we cut them down considerably the point is still well made that we are lagging behind a number of other countries.
One of the disasters likely to flow from Government action in recent times is the abrogation of the power of the Minister of Education to maintain standards, in view of the Local Government Bill. Above all, I would point out the diminishing status of the Ministry of Education. I regard it as one of the merits of the 1944 Act that it raised the status of the President of the Board of Education and made him a Minister. He even got into the Cabinet, but we are now seeing the reversal of that process, which cannot but be detrimental to education.
Now I turn to the subject in which I am most interested, that of backward children. This type of child has suffered most severely since the war because of the inadequate staffing ratio. Although I take great pride in the achievement of the teachers it is a fact that about a quarter of our children leaving school
have 'only the most superficial grasp of the three R's. The three R's are not the only things that have to be given to a child as education. There are many other things of a spiritual kind. There was a letter quoted in the Journal of Education from a boy of 12. He said:
I shall be a man when I am 21 and I shall work at B-owns, Limited, in the ironmongery dept. I hope to be married. On Sunday mornings I shall read the papers and then go out for a pint and then come home for dinner. I hope to have roast chicken once a month. Also, I hope to have a house of my own, a car. a T.V. set, some hens which lay 40 eggs a week, and two pigs.
These are all laudable aims, but we must give our children greater inspiration than this.
If we are to have a sound democracy we must have as much care given to the people who are below the average of intelligence as to those who are above. It has been well said by Whitehead that it is the responsibility of education to give to children a glimpse of greatness. For those who are below the average, this stimulation is even more important than for those who are above the average. I am worried even more about special schools and the children who are lacking in innate ability. I have acknowledged what the Government have done in this way previously and I am very grateful for what has been done for educationally subnormal children
. We have a waiting list of 7,210 as compared with 6,612 last year. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann), who made a brilliant maiden speech, spoke in eloquent and sympathetic terms about this problem. He said that the Minister's figures were a gross underestimate. I certainly agree with him. The small provision for these children governs in some way the numbers notified. The true estimate of the position would at least double those figures.
There is a need for special treatment throughout the whole field in addition to the handicapped child who gets special education under the 1944 Act. Research in education has revolutionised the whole approach to this problem in the last few years by discovering that there are as many children whose attainment is above their intelligence as there are below it. While I do not discount the value of intelligence tests, we have got rid of this particular straitjacket as 'it means that remedial treatment and teaching is now appropriate for every child below the average for its age in attainment. Therefore, I would like to see a great advance in this matter.
Some authorities, like Manchester, have area remedial centres. Others have opportunity classes. A number of them are making special provisions for extra classes in the schools. I believe that this approach is essential if we are to lift the level of literacy and of understanding of children. We cannot do this without more highly-trained and specially-trained teachers. These children are, or could be, the weak link in our democracy. We ignore them at our peril. I therefore plead that as an act of faith, whatever other priorities may seem important to us, we should place education at the highest level and should seek to double our education expenditure in the near future.
If we set this as our target the threat which faces us here and abroad will be surmounted and we shall go on as a democracy in health and soundness.
One of the most cheering aspects of this debate has been the note of urgency struck by the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Sydney Irving), who urged the maximum possible development in education. That note has been common ground in every speech, and I welcome it very much.
I regret a little the terms of the Opposition Motion, for, in a sense, it is a Motion which because of that sense of urgency among all who are interested in education we all accept. Yet at the same time we all recognise that economic realities press on us in education as in other services, and this does not divide us half as much as the Motion might lead one to expect. I would also have preferred it if the Motion had given credit for the achievements which have taken place since the war, for I doubt whether hon. Members opposite could succeed in this problem any better than the Government themselves are doing.
I should like to refer to what has been done, not by cataloguing all the educational achievements but by commenting on one or two things which have been mentioned in the speeches of the hon. Member for Dartford and of the hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Moss). I will deal first with the question of the bulge which the hon. Member for Meriden mentioned. I accept his point that the generation that constitutes the bulge is to some extent unlucky in that it has had overcrowded classes in the primary schools, and will experience the same difficulty in the secondary schools. There is also a problem in the 15 to 18 age group. Perhaps, looking back, we might have done a service by delaying the school entry age. However, we cannot consider that now, for it would be turning the clock back.
We might be able to help as this group goes through the secondary stage by urging authorities to be as flexible as possible in the age of entry and in the age of movement from the primary to the secondary schools. There is perhaps room for a little more flexibility there, particularly in the case of those who are a little backward, by holding them back a little longer in the primary schools before letting them go on to the secondary modern schools. I think that suggestion is worth considering.
Next I should like to deal with the secondary modern schools. Several speakers have referred to the need for parity of status, and I agree with this. It is part and parcel of the intention of the 1944 Act. One of the most cheering features of this debate is the fact that we have heard hardly a mention of the 11-plus examination. It is a cheering fact because the wide variety of methods employed in the process of selection and the increasing acceptance of those various methods by parents has made a great difference to the whole of the secondary system. Partly because there is less resentment over the 11-plus examination, we are getting a totally different atmosphere in secondary modern schools. That is important.
Buildings also play an immense part in this respect, as does the success achieved by these schools. Last year 8 per cent. of the total number of entrants in the G.C.E. examination came from secondary modern schools. The more that can be done to develop the top end of those schools, the better. A great deal of our success in technical education may well be found in secondary modern schools, where I believe great developments may be expected.
I am glad that at no time in the debate has there been any suggestion of postponing the three-year training course for teachers. I am glad also that there has been throughout the economy proposals recognition of the vital importance of the technical education programme. I should like to make a plea that top priority should be given to all-age schools when we can turn on the tap a little more. I hope very much that the all-age schools come high on the list, for I think that the all-age school is probably the most important of all the problems facing us in education.
Now, briefly, I would say why I regret the Opposition's Motion. I do not think the Opposition could have done anything other than what the Government have done. I do not want to compare the record of the Labour Government between 1945 and 1951 and that of the Conservative Government between 1951 and now, for the comparison has already been made. But I think we have heard too often before the cry that such and such an action or economy move heralds the end of the Government's interest in education, or the failure to appreciate the urgency of what must be done. We heard it on the question of the school meals and again on the question of school milk. We heard it when the Health Service charges were raised.
In all these things any Ministry and every Ministry has to have a sense of priority. The latest example of an economy move is Circular 334, but what are local education authorities being asked to scrutinise carefully? Granted, they are being asked to scrutinise expenditure on things with which every local authority would like to press ahead, but is the admission of children under 5 more or less important than trying to go ahead with the maintenance of a reasonable size standard for classes? It is suggested that the local education authorities should scrutinise their expenditure on non-vocational courses in further education for the sake of possible economies while the country is in its present economic situation.
All these provisons are important and we should like to go ahead with them as soon as we can, but I ask hon. and right hon. Member opposite, before pressing a Motion of this sort, to consider what their own priorities in such a situation would have been. It is because I do not believe they have answered that question satisfactorily that I cannot but think that this Motion does not really deserve to be pressed.
Very briefly, I would list one or two things which I hope will be emphasised. I have already mentioned all-age schools. We have, too, a problem in our technical education expansion, the problem of the recruitment of teachers, particularly of science and mathematics, which are the basis of much of that programme. I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education can exercise any influence at the Treasury, but I would suggest to him that possibly one source of recruitment is the married women who were formerly teachers. I wonder if my hon. Friend can persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be rather more lenient in taxing married women. There is a potential source of trained teachers amongst them, and those women would be tempted back into the teaching profession if it were made a little more worth their while.
I hope we shall continue to publicise as much as we can the achievements of the secondary modern schools, for I believe that great things lie ahead for them. I hope we shall continue to think of salaries and that a substantial differential may be given to head teachers, for that would assist recruitment to the profession by helping to provide a ladder for advancement. Moreover, I believe that where there is a good head teacher there is a good school. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland) made some remarks about the Youth Service with which I wholly agree. This is a direction in which a very little expenditure can sometimes produce great results. As conscription comes to an end and as the large group of boys and girls leaves the schools, this is a service which will need very careful and sympathetic attention.
The more that we can cultivate a genuine and widespread enthusiasm for education throughout the country, the better it will pay us, to put it at its lowest, quite apart from the satisfaction which it will bring. I welcome parent-teacher associations where they exist, because they do a very good job. I also think that the Local Government Bill will serve us well in this direction, because it will concentrate at the local level much more than at the Whitehall level decisions on educational policy. It can have a very valuable effect in creating a fervent desire for education among large sections of the population.
Some hon. Members opposite who are much older than I am can tell us a great deal about the fervour which inspired the early days of the Workers' Educational Association. I have read about this and about some of their remarkable achievements. If we could bring that spirit into education today it would be a good thing. If we can create enthusiasm among parents and among people at school about further education, we shall achieve a great deal and we shall find that education will go ahead very fast and very far in this country.
As I have only a short time in which to speak, I hope that the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) will forgive me if I do not reply directly to some of the points he made. Perhaps I shall pick up one or two of them in my very abbreviated remarks.
It is, I am sure, a very good thing that the House has had the opportunity of reviewing the present conditions of education. It is trite but nevertheless true to say that, assuming that our society survives the perils of this the nuclear age, its future and its happiness will depend on the proportion of our resources which the nation devotes to education. The great division between the two sides of the House is really on the question whether, even in existing circumstances, we are devoting a sufficient proportion of the national income to it.
It sometimes comes as a shock to realise that even today, and despite the fact that we have raised the school-leaving age since 1946, the proportion of the national income which we are spending on education locally and nationally is only 3.2 per cent. as against the expenditure before the war of 2.9 per cent. Although there has been an increase, it has been a very modest one indeed, and it is still too small a proportion of our national wealth. When we compare it with what is being spent on such things as defence, there is room for argument whether the heads of our national expenditure should not be reconsidered. We have had justification today for the economy circulars from the Ministry fo Education, but it is extraordinary that we have never had that kind of circular about defence. I am not a pacifist, but I wish that we could import a little more of the generosity with which we always regard armaments into our debates on education.
I want, next, very briefly to raise a local matter. A number of parents in my constituency are concerned about the changes which Middlesex County Council are proposing for the Southall Technical School. This institution, like many technical colleges, has an excellent record. I do not want to pass judgment on the proposals. Indeed, I believe that in any event the school will have to move from its present site. I have a letter here which states that parents are afraid that
in this industrial corner of Middlesex something of great value is likely to be destroyed.
In my opinion, that will not necessarily happen, but I hope the Minister will consider this to be a suitable case for inquiry. If parents' fears are not well founded, then the inquiry will help to clear up the matter. If there is something in their complaint, then those in charge can reconsider the matter.
A question which has often seemed to me to be important is that of the Ministry's statistics. I do not overrate my influence in this matter; indeed, I have been asking Questions about this for a year and the position has remained precisely the same. I understand that there is one statistician compiling the whole of the figures for the Ministry, although he has assistants. On 5th December, 1957, I asked the Minister for the figures in respect of enrolments for science and engineering courses in 1956–57. I was told that the figures were not available. I do not blame the Department. I do blame the right hon. Gentleman, for I should have thought the fault is that the returns are asked for from local authorities too late. In December, 1957, we could not be told what were the enrolments in science in September 1956. That does not seem good enough. If we are trying to gauge progress in something which everyone says is absolutely essential to our welfare, I am sure that a better system could be devised to give an up to date picture. Surely this would be essen- tial from the point of view of the Ministry itself.
Turning to the wider aspects of scientific and technical education, it is now a commonplace that we not only have to do more but have to spend more if we are to get through this technological age with success. Many of us cannot share the comparative complacency of some hon. Members opposite about our chances. It seems to us that we are falling behind in this race. We have but 9 per cent. of our working population who are trained scientists and technologists. The figure in the United States is 2 per cent., and it has been estimated, I do not know with what accuracy, that in the Soviet Union the number is 10 per cent. I am very glad that recently the Government have announced that they propose to extend the numbers at universities to 125,000 from 106,000 which was originally proposed by the Lord President in November, 1955. By that means they hope to be able to double the number of science graduates by 1970 to 20,000.
I should very much like to know how the number of 125,000 was reached. I should like to know, also, whether the Government are satisfied that the money is going to be there. I know that this is not primarily the responsibility of the Parliamentary Secretary, but no doubt he has knowledge and information on it. In February I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer which universities had expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of grant last May. The Chancellor replied that so far the annual reports published showed that most of the universities were dissatisfied. We want to be certain that the money is going to be there, otherwise the educational pyramid we are building will be a failure.
I should like to know how it is proposed to increase the number of students taking science and technology at the universities. According to my information, in 1955–56 43 per cent. of undergraduates were reading arts, 20 per cent. pure science, 13 per cent. technology and 19 per cent. medicine and dentistry. There is an overwhelming balance on the arts and history side. If we are to achieve even the limited number of science graduates suggested by the Government, let alone the numbers some of us think are necessary, it seems there must be a great expansion on the science side.
It is a shock to realise that in 1946, so far as I have been able to estimate, there were only 142,000 qualified scientists and engineers in Britain. That is an extremely small proportion of the working population. Many of us react almost violently to the complacency of some hon. Members opposite when we look at the comparable figures for higher education in the United States. Making all allowances for the difference in the size of the population we find that whereas in our country those at school from 15 upwards number but 360,000 in the United States the proportion is more than 1,500,000. In the universities, where we have 75,000 students at present, the comparable figure in the United States is half a million. At the universities for higher degrees, the numbers are about 10,000 in this country, as against 65,000 in the United States. Those are disturbing figures.
We have not heard today whether the position in regard to early leavers has improved since 1953; whether the estimate made by Sir Alexander Todd that there will be a 10 per cent. deficiency in science teachers by 1961 even if we continue to have classes of the present size, is still true; and whether anything is being done about it. I hope that our fears may possibly be a little allayed by the reply we get from the Government spokesman.
I would make two references to the Minister's speech. We certainly meet whilst the shadow is over education. He rather tried to suggest, by quoting the Times Educational Supplement, that too heavy weather was being made of this. To be fair however, in connection with Circular 334, he should also have quoted The Schoolmaster. That is the organ of the teachers, of a non-political trade union. A fortnight ago it had this to say of Circular 334:
The Ministry's new directive to local education authorities to slash educational expenditure is a miserable example of coming events casting their shadow before them: block grants are not with us yet, but their baleful influence as a drag on educational advance is already making itself felt in the schools.
'Pinch, scrape and make do,' is the message of this circular. The Ministry have stated that it contains no new policy, only a reminder to press on with the old. Perhaps torture should be regarded in the same light: not as
a new policy but merely as an extension of the art of persuasion.
It is only fair that the impression given by the Minister should be counterbalanced by that article in the official organ of the National Union of Teachers.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the reduction of large classes, but he gave no figures. I may be wrong—I have already complained about the inadequacy of the statistics—but the last report of the Minister of Education that I read showed that in secondary schools—and one well understands this —the number of classes with more than 30 pupils had increased by 3,000 to 38,000. I had Table No. 95 of the Annual Abstract of Statistics before me when the Minister was speaking, and from that, unless one excluded classes of 51 pupils—of which there should not be one in existence—I could not see where there had been any significant decrease, certainly not in the secondary schools.
I well understand this. I would not blame the Ministry if it was not the case, but the Minister seemed to claim that it was the case. Indeed, the Election manifestoes of the party opposite said in 1955,
Now is the time to go ahead and reduce the size of classes.
In 1951 there were 29,971 classes in secondary modern schools with over 31 pupils, and, according to the table for 1955, the last statistics I have, there were then actually 31,000. It may be that the Minister was referring to a very small group of classes and not to those with over 31 pupils in the secondary modern schools. If so, it should be made clear.
With one thing I am sure all my hon. Friends would agree. The quality in our schools today is absolutely first-class. Allied to that, we have magnificent teachers, and devoted people serving on local education authorities who get on with the job, however difficult may be the circumstances, I suggest that it is to them that the credit goes, and not to the Government. I therefore hope that the Motion will be supported.
I have promised myself that I will speak for only five minutes, and in that time there are only two things that I can say. First. I express my regret at the terms of the Motion. I have been in the House long enough to have seen the Education Act in its formation, to have assisted in its passing and to have watched it working out. It seems to me most regrettable that, at this stage in the Act's history, we should find the House dividing on a Motion like this.
If we examine it, we find that all it really means is, "We cannot find anything very far wrong with the educational policy of Her Majesty's Government in recent years, but there are a few things that the Government have had to do in an attempt to save the £ "—and that has been used to give the impression that the whole policy is inadequate.
I think that is what the Motion means, and I feel that it is one of the saddest and most unfortunate Motions for educational purposes to put on the Order Paper. The result of the Motion appearing has been that the economy circulars of Conservative Governments have been quoted, and this has led, quite naturally, to hon. Friends of mine quoting Socialist circulars about economy. I suspect that the real situation is that no Government can ever look five or ten years ahead in regard to expenditure or the prosperity of the country.
What they do in the educational field is to spend up to the hilt, and that means that occasionally both Socialist and Conservative Governments overspend in particular emergencies and have to pull back. On the whole, I should have thought that it was a wiser policy and more in the interests of education in the long term than one of perpetual caution. I should have thought that if we could have equated these two lots of circulars one with the other, we might have called it quits, and then have got on with the business of discussing education in a much better atmosphere.
The one practical point to which I shall have time to refer concerns the provisions for those who leave school during the next few years. It has been mentioned in the debate already, and I think it deserves to be underlined. We are going to have the bulge which is now in the secondary schools passing out into employment just at the time when National Service is coming to an end. I think that these teen-agers will require from whoever is Minister of Education at that time considerable thought about and considerable interest in their future.
If one looks at the last Annual Report of the Ministry, one sees the sums of money which are made available for youth and adult welfare, and these, it seems to me, are extremely small and capable of substantial increase with no serious effect on the expenditure of the Department as a whole, while at the same time being something which can be relied upon to fill a very real need indeed.
According to the 1956 Report, the grants to national voluntary youth organisations were only £164,000. Capital grants were only £151,000, and payments made towards village halls, community centres and playing fields in 1956 only £419,000. It seems to me that a very small investment by the Minister in these aspects of education will produce very large dividends in the form of morale and helping the rather large surplus ex-school population which we are going to have in the next few years.
Personally, I find these last seven years or so in education of immense achievement. I feel that in the debate today we have hardly had a properly balanced picture of what has been happening. If one goes into the secondary schools, the technical schools, the universities, the places where this money is being spent, we find a completely different picture from that which has been presented, certainly from the other side of the House, during this debate. Of course, there are many things to be done, but the last seven years in education have been remarkable ones, and I think that they are likely to be outstanding in the history of education in this country.
The debate has been notable for two or three reasons. First, it has been notable for the excellent maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann). We were delighted to hear him express his great knowledge and sincerity. We now know that not only have we gained a seat at Rochdale, but have also gained a very valuable Member for this side of the House.
The debate has been notable also because it has been the occasion for the Minister to make his first speech from the Dispatch Box as Minister of Education.
He succeeds a Minister who has been sent by the Prime Minister to a much less intellectually arduous job, that of Chairman of the Conservative Party. It was said by one education journal, perhaps rather uncharitably, when the present Minister was appointed, that he owed his appointment
less to any special interest in the work of the Ministry than to Mr. Macmillan's characteristic desire to bury another of Sir Anthony Eden's hatchets.
However, I am pleased to note that he is, at any rate, getting acquainted with schools, although I gathered from his speech today that he had seen more of the brand new, up-to-date schools than he had seen of the older schools in some parts of the country.
I am very pleased to hear that from the right hon. Gentleman. In his speech, he described only the new ones.
Like all education debates, this debate has elicited many contributions from hon. Members who have been able to quote actual cases from their own areas. These are, I think, always more telling than the overall figures which are given by the Minister, for they show that, whatever has been done already, there are still a great many things in our education system which are a disgrace to twentieth century Britain. A great deal of the debate has been devoted to the two recent Circulars 331 and 334. These circulars have hit rural reorganisation. They have hit improvements to existing buildings; they have hit village halls, community centres, and playing fields. I should like, first, to discuss the situation in our rural areas.
During the last two days, we have had an agriculture debate in the House, and we have heard from hon. Members on both sides about the drift from our countryside. There are many reasons for this, but one of them, I believe, is that country people feel that they do not, in the country, have an opportunity for the education of their children which is equal to that enjoyed by townspeople.
What is the position in the countryside today? Recently. a group of teachers conducted an examination into conditions at 134 rural schools in three widely separated areas. They found that the schools were in a state little different from when they were built. One in three has inferior sanitary arrangements; and when I say that, I really do mean inferior sanitary arrangements. Seven out of eight have water supply which could have been used. Some are using water from wells or springs which dry up in the summer. Only two in seven have any hot water supply.
We can all give actual examples, and many have been given today. I will give two or three others to add to those given by my hon. Friends. In Wiltshire, a secondary modern school was to be built to serve nine villages. Because of the circular issued by the Ministry, it has now been indefinitely postponed. In one of the schools in that area, one teacher teaches all the boys and girls from 10 to 15 for all subjects except woodwork. Water has been in the village for six years, but there still is not a tap in that particular school.
I am told that, in Devonshire, there are two or three dozen schools with no proper sanitary arrangements at all. But perhaps the worst county of all is Norfolk. Here, we are told, there are 250 schools which have no flush lavatories and which are waiting for sanitary improvements. One hundred and sixty-four schools in Norfolk are still without a piped water supply and 45 are without electricity. The Norfolk County Council had planned to build three new secondary schools to replace some of these existing village schools. But, because of the circulars that have just been issued, those three schools have been cut down to one. I am told by my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk. North (Mr. Gooch), who also happens to be the Vice-Chairman of the Norfolk County Education Committee, that he wrote to the right hon. Gentleman asking him to meet a deputation about the Norfolk schools, but he was told by the right hon. Gentleman that no useful purpose would be served by such a meeting.
It is incredible that in this age of the Sputnik and Zeta we are educating some of our children in eighteenth century conditions. For years we have talked about secondary education for all, but now we have seen that it is not to become reality. Secondary education has been postponed in the country districts, but we sometimes forget that there are many unreorganised schools in the big cities where there has never been a start in reorganisation since the war. Indeed, in Leeds, which I know best, 22 per cent. of the 13-year-old children are still in all-age schools. The whole of the south side of the city is completely unreorganised and I understand that the position is as bad as in Sheffield and other cities.
We sometimes hear a great deal about the inequalities between the children who go to the State schools and those who go to independent schools. I believe that we have as much inequality within the State system as between the State system and the independent system. There is all the difference in the world between the opportunities for the child who goes to the slum and unreorganised school and the child who, in our State system of education, goes to a wonderful, new up-to-date school on a housing estate. Many of our old buildings are structurally good and can be made up-to-date under the minor works programme, but this, as we know and as we have been saying today, has been hit. As my hon. Friends have said, what is considered to be a minor works programme at the Ministry of Education is a major event in the life of one particular school. I was pleased to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he had had second thoughts about Essex, which will now be able to build its laboratories. It is not the slightest use spending about £80 million extra on technical and higher technological education if, at the same time, we prevent the building of science laboratories, where the preparatory work is done. This is like putting an elaborate roof on a building before we have actually dug the foundations.
All this has not been enough for the Government in recent years. We have had Circular 334, which is, in effect, the 1958 version of Circular 242, which was issued in 1951. What has the circular meant? It has meant that local authorities have been faced with the necessity to cut their expenditure. But when the Ministry of Education asks local authorities to cut expenditure it knows full well that there is certain expenditure which cannot be cut and which today must, of necessity, increase all the time—for example, loan charges on buildings and the salaries of teachers. Therefore, when a local authority is to cut its expenditure, it must look to the remaining part of its budget and to such items as science equipment, books and stationery, improvements and amenities.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), in opening the debate, spoke, too, of the Ministry's attitude towards the report of the committee which considered maintenance allowances. If we are to get sufficient teachers and technologists, we must do everything possible to ensure that talent is not wasted. Unless we have a proper system of maintenance allowances for children who remain at school after the age of 15, we shall have a very great wastage of talent.
The Minister made a great deal of the Estimates, which were issued two days ago, because they showed an increase. It would be very strange indeed if the education Estimates did not show an increase at this time. There are more children in our schools, particularly at the secondary stage, where it is more expensive to educate a child than at the primary stage. There are rising costs which, it has been calculated, account for two-fifths of the increase.
There are other increases caused by the Government's policy—for example, higher interest rates which local authorities are being called upon to pay—and there is the belated but welcome payment of equal pay to women teachers. To give one example alone from the increase in the Estimates, an additional £2 million is necessitated for the employer's share of the higher National Insurance contributions.
We are having to spend much more today to maintain the same education service, but what we spend must be set against the needs of the service. Let me quote from a speech by the noble Lord who, when Minister of Education, said. on 9th March, 1957:
On school education, we spend somewhere about 3 per cent. of our national product. What would we say of a family that spent only 3 per cent. of its total income on educating its children? I think we should say that it was a great deal too little. How can we look forward to a prosperous future if we do not spend adequate sums on public education? The truth is that we cannot
That was Viscount Hailsham speaking, when Minister of Education. The truth is that we are spending less than 3 per cent. of our national income, which is less than the need and less than is being spent by many other countries.
We on this side feel that we are not moving forward as we should and that the economies, sometimes small, are very mean. It is no exaggeration to say that local authorities are filled with uncertainty and feel that they cannot plan ahead with any assurance of being able to carry out their plan. There is today a need for the Ministry of Education to have a building programme defined over a period of years, thus enabling planning to be done by the local authorities, who at the moment do not know where they are.
The hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland) said in his speech today that education was far better out of the prejudice of high-powered party politics, and I believe that to be true. Nevertheless, over the last few years the party opposite has used education for political purposes. [HON. MEMBERS "Oh"] Let me give examples.
Let us look at the history. In October. 1951, this was said in the Tory election manifesto:
In Education and in Health some of the most crying needs are not being met. For the money now being spent we will provide better services and so fulfil the high hopes which we all held when we planned the improvements during the war.
That was in October, 1951, before the General Election. In December, two months later, the party opposite issued Circular 242, which asked local education authorities to cut their estimates by 5 per cent. Therefore, immediately after the General Election the work was stopped.
We come next to December, 1954. which, as we all remember, was a few months before the General Election of 1955. In December, 1954, the President of the Board of Trade, who was then Minister of Education said, "Go ahead", and he issued Circular 283. He relaxed restrictions. He took the brake off. He said that rural reorganisation was to go ahead. Minor works and improvements could go on unrestricted as long as any one job cost under £10,000.
The local authorities were very pleased with all this. They made their plans accordingly and so, at the 1955 General Election, in "United for Peace and Progress" the party opposite was able to put the following in its election manifesto:
In the next five years…we intend to complete the reorganisation of all-age classes in the rural areas and make good progress with reorganisation in the towns. We shall also tackle the problem of the slum schools…Grants will continue to be given for playing fields, community centres and youth clubs
I can only assume that those hon. Members opposite who are cheering their heads off have not read the recent circulars issued by the Ministry of Education, because the Government now go back on those promises.
Rural reorganisation is now held up. Town and city reorganisation has not begun. Minor works are being cut. Money is being taken from the playing fields and community centres. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle in his remarks about party politics. I believe that the time has come when education policy should be related to the needs of the children and not to the date of the General Election.
Is it any wonder that in the local authorities there is a feeling of depression? Their major building programme has been cut, their minor works programme is being cut, there is a general appeal for economy, and now they fear the block grant. We on this side of the House would like to know from the Government what their plans are for the future and what they are aiming for in education. What do they consider to be the most urgent problems at the present time? I believe that the most urgent problem is to reduce the size of classes, especially in the primary schools.
The Minister today pointed to the fact that the size of primary school classes had been reduced in the last three years, but he did not say a word about secondary schools where the size of classes is increasing. Despite the fact that the size of classes in the primary schools has been reduced, due to the fact that the bulge has gone from the primary schools, there are still 30,000 classes in the primary schools with over 40 pupils each, and there are still over 500 classes of over 50 pupils. The position is even worse in some of the secondary schools.
The right hon. Gentleman said that primary schools were among the most delightful schools in the country. Some of them are. I taught for eight years in a secondary modern school, but for a few months I taught in a primary school. I tried to teach 45 young children, aged six and seven, the rudiments of reading and writing, but I did not feel that I was going into the most delightful spot in the country. Until we get the size of classes down, we shall never make real progress with education.
We can all agree that the size of classes is too large, but if we are to get the size of classes down we have to plan for the supply of teachers. At present, the Government have no long-term plans for increasing the supply of teachers by nearly enough to make a great inroad into the size of classes. One of the great inequalities in our system today is that between the public school and the State school, but a greater inequality is that between the normal primary school and the private preparatory school where classes are probably only ten or a dozen. We must have a major attack in the size of classes, which means getting more buildings and more teachers.
Are the training colleges to be extended? What do the Government intend to do to recruit more teachers since, with a three-year training course, the supply of teachers will decrease? I deplore the impression which is being given that after 1961, as the numbers begin to fall, fewer teachers will be required. That attitude is creating the fear that teachers will be unemployed in the years ahead. I deplore that because, as the numbers in schools go down, after 1961, we should be able to make great inroads and many improvements.
Several hon. Members opposite have spoken about the Labour Government's record in education. Hon. Members opposite must realise some time that there was a war from 1939 to 1945 and that there was the Korean war while we were in office, but that, nevertheless, we achieved a great deal in education. In spite of all the difficulties, we raised the school-leaving age to 15, and that was no man achievement. We managed to produce the teachers so that that could be done. We abolished fees in secondary schools, and made it possible for many boys and girls from working-class homes to go to university.
This was at a time when the Labour Government were converting the old distressed areas into Development Areas. a time when there was a shortage of building materials and builders. Today, there is no shortage of building materials; indeed, many builders are unemployed. The position is quite different. We should not always be chasing to catch up with where we were. We must go forward.
I will resist the temptation to speak about something very dear to my heart, although two or three hon. Members opposite have referred to it—secondary education. The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Ashton) asked the Minister whether we could draw any conclusions from the 40 comprehensive schools already built and the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) thought that we had not discussed secondary education today because so many people now accepted selection at 11 years of age.
I take the opposite point of view. It has not been discussed very much today, because we realise that people outside are beginning to take the view that selection at the age of 11 must go. I would advise the hon. Member for Chelmsford to read the Times Educational Supplement for 7th February, 1958, which gives a review of the work being done in the comprehensive schools which are now in operation. I will only say that all the fears of the past have been proved groundless by those schools. In no area containing a comprehensive school are the parents asking for a return to the old system.
I want to say a word about the universities. We welcome the expansion in technical schools and universities. I agree with one hon. Member who asked for more facilities to be provided for girls to train in science and technology, but as we expand the universities we must make quite sure that the right people go there. Today, 56 per cent. of the students at Cambridge and 44 per cent. of the students at Oxford are from public schools. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction over the whole question of university entrants, and we ought to have an inquiry into the problem.
I have concentrated more upon primary and secondary schools than upon higher technology and the universities, because I feel that there has lately been an emphasis upon technical education and the universities. It is right that these should expand; they are extremely important. But we must not let our concentration upon the higher forms of learning make us forget the needs of the mass of our children who leave school at the age of 15. Without higher forms of education we cannot survive as a great economic Power, but it is equally true that unless we pay a great deal of attention to our primary and secondary schools we cannot survive as a great democratic Power.
We in the Labour Party have always regarded education as the main driving force of progress, both for the individual and for the nation. We cannot afford to economise or waste any ability and talent, and it is because there is economy at the moment, and because we feel that talent and ability are being wasted, that we have moved this Motion. The Government have been responsible for uneasiness today and uncertainty about the future. They have filled local authorities with dismay; they have filled teachers with apprehension, and they have lost the confidence of parents. We therefore propose to vote for our Motion tonight.
If my memory serves me right, the last occasion when the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) addressed the House from that Dispatch Box was on 26th April, 1955. I should like to congratulate her very sincerely upon a speech which we all enjoyed, which was both moderate and reasonable in content. I want to reply to some of her points in the course of my remarks, but I should like first, to say, that I am sure all those who have taken part in the debate—and all other Members in the House, wherever they might sit—are delighted that the Education Estimates are rising this year. Indeed, as the hon. Lady quite fairly said, it is absolutely right that they should rise.
It is somewhat ironical, however, that we should be debating this Motion almost upon the very day that my right hon. Friend has announced the highest level of educational expenditure in our history.
I am sure that that was one of the reasons why, listening to the debate, I felt—as many other hon. Members must have felt—that it was one of the most friendly debates upon a Motion of censure that the House has experienced for a fairly long time.
When I first saw the Motion on the Order Paper and thought of the policies which my right hon. Friend was following and the Estimates he was about to introduce, I was reminded of the maxim of an ancestor of mine in this House —"Never bother to knock a man down when you can trip him up with a piece of string" I commend that advice to the House.
I wish to come straight away to the issue which I know has been bothering hon. Members most in this debate, namely, Circulars 331 and 334. I wish to deal with them as fully and as frankly as I can. No one can possibly doubt the importance either of rural reorganisation or what is referred to technically and perhaps a little unfortunately as "minor works".First, about rural reorganisation.
When one measures the rate of educational progress in Britain since the war, one observes that some of the most dramatic examples of this progress are evident in the rural counties. I have seen many of them for myself. During the last year I had occasion to visit counties such as Shropshire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire, to mention only three, and I have been very conscious of the revolution in education that has taken place in these counties since the war.
Some very striking new secondary schools have been built, and I think it fair to say that there is a completely different climate about secondary education in those areas from that which existed before the war. Prior to the war, it was argued that if new secondary schools were built workers would be taken away from the land. Today, one of the first questions asked by a farm worker, or rather by his wife, is what is the school like and what provision exists for secondary education. I think it true to say that if we wish to get people to live and work in the country today we have to provide them with amenities on an urban scale.
May I say a word about minor works. I have seen for myself for example, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, what can be done with the reconditioning of an old building under a minor works scheme. I am sure all of us on this side of the House very much hope that it will not be long before these restrictions can be eased. But do not let us underrate what has already been achieved both with regard to rural reorganisation and minor works. As my right hon. Friend said this afternoon, two-thirds of the programme of rural reorganisation, that is to say 224 schools, have been either completed or are going ahead untouched. In fact, it is only 31 schools compared with those 224 which are at present having to be postponed. The figures for minor works are quite striking. During the nine years from 1945 to 1954 the total value of minor works completed was £42 million. During the next three years following Circular 283 we did £40 million worth of minor works. That is to say, during the last three years we have completed very nearly as much as was done during the preceding nine years. For the moment there has to be restriction, but I ask the House to remember the great progress we have made in many rural areas, and I hope that it will not be long before the restrictions can be lifted.
Now I come to Circular 334. I think a good deal of exaggerated talk has gone on about this circular. I do not believe that any service is done to education by those who talk as though every element in educational expenditure is equally urgent and essential. Circular 334 recognises absolutely clearly the necessity to meet the basic needs of the increasing numbers in the schools and the development of technical education. This is stated clearly in the circular.
But at a time of financial stringency, while these major policies of educational expansion must be maintained both in the schools and in further education, it is right to seek for minor economies. One interesting thing is that, with the exception of only one item, Circular 334 does no more than give examples of expenditure which merit especially careful scrutiny. The only exception to that in the Circular is a limitation of£3 million on the grant payable in respect of capital expenditure from Revenue. I do not think that is an unreasonable limitation, particularly at a time when educational Estimates are rising.
I would say one word about the Estimates. One or two hon. Members have made reference to them. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) said that the curve was flattening out. For goodness sake do not let us think that the curve of educational expenditure could ever rise in a smooth and continuous manner. The Burnham awards would make this unlikely. Whenever there is a new Burnham award, since 9s. 1d. out of every £1 is spent on teachers' salaries, the curve must rise steeply. It would not be possible for the curve to rise steadily over a term of years.
I have one further point before I leave the circulars. The whole educational world should be grateful that the Government took the necessary measures last autumn to ward off a threat to the £ sterling. If the Government had failed to take those measures and the £ had fallen, it would have been necessary to send out far more drastic circulars. My right hon. Friend certainly would not have then been able to introduce Estimates for greatly increased expenditure on education. That point is worth remembering.
For a few minutes I should like to reply to certain detailed questions which have been raised during the debate. We had a most sincere, interesting and thoughtful maiden speech from the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann). I am sure that all of us who heard it were much impressed and were very glad indeed that we were in here at the time. I know it is not customary to take up controversial points contained in a maiden speech, but the hon. Member raised two points on which I would, with the permission of the House, like to comment. The first was the state of minor works in Rochdale and Lancashire, and the other was sanitation. In view of what the hon. Gentleman said I made urgent inquiries. I am glad to learn that the only minor work for which Rochdale put in has been approved.
The question of the sanitary arrangements was in respect of my neighbourhood of Eccles. I thought I had made that clear. The only time I mentioned Rochdale was in connection with minor works.
All I wanted to say was that I took due note of the hon. Member's point. I will certainly pursue it right away. The hon. Member also mentioned special schools for the educationally subnormal. Special Schools is a branch of the work of the Ministry for which my right hon. Friend has asked me to take special responsibility. There are very few aspects of the work of the Ministry which are more interesting or rewarding. At the present time there is no real shortage of places for the blind or the deaf, and very much better provision than there was some time ago for the physically handicapped. It is, however, true that there is still a serious shortage of places for the educationally subnormal.
Last year, we built seventeen new schools for this class of child and provided 2,378 new places; but there are still some 13,800 awaiting places. I will tell the hon. Member for Rochdale that we did send out a questionnaire to local authorities in the course of 1956 on this subject. In a way, if the House will forgive me for putting it like this, supplying places for these children creates its own demand. The more places we provide, the better local authorities become in discovering these children. We are doing our very best to meet the need. I am glad to think that we have this problem now under control. Some of the schools for the educationally subnormal are first-class and admirable institutions.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland) and a number of hon. Members referred to the Youth Service and to the very great importance of providing sufficient facilities for young people after they leave school between the ages of 15 and 18 years or, indeed, 15 and 20. I entirely agree with my hon. and gallant Friend about the great importance of this subject, and indeed it will grow in importance when National Service comes to an end. It is a difficult subject, and one must look at the question of the Youth Service in the context of further education as a whole. My right hon. Friend has had a meeting with the George V Jubilee Trust, and next week he is meeting representatives of the organisation known as S.C.N.V.Y.O.
One of the other difficulties of the youth service is the enormous number of bodies concerned. What I can promise is that we are very well apprised of this subject and of its growing importance in the years ahead, and my right hon. Friend will consider carefully the suggestions which have been made in this debate.
On the subject of technical education, I should like to mention two or three aspects. The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) asked about the building programme for technical education. Perhaps the House will forgive me if I give a few figures. In 1957 we started £1271 million worth of work. We started 116 projects, including 20 complete new colleges and 92 major extensions. The value of projects completed in 1957 was just under £7 million and the total value of building work done was about £71 million.
I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman about the very great importance of the emphasis on science in the schools. I have mentioned this on a number of occasions. It is certainly encouraging if one looks at the trend of G.C.E. figures in recent years. In five years G.C.E. passes at the ordinary level have gone up, in mathematics by 54 per cent. physics by 88 per cent. and chemistry by 81 per cent.; and at the advanced level, in mathematics by 55 per cent., physics by 47 per cent., and chemistry by 34 per cent. Those figures reveal an encouraging trend.
There has also been a fairly steady rate of increase in the supply of technical teachers, and I believe that the Burnham Report of October, 1956, was helpful in this respect. I also think that the concern of public opinion with all matters relating to technical education has helped here, and I certainly hope that Circular 336 drawing attention to certain recommendations of the Willis Jackson Report will do still more to increase recruitment of technical teachers. I should like to turn to one or two other points. The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) spoke about the work of the teaching profession, and I entirely endorse all that he said. I do not think the country yet appreciates how much we owe to the efforts of the teaching profession, in many cases having to take over large classes in very unsatisfactory buildings in the 1950's. We should all realise how much the nation owes to their efforts.
In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby), there is no intention of going back on the Government announcement of a three-year course of teacher training. As to the size of classes, it is true—and I admit it—that whereas there has been some appreciable improvement in the size of primary classes, there has been some retrogression in the case of secondary classes. But I feel that to some extent that was inevitable. After all, we are only just over half way through the period of peak pressure in secondary schools. Three years from now, primary numbers will be down by about 300,000. whereas secondary numbers will be up by another 400,000.
Indeed, the most serious challenge will come next September when the secondary school rolls will rise by approximately 200,000. But I repeat what I said in the debate on teachers' supply, that it will not be long before my right hon. Friend will be consulting the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers, and I can assure the hon. Member for Fulham that the question whether we need more training facilities for teachers will be fully discussed. I agree with the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East that all this talk that one occasionally hears about a threat of unemployment for teachers in the 1960's is dangerous and is absolutely beside the point.
Now a very brief word on the question of the organisation of secondary education. This is, I know, a very well-worn theme. I feel that the time is not far distant, if it has not come already, when no one will be able to mention in this House the comprehensive school without a low moan being heard around the Chamber—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh.]—only because it is a well worn theme. But I would say this to the House. I think it is generally agreed that there must be a substantial element of selection in our system of secondary education simply because children do so obviously differ in their abilities and aptitudes. But we are certainly not complacent about the existing methods of selection.
I am not sure whether hon. Members opposite realise quite how large a wealth of experiment is now going on in secondary education. In the first place, as the hon. Lady said, we have not merely a considerable number of comprehensive schools, but what I think is a wider category, a very considerable number of schools where we have both selective and non-selective streams at the same school —for example, bilateral schools of many kinds, both in town districts and in rural districts as well. Then we have experiments, such as those now starting in London, where a secondary central school and a secondary modern school in different buildings are brought together to form one school for administrative purposes. Then there are experiments such as Mr. Mason's interesting Leicestershire experiment carried out in two limited areas in that county.
The present Government very much welcome this experimentation because the needs of each area quite clearly differ. There is room for trying out a variety of ideas, and I think we should be very unwise at the Ministry to discourage local authorities from embarking upon any of these plans which can be justified on their educational merits.
One thing I will say is this, and I think that what I am going to say has a great deal of support not merely from supporters of the present Government but from a wide variety of opinion in this country of all parties and none. We believe that we ought to be extremely careful and think very hard before agreeing to any proposal which involves, as it were, the swallowing up of an existing grammar school which is doing a first-class job. We should think very hard before agreeing to that.
Within that limit and with that one exception, I am quite certain there is room here for a great deal of experimentation, and, indeed, not only at secondary stage. Only a week or so ago I saw a primary school of which there was virtually no "streaming" at all, and where children with varying abilities were taught in the same class. That seemed to me at that stage a perfectly reasonable experiment to make.
Hon. Members in all parts of the House know well that no Government in our history have had a finer record of educational achievement than the present Government, and this is true all along the line, whatever criterion hon. Members may choose. As is well known, the Ministry of Education Vote has almost exactly doubled over the period of eight years. It has risen from £192 million in the financial year 1950–51 to £381 million for the forthcoming year. Even if we allow for the fall in the value of money during this period, the increase in real terms is still very large.
I will give the hon. Member a precise answer, that the total public expenditure on education during these years expressed as a percentage of our gross national product has risen by more than one-quarter.
The only thing I would say to the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Sydney Irving) and others, is that one must exercise great care over these calculations involving gross national products. I shall certainly read the book he mentioned, although I understand it does not appear until tomorrow; but I will certainly read it. However, I think these comparisons between one country and another, and between different countries at different times, have to be made with great care and selectivity.
It is exactly the same if we look at the figures for teachers and, even more striking, the figures for new school places. In 1951 there were 215,000 teachers in our primary and secondary schools. By 1957 this figure had risen to nearly 254,000, a rise of 18 per cent. And then I have no doubt that both the Government and local authorities have done an outstanding job in the provision of new school places during the years of the bulge. Since October, 1951, we have provided no fewer than 1,405,000 new school places—more than twice the number of places which hon. Members opposite provided during their term of office. I believe that the success of the campaign to conquer the bulge has exceeded all reasonable expectations. By the time it has been completed about 1½ million children, nearly a quarter of all pupils at maintained schools in England and Wales, will be attending completely new schools.
I should like to say a few words about capital expenditure on new schools. In 1951, the value of work done on major projects for primary and secondary schools was £34 million. In 1957, the comparable figure was £63 million and the estimate for this year, £60 million, is only a very little smaller. I remind hon. Members once again that the value of a £ spent on school building is greater today than it was in 1951. Every £1 million spent today produces about 25 per cent. more school places than it produced then.
My last comment about our achievement is that we have been completing schools more rapidly. My hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Denzil Freeth) pointed out that when we took office the rate of school building was becoming slower and slower and that it was necessary to impose a moratorium. I am glad to see that during the first nine months of the current financial year we have completed schools to the value of £50 million. That is an all-time record for school completions during the course of a year. I think it throws a strange light on what we sometimes hear from he right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) when he speaks about "taking it out on the kids".
But having said all this, I emphasise that we certainly must not be complacent, because very much remains to be done. The hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East pointed out that there are still far too many children in this country having to learn in old, unfit and unsatisfactory schools. Altogether 100,000 senior children are still attending all-age schools, and I am afraid that a large majority of them will inevitably be there until the bulge is through. We certainly want to be able to embark on the replacement of the old and unfit schools. There is an enormous amount still to be done, and we are still nowhere near the full implementation of that great Act which is so intimately associated with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede).
As I thought was my duty in the debate, I have given the House a certain number of figures, but we must never forget that figures and statistics, as it were, cloak real people. If anyone wants to see what this progress in education since the war has meant, he need only go round to see these schools with his own eyes. During the past year I suppose I have visited about 100 schools. I have been to 40 or 50 separate authorities. I have tried to keep a fair balance between seeing work done in the old schools and the work done in the new schools.
I have been enormously impressed with what can be done in the old and unfit schools, but at the same time I do not see how anyone could visit the new schools without feeling that our effort in new school building since the war has been one of our national achievements of which we have every right to be very proud. I can give only my personal impression, but it seems to me that there is more gained than lost in these bright and airy schools, in getting rid of the straight rows, in giving children greater freedom to move, and in allowing them to get on with their work more purposefully with rather less supervision. That is quite consistent with giving very careful attention to reading ability. In fact, the reading ability in those schools has risen considerably.
And then again, no one could visit our secondary schools today without being greatly impressed by three things. First, there is the high standard of scientific provision in many of these schools, and also the high standard of provision in things like woodwork and metalwork. There is the very great trouble taken by many teachers to pin up attractive material round the walls of the schools, particularly material dealing with subjects such as history. I am very glad to see the amount of attention given to local history in our schools today. That seems absolutely right. Finally, I make no apology at all for referring to the subject of art in schools. After all, standards of taste and beauty are things which affect everyone in our society and not just a minority.
One has only to see what is done by imaginative teachers, not only of fine arts but of ceramics and plastics. to
realise what this means. Indeed, hon. Members have only to go to the National Gallery or the Tate Gallery on a Sunday afternoon and see the large numbers of young people there, or to see the large numbers of young people in the audience at the Festival Hall, to see something of the gains we get from attention being given in our schools to the arts.
The hon. Member for Fulham said that today we need an appetite for education. I think he was quite right to say that. I believe we have today a greater national appetite for education than ever before. He used a phrase which seemed a very just one. At the end of his speech he said that we wanted to reach a system in which people could lead full and happy lives and contribute fully to the development of a happy and civilised society. I thought the objectives he outlined at the end of his speech, and the benefits we hope to obtain from our educational system, were very well described.
The exigencies of parliamentary procedure and the conventions of party practice mean that in a minute or two we shall have to withdraw for a Division. Otherwise, I cannot see any conceivable reason why we should have a Division today, or why we could not have had an ordinary Estimates debate. I have no doubt that we all take pride in what has been achieved in this nation in educations since the war. We on this side of the House are proud of what we have done. We shall not in any way regret having to give an account of it when the time comes, either in national or in local elections. We believe we have a first-rate story to tell. We shall be very glad to tell it and it is with every confidence that I ask my hon. Friends to vote against this Motion tonight.
|Division No. 73.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Benson, Sir George.||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth|
|Albu, A. H.||Beswick, Frank||Brockway, A. F.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Blackburn, F.||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Blenkinsop, A.||Brown, Thomas (Ince)|
|Anderson, Frank||Blyton, W. R.||Burke, W. A.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Boardman, H.||Burton, Miss F. E.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. C.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)|
|Baird, J.||Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.)||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Callaghan, L. J.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Bowles, F. G.||Carmichael, J.|
|Bern, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)||Boyd, T. C,||Castle, Mrs. B. A.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Probert, A. R.|
|Clunie, J.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Coldrick, W.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Randall, H. E.|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Rankin, John|
|Collins, V.J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Reeves, J.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Reid, William|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Rhodes, H.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Kenyon, C.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Grossman, R. H. S.||King, Dr. H. M.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Ledger, R. J.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Dalton, Rt.. Hon. H.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Royle, C.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Short, E. W.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lewis, Arthur||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Deer, G.||Lindgren, G. S.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lipton, Marcus||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Diamond, John||Logan, D. G.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||McAlister, Mrs. Mary||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||McCann, J.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Dye, S.||MacColl, J. E.||Snow, J. W.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacDermot, Niall||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Edelman, M.||McGhee, H. G.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||McInnes, J.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Steele, T.|
|Edwards Robert (Bilston)||McLeavy, Frank||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Stonehouse, John|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mahon, Simon||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Finch, H. J.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Stress, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Gaitskell, R;. Hon. H. T. N.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Gooch, E. C.||Mason, Roy||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mayhew, C. P.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mellish, R. J.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Messer, Sir F.||Thornton, E.|
|Grey, C. F.||Mikardo, Ian||Timmons, J.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mitchison, G. R.||Tomney, F.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Monslow, W.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Grimond, J.||Moody, A. S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Watkins, T, E.|
|Hannan, W.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Mort, D. L.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Hastings, S.||Moss, R.||West, D. G.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Moyle, A.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Healey, Denis||Mulley, F. W.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Fint)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Neal, Harold (Boisover)||Wigg, George|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Willey, Frederick|
|Holman, P.||O'Brien, Sir Thomas||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Holmes, Horace||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Oram, A. E.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Oswald, T.|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Owen, W. J.||William W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Hoy, J. H.||Paget, R. T.||Williams, W. T. (Ba[...]ons Court)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Hunter, A. E.||Pargiter, G. A.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Parker, a.||Woof, R. E.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Parkin, B. T.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Paton, John||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Peart, T. F.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Pentland, N.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)||Prentice, R. E.||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Price. J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Ashton, H.||Baxter, Sir Beverley|
|Aitken, W. T.||Astor, Hon. J. J.||Beamish, Col. Tufton|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Atkins, H. E.||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Baldwin, A. E.||Bennett, Dr. Reginald|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Balniel, Lord||Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)|
|Anstruther-Cray, Major Sir William||Barber, Anthony||Bidgood, J. C.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Barlow, Sir John||Biggs-Davison, J. A.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Barter, John||Bingham, R. M.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Maddan, Martin|
|Black, C. W.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Body, R. F.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Hay, John||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Braine, B. R.||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Marshall, Douglas|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Mathew, R.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hesketh, R. F.||Mawby, R. L.|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Cralgton)||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.|
|Bryan, P.||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hirst, Geoffrey||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Carr, Robert||Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hope, Lord John||Neave, Airey|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)|
|Cole, Norman||Hornby, R. P.||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Cooke, Robert||Horobin, Sir Ian||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Ormeby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Howard, John (Test)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Craddook, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral, J.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Osborne, C.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Page, R. G.|
|Crowder, Petre (Rulslip— Northwood)||Hurd, A. R.||Partridge, E.|
|Currie, C. B. H.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)||Peel, W. J.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Hyde, Montgomery||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Iremonger, T. L.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pott, H. P.|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Duncan, Sir James||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Joseph, Sir Keith||Profumo, J. D.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Elliott, R. W. (Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.)||Kaberry, D.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Keegan, D.||Redmayne, M.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Kershaw, J. A.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Kimball, M.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Kirk, P. M.||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lagden, G. W.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Fort, R.||Lambton, Viscount||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Foster, John||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Leather, E. H. C.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Freeth, Denzil||Leavey, J. A.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Leburn, W. C.||Russell, R. S.|
|Gammans, Lady||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Sharples, R. C.|
|Glover, D.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Shepherd, William|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Godber, J. B.||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Llewellyn, D. T.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Gower, H. R.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Speir, R. M.|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Longden, Gilbert||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Grant, W. (Woodside)||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kes'gt'n, S.)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Green, A.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||McAdden, S, J.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Storey, S.|
|Gurden, Harold||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Studhotme, Sir Henry|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)84||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Teeling, W.|
|Temple, John M.||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Vane, W. M. F.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Vickert, Mitt Joan||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Thornton- Kemsley, Sir Colin||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Wall, Patrick||FELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Turner, H. F. L.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)||Mr. Oakshott and Mr. Wills.|
|Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|