I beg to move,
That this House welcomes the Report of the Central Advisory Council for Education (England) as a constructive contribution to the formation of educational policy for the next twenty years.
At the beginning of this important debate I would ask the House to note that the Crowther Report is an English Report. It was submitted to me by the Central Advisory Council for England. In Wales, I have a similar Advisory Council, to which I am always ready to listen. Scotland, so long a leader in education, is outside my responsibility, but as the central issues raised by the Crowther Report must affect Scotland as well as England and Wales my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has asked me to say that arrangements will be made to debate these questions in the Scottish Grand Committee.
As one would expect, the analysis made by the Crowther Council is thorough and without sentimentality or favour, the presentation is vigorous and logical, the cost is counted of the programme proposed, and that programme would stretch our education service to the full. In short, this well-balanced Report is a work of scholarship and art, which I believe the House will judge worthy to rank with Hadow and Spens.
If that is the verdict, much of the credit must go to Sir Geoffrey Crowther himself, whose encyclopaedic knowledge and gift of exposition have informed every chapter. He had with him a most distinguished Council of representative persons. They worked for three years. They took evidence from a vast range of sources, and they gave most generously of their time. I rejoice that their Report has aroused such great interest and well-deserved praise, and I only regret that the time today is so short in which to give the Government's views and to hear the views of the House upon so large a topic.
The Council looked ahead over the next twenty years. Hon. Members will wish to do the same and as Parliamentarians and administrators we shall want to examine with particular care the methods and the timetable proposed by the Council for carrying out the educational reforms contained in the 1944 Act. Many changes have taken place since the days when that Act was conceived and debated. The experience that went into that great measure of reform, as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) would agree, was largely the experience of the inter-war years. Years when the school leavers did not find it so easy to get jobs. Years when, in many of the teenagers' homes, there was poverty of a kind now almost unknown.
I confess that when I wrote the terms of reference for the Crowther Council I expected that it would tell us that the post-war revolution in employment and the spread of wealth should modify, perhaps radically, the pattern of educational advance which seemed right at the beginning of the war. But the Council did not take that view. The Report endorses with the utmost conviction the principles of educational reform laid down in the 1944 Act—a conclusion which must afford great satisfaction to the authors of an Act which refashioned the whole shape of the public system.
It gave the right to free secondary education and it provided for the lengthening of the period of compulsory school life in two stages, first, to 15 and then to 16. On 1st April, 1947, the then Labour Government raised the minimum leaving age from 14 to 15.
The Crowther Council's first major recommendation is that the provisions of the Act for raising the school-leaving age to 16 should be reaffirmed now as an object of national policy. It asks us to carry out this reform in one of three years towards the end of this decade, and to choose and announce the date forthwith. Once we accept this advice and name the date, many measures will have to be put in hand during the intervening years in order that the schools may be ready in time for the additional pupils. I shall examine in a minute what these measures would have to accomplish before 16 could become the statutory leaving age. But I say at once that the Government agree with the Report on the question of the principle.
When the right conditions can be assured, we believe that the very great majority of boys and girls will learn more in full-time education than they are likely to learn in their sixteenth year in employment, provided that the extra year in full-time education can be spent either in school or in a technical college. So there are two vital questions which we must examine: what are the right conditions for raising the age, and when can they be achieved?
I must, however, deal, first, with another recommendation in the Report which affects the school-leaving age. We are asked to introduce at once legislation to reduce the number of school-leaving dates in the year from three to two. At present, a pupil can leave at the end of the term following his fifteenth birthday. Some boys and girls, therefore, taking their first opportunity, leave at Christmas, and this means that they have had only three years and one term in their secondary school, which is a poor finish to their full-time education.
It is proposed that all these would-be Christmas leavers should wait until Easter and those who, taking their first opportunity would leave at Easter, should wait until July. Ideally, the Christmas leavers should stay the whole year until July, but on the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread Crowther recommends two leaving dates, Easter and July.
One must note that if this were accepted the schools would have more pupils than at present in the Easter and summer terms. The extra burden would not be very great; but should we ask them to take it on until we are through the difficult year when the number of teachers will fall as a result of the introduction of the three-year training course? Perhaps the House will consider this point when hon. Members have heard what I shall have to say later about over-size classes.
We shall probably agree that one, or at the most two leaving dates would be sound educationally, but then the change would have some implications for employment as well as for the organisation of the schools. I shall be discussing the employment aspect with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and others concerned, and in due course, I will report to the House the Government's conclusions.
Now I can return to raising the age to 16 for all. It is one thing for the Government to stand by this reform in principle. It is another to commit the next Parliament, here and now, to a definite date for carrying it out I know what the enthusiasts for education will say—and long may they flourish, because no Minister can get on without them. They will say, "For fifteen years we have had on the Statute Book a school-leaving age of 16. How much longer have we got to wait? Why does not the Government have faith and take the plunge now?"
I would salute the courage behind such a call, but I must ask the House to consider whether fixing a date seven or eight years hence would be the best way to reach this desired objective. I think that we owe it to the parents and to the children, to the teachers and to the local authorities, to bring our schools, primary as well as secondary, to a point much nearer complete readiness for the reform before the actual date is decided.
Fortunately, our present policies have produced a strong movement in the right direction. The public appetite for education is growing, as is shown by the number of children voluntarily staying on after the age of 15. Each year we shall gain more experience in how to make the last years in a secondary school worth while, and each year the number will diminish of those who would stay on only if they were compelled to do so. The more this movement of volunteers gathers speed, the easier it will be to decide the date when the age can be raised to 16 for all. Before that reform can be introduced, however, I must say to the House that there are four other conditions which would have to be fulfilled.
First, school buildings must be adequate to accommodate the extra pupils. Most new secondary schools are now being designed to offer a full five-year course, but there would have to be a programme of some new schools and a good many additions to pre-war schools. We have examined the total building requirement, which might be about £80 million for England and Wales, and if the resources are made available we can fulfil it in four years before the date fixed for raising the age. So, on the score of buildings, four years' notice is what is required.
Secondly, the schools must have the confidence that they could hold the interest of the 15 to 16-year-olds. The Council had a good deal to say about the preparedness of the schools to deal with pupils over the whole range of ability up to 16. They confessed that the teachers as yet have had very little experience in handling the unacademically minded children who would form the big majority of those unwilling to stay on unless compelled, but they were not deterred by these considerations. They were confident that the schools could be so much improved by the late 1960s that the Government should not be afraid to name the date now.
This improvement, I firmly believe, is within our power to achieve, and we will do it, but we still have a considerable way to go. In many secondary schools the teaching staff has not yet had a fair chance to provide satisfying courses for the C and D streams in their last year. And I am bound to say to the House that the public reaction to the Crowther Report has clearly shown that there are great misgivings about fixing a date now for adding another year to school life.
The same doubts are, I am sure, in the minds of many hon. Members, and that brings me to the third requirement which is the heart of the matter. We must have more teachers. We should need about 18,000 teachers to raise the age, but before we can spare these teachers ought we not first to cut right down the number of over-size classes, and so give the teachers in post the chance of doing their job really well? There is no other single reform which would so raise the standard of education in this country. This is the Government's view, and we shall not put any other advance before the elimination of over-size classes.
What are the facts about this problem? Since 1951, over 4,000 new schools have been completed and 2 million new places provided. The number of children in the maintained schools has risen by nearly 1 million, or by about one-sixth. The number of teachers has risen by about 50,000, or by nearly a quarter. An increase of 50,000 teachers is remarkable when we remember that the students for the training colleges have so far had to be found from the very small age groups born just before the war, and that the competition to employ this small number of school leavers each year has been far greater than ever before.
In these circumstances, it has been a real achievement to secure even a modest improvement in staffing standards. Nevertheless, as is very well known, the number of over-size classes is still very serious. In January, 1959, a quarter of the primary school children were in classes of over 40 and two-thirds of the seniors were in classes over 30; or, to put that another way, 1 million junior children and 1¾ million senior school children were in over-size classes.
I should like to remind the House that four factors have postponed the date when we could hope to do away with this handicap to good teaching. First, unexpected increases in the birth rate have compelled us more than once to revise upwards our estimate of future child population. For example, only five years ago—it seems incredible, but it is true—we were told that the number of children on school roll in 1967, after the bulge had passed, would be 6 million We now expect that there will be 7 million at the same date.
The second factor working against reducing class sizes is the very welcome increase in voluntary staying on at school beyond 15. Almost a third of the 15-year-olds are now in school compared with a quarter three years ago. That is an increase of about 70,000 over the period.
Thirdly, the wastage from the teaching profession has been considerably greater than we expected. Each year since 1957 more young women have left to get married and to start families. Whatever differences of opinion there may be about the present level of activity in the economy, I can find no one who expects a reversal of this boom in early matrimony. We do not quite know what allowance to make for wastage in the next ten years.
Fourthly—and this is the only one of the four factors which is under our own control—we have introduced the three-year training course for teachers in place of the two-year course. This reform was essential, but the price to be paid is the loss in 1962 of more than 10,000 new teachers from the training colleges. I should perhaps warn the House that in that year some areas of the country are bound to be seriously affected.
Surely only one conclusion can be drawn from these facts and forecasts: teacher supply is the most urgent problem. We have to face up to this, with or without the Crowther Report, and before we add by statute to the number of children on the school rolls, over-size classes must be very greatly reduced.
How, then, can we get more teachers? For the immediate years ahead we have worked out some new plans, the details of which the Parliamentary Secretary, if he catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, will explain later in the debate. A short-term campaign will be pressed with vigour to recruit from all the sources now open to us. We cannot expect very big results from this, but among the more promising sources are the recruitment of more graduates, the return of more married women to the profession, and the provision of more one and two-year courses for mature students.
In the longer term the supply of teachers must depend on the output of the training colleges. Here, we started with 23,000 places which, with a two-year course and the maximum crowding of students, are now producing 12,000 new teachers a year. Then came the decision to lengthen the course by a year. To meet the loss in output it was decided to increase the 23,000 places to 39,000 places, which operation is now in hand and will be completed by 1963. The output of teachers for our schools from the 39,000 places, if the colleges are not too overcrowded—and we must stop the overcrowding—and if we are to reserve a reasonable number of places for overseas students, as I am sure the House wishes us to do, cannot be more than 13,000 a year, at best, on the three-year course. That is not good enough.
When the Crowther Report reached me I consulted the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers on the implications of the Report, and particularly I had this problem of over-size classes in mind. The Council recommended that we should add to the present programme a further 8,000 places. We have accepted its recommendation in principle. How soon we can achieve it must, as the House will realise, depend upon a number of factors which we are now examining.
If all these plans turn out well—and I have every hope that they will—these over-size classes can be eliminated by 1970. By the same date, if it were decided that it would be wise to do so, the school-leaving age could be raised without involving schools in more than a temporary and bearable slowing up in the reduction of over-size classes.
The fourth and last condition for raising the age, and in its way as vital as any, is that public opinion should fully support such a step.
When the right hon. Member speaks of over-size classes, what standard is he accepting for the primary schools? Is he accepting classes of 30 in primary schools as the standard?
In primary schools 40 and in secondary schools 30.
As I said, the last condition is that public opinion should fully support the raising of the age. I hope that the House will allow me to dwell on this point for a moment. The Report underlines in a very good passage the recent changes in social and economic conditions: full employment, the advances in science and technology, the advances in the schools themselves, the earlier marriage of girls and the earlier maturity of boys.
All these changes take time to work their way through our society and to produce new and accepted relationships between life in school and life in the world beyond school. We cannot be sure that this quiet revolution has run its course, or that tendencies so marked today as the increase in both earnings and leisure are likely to come to a full stop in the next decade.
I am not disputing that the boys and girls of this decade would benefit by full-time education until they are 16, once the teachers are available. What I am suggesting is that the earlier maturity of these boys and girls and their robust, if at times awkward, independence puts a premium on getting as many as possible to remain in full-time education voluntarily. The nearer that girls get to marriage and the more that boys feel themselves as good as grown up, the less some of them respond to compulsion and the more they benefit if, of their own free will, they accept the discipline of full-time education and the deferment of earning money.
As I have already mentioned, more boys and girls are staying on every year beyond 15. Her Majesty's inspectors are repeatedly telling me of schools where staying on suddenly becomes the fashion. First, the able children and those from the more responsible homes take the lead and set the example. It catches on. Others follow. Indeed, this is the most practical way of raising the school age while teachers are still in such short supply.
I will sum up the Government's policy on the raising of the school-leaving age as follows: we agree to the principle of compulsory full-time education up to the age of 16. But before that principle can be put into practice, there are several essential minimum conditions which must be satisfied. In particular, we regard the elimination of over-size classes as our first and overriding priority. We therefore propose to intensify the recruiting campaign for teachers, to make all speed with the expansion of the training colleges now in hand, and later to add another 8,000 places. This should enable us, before the end of this Parliament, to make a decision about the school-leaving age.
Having agreed with the Council in principle that the school age should be raised to 16, we come to its second challenge, which is to give priority to raising the age over the introduction of county colleges, but, at the same time, to announce our intention, supported by a programme of action by stages, to provide in county colleges part-time education for all up to 18.
On the question of priority, the Government agree with the Council that if we have to choose now to introduce one reform before the other, raising the school age should come first. There are three basic arguments for this order of priority, on the assumption that the choice has to be made now. First, we have as yet very little practical experience of providing the kind of general, largely non-vocational courses which large numbers of county college students would require.
Secondly, it follows from the first point that we do not know enough about the kind of teacher who would be best suited to this job. Teaching young workers of 16 and 17 in part-time classes subjects not connected with their jobs is a very different thing from teaching full-time secondary modern pupils of 14 and 15, although I must say that a good number of secondary modern school teachers, who work part-time in technical colleges, have shown that they know how to do it. No doubt we could find the teachers eventually, but it would be a very difficult experiment and at present there is very little experience of training them, except in the three technical teacher training colleges.
Finally, if county colleges were introduced first, there would be all the expense and effort of providing for the 15-year-olds, who would later disappear when the school age was raised. Moreover, Crowther recognises that if we raise the age first, the teachers to make part-time further education compulsory for all could not be found until the middle 1970s. This is a long time ahead, and there may well be as many changes in education and society during the next fifteen years as there have been during the past fifteen years. We cannot foresee today the reaction of the 16 and 17-year-olds to the social and economic conditions of the 1970s.
But although the doubts and the difficulties about compulsion so far ahead must remain unresolved today, the Government intend to press on with the voluntary further education of the 16 and 17-year-olds. We have done a very great deal in the last five years. On coming back to the Ministry of Education, nothing has been more satisfactory to me than to see the way in which the technical college programme has advanced in the last three or four years. We are now ready to go much further on a broader front. But before I pass to our plans for doing that, there is one more point of importance, which I almost forgot to make, about the county colleges.
The Central Advisory Council endorsed the 1944 concept of these colleges as something separate from the rest of further education. The Government have come to a rather different view on account of developments that have taken place since the war and particularly since the White Paper on Technical Education was published in 1956. The technical college programme is expanding all the time. We already have, well spaced in England and Wales, about 300 local colleges whose work is centred on the needs of the under 20s and, broadly speaking, does not go beyond the academic level of the sixth form. A few of these colleges are running courses of the county college type. Many of them have active student unions and are developing a good range of social and recreational activities.
The Government believe that these colleges form a natural focus for the development of county college work. Of course, they are not the only instrument. The village college in Cambridgeshire, for example, has become an educational and social centre for the whole surrounding area. We are sure that the modern teenager can be attracted to further education in many different ways, and we do not think that we should contemplate the expense of separate buildings where the existing ones can be made to do the job satisfactorily.
There are advantages, in my view, of having more than one kind of further education in one centre. What we propose is to intensify the drive to expand further education of all kinds on a voluntary basis and to keep an open mind until we have more experience about the ultimate desirability of putting compulsion on the students.
An important aspect of the Report deals with the provision of much improved arrangements for courses in technical colleges. The Parliamentary Secretary will explain to the House that the Ministry has plans for a big advance here which go beyond Crowther. But better courses will not help unless there are enough students. I must, therefore, say just a word about the unsatisfactory rate of increase in day-release attendance at technical colleges. To be frank, day-release is far too patchy today. Too many employers of the boys do not see how their own firms would benefit, let alone the boys themselves, from the training that can be obtained in a technical college, and far too many employers of girls simply will not look at it at all.
We have been considering what to do about this. One measure we could take would be to introduce compulsion on the employer to give the young worker the right to claim release to attend an approved course of further education. The Central Advisory Council considered this and rejected it, but the Government find that the arguments in favour of it are stronger than the Council allowed, and we shall, therefore, explore seriously the possibility of giving the young worker the right to claim release. Some industries, and probably agriculture, would find it easier to give block release at a dead season in the year rather than one day a week right round the year.
I shall have discussions on this proposal, which could not be introduced for some little time, with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, with local authorities and with industry.
I know that is a view which was in the minds of those on the Crowther Council who rejected this idea. I think that we shall have to discuss this very carefully to see whether we cannot overcome that, because I am convinced myself that unless we give young workers the right—I think particularly the girls—we shall never get this further education properly developed.
I turn to the chapter in the Report on the sixth form. I regret that so many of our education debates have had to be devoted almost entirely to bricks and mortar and to the organisation of the system. We hardly ever discuss what is taught to the 7 million boys and girls in the maintained schools. We treat the curriculum as though it were a subject, like the other place, about which it is "not done" for us to make remarks. I should like the House to say that this reticence has been overdone. Of course, Parliament would never attempt to dictate the curriculum, but, from time to time, we could with advantage express views on what is taught in schools and in training colleges.
As for the Ministry of Education itself, my Department has the unique advan- tage of the countrywide experience of Her Majesty's inspectors. Nowhere in the Kingdom is there such a rich source of information or such a constant exchange of ideas on all that goes on in the schools. I shall, therefore, try in the future to make the Ministry's own voice heard rather more often, more positively, and, no doubt, sometimes more controversially.
For this purpose we shall need to undertake inside the Department more educational research and to strengthen our statistical services. Crowther, in paragraph 697 of the Report, prodded us to do this and action is now in hand. In the meantime, the section in the Report on the sixth form is an irresistible invitation for a sally into the secret garden of the curriculum.
Whether sixth forms are in independent schools, grammar schools or comprehensive schools, the great majority of the nation's leaders are taught in them, and we must pay attention when sixth-form teachers tell us that all is not well with their work. It is particularly alarming to hear that the competition for a boy or girl to get into the university of their choice, compels teachers—they have no choice—to start specialisation too early, and to confine the curriculum too narrowly.
Crowther wisely calls for less specialisation—one-third of the time to be left free for non-specialist subjects. We can certainly agree about this. But does the Report here go far enough? I can see that schools like Winchester College and Manchester Grammar School, with all their staffing advantages, can take a large chunk of specialisation in their stride and yet give a broad general education. But what about the average grammar school or sixth form in a comprehensive school, in which many boys and girls are first-generation grammar school pupils?
In these schools, the race to get to a university is doing great harm. As things are today, so fierce is the competition that many of them would not dare to reduce specialisation even as far as Crowther wants. Personally, I would like to go to one-half of the curriculum, but that, of course, is not possible today. One can imagine how quickly parents would be up in arms if a grammar school sacrificed specialisation in the interests of a broader education only to find that their boys and girls could not compete successfully for a university place.
The conclusion is inescapable. Many more university places must be available, and the rules of the competition to get into a university must be modified if the sixth forms are to have the time to teach English thoroughly, and to teach more science to the arts specialists and more of the arts to the scientists. The universities are alive to all this. I have had a very helpful response from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, and I am sure that they will do all that they can to co-operate with the schools, and to encourage changes in the right direction.
This will not be by any means easy. It will require a very great effort, and I believe that an expression of opinion on the subject by the House today would be of great value.
Would not the Minister agree that the root of the trouble lies in the kind of paper set for university scholarships, that at any time during the last fifty years grammar school masters would have jumped at the opportunity to do the sixth-form work the right hon. Gentleman has in mind if it were not for the fact that they are geared to the university system?
I agree substantially with the hon. Gentleman, and I think that more attention might have been paid in that admirable section of the Report to the very large number of sixth-form pupils who are not aiming at a university at all, but whose work is conditioned by the interests of those who are.
On the question of university places, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as the House is aware, has authorised the University Grants Committee to discuss with the universities a further expansion of 35,000 to 40,000 places by about 1970, over and above the present target figure of 135,000 to be available by the later 1960s. That is a very big operation.
In the same field of sixth form work, the Secondary School Examinations Council is studying the arrangements for examinations at the advanced level of G.C.E. On this I must, again, sound a note of warning. The value of a reform of G.C.E. can be fully realised only if the universities and their faculties shape their entrance requirements so that the schools are given the best chance to broaden the curriculum, while maintaining adequate specialisation.
I come now to the last section, which deals with the finance of the education service. The Crowther Council estimated the cost of its proposals at £200 million to £250 million a year, and expressed the view that the country could afford to raise the school age to 16, and to provide part-time education for all up to 18. Naturally enough, the Council considered only the cost of its own recommendations. It was not its business to compute the far greater additional expenditure already implicit in our present policies—foremost of which I have put the elimination of over-sized classes—and which cover the whole of the building programmes for the schools and technical colleges.
However, we are committed to these policies, and at this point I shall give some figures which the House will certainly wish to consider. The annual cost of education for England and Wales, which is shared between the Exchequer and the local authorities, was £280 million in 1950–51 and is now, ten years later, just short of £700 million a year. The universities are not included in these figures. Making no allowance for any of Crowther's recommendations, this £700 million, as we continue the drive to put the present policies into effect, will have risen by the end of the decade by one-half and, by the middle of the 1970s, by four-fifths.
There are two points to be made about these estimates. First, they cannot possibly tell the whole story. They do not cover the additional teacher training college places that I have announced today. Nor is any part of the £250 million for Crowther's main recommendations included, and I shall be reminded that there are many other strong claimants— the nursery schools, adult education and better provision for handicapped children. The second point is that while we all expect the gross national product to rise substantially, it would be a bold man who would assert that it will rise as fast as the cost of education.
These, then, are the financial consequences of our present and prospective education policies. I believe that Crowther renders us a great service in directing attention to them. We are this afternoon, as the Council asked, looking ahead into the 1970s, and we see that the cost of education is then likely to be £1,400 or £1,500 million a year.
At the end of this debate the House will have to say whether it thinks it right for us to commit ourselves to policies which must inevitably claim, year by year, a growing slice of the national income. The Government wish to make their own position plain. We are convinced that even if it means sacrifices in other directions the money must be found for education.
For that decision there are two well-known reasons. I need not remind hon. Members of the consequences of falling behind other countries in the quality of our schools, colleges and universities. Our population is comparatively static. We live in narrow and crowded islands poorly furnished with raw materials. Each succeeding generation depends on its knowledge, skills, adaptability and character to maintain the influence of our country in the affairs of the world.
For these national objectives a high standard of education is essential, and this is a very strong argument for meeting the cost, an argument which will take us a long way, but not, I think, far enough.
I would expect that if we relied solely on this argument, then when the bill for education was £200 or £300 million a year more than it is today, loud objections would be heard to spending any more money on the C and D streams in secondary modern and comprehensive schools. We should be told that to give these children non-vocational courses after the age of 15 was a waste of resources judged by its economic return.
For my part, I would contest that argument even on economic grounds but, fortunately, a stronger argument exists and has only to be stated to convince: education is the response which a free society makes to the claims of each individual child to be cared for, not for what he produces, but for what he is. We must remain a strong nation—of course, we must—but we must also be seen to believe that our society is made for the individual and not the individual for the Society.
Looking ahead, we can foresee that the individual young people of the next decade will find that life has much to offer besides earning their bread and butter. Poverty, we may suppose, will be banished by science, and, as work gets easier and more productive, the use to which his leisure is put will bulk larger in every man's life and may well determine what sort of man he is to be.
Here, education will be indispensable. We know that school cannot replace home or religion, but in addition to the basic skills it can give boys and girls a sense of values, introduce them to literature and the arts, and teach them good manners. It is this all-round education which a free and affluent society owes to every child, and we are going to provide it for its own sake and not just because it may be an answer to the Communists.
In this Parliament we will try to take the longest possible step towards carrying out the 1944 Act. While we are recruiting many more teachers, the right policy is to encourage voluntary staying on at school and voluntary attendance at technical colleges. If the volunteers increase, as we hope, so rapidly that further compulsion becomes unnecessary, would not that be a triumph for a free society? If that does not happen then a future Parliament may have to consider a further measure of compulsion.
In short, while my right hon. Friends are in office we shall not allow the pace of this educational advance to slacken, and we shall ask Parliament for the money to maintain the momentum. We hope that the House will agree that we have found the right way to carry out the Crowther Report, that the measures I have outlined here are in the true interests of the children themselves, and that that must always be the test of educational reform.
On one thing at least we can all agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education, and that is in his expression of appreciation to the Advisory Council for the Report which it has submitted to him. I cannot remember a Government publication which I read with greater ease or with keener appreciation. All of us must have had two principal reactions to the Report. The first was one of pleasure at the warm, human sympathy and vivid imagery with which it was prepared. We all owe a debt to Sir Geoffrey Crowther and his colleagues, and not least to Mr. David Ayerst, whose command of English helped to make the Report so readable.
Our second reaction must have been one of dismay that so many opportunities have been lost in the past, and that so many of the desirable objectives that the Council set out could have been achieved at almost any time since 1918. On our side of the House, the dismay that we felt has been alleviated only to a limited extent by the right hon. Gentleman's speech.
In the Motion which he has moved, the Government are welcoming the Report as a basis for the formation of policy in the next twenty years, but I doubt whether the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, or my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who were the authors of the 1944 Act, will derive any considerable satisfaction from knowing that some of the principal objectives of that Act will not be achieved until thirty-six years after it was passed.
Meanwhile, we are wasting valuable wealth which the nation cannot spare and, as I think all hon. Gentlemen will agree, we are perpetrating a grave social injustice. It is absurd to talk of equality of opportunity when we study some of the facts that the Council has brought to our notice. Of National Service men, half in the top 20 per cent. of ability left school at the age of 15. Only one in eight of our young people is receiving full-time education at the age of 17. In 1958, there were 43,000 classes in secondary schools which were over-size. Between the ages of 15 and 17 only one in five boys and one in twenty girls are getting part-time education. Only about one in twenty of our young people is going to university. It is true that this is rather better than in Turkey and Iceland, but, nevertheless, it places us twenty-fifth down the list of countries.
Because of the injustice and inequality which has been revealed, we welcome the Crowther proposals in broad terms and want to see them implemented. We have, therefore, tabled an Amendment to the Motion, which my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) will move at a later stage in the debate, and which we hope the Government will be able to accept. As the right hon. Gentleman has agreed in principle to most of the things that the Crowther Committee has suggested, it is difficult to see how the Government will be able to resist our Amendment. But if the Minister does refuse to accept it, we are bound to be apprehensive that the "stop-and-go" policy of the last few years is to be repeated. I assure the Government that if they accept our Amendment, and proceed with these reforms, we shall give them all the help we can, especially in proposals which need legislation.
We believe that firm action—and more positive action than the Minister has so far suggested—is needed. As Sir Geoffrey Crowther said at Leeds on 5th February, the Report could be regarded either as a text book for debate, or as a plan for action. Sir Geoffrey went on to say that if it was to be regarded as a plan for action agreement on the plan must be speedy and action must be taken by the Minister. We hold the view that the Report has given us an overall strategy for educational development and that we must not miss what the Vice-Chancellor of Manchester University has called "the opportunity of the century".
Perhaps it will help the House if I state the Opposition's attitude to the main recommendations of the Council. I want, first, to talk about raising the school-leaving age, because that is something which has been part of the policy of the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress for a very long time. We deplore the waste of ability which is inherent in the present situation. We believe that it is wrong to thrust young people out into the world at a time of maximum physical and emotional strain.
That is a point of view which has been emphasised by the Labour Party on a number of occasions, most recently in the document "The Younger Generation", where we urged the need for fixing a date and, in the meantime, getting rid of over-sized classes. We agree with the right hon. Gentleman about the overriding need for getting rid of over-sized classes, but I am sure that the right hon.
Gentleman has not forgotten paragraph 244 of the Report itself. I remind the House of what the Report says:
The problem of educational advance is often represented as a difficult choice between smaller classes on the one hand and some single step forward on the other, such as raising the school-leaving age or introducing county colleges. This seems to us to be a wrong antithesis. A reduction in the size of classes is, or ought to be, a continuing process until the optimum size is reached. Whenever a major reform is introduced, there is bound to be a temporary worsening of the pupil-teacher ratio, but this deterioration should only be of short duration, provided that the supply position is carefully watched.
Perhaps the most important part of that observation lies in the last phrase.
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the pupil-teacher ratio is an entirely different proposition from a reduction in the size of classes, which is altogether another problem, as in some schools there are "floating" teachers, so that a pupil-teacher ratio of one to seventeen is obtained, although it is quite possible for the size of classes to be 30. 40, or more?
That is quite possible, but it is not an entirely different thing. We cannot discuss the size of classes without discussing the pupil-teacher ratio, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman himself will be the first to admit.
We realise, as the Minister said, that voluntary staying on at school is increasing. Some local education authorities have been particularly successful in that direction. But we believe that the weakness of the present voluntary system is that those who most need the extra year are the least likely to get it. I therefore join issue with the right hon. Gentleman and feel that some measure of compulsion is required in this respect.
We should like to raise the school-leaving age at the earliest possible date and we accept the view of Sir Geoffrey Crowther and his colleagues that it must be in one of the three years between 1966 and 1969. Earlier than that would be quite out of the question, and later new difficulties will have emerged. Moreover, we are inclined, with very great reluctance, to the view that the Government's past failures in respect of the training of teachers, combined with spasmodic interruptions of local authority plans, have meant that it is now not practicable to raise it until later rather than earlier in the three-year period suggested in the Report—otherwise, the effect of overcrowding would be disastrous.
I referred to the past failures of the Government and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not try to argue that those are due only to fluctuations in the birth rate. On 21st July, 1955, my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) asked the right hon. Gentleman, who was Minister of Education at that time, too, whether he would
consider the necessity of making provision for more training college accommodation".
The right hon. Gentleman said:
That is a rather difficult question. By the time we could increase the training college provision, we should have come to a different period in the size of the school rolls; and by, say, 1959–60 we should really be considering a three-year training course rather than increasing the number of teachers.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) pressed the Minister further and spoke about the need for reducing the size of classes as well as adopting the three-year course. The Minister said:
I am, of course, always thinking about this matter, but there are many other advances that we desire to make. If the hon. Lady would let me explain the timetable to her, I think she would appreciate that it is really too late to make a big extra provision in training colleges."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1955; Vol. 544, c. 556–7.]
The following year, on 25th July, 1956, the right hon. Gentleman made another statement on the same problem. He said:
It is now too late to build any more training colleges. They would come into service only in 1958, and first students to enter the schools would pass out of those colleges only in 1960, by which date the school population will be declining and we shall be thinking rather of a three-year training course than of increasing the number of places in the colleges.
Therefore, I have urged all the training colleges to squeeze in more students now where they can … "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th July, 1956; Vol. 557, c. 445–6.]
The right hon. Gentleman encouraged us vastly by adding that by those means Birmingham, he thought, would be able to take 20 or 30 more students, and that if all the training colleges could take
six or seven more each a total increase of 1,000 would be obtained.
It is quite clear that at that time the right hon. Gentleman was not seriously looking forward to an expansion of our teacher-training programme in order to reduce the size of classes and to raise the school-leaving age within the foreseeable future. As my hon. Friends pointed out in a debate last year, because of the dilatoriness which the Government have shown in the past, approximately 3,000 potential teachers were lost to the profession in 1958 alone.
After the right hon. Gentleman left office, worse was to follow. In September, 1958, the then Minister of Education rejected the advice of the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers that 16,000 additional places should be provided. The right hon. Gentleman agreed to an addition of 12,000. Then, in June, 1959, he changed his mind and approved a further 4,000. But that figure, of course, did not include provision for raising the school-leaving age, for reducing primary classes to 30, or for establishing county colleges. Now, against that background, we have to consider what is the need at present.
To say how many teachers are needed is a difficult problem, for none of us can be certain, because of the various imponderables which are involved—and the right hon. Gentleman, above all others, should be sympathetic to anybody who makes wrong estimates on a matter of this kind. I have had to rely on a paper and pencil and such advice as is available to an Opposition, but it seems to me that if the school-leaving age is to be raised in 1969 with a pupil-teacher ratio in secondary schools of one to sixteen, we should need 355,000 teachers; if the ratio is to be one to nineteen, which is the very minimum tolerable, we should need 325,000 teachers. If, on the other hand, we were to aim at ensuring that all classes, both in primary and in secondary schools, were not larger than 30, the figure would be about 400,000 teachers, rising to about 420,000 in 1972.
That seems to be the sort of target at which we should be aiming, or, at any rate, something rather more ambitious than the target which the right hon. Gentleman has set before himself today of 30 in secondary schools and 40 in primary schools. Nobody seriously believes that the foundations of education can properly be laid in a class where there is one teacher looking after 40 children. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will raise his sights just a little higher.
Now, perhaps, I could turn to the question of supply. I worked out last night the increase in the number of teachers which would be produced by certain expansions of the training programme. The right hon. Gentleman told us this afternoon that he accepted in principle the proposals for 8,000 additional places, but he could not give us the details of that expansion. He hoped, however, that over-sized classes could be abolished by 1970, and when he said "over-size" he meant 40 in the case of primary schools and 30 in the case of secondary schools.
According to my calculation, if we were to have 4,000 additional places ready by September, 1964, bringing the number of additional places up to 20,000, we should have 325,000 teachers available in 1969. If another additional 4,000 places were to be ready by September, 1965, we should have 329,000 teachers available in 1969. That means that we should have just about the number needed for raising the school-leaving age and establishing a ratio of one to nineteen in our secondary schools, but after 1969, of course, the new bulge begins.
I am not certain whether the Minister has looked quite far enough ahead and, therefore, while deploring the Ministry's apathy in the past, we must deprecate its lack of foresight for the future. We consider that the somewhat imprecise plans that the right hon. Gentleman sketched out are inadequate for raising the school-leaving age and for reducing all classes to 30.
Moreover, there are six additional factors to which proper weight does not seem to have been given by the Minister. First, expansion of our teacher training programme takes more teachers away from the schools. Secondly, we have to meet the demand of the youth services for trained leaders, and undoubtedly some of them will come from the teaching profession. Thirdly, if the number of university places is to be increased to the present proposed level of 170,000, a level which may well be 180,000 or 200,000 by the end of the decade, more university teachers will be needed, and they will have to be recruited either from graduates or from those who are at present teaching in the schools.
Fourthly, at some stage we have to start training the additional teachers for the county colleges. Fifthly, if there is the extension of day-release, which the right hon. Gentleman has outlined, that again will make bigger demands on the teaching profession. Finally, if there is a slump, no doubt there will be a larger number of pupils staying on voluntarily at school.
I was, therefore, a little disappointed that the Minister had so little to say about the Government's plans for a campaign to recruit additional teachers, but I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary, to whom we always listen with pleasure, will be able to expand on what was said by his right hon. Friend. After all, the Crowther Committee particularly called for a real recruiting drive. It seems to me a pity that it should be left now to organisations like the National Union of Teachers to conduct the recruiting campaign on its own, and that perhaps the Ministry might be rather more forthcoming in that respect. But, however good the Ministry's campaign is, we ought not to overlook the views of the Crowther Committee when it says, on page 471 of its Report:
No campaign, however, will succeed unless the material rewards of teaching compare favourably with those of other professions open to the graduate.
I confess that that is a point of view with which I have great sympathy in spite of recent increases in teachers' pay, because I have never felt that a sense of vocation ought to involve financial hardship, and it is difficult to see how we shall get teachers when the rewards in industry, particularly for scientists, are so much greater than in the teaching profession. I should like to hear the Parliamentary Secretary's views upon that aspect of the matter.
There is one other aspect of the recruitment of teachers about which we particularly complain, and that is the Ministry's attitude to what are called mature students. On 12th December the Minister replied to a Question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden), and other hon. Members. The Answer that he gave improved the situation, but, nevertheless, we are left with the position that the Ministry of Education will not give dependants' grants to mature students other than those attending one-year courses, or shortened two-year revisions of the three-year course.
Thus, if a mature student is taking the normal three-year course, he cannot get an allowance for his dependants, and the House will readily appreciate that this causes great hardship and, I think, indefensible discrepancies in the relative positions of students working side by side. I ask the Minister to consider whether niggardliness of this kind is calculated to encourage people into the profession.
I have spoken at some length on the question of the supply of teachers, because it is at the very heart of the problem. I know that there are those who argue that while the building and staffing positions are so bad no prudent Minister can commit himself to a definite programme —and that appears to be the view to which the right hon. Gentleman subscribes. We believe, on the other hand— and I was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that public opinion had showed that there were grave doubts about the wisdom of raising the school-leaving age—that the Minister must set a target now, and a target date, and then see whether his building and training programmes are adequate, otherwise I do not believe that the four conditions that the Minister laid down will be fulfilled.
I shall speak only briefly on the remaining problems. First, we have to consider whether the raising of the school-leaving age should take priority over the establishment of the county colleges. Like the right hon. Gentleman, we accept the three arguments of the Crowther Committee and believe that it is right that the raising of the school-leaving age should have priority. We are content with the Council's recommendation, and we shall certainly study with interest the Government's new concept of what a county college ought to be, but I hope that if the Minister is considering any sort of pilot scheme of the kind to which Sir Geoffrey Crowther referred he will consider implementing it rather earlier than Crowther suggested, so that if we are to have county colleges on a wider scale they will follow not too long after the raising of the school-leaving age.
Meanwhile, I want to welcome what the right hon. Gentleman had to say about the extension of day-release and block release. We welcome that very much indeed. It is in line with the recommendations of the Labour Party's Gardiner Commission on Youth, and we shall do what we can to help the right hon. Gentleman. We realise that there are difficulties of the kind to which my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) referred, but I do not believe that those difficulties are insuperable.
There is another point which I would like to put to the Minister at this stage. It is that he should do everything possible to encourage schools to change the teacher-pupil relationship into something more like the relationship between a tutor and the students so that in the head forms of schools there is more free time, less regimentation, no compulsion to wear uniforms, and no compulsion to play games.
On the question of exemption from compulsory attendance to the age of 16, the Crowther Committee was divided. I was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman appeared to place so little emphasis on the two points of view recommended in the Crowther Report. It seems to us that it would be wrong for there to be any further relaxation which would enable more children in the last year at school to be relieved from compulsory attendance at school. We say that on the ground that it seems to us that although there is, no doubt, a hard core in the last year at schools at present, it stems more from the inability of some schools to provide the right kind of education than from the inherent inability of all but a few to absorb the education which they receive. We should, therefore, deprecate any extention of the powers of local authorities.
The next question, of course, is whether there should be one, two or three leaving dates in the school year. We in the Labour Party have held that it is educationally desirable to have only one school-leaving date. We appreciate, however, that there are difficulties in the way of that—that it might provide employment problems of which a number of organisations are well aware—and we should welcome any move which the Minister makes to institute two school-leaving dates instead of the present three. I hope, therefore, that the Minister's talks with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour will be fruitful and that we shall see the necessary legislation at an early stage.
Finally, the Crowther Report has shown, I think, the value of this form of inquiry, and all of us would wish to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having set it up in the first place. I believe that there is a case for having the same sort of inquiry into the education of other age groups. We on these benches believe that there should be a Royal Commission on the future of the universities. Everybody is in favour of the expansion of the universities, but it is difficult to see to what extent they must be expanded until we know the place which they are to occupy, the function they are to discharge, and whether it will be practicable to staff them an the level that we should like to see. Until we get that expansion of our universities, however, we are bound to have the distortion of the curricula in our schools to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.
I should like to see, too, an investigation of a similar kind into our primary schools so that we could consider the effect on them of the system of selection at the age of 11. But, in the meantime, we have the Crowther Report. We regard it as a searchlight on a difficult road along which as a nation we have stumbled for too long. If the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary comes forward with more specific proposals for implementing the Report than we have heard so far, we shall do our best to help. But if we are doubtful about the effectiveness of the Ministry's action, or question its determination, we shall criticise and we shall prod. It is in that spirit that we have tabled the Amendment which my hon. Friend will move at a later stage of the debate.
There stands out in my memory, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, an occasion some ten years ago when I had the honour to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) in addressing a gathering of 26,000 people in a stadium better known as Rangers' Football Ground and adjacent to the constituency which I now have the honour to represent.
I thought that that occasion would remain in my memory as the sternest test that I was likely to endure. I had not at that time visualised making this speech. I know that it is an occasion well-nigh intolerable to each of us in turn and that it is made tolerable only by the traditional indulgence and good will which I now ask from you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and from hon. Members of the House. I am very grateful, however, that this, the first occasion on which I address the House, should be during a debate of this kind.
I have been closely and happily associated with young people for over twenty years. Before the war I brought a group of 12 to 16-year-olds to London for a week. I should like to remind hon. Members at that time it cost 25s. return to bring them from Central Scotland and that the cost of keeping each one of us in London for a whole week was 12s. 7¾d. per head. I should also like to say that these young people had saved 3d. a week for two years in order to take part in this venture. The difference, if I remember rightly, was made up by selling what we Scots call "taiblet". However, I recall that in at least one case the 3d. bit which was brought to me on the Monday night was returned surreptitiously by me to the child's mother the same night because that was the only 3d. that was going to be, or could be, contributed from that home. I was determined that no child should for financial reasons miss the venture.
These teen-agers were a revelation to me. They knew their history; they loved the ballet; they recited their Shakespeare with the company at Regent's Park; rather too loudly. They were prepared to spend hours in the National Gallery and they looked down on this House with absorbed interest. They did all this while retaining a vivid interest in the dead rats which they found washed up by Tower Bridge and while keeping an infallible eye open for old gentlemen who were most likely to provide them all with free ice cream.
At the outbreak of war a few weeks later I took some fifty teen-agers, who were scarcely older than those who had made the London visit, for a tented life on the east coast of Scotland. I remember that by November it was distinctly chilly there. One young woman had never owned a comb and another preferred to sleep on the ground as she had not been of the age group in her family which entitled her to qualify for a share of the bed. The former was later to be mentioned in brigade orders for bravery on duty during a fire and the latter was soon to become a kine theodolite operator and to be commissioned. Three years later when with a mixed anti-aircraft regiment, the average age of the 800 women who served in the regiment was, after 18 months' service, 20 years and four months.
At no time, even during the stress and strain of enemy attack on London, did these teen-agers fail to respond or prove themselves otherwise than completely capable of anything that they were asked to do. So by 1946, when I first became a member of an education committee, I was very conscious of two things relevant to our debate today, first the vastly change social and economic conditions of our young people, and second and by far the more important, that they had proved themselves capable of far greater things than opportunity had offered them so far.
Here I should like to pay tribute to what is being done and has been done for a long time in spare time and educational work through voluntary organisations which have been working tirelessly for years. No payment will ever compensate for the sacrifice of spare time and energy spent in this way, nor will the lure of "lolly" secure those best suited to this task. I had the honour to be chairman of the Scottish Association of Mixed and Girls' Clubs for some years after the war. No praise is too high for the paid staff or the voluntary workers associated with this and other movements of the kind.
But they need premises and the Government must be prepared to spend towards this aim, for teen-agers today earning £3 million a day in this country and spending it on the status symbols of clothes, smokes, sweets, and "pop" records will not respond to the drab. We, the public and Parliament, must be prepared, for example, to support the Y.M.C.A. which runs a skiffle group on a Sunday night and to remember that a well-led club of that kind can end a meeting with as fervent hymn singing as there was jiving half an hour before. In my constituency, in the town of Renfrew on the banks of the Clyde, there is today the very real problem of young people who are charged with loitering on a Sunday night. It is for us as a nation to provide a better alternative than this for the Sabbath day
In leadership lies the key. I have interviewed youth leaders for local authority clubs. All too few of quality are available and, therefore, it is essential that they should be trained so that youth work can expand and that those now in it can be encouraged in their very difficult and worth while task.
Nor should we forget the educational work, to which my right hon. Friend has referred, now being done in mining schools, trade schools and day-release classes. It is all too true that there are too few apprentices made available for those classes, but it has been my privilege to have been closely associated with some of these institutions and to have been inspired both by the zeal of the teachers and the enthusiasm of the pupils. I remember, for example, one teen-ager who bicycles ½ miles through a Scottish winter night to attend his mining class and bicycles the 12½ miles back on the same night and in any weather. It is for us to extend these facilities which will enable more of our teen-agers to take advantage of education of this kind.
How do we divide the teen-age group which we are thinking about today? When we talk of juvenile crime, do we realise that the figure for crime is 2 per cent. for boys and 0·2 per cent. for girls? That leaves 97 per cent. or thereabouts to benefit to some extent from the better conditions of today. I think it worth mentioning that many of those who have been associated with the teenagers have long since concluded that the "Teds" are not leaders; they are only those who are trying to keep up. Most of our young people have character and ability and, after all, a 20-year-old is what we in Scotland call "no blate": he knows all the answers and perhaps I may be excused for saying that hon. Members on this side of the House have good cause this year to remember with appreciation the energy and ability of our young people.
When we consider this Report, I would mention something that has not already been mentioned, and that is that we shall not, I hope, go to the extreme of imagining that all teen-agers are capable of university education, although they are indeed very capable of reaping the benefit of education up to that stage.
When I had the privilege to serve on the Secretary of State for Scotland's Advisory Council on Education we were forced to ask ourselves two questions: first, what is the size of the pool of ability; second, what is the size of the pool of educated manpower? As to the first question, it is a fact that 6 per cent. of pupils in any one year attain a leaving certificate or the G.C.E. or whatever is its modern equivalent. What I mean is that they attain university entrance standard, but research done by the Professor of Education in St. Andrew's University over the last twenty years, despite being interrupted by the war, convincingly suggests that there are some 10 per cent. to 11 per cent. of our young people capable of reaching this standard.
Thus wastage occurs because able pupils leave school prematurely. Although time does not permit me to analyse now the causes of this, it is a fact that although the percentage of an age group remaining at school has risen, appreciably, as my right hon. Friend has said, the achievement of success has not risen correspondingly. In other words, we are not yet catching all our able pupils. This may be used as an argument to raise the school-leaving age, a principle with which we all agree, but I should like to give point to my second question by saying what a different picture it shows.
In Scotland, for example, teaching requires some 300 more graduates a year than it did before the war. Yet Scottish universities are putting out today only 300 more graduates for all purposes in arts and pure science. Thus, whatever the will may be, the consequences of raising the school-leaving age would be indeed most serious in that respect. I have not forgotten the recommendation with which we are dealing is for 1965 to 1969. All I have done is to remember that we are some 3,000 teachers short in Scotland or 75 per cent. of the total, and that the figures for England, as we have already heard, are scarcely less alarming.
This leads me to my final question. What of the wastage both in schools and in the universities, and how is it to be overcome? Wider courses and more individual teaching would undoubtedly help, but for ten years I have interviewed unsatisfactory bursars and I have been struck by the fact that the transition from school to university has been too much for so many of them. The percentage wastage in Scottish universities varies from 5 per cent. to 29 per cent. of the intake of any one year. It averages over 20 per cent. and in one faculty in one university the wastage of graduates entering in 1952 was 38 per cent.
Therefore, I suggest that we examine three things so that we achieve a better percentage of our young people reaching their potential ability: first, the reasons for wastage within the schools, and these, as hon. Members know, are social as well as scholastic; second, the method of teaching in the last years of schooling and the first year at university, to try to narrow the gap and also to try to instil the discipline of learning; and lastly, where we can find any source which we are losing at present.
My hon. Friend the Civil Lord to the Admiralty said on 14th December:
In 1959, we drew our cadets from no less than 56 different independent schools. Perhaps the parents of public school boys, having paid considerable sums of money for the education of their children, may not always be in a position to pay further for a university education, and under the current regulations they may get little financial help with the university part of the education."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th December, 1959; Vol. 615, c. 1215]
That prompts me to suggest that in welcoming this Report we should have real vision towards a wider university education, and I hope that we may see free university education. By 1970 there will be 25 per cent. more university places, and there will be nearly twice as many 17-year-olds at school. I believe that the knowledge of equal opportunity irrespective of means and on a gauge of ability alone would lift a great burden of anxiety from parents and children alike. So many are already receiving assistance that I believe the cost would be less than it might seem to my right hon. Friend at this moment. I believe that in Scotland, if one were to take fees alone, the cost would be less than
£1 million. If one were to include the maintenance grant, it would perhaps be a figure of about four times that amount. I would not venture to suggest to the House what the comparable figures for England might be.
My direct ancestor sat in the Scottish Parliament 400 years ago when it passed the great Act in which the conception of compulsory and free schooling for all first appeared—if I may say so, nearly three centuries before its English counterpart. I hope to sit in the Parliament which enacts that university education shall be free to all those of the ability to graduate.
This is the first occasion when it has fallen to my lot to follow a maiden speaker, and I can say with great sincerity that it is no mere formality on this occasion to be able to compliment the hon. Lady the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) on what I believe was one of the most fluent and most convincing maiden speeches made in the House for a very long time. She brought to the debate a considerable experience, which I think enchanted the House, and which will undoubtedly in the years to come add very considerably to the value of our debates, and I hope she will join in many of them in the future.
First, I want to congratulate the Crowther Committee on achieving a Report which both in its analysis and its arguments, as well as its conclusions, is a very valuable document and is, I think, bound to be a landmark in educational history. I must at the same time commiserate with it on having to report to a Government who, I think I must in fairness say, have not today shown sufficient evidence of their determination to implement its recommendations, to use this as a final plan, to chart the future, to give real equality of opportunity and to fit our nation to meet the challenge which will increasingly come upon it in the years ahead.
There is no doubt that most of the things in the Report are well known to people who are interested in education— the fact that half the children of the country finish entirely with education after the age of 15, that only a quarter of that get any sort of further education and this is very patchy and very limited and entirely vocational, that only approximately 10 per cent. are engaged at all in education by the age of 17, and that only 3 per cent. of our young people get the opportunity of university education.
I think we can say that, despite the progress made in the last fifteen years, this is not a heartening picture. We do not appear to be a nation prepared to meet the challenge of the emerging nations throughout the world for whom education is a vital commodity and among whom there is a tremendous thirst and a tremendous determination to increase the opportunities for the young people to fit them for the challenge. It also shows that in the third of the young people who are below the 11-plus level, the young people who do not succeed in getting into the grammar schools, there is a tremendous waste of talent, a waste which this nation cannot afford in the years to come.
For me, one of the important things in the Crowther Committee's Report was the picture it painted of the children whom Dr. Elfed Thomas has recently termed "the under-privileged". Those children are, indeed, the failures of our educational system. We have a paradox of a widening educational opportunity without a corresponding advance in culture, and, worse than this, for many of these young people, the lower third in ability in our community, there is a growing sullen resentment at being at school and an ever-present desire to get away from school at the earliest possible moment.
The Minister has said that, in view of the raising of the school-leaving age, we ought to tackle the size of classes so as to prepare ourselves against the day when it will become effective. He has said that we shall seek to create a maximum in primary schools of forty. We have at the bottom end the 1, 2 or 3 per cent. of young people who are getting special educational treatment, for whom provision is made in varying ways by various authorities throughout the country. These are young people who have been ascertained as being in need of special educational treatment. They are expected by Statute to stay on till the age of 16. Yet we have children who, if the present circumstances continue, will be deprived of the additional year which I think is so vital to their development.
There is no doubt that many teachers in secondary modern schools would say, "For goodness sake, do not increase the leaving age at the moment when so many of our young people are in this state of mind." Frankly, I think they are mistaken. If we are to prepare our young people for the raising of the school-leaving age, we must do it not at the secondary stage alone. We must recognise that the foundation is laid at the very early stage of the primary school. We must recognise that it is only by giving a child an opportunity at the primary stage, between the ages of 5 and 11, to get its foot on the ladder of educational progress, and to get fluency in reading, that we can hope to develop confidence and the right attitude to work without which there can be no progress of a substantial kind in the secondary school—
I notice that the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Sydney Irving) has resumed his seat because he is not feeling well. I hope that he will quickly recover.
When I first arrived on this planet I made my "maiden speech" on the first day. I am told that it was raucous, incoherent and, so far as could be ascertained, ill-informed. Therefore, I was determined that when I first arrived in the House of Commons I would exercise a modicum of caution in the hope that when I had the temerity to address the House I might avoid the more distressing features of sound and fury that characterised my earlier effort. Indeed, I was prepared to wait much longer than this to make my maiden speech but for the importance of the subject and the fact that it is one of great interest in my constituency, Acton.
Acton, as every school boy—every primary school boy—knows, and as, I hope, most right hon. and hon. Gentlemen may be aware, is the most highly industrialised area south of the Birmingham-Coventry axis. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that I should want to say something about technical education.
In my constituency of Acton we have what is almost certainly—here perhaps I am being excessively modest—the finest technical college in the country. This is not only because Acton's Brunei College has an enthusiastic staff of high calibre, a fine modern building and excellent, if not lavish, equipment, but also because of the close co-operation which exists between some of our industrialists and the college in the matter of arranging, for example, sandwich courses. Here I do not refer exclusively to the curricula of the Acton Catering College.
Some industrialists in Acton are among the most enlightened in the country in the further education of their younger employees. I regret that I have to say only some of them, because the position will not be wholly satisfactory until not only all industrialists, but all employers of young people—girls as well as boys, as my right hon. Friend pointed out—are prepared to invest some of the working time of their younger employees in further education.
Nevertheless, we have in Acton a wealth of "know-how" on matters relating to vocational further education. My right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench could do much worse than consult the interested people and interested organisations in Acton on such important questions as block release and day release, on the need for non-vocational further education, and, indeed, on the very important question whether we have yet sufficient technical colleges to be able at this stage to switch some of our staffing and accommodation potential to the provision of non-vocational education.
As we have heard already, the Crowther Committee decided that county colleges with their non-vocational courses should be established only after raising the school-leaving age from. 15 to 16, which it does not envisage happening until the end of this decade. I hope that I may say a few words about the extra compulsory year to be achieved by raising the school-leaving age without placing too great a strain on the indulgence of the House by being excessively controversial. Indeed, I shall try not to be controversial.
During the past three months I have been spending quite a lot of time visiting schools. Some of them—of course, the best of the ones I visited—were in Acton. I have also been talking to what I think is a fair cross-section of the school mistresses and school masters currently teaching in Acton. I have been chatting with many parents, and I have even been questioning children about the main provisions of the Crowther Report in general and the raising of the school-leaving age in particular. From all that I have seen and heard in the past few weeks—I have heard nearly all aspects of the question —it seems to be an inescapable conclusion that as our civilisation advances so must our education advance, both in quality and in quantity. I hope that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary noted that I mentioned "quality" first. Having underlined that point, may I go on to say that my general conclusion is, after all, only a recognition of what is happening already and has been happening already in this century.
As many hon. Members will be aware, it was the 1918 Act that finally raised the school-leaving age without exemption to 14. Even the earlier permissive Act was only sixty years ago. Raising the school-leaving age from 14 to 15 was first mentioned in the 1936 Act, though this could not be implemented until after the war. as all hon. Members know.
In the light of the history of education in this century, a new raising of the school-leaving age is, after all, only an extension of and a development from earlier rises in the school-leaving age. Obviously, I do not suggest that we should continue the trend ad infinitum. Nevertheless, I do not think that we have yet reached the limit in education. I shall certainly be surprised, like other speakers, if we find much disagreement in the country on the principle of raising the school-leaving age. What I think is controversial is timing. I propose, therefore, to leave it to other hon. Members not making their maiden speeches to be particularly dogmatic on this point.
May I, however, endorse what my right hon. Friend said—I hope that he will not take this as a precedent—about fixing at this stage a precise date for raising the school-leaving age to 16. I, too, have a feeling that we need to see a little more progress in new school building, in teacher recruitment, in reducing the size of classes and, indeed, a little more progress in new training facilities for teachers.
I think, too, that we must do much hard thinking and carry out much research into what we are going to do and what shall be our aim for this final year when we raise the school-leaving age. I am advised that at present many children in their fifteenth year, fretting to cast off school discipline and to share in the admittedly attractive rewards for labour outside the classroom, become so unruly as to be almost completely unmanageable in the dying months of their school life. With an extra year's education before the final year, this tendency to un-ruliness may well decline, but I do not think that we should rely on this to any great extent, and I do not think that we can bank on it in our calculations.
What should be our aims for the final year when the school-leaving age is raised? I am not so bold as to suggest the curriculum, but let us think of it in terms of age. Do we want the children merely to be subjected to another year's imposed discipline in the hope that, being a little more mature, when they leave they will be the better able to exercise the self-discipline so necessary in this crowded community of ours? Or do we want to try to educate them a stage further in academic knowledge? This is the aim now with children who stay on voluntarily, because these are children who want to learn now and have the aptitude and keenness to learn more. But should it be the aim with more children when they are compelled to stay on for another year, or do we want to stimulate their curiosity about the community life around them and, having done so, help to channel their natural interests and aptitudes into responsible and responsive avenues during the difficult transition to full maturity?
There are a number of alternatives, but I will not add to or enlarge upon the three possible alternative aims I have suggested. One of my most vivid recollections of the first week's debate in this Parliament was an awful warning given to us by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). He said that particularly those of us who are new to the House must realise that there stretch out before us endless hours of infinite boredom which will be almost unendurable.
I have found membership of the House of Commons far more stimulating and exciting than I ever believed possible. However, while the right hon. Gentleman failed to convince me with his assertion, I confess that I liked his manner of making it. I hope that we shall not be deprived of his oratory in the House for very much longer. At the same time, I have no wish by any action of mine to increase the risk of his October prophecy coming true. While I cannot guarantee an absence of tedium, I can at least ensure that it will not, through my fault, stretch out into endless hours.
It is always a great privilege to follow a maiden speaker, and I welcome the opportunity of offering to the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Holland) the warm and sincere congratulations of myself and, I am sure, of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who had the privilege of hearing him. The hon. Gentleman spoke with such confidence and knew his subject so well that I am confident he will be an acquisition to our debates in the future. He said all the right things this afternoon. He is a fortunate man who is able in his maiden speech to bring both humour and good will and to please both Opposition and Government. I only hope that the hon. Gentleman will succeed in pleasing us as much in the future as he has today.
I wish also that it had been my privilege to congratulate the hon. Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson), and I gladly join with those hon. Members who have spoken in saying how stimulating her speech was. I very much enjoyed the way in which she related her experiences with teen-agers. When I made my maiden speech the present Minister of Education followed me, and, in a moment of weakness—I always remember the kind things that are said—he expressed the hope that he would hear me speak again. He cast his bread upon the waters then, and I am pleased to be able to say that I thought he made a far more encouraging speech tonight than he has made for a long time.
We must bear in mind the fact that it was a speech made after a General Election and not before, and it is significant when promises are made of things to be unfolded within the life of a Parliament, and not on the verge of a General Election. I regard the Crowther Report, as did the Minister, as one of the best and most influential contributions to educational advance made in this century. It reveals painstaking research, and it is obvious that careful and anxious thought underlies every recommendation.
The 'sixties are bound to be the teenagers' decade. The fact that there will be a 30 per cent. increase in the number of 18-year-olds during the next five years alone is a pointer to the special problems that confront us. It is difficult to realise the social and economic consequences of having 700,000 more 18-year-olds in five years' time than we have at present. At a time when there is more instability in family life than ever before, when the forces of materialism are pressing in upon us as never before, and when social values are undergoing great changes, it is more vital than ever that the House should be called upon to give serious consideration to the question of what is to be done for youth in the 1960s.
I welcome the encouraging sign that many more teen-agers are voluntarily staying on at school. This, in itself, is a tribute to the outstanding work that has been done in the secondary modern schools during the past decade. But we cannot forget that the Report came into being partly because of a national concern about juvenile delinquency and partly because of the social and economic changes which we all experience as we move into the age of technology. We just cannot survive unless we give a better deal to the teen-agers. We cannot meet our obligations of the 1960s and the 1970s unless we have a better-equipped and better-informed young generation.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Sydney Irving), who was unfortunately taken ill during his speech, was making the point that, although the the Crowther Report is concerned with secondary education, we must realise that in the secondary sphere we cannot repair any damage which is done in the primary sphere. The foundation of education is always more important than the superstructure, and if a lad leaves the primary school and enters the secondary stage unable to read or write —moving with an inferiority complex into a teenage group—he is an incipient juvenile delinquent. The first place to act generously and with speed is in the primary school, for that very reason, and I hope that the fact that we take the Crowther Report recommendations so seriously with regard to secondary schools means that we shall keep our priorities right. I am sure that no one in the House, and certainly not those with responsibility in the Ministry, will under-estimate the concern of the teaching profession on this point.
Teaching supply for the primary schools is as important as that for the secondary schools, and in the 1960s I hope that we shall insist that the quality recruited for primary schools is as good as that for the secondary schools. This afternoon the Minister reminded us that 3 per cent. of our national income—
If he did not, then he should have. In that case, I will remind the House that 3 per cent. of our national income is devoted to the education services. Professor Elvin, the Director of the London University Institute of Education, has estimated that this country spends 3 per cent., America spends 5 per cent. and Russia spends 10 per cent. of its national income on the education services. Professor Elvin is not a man to be treated with disrespect when he makes public a figure of this sort, and I am prepared to accept it. We have to spend even more than the Minister has indicated. The Minister gave us the very illuminating estimate of a 100 per cent. increase in expenditure by the middle 1970s, but when we count the cost of these services we must not fail to take into account the assets that we are creating by that expenditure. We hope that our national wealth will be increased by more than 100 per cent. in the same fantastic way that, thanks to the advances of science and technology, we have had a national increase during the past decade and a half.
The 1950s were depressing years, with one or two exceptions. The three-year period of training came in towards the end, and equal pay was granted. I would like to quote from an article which appeared in the Schoolmaster on 1st January of this year, written by Peter Quince, and dealing with the 1950s and the prospects for the 1960s. I am sure the Minister will agree that we must remember the background against which
we hope to move forward. The article reads:
The extent of the failure can best be measured by the fact that not one of the major promises of the Education Act has yet been fulfilled. Economy circular has followed economy circular, and cut has followed cut. Nursery education has almost disappeared. At the secondary level, about 10 per cent. of the age-group is still receiving its education in full-range schools. Buildings blacklisted as unsuitable in the 1920s"—
before some hon. Members were born—
are still being used as schools. And, as if to underline the failure, the last few days of the decade saw the publication of a high-power report which proposed raising the leaving age to sixteen by about 1968, or exactly 24 years after passing the Act.
I hope that we shall see a greater sense of urgency in fulfilling the recommendations of this Report than we have seen in connection with other education Reports.
Having said that, I will admit that I agree that the first priority is to reduce the size of classes. I am a schoolmaster by profession, and I know the sheer impossibility of education in a large class. It is little short of a national scandal that we have moved into the 1960s with so many overcrowded classes in our schools, for the cornerstone of all educational reform is a smaller class. This is undoubtedly the chief anxiety for teachers. Human talent is being wasted. As has already been said, rich veins of human talent are now untapped, and the teachers' time is wasted.
There are two priorities which have to be faced, and the Minister this afternoon showed that at least he knows what they are. The first is teacher supply and the second is building. If we are to have a successful campaign for recruitment to the profession, I naturally agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Rossen-dale (Mr. Greenwood) that teaching must be made more attractive. Of course, it is a noble calling that calls for high idealism. But high idealism does not pay the teachers' bills, and teachers, like everybody else, require social security. The Minister will have to bear in mind that one of the big anxieties of the teaching profession is the complete lack of a pension scheme for widows and teachers' orphans. The Minister must give his attention to this matter in order to make the profession attractive, because there is a deep uneasiness in the profession on this very question.
The problem of school buildings is one to which others of my hon. Friends will be referring, but I want to tell the Minister that there is a great deal of disappointment in the part of the world from which I come at the way in which he has already been reducing the building target there. I hope I shall be excused for making a constituency point, but we have the Canton Grammar School for Girls which is outmoded. Here we are talking of the "golden 'sixties" with opportunities for our teenagers, and yet in the middle of my division our young grammar school girls are in a building which Her Majesty's inspectors have condemned for years. I hope that apart from the high idealism, to which I gladly pay tribute, we shall have some sign of a renewed determination to give a better deal to the generation that is now in school. We have only one opportunity to serve each generation.
The main difficulty which confronted the Crowther Council was the question of priorities. I want the school-leaving age to be raised. I agree entirely with the National Union of Teachers that the year probably best suited to this is 1968 —that there should be five years' notice given of the raising of the age, because by that time we shall have grown accustomed to the three-year period of training for teachers and we shall have accommodated ourselves to the new teacher position. Local authorities will have been able to plan their administrative machinery, and by 1968 industry ought to be in a position to accommodate itself to the higher school leaving age.
I hope that we shall have from the Parliamentary Secretary tonight a sympathetic response to the idea that, without committing the next Parliament, he should indicate that the Government will set themselves a definite target date for the raising of the school age, and that within the Ministry it shall be known that this is the date at which we aim in order that there shall be a greater spur to their endeavour. It is largely because of the locust years, when the party opposite economised so much in the education system—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That is a matter of the history book. I should have thought that hon. Members would have known that.
The hon. Gentleman ought to put his feet down and stand on them if he wishes to address the House. Forgive me for speaking as a schoolmaster to a schoolmaster.
The past is the past, and we had better be content to leave it there. But we must all now realise that the future of our people is wrapped up with what energy, drive and decision the Minister of Education and Her Majesty's Government show in implementing the Crowther Report. I earnestly hope that the Minister and those associated with him will go all out to ensure that the highest aim that this Council mentioned in its Report will be fulfilled. I believe it is our obligation to the young and to the nation that this should be done.
It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), particularly when he has declared himself to be, as I think he ought to be, in complete agreement with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education.
I have listened and have found no reason for any suggestion of there being a party division or party strife on this matter. If I may highlight what the hon. Member has just said, which might be taken as criticism, it is that he would like pensions to be introduced for widows and orphans of teachers, and I fully agree with that suggestion. However, it is not a criticism because it is not relevant to our discussion today. His other possible criticism was urging upon the Minister the importance of the matter and the importance therefore of the time factor. This again is no difference because, in accepting what the Minister has said, he is no more than urging the importance and the urgency of what the Minister has decided upon as the Government's policy.
The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) made only one critical point, and that related to the question of computing future demands for teachers. He disclaimed any ability in this respect, as one of the great disadvantages in being a member of the Opposition, but surely he has only to turn to page 152 of the Report and the following passages to see that the whole job has already been done for him. Even then he admitted the difficulties: the facts are that the marriage rate and, therefore, the wastage of women teachers has thrown the whole of the calculations of the National Advisory Council on Training and Supply of Teachers hopelessly out of gear. Throughout the whole of this educational survey we shall be up against the unpredictability of the human factor so far as it affects not only teachers but also the marriage rate and the reproductive rate of the young mothers of this country. We must constantly battle hopefully against those odds, erring, I hope, on the side of generosity rather than on the side of shortage.
In my view, the Minister has been very well advised, and I fully support him when he puts his emphasis upon the voluntary principle. It seems to me that, at the age of 15 and thereafter, one really depends upon the voluntary approach of the student. While it may be possible, up to the age of 15, to build on compulsion put upon the parents— it is the father, after all, who is sent to gaol if the student does not attend— after 15 it is virtually impossible to base our system of education on a compulsory, punitive system, the butt of which is not the free person who exercises his discretion, namely, the young adolescent, but the rather helpless parent.
Is the hon. Gentleman saying that, even when we have sufficient teachers and adequate buildings, he will still be against the compulsory school age being raised to 16?
I say that the whole emphasis or onus changes with the advent of puberty from compulsion upon the parent to the persuasion of the child. Whatever one may say, the schools must make themselves so attractive and so worth while to adolescents at that age that the student will really wish to stay on at school. Let hon. Members really confess that the time which they really enjoyed during their own schooling was the time after they had passed into and beyond the age group to which I am referring, the time when they were really using their intellects, when they could argue with their teachers and the teachers encouraged them to do so. The whole of the educational process from that moment onwards becomes a part of the personal activity of the young sixth former. In the sixth form, things are completely different. The young person has status and self-respect. Bernard Shaw once said that self-respect comes even before bread as a human necessity. At that stage, the schools— the Minister makes this point—should go out of their way to make education so absorbing, so self-expressing and attractive that the young student may feel that he counts and that because he counts he wishes to stay on.
From now on, we shall be batting on a good wicket. In addition to better Sixth forms, better staffed, I hope, we shall be able to do more in helping the parent by maintenance allowances to join with the student in a co-operative effort to bring it about that he will voluntarily stay on at school. At the other end, as the Minister suggested, employment will be made less attractive in contrast as well as school leaving less impelling. After all, when it is possible for a young person to have maintenance allowances at school and on leaving school, the right—I welcome this very strongly—to claim release from employment for attendance at part-time day release courses as the alternative to full-time schooling, the contrast between the one and the other will be very much less and both parent and child may well jointly decide that it is better for the child to stay on at school. If they do not, then I think that the fault will lie with the school in not making its full-time course sufficiently attractive. Also, with more juvenile labour on the market, there will be a greater desire among the better or marginally good pupils to stay on at school and come out into the competitive employment system with the advantages which their various certificates and qualifications will give them.
Also, as a result of more teachers being available, there will be better teaching in the primary schools. Those in the marginal category at secondary schools, between 15 and 16, between 16 and 17, and even between 17 and 18, will have been better taught in the foundation stages. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West was absolutely right to say that it was at that stage that the foundation of all education is laid. He will remember, I am sure, that the Minister emphasised that he "would not put any advance before the elimination of over-size classes." In my view, there is much to be said for cutting the figure for primary schools even lower. I know what difficulties reading ability presents, because I have made a special study of the subject.
The main problem, of attracting and satisfying students in either a voluntary or compulsory system will, I think, be centred around the 20 to 30 per cent. of adolescents who habitually do not read because they find it irksome and who, moreover, linguistically cannot comprehend.
The House will be aware of two publications, Reading Ability and Standards of Reading — 1948–1956. which high-light the immense educational problem presented by the 20 to 30 per cent. of young people who are really unable to take advantage of the education which is put before them.
I come now to one of my few quarrels with the Crowther Report. I know that the Council had the advantage of Miss Green's membership, and that Kidbrooke School is a wonderful school, but I feel that it did not sufficiently appreciate the real difficulties presented to the school system by this indigestible porridge of 20 to 30 per cent. of adolescents who are habitual non-readers and who are really incapable of comprehending linguistically what they do read and, indeed, much of what is said to them.
On page 98, in paragraph 153, the Council asks the question:
Are modern schools as a whole too weak. …? Are they … making sure that all their pupils are decently literate.…?
The answer given later on is that
… a close and ruthless study … made with a view to determining the incidence of weakness in the basic subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic, led in the end to what we accept as a reassuring verdict.
I am sure that no hon. Member reading the two relatively recent reports on reading ability to which I have just referred—one of them is very recent— could possibly come to the conclusion that the situation is really so reassuring that there will be no problem centred upon what is to be done with those particular young people.
Secondly, I feel that the Crowther Report did not go far enough on the subject of juvenile delinquency. It stated that juvenile delinquency always went up towards the last year at school, before young people left and went out in to the world. It ought to have occurred to the Council to make inquiries about the groups among which such juvenile delinquency is found. I think it would be found—this is a pure guess—that such delinquency is confined to the last year at school of virtually only this group of which I am speaking.
Although there will be the occasional delinquent among sixth formers, among those enjoying their education in their later, and last, years, delinquency would be found to be largely in the non-reading younger group because delinquency is really the reaction of the child who knows he has been an educational failure all his life. He, in contrast to those who enter the sixth form, has no status to match his adolescence. He hates parading failure in front of his friends and hates being forced to continue to parade it for yet another year. He wants to leave and to try to excel in some other field. Before we commit ourselves in any way to a compulsory raising of the school leaving age, this problem ought to be seriously investigated and the true facts ascertained.
That leads straight to the Minister's point that we cannot use compulsion on parents until public opinion has been settled on the question of voluntariness or compulsion. As I say, I think that we shall have less and less leaving at 15. In the first place, we are to have smaller classes in primary schools. That should have a tremendous effect. Secondly, there will shortly be instituted some very interesting research into reading and the improvement of the teaching of reading which has not been seriously tried before. I believe that that research will have a very beneficial effect. Many adolescents of that class have very high intelligence quotients. Too much of the juvenile delinquency arises from the boy or girl with a very high I.Q. who, because he cannot read properly, finds himself frustrated in all his educational activities and linguistic abilities—his ten years of failure.
Finally, we shall have had the experience of the claims made against em- ployers for day release and of part-time day education in technical colleges. Knowing quite a bit about technical colleges, I can generally welcome that part of the Minister's proposals.
I think that we in this House tend to look down too much on part-time education. Page 7 of the Crowther Report shows that no less than 80 per cent. of our young people between 15 and 16 are attending either whole time or part-time evening or part-time day classes: that is to say that less than 20 per cent., the same figure which I gave for people who are so bad at reading, are not attending some kind of educational class, either voluntary day, voluntary evening or voluntary by day release from their employers. Between the ages of 15 and 16 the figure is still as high as 72 per cent. and between 17 and 18 years of age it is still as high as 60 per cent.
Some very interesting figures about part-time day release appeared in the publication of the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education for December. It is pointed out that
the engineering, shipbuilding and electrical goods industries in 1957 released 71·79 per cent. of their recruits aged 15 to 17 for part-time day studies
It is interesting to note the figures relating to other sections. Again I quote:
The professional services granted day release to 28·5 per cent. of their recruits, the distributive trades 7 per cent. and insurance and banking ·9 per cent.
No wonder the Minister was right to say that it is very patchy, but because it is patchy it is a matter that we know very little about and we should find out a great deal more. These intervening years in finding it out will be extraordinarily well spent.
Are not the figures for evening classes rather misleading, because they do not take account of the number of classes or amount of education involved? Probably in many cases it is a matter of a single attendance for a single course during the whole of the year.
No doubt there is a good deal of stage army about it, but as far as I know those are the figures after "the shakedown" has taken place. Anyone, like the hon. Member, who knows what happens in evening classes on enrolment night and the number of people who are enrolled realises that it would be ridiculous to quote figures in respect of merely the enrolment night. A certain time is allowed to elapse and then the various classes are moved about for reasons of economy in teaching what is left. I think that the figures have been based after that. Anyhow, that is one of the matters which I hope will be examined very carefully.
I have here a cutting from the Evening Standard of 9th February, entitled "Groping Teachers". It points out that whereas £12 million is spent on scientific, £4¼ million on agricultural and £3½ million on medical research making £20 million spent on scientific research, only £50,000 is spent on educational research. I am chairman of the Finance Committee of the Institute of Education of London University, to which reference has been made. It may be because education research is financed not by the Minister of Education but by the Treasury through the University Grants Committee, but to spend only £50,000 on educational research is ridiculously insufficient when we are to spend £1,400 to £1,500 million in the next ten years. I ask hon. Members to consider the percentage. It is less than ·;001 of the £700 million that we spend at present. The right hon. Member quoted the university and high school figures and compared nation with nation. I should like to know the comparative figures between nation and nation of what is spent on educational research.
There are so many things into which research could, indeed in any sensible dispensation would, be made. The first problem, I think, is what we are to do for people between the top grammar school flights and those below who will be attracted to stay on at school voluntarily. Obviously they will not want the same kind of classes as the others or the same as are now offered. Secondly, have we sorted out all the problems of the secondary modern school for getting people to stay on? To my certain knowledge, there is a big gap between the evening courses in preparation for the national certificate, starting from S1 and S2, and what is going on in the secondary modern school. Those should be integrated and the problem in terms of research first thoroughly investigated.
There is also the question of juvenile delinquency. The Home Office is doing something about this matter, but is it sufficiently related to the educational problem, and, indeed, can it be? There are also the questions of reading ability, day release for education and the question whether a year's earlier starting at nursery school might not be better. There has been no research in that sphere.
I want to end with the point with which I started. The Minister has accepted the Crowther Report. He has agreed with it in principle. He has indicated that he will be giving first priority to lowering the numbers in classes in the primary schools and the teacher ratios. I hope that he will do better than forty. I hope that he will do better than thirty in the secondary schools. The secondary schools, too, need more by way of staffing. I think that the whole House is agreed in welcoming my right hon. Friend's approach to the Crowther Committee and in wishing him godspeed with it and in undertaking to give him the backing for which he so clearly and earnestly has asked.
I should like to join in the tributes that have been paid to this Report. I think that it will prove a most admirable supplement to the Education Act, 1944. The main criticisms that we have heard about the Report have been confined to questions of the timetable in relation to the matters advocated in the Report. The main recommendations of the Report are all contained in the 1944 Act. and in considering the question of the timetable that factor should be borne in mind.
I do not want to follow in detail the remarks of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) about secondary modern schools and juvenile delinquency. It is my lot to have to deal, in particular, with the naughty boys. One of the things which has deeply disturbed me is the number of cases that one comes across of young lads who, for three years, have been in a secondary modern school but are still unable to read and write.
Quite frequently, one has to deal with a young lad who has had three years at a secondary modern school, but still does not have the basic rudiments of education. This is a small and limited, but, in many ways, important point socially and something should be done concerning the backward child—not necessarily the mentally backward child—in relation to the secondary modern school curriculum.
The implication of the Crowther Report is that we must face the expenditure of a great deal more money on education than we have spent in the past. While I did not agree with some of the conclusions of the Minister in his speech today, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not think it presumptuous of me when I say that I felt his whole approach to the subject was one of sympathy and understanding. Certainly, his ideas will call for a great increase in expenditure on education.
One of the most valuable chapters of the Crowther Report is the chapter entitled, "Burdens and Benefits". This is a feature which has not been present in many previous education reports. It is an attempt to produce a balance between the expense to the taxpayer and to the ratepayer, on the one hand, and the benefit to the nation and to the individual, on the other hand. The Report points out that during the last twenty years our expenditure on education has done no more than to keep pace with the increase in the national income. In educational expenditure there is a grave danger of our being frightened by figures.
I strongly approve the way in which the Report attempts to analyse the basis of this expenditure. It talks about education from the viewpoint of a social service. One hon. Member today has also emphasised that it is part and parcel of the duty of the State to the individual, quite irrespective of whether the education which the individual receives is turned to the advantage of the nation. I entirely agree. If, however, we are to have this substantial increase in expenditure on education, bearing in mind that rates are rising throughout the country, we will have to acclimatise the nation to it.
The Minister wants the good will of the country and, certainly, our local authorities want the good will of the people among whom they operate. Far greater emphasis should also be placed upon the "nation-building investment" aspect of education. Just as we talk about capital investment in industry, we should stress the value of education as a long-term investment of material and social advantage to the country. The prime object in doing this is to acclimatise the people to having to meet far higher sums of money for education than has been done in the past.
The Report includes a formidable list of recommendations and emphasises that they are of varying degrees of urgency, or, in other words, of different orders of priority. I think it is agreed by everyone in the House that it is desirable that the compulsory school-leaving age should be raised to 16, as was envisaged in the 1944 Act. As yet, I have not yet heard anybody condemn that as an objective. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes, the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman)."] The hon. Member tended to do so, but certainly he did not say, for example, that if it was proposed in, say, ten years' time or when other matters had been dealt with, he would vote against it.
In those circumstances, I would certainly support it, but until we have gone through the intermediate stage my belief is that it has not yet been proved that that is the right course for the people of whom I was speaking.
I will deal with the arguments for and against the timetable suggested in the Report. It is now clear that even the hon. Member for Bath does not quarrel with the objective as a long-term policy.
It seems, also, that the House is agreed that in the order of priorities the provision of compulsory attendance at county colleges should have a lower priority than the raising of the school-leaving age. I have not heard anybody dissent from this proposition. The main difference in priorities arises in this way. One hon. Member said that he wanted the school-leaving age to be raised, but he went on to say that he desired, first, a satisfactory standard of education for everybody up to the age of 15 and was not prepared to support the raising of the school-leaving age until that had been achieved.
The Report does not say that the raising of the school-leaving age should have a higher priority than the lowering of the size of classes, the doing away of one-age schools and the provision of better buildings. What it says is that this is not an issue of priorities, but that the two processes should go on together. There is no reason why they should not. That is the whole approach to the problem by the Crowther Report.
The only anxiety that I can feel in that respect is whether the fixing of a date when the school-leaving age is to be extended to 16 will prejudice the prospect of meeting the other problems. If that is not the case, I understand that every hon. Member agrees that it should be done.
From the viewpoint of logic, I did not follow one aspect of the Minister's argument. I do not say this facetiously, but possibly it is wrong to apply logic to it. The Minister is saying, "We want to get on with these more urgent matters." I understand that he is also saying, "If we have also to deal with the problem of raising the school-leaving age, that will retard our progress in dealing with these problems."
This is an important point and I would be obliged if the hon. and learned Member would allow me to intervene.
The point is that we do not know what will be the school population at the end of the decade. The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) quoted what I said about teacher-training colleges in 1955. I would point out that it was precisely in that year that the Registrar-General told us that we should have only 6 million children in 1967 and now we shall have 7 million children. Nor do we know yet what wastage of teachers there will be through marriage, and so on.
That is why we want, these next few years, to see how these quite incalculable factors turn out. On our consideration of the matter, we need only four years' notice to make preparations for raising the school-leaving age and, therefore, we think it not sensible to give that notice now.
The incalculable factors will also be incalculable in four years' time in regard to the future. I can understand this approach. If the Minister is saying, "I cannot rule out the possibility that circumstances might require us to postpone the date which we now have in mind", that is something which is the right of every Minister to reserve for himself in almost every sphere. But the danger of leaving the matter in the air —and that is our present position—is that there is always a ready argument for postponing it on every occasion.
It seems to me that one of the virtues of the Crowther Report in this respect is that it proposes the introduction of a higher school-leaving age at a period which is particularly favourable for its introduction, at least as far as can be foreseen now. If it is left until after the period which the Crowther Council has in mind, the argument for postponing it will be stronger as far as one can now foresee. I should have thought that we should start now by thinking in terms of its introduction during the period envisaged by the Crowther Report. If we do not, it seems to me that we shall find ourselves in the position of having created arguments for postponing it once again.
The key to the whole position, apart from finance, to which I have already referred, is the recruitment of teachers. I do not want to go over past history. It used to be said that, after coal, Wales's largest output was teachers. If they were given greater facilities, the training colleges in Wales could provide more teachers now. The Ministry is not nearly conscious enough of the fact that it is competing now in the recruitment drive with industry, which is going in for an intensive campaign. Quite apart from specific inducements, I believe that far greater effort should be made in the schools to encourage young people to go into the teaching profession.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) referred to one factor which, I think, is very important, and that is that there should be some review of the position of the widows and orphans of schoolmasters. I should like to make one or two points, first, on county colleges. I agree with the Report that these should take second place to the raising of the school-leaving age, but I believe that in the meantime the voluntary side should be encouraged, particularly in the rural areas. The need for county colleges in he rural areas is far greater than it is in the towns. Most large cities have technical institutes and some facilities for school leavers up to the age of 18, but in many of these rural areas there is nothing comparable with the technical schools of the towns.
The Report talks about introducing county colleges in experimental areas on a compulsory basis and by instalments. I should like to see the recommendations of the de la Warr Committee on further education linked with agriculture receiving far greater support than they have received so far from the Ministry. In considering the whole county college programme, whether on a voluntary or compulsory basis, the particular needs of the rural communities should be looked into. This is another matter which is linked with the whole question of raising the school-leaving age and of compulsory further education: what should happen during that extra year and also what is going on now in the extra year which has been provided for since the war?
One of the difficulties I feel about the Minister's attitude in this matter arises from the fact that he rejoices, very properly, in the increase in voluntary continuation after the age of 15 and, I understand, will continue to encourage the staying on at school after 15. One hon. Member has said how much better it would be if the raising of the school-leaving age to 16 could be secured voluntarily. If that can be attained voluntarily, well and good, but the point is that staffing and building difficulties will arise whether the school-leaving age is raised to 16 voluntarily or compulsorily.
Yes, of course, it will be far more difficult to anticipate requirements. The lack of logic in the Minister's argument is that he is saying, in effect, "I am going to increase the probability of problems arising with unknown factors connected with them, but I am not prepared to face the problems which will arise if I commit myself to raising the school-leaving age."
One of the disturbing features of the 14 to 15-year period was mentioned by the hon. Member for Bath, namely, that the highest figures for juvenile delinquency are those for boys in their last year of compulsory education. It is very disturbing that during their last year at school they are involved in far from trivial offences. Chart No. 5, on page 41 of the Report, shows this to be the case. One reason for that, as is pointed out in the Report, is that while they are at school they have far more time to be delinquent than when they leave school and are at work.
That is undoubtedly one reason, but it suggests that there is something wrong with the curriculum during the last year. It seems to me that if the extension of the school-leaving age to 16 is to be justified the problem of what to teach the young lad during his last year at school must be looked at far more carefully than it has been in the past. What is needed by a large number of boys is far more direct and positive teaching of their civic duties, rather than education in the orthodox sense.
I will give one example which is, perhaps, trivial in its immediate limitations. Incidentally, I have never heard of it being done. I believe that young lads in this group should be given instruction on the position of the police.
It may be done in some places, but it is not done generally. If it is done, at least it does not seem to produce the right results, in the sense that a high percentage of our teen-agers leave school with a very unhealthy idea of the duties of our police and with little respect for law and order. It would not be right for me to take up the time of the House in developing that point, but it is clear that there is something wrong at present in this respect. If we extend the school-leaving age, it will be all the more important for this problem to be considered.
The Report has provided the Ministry and all those interested in education with some useful material and it will be a great help to our local education authorities. I hope that everyone interested in improving our standards of education will give it every conceivable support.
I rise for the first time in this House to discuss in social rather than educational terms one aspect only of the Crowther Report, namely, the proposal to raise the school-leaving age. We have heard from the Minister that voluntary staying on at school is continually increasing. I believe that the figure in 1952 for boys who stayed on voluntarily after 15 was around 22 per cent. and that now it is somewhere near 30 per cent. So there is a steady growth in the number of children staying on voluntarily after that age.
All the same, it is a slow growth. On the figures, we cannot afford to wait until all children stay on at school voluntarily. If we do, assuming that the present rate of growth continues indefinitely, the job will take seventy years, and we cannot afford to wait all that time. I suggest, therefore, that there must be an element of compulsion, and we had better face this. The figures now show that about 70 per cent. of the children who reach the age of 15 go from school into the labour market. The figure given in the Crowther Report was a total of 420,000 children doing so, and the figure for the current year is, I believe, higher still, in the region of half a million.
With great diffidence, I ask the House to examine the social implications of putting half a million children aged 15 into the labour market. We have only to look around us to see the consequences of this. These teen-agers are necessarily for the most part the children of unskilled workers, as the Crowther Report states, and they are able to command purchasing power on a scale which amounts to a domestic revolution. So the position is that many boys of 15 at once earn incomes which are comparatively high, and which make them to some extent, and to an increasing extent, economically independent of their parents.
This is something completely new in our social history. It has not happened before that children of 15 could go into the labour market and could command incomes that made them economically independent of parental control to a large extent. After all, parental control does not exist in a vacuum; it has an economic basis. It existed in the past largely because children were in a state of economic dependence upon their parents. Now, however, we find that in large numbers of working-class families parental control is becoming almost a nullity. This does not occur by accident but because we are allowing children of 15 to leave school and to go into the labour market in a full employment society.
If we want to maintain parental control, if we want to maintain the family unit, I believe it is necessary for social reasons to take children of 15 off the labour market as soon as we can, and keep them at school for a further year. At present, the structure of many working-class families is being swept away by this great tide of teen-age purchasing power.
This is not something which happens in the middle class of our society. It happens on the lowest level of the working class, that of the unskilled worker. It is in this kind of household that parental authority is being largely dissolved by the torrent of teen-age purchasing power created by the present school-leaving age. I invite the House to consider whether we can afford, as a matter of social conscience, not simply in terms of education, to permit this state of affairs to continue indefinitely.
The Minister has told us, and, of course, we all welcome it, that we should raise the school-leaving age only when we have prepared the ground for it. We must have the teachers, we must have the training colleges to create the teachers, we must have the buildings. Obviously this cannot be done next Monday morning, and it cannot be done by rubbing pound notes together. I believe we have to fix our minds upon the urgent necessity of raising the school-leaving age in order to put an end to the great mass of teen-age purchasing power at 15 which is creating a social problem that has never existed in this country before.
We are putting into the hands of children of 15 great masses of purchasing power, but we are not bound to do that. We are no more required to give children of that age access to purchasing power on a scale that makes them independent of their parents than we are required to give them access to alcohol. We take steps now to ensure that they shall not have access to alcohol. Have we not a similar social duty to ensure that they shall not have free and unquestioned access to purchasing power on a scale which puts them largely outside parental control at an age when they are obviously and manifestly unfitted to have it? They are far too immature, far too juvenile, far too ill-educated to be given command of purchasing power on the scale they have it.
Recognising as I do that we cannot raise the school-leaving age for perhaps another decade, we may well have to consider the question of whether we shall put a ceiling upon teen-age purchasing power in order to restore parental control and to remove from these young children—because they are only children —the temptations that now surround them. After all, there is nothing about this which is in the least unalterable, and if we as a community think it is necessary to to so, we can do so.
In particular, I should like us to consider whether we should give magistrates in juvenile courts the right to make an order limiting the amount of cash which might be placed in the pockets of 15-year-old children. If the children are to earn more than that, it might well be an argument that the surplus above the ceiling should not be paid in cash but should be in the form of deferred payments.
Looking to the next decade, we must also recognise that as voluntary staying on at school increases it will happen more and more that the brighter children, the children from the more responsible homes, will stay on. The children who will continue to leave will, on the whole, be the low-grade children, those from the least responsible homes. That tendency will continue with acceleration during the 'sixties. Therefore, I do not think we should put too much emphasis in defending the raising of the school-leaving age on what might be called the "Sputnik" argument—the argument that we have to do this in order to keep up with the Russians, that we have to make the fullest use of our ability, and it is important to raise the school-leaving age in order to do that.
If we base the case for raising the school-leaving age on that kind of argument, it will be on a platform which is continually shrinking, because it is bound to happen that the children who will continue to leave school over the next decade will be those who are, on the whole, of minimum ability. It is the most intelligent children who are more likely to remain and the least intelligent children who are likely to leave. If we base the case on such arguments as that, we are standing on a very rickety platform.
It is perfectly true—as a new Member, I recognise very well that it has to be said with emphasis—that in order to do the things which the Crowther Report recommends we must not merely spend a very large sum of money but must spend money on a scale that we have never before meditated in education. There is no blinking this fact. It is not much good for us to suppose that this will be wildly popular with public opinion.
Education is something of which everybody is in favour in general terms. Education is like temperance, continence, honest toil and the brotherhood of man. It is something in which everybody believes so long as it is stated in general terms. But when one or other of those noble abstractions comes into collision with the habits and pockets of individual folk, the individual starts to make an agonising reappraisal and is apt to begin behaving like a plateful of bubble-and-squeak. We must face that when we urge that more money should be spent on education, and unless we are saying that we are simply talking in the void. We have to recognise that, while we can say these things now and can expect to get support for saying them as long as they are in general terms, when they are translated, as they will be, into taxes and rate demands the reaction of many sections of the public may be very different from what it is now.
I hope that the Minister and my fellow Tories will refuse to be intimidated by any such clamour. I believe that it is necesary for us to go forward and to build a springboard for the next leap. I believe that we must do it not on educational grounds only but—primarily, I would almost say—on the urgent social need for rescuing these hundreds of thousands of children who now go into the labour market at 15 from the corruptions and temptations of easy money.
It is my pleasure to congratulate the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran) on a notable maiden speech. This evening we have had three outstanding maiden speeches from the other side of the House. I am sure the hon. Member will feel much happier now that he has made his first speech in the House. Perhaps through his experience on "Press Conference" and in other ways he did not feel the same nervousness as others might feel on such occasions. He has come through the task notably, and I am sure the House would wish me to congratulate him on his speech.
The hon. Member was very wise in selecting a subject on which he felt very strongly and deeply, and I am sure that he has impressed the House with his speech. Perhaps we do not agree entirely with all of it, but let us leave that part of his speech on one side. He has put forward a new idea as a reason for the raising of the school-leaving age, that by so doing we should continue parental control for a further twelve months.
I wish next to refer to the speech made by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman), who is not at the moment in the Chamber. He seemed very surprised that there should be so little controversy between the two sides. I would say that it would be to the detriment of education if there were great controversy between the two sides. The hon. Gentleman seemed rather surprised that my hon. Friends had not attacked the Minister more than we had done. Personally, I thought the Minister's speech was a good and very sympathetic one. The only thing wrong with it was the timetable, but apart from that there was very little with which anyone would disagree.
Before I proceed with my speech, I should like to pay my tribute to Sir Geoffrey Crowther and the other members of the Central Advisory Council for what I consider to be an outstanding Report which is not only a textbook on education as it exists and a blueprint for the future, but a sympathetic survey of some of the social problems of our young people put in their right perspec- tive. In a brief speech, it is not possible to do justice to this comprehensive Report. As other hon. Members wish to speak, I shall try to confine my remarks to one or two aspects of the problem.
The Government Motion welcomes the Report, and the Minister welcomes the Report. What exactly does "welcome" mean here? According to the Minister, it has a different meaning in different contexts. The Minister welcomed the Albemarle Report and is going to put it into effect, but when it comes to the Crowther Report, he welcomes it but merely accepts it in principle. It is a strange thing that in this House words often have an entirely different meaning according to the day of the week on which one is speaking. The fact that the Government welcome the Report as a constructive contribution to the formation of educational policy for the next twenty years does not mean that time is on our side and that we can begin thinking of our next step only when we have solved our present difficulties. Now is the time, as our Amendment states, to formulate proposals to implement the main recommendations of the Report.
It is not my intention to argue whether our first objective should be to raise the school-leaving age to 16 or to develop county colleges. Speaking for myself, and entirely for myself, I would favour the second alternative, the development of the county colleges, before the raising of the school leaving age. But, according to what I have heard in the House this afternoon, I seem to be a lone voice crying in the wilderness. However, I shall not lose any sleep if the school-leaving age is raised to 16 first. I am merely expressing my own preference. Whichever is our first aim, we ought now to have a comprehensive plan for the years ahead leading to the ultimate attainment of both objectives.
This is where I disagree with the Minister. I agree with many points in his speech, but he is not willing to prepare a comprehensive, forward-looking plan so that there is a phased development over the years. It is no good just limping ahead from year to year in the hope that at some distant date we shall have solved our present problems and be able to turn our eyes to some new objective. Once a plan is formulated, there should be an annual progress report so that we may know exactly how far good intentions have become actual fact.
I call the attention of the House to paragraph 696 of the Report, which puts in very clear language the point that I am trying to make:
We do not believe that there is any hope of carrying out the measures we have outlined —or any other list of proposals adequate to the needs—unless they are worked out and adopted as a coherent, properly phased development programme, extending by timed and calculated steps a long way into the future. Nothing of this sort has ever hitherto been possible in English education. There has been no lack of aspiration, or of definition of objectives; but the attainment of them has been left to the mercies of the parliamentary timetable and of financial exingencies.
In addition to a comprehensive plan, we need to give far more attention to educational research—that is one of the points on which I agree with the hon. Member for Bath—and to have much more detailed statistical information of what is happening in our own schools and much more knowledge of the way in which other countries are dealing with the same problems with which we are faced. Again I would refer hon. Members to the Report, which states on page 473:
In view of the very large sums of money that are spent on education every year, the expenditure on educational research can only be regarded as pitiable. If there is to be a consistent programme of educational development, almost the first step should be to review the provision for statistics and research.
It mentions there the question of the heavy expenditure on education. That brings me to the key of the whole problem—the question of finance.
Unless the Government are prepared to find the necessary finance—well, the Crowther Report is dead, and we are wasting our time in discussing it. It is true that very large sums of money are spent on education every year; it is true that expenditure goes up year by year; but taken as a percentage of our national product there is little difference between what it was pre-war and now. What increase there is is due in large measure to the great rise in expenditure on school meals, milk in schools and the school health service. As the Report says:
Valuable as these things are, they do not form part of 'education' as we use the term in this report.
On the question of the need for financing educational expansion, I call the attention of the House to page 59, paragraph 91, of the Report:
If it be regarded as a social service, as part of the 'conditions of the people,' there seems to us to be no social injustice in our community at the present time more loudly crying out for reform than the condition in which scores of thousands of our children are released into the labour market. If it be regarded as an investment in national efficiency, we find it difficult to conceive that there could be any other application of money giving a larger or more certain return in the quickening of enterprise, in the stimulation of invention or in the general sharpening of those wits by which alone a trading nation in a crowded island can hope to make its living.
That puts much better than I can the point I want to make. If we are to maintain our place in this highly competitive world, we cannot afford not to spend more money on education. We cannot afford to waste the great ability of our young people. If hon. Members will glance at Tables 2, 3 and 4 of the Report, they will see that they give clear evidence of the wastage of ability by early leaving.
This is a scientific age—a scientific world—and, as everyone knows, we are losing the race with our competitors in the provision of scientists, technologists, and technicians. We are probably keeping pace with our need for scientists and technologists better than with our need for technicians.
The first requisite, then, is for the Government to find the ever-increasing cost of a long-term programme. As the Report says in page 450, paragraph 665:
Education can be regarded in two ways— either as a duty that the state owes to its citizens, and therefore as part of the 'welfare state'; or as a means of increasing the economic efficiency of the whole community, and therefore as a form of productive national capital investment"—
I think that those words are particularly important—
The cost of education must therefore be compared both with the other forms of welfare expenditure and with other forms of capital investment. We have not attempted to disentangle these two purposes.
Therefore, unless the Government are prepared to find the additional money to carry on at a quickening rate the present programme, we shall not achieve anything like that which Crowther puts
forward. I believe that the money will have to come out of taxation rather than out of the rates. If the burden of rates, which is a most unfair system of taxation, continues to rise, someone will have to invent a system of P.A.Y.E. Increasing rates is not something done by wicked Labour-controlled councils. Where I live, I think that some people would die of heart failure if it started electing Labour councillors. Last year my rates went up by 2s. in the £, and this year they are going up by another 1s. 6d. Therefore, I feel strongly on this point. We must either find new sources of income for local authorities or the central Government must bear a larger share of the cost of education.
In 1965—the peak year—there will be about 700,000 more boys and girls aged 15 to 18, inclusive, than when the Report was written, bringing the number to over 3 million. That means that in addition to the increased numbers of 15-year-olds there will be more of the 16, 17 and 18 age groups staying on voluntarily, quite apart from any suggestion of raising the school-leaving age.
The Report suggests that the age should be raised to 16 in one of the years 1966–67, 1967–68 or 1968–69. The Minister is right in saying that at our present rate of progress we shall not by that time have solved our present problem. Therefore, the only way we can carry out the Crowther Report is to try to carry out our present programme at an accelerated rate. A five-year programme of school building was envisaged, but we have already fallen behind with that. Local authorities were asked to submit schemes, which were immediately curtailed by the Ministry.
What are the problems which have to be solved before we can think of making Crowther a reality? Some have been referred to. First, there is the abolition of slum schools, including many on the original blacklist; secondly, the abolition of all-age schools, of which we had 2,297 in 1958; thirdly, the building of new schools because of the movement of population; fourthly, the extension or replacement of existing schools which are inadequate for modern requirements —and, if we are serious about the later raising of the school-leaving age, all new secondary schools built now should be built with that object in mind—and, fifthly, and most important, the reduction in the size of classes.
As the Minister said, about a quarter of our primary classes have over 40 pupils, and two-thirds of our secondary classes have over 30. I have never been able to understand why our primary school teachers should be expected to cope with classes of 40 children. We should aim at classes of no more than 30 in any type of school. The Minister said that according to the present rate of progress that problem will not be solved until 1970, but in speaking of solving it in 1970 the Minister is thinking in terms of primary classes of 40 children, which is unsatisfactory.
The problem can be solved only by increasing the number of teachers. The preface to the Report says:
Early in our deliberations it became apparent that the main obstacle to educational progress was the shortage of teachers and that the possibility of carrying out the recommendations we were likely to make would depend on a considerable expansion of the provision for training teachers.
There is a serious problem now, quite apart from the recommendations of the Crowther Committee. If we are to attract teachers of the right quality and with the right qualifications we shall have to pay them adequately.
The Report deals fully with the problem of the supply of teachers, but in view of the time factor and the number of hon. Members who wish to speak, I will leave that matter. I will conclude merely by saying that the time has now come when we should make a strenuous effort to solve our present problems and prepare the ground for a new surge forward. We dare not neglect the challenge. We have to prepare for it and make our plans now for expansion in the years ahead. Everything depends upon the willingness of the Government to find the necessary finance and to plan ahead. If those things are not done, our debate today is but an academic exercise.
On rising to speak for the first time I ask for the indulgence of the House. Many of my friends have asked me to be brief; in fact, some have asked me to be terse. Being a Lancastrian, I know that "t'earse" is the front carriage of a funeral procession.
The disadvantage about speaking in a specialist debate is that, whatever happens, other specialists will usually have said all the things one has written down on paper before one has the opportunity to speak, but there is one point which has not been raised, and it is one to which I have always attributed much importance, namely, the ability of our teachers under all circumstances to teach children to read and write before they go forward into formal education. We have spoken a lot about primary teachers and primary classes, but my thoughts always turn to the teachers in infant schools. There are so many children who, given the right kind of head—and I do not cast any reflections on other heads; I mean the head who "clicks" with them—leave their infant school with a roaring start.
Managers of primary schools and infant schools have a great responsibility. In certain parts of this country, where children are deprived in many ways of a sense of security and affection, the school managers tend to choose teachers for their motherliness. That is a grave mistake. Literacy comes before security at any time, because with literacy one will eventually achieve one's own security. My hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) spoke from personal experience of large numbers of difficult readers who have very high I.Qs. Anyone who has worked in a youth club will have met such children over and over again. They are the problem children of today, who are causing us difficulties in the courts. They have high I.Qs but, for one reason or another, have never learned to read with understanding and write with fluency.
I also want to refer to the backward children. Since this is my maiden speech I must try not to be controversial, but I am bound to express my view that we have shamefully neglected the special schools. We should hive off the really low I.Q. children. Arrangements should be made for enabling us to ascertain educationally subnormal children at the earliest possible age, in every part of the country, in order to give the other children a better chance to learn the basic skills.
I sometimes feel that there is almost a case for a special type of school for the D-stream children. Many hon. Members, like myself, are not very much in favour of streaming, but it should be pointed out that the D-stream children today often make up 25 per cent. of the total number of children in a school. When they are all stuffed together in an overcrowded classroom, it is a fantastic task to set any teacher to teach forty or more children of low-grade intelligence, or a similar number of maladjusted children the rudiments of reading and writing whilst at the same time trying to maintain some degree of discipline.
Before we can attempt to overcome the problem of later leaving we must make sure that children go into primary schools and secondary schools with an absolutely complete reading ability. If they have not been able to achieve that ability through ordinary methods we must take steps to reduce the number of children in classes until they are able to do so. That is quite apart from the question of the educationally subnormal or mentally defective children, too many of whom still turn up in normal classes, sometimes because their subnormality has not been ascertained, sometimes because there are not the special schools to which to send them, and sometimes— almost inexplicably — because their parents have fought to keep them out of special schools.
If we keep education in watertight compartments we shall lose this battle. We want to see children leaving school at an ever later age, but there must be the will to do this, and there never will be that will until the children have the tools of their trades in their hands—and those initial tools are reading, writing and what is now called "numeracy", which is something that I never achieved.
Paragraph 28 of the Report refers, if only obliquely, to the whole essence of the matter when it refers to normal education as an iceberg. The slow reader—the maladjusted or disturbed child—is at the frozen bottom of the iceberg, and it must be freed before it can begin to see the world above.
Finally, there is perhaps always the hon. Member who feels that this is being a little airy-fairy. He may say, "We do all we can, but where is the proof?" The other day I was speaking to the medical officer for mental health of one of the large county councils. He told me that, as a result of their starting therapeutic centres—not training centres, but therapeutic centres—for children regarded as hopelessly mentally handicapped, they were returning a steady trickle of these children back into the education service from the care of the health service—back into education— because they were finding that some of the children who were apparently completely incapable of learning were, in fact, just unable to cope with the civilisation with which we have presented them, and were merely grossly disturbed from a very early age.
If that can be done by one unit it can be done by many, and, bearing in mind that only the literate family can hope to press forward with the assistance to its children of higher education, the more children we help to achieve literacy, the more families we make literate families, the better the country will be.
It is, indeed, a joy to congratulate the hon. Member for Baron's Court (Mr. Compton Carr) on his delightful maiden speech. He disarmed us completely with his humour at the opening. He was batting the fourth wicket in a long line of maiden speeches, but the House was obviously impressed by his delightful, humorous touches, by his obvious love of children and especially of children in distress, of defective and backward children. It seems almost impertinent sometimes for older Members to congratulate maiden speakers who make much better speeches than themselves. We have had four first-class maiden speeches today and the hon. Member's was as good as the three preceding ones. We look forward to hearing him again on some subsequent occasion.
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education has made the best Parliamentary speech of his career today. There are many passages worthy of close study by every local authority, every staff room, by the education groups on both sides of the House, and, above all, by every parent. Having said that, I must be quite frank, however. I am disappointed by the speech, because to some extent it is Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. The right hon. Gentleman has done everything that the Crowther Report asks for, except the main thing—the heart of the Report is the demand that we should fix a date for raising the school-leaving age and providing county colleges, announce that date now, and make our plans forthwith for it for 1967, 1968 or 1969.
This is the most important debate since the debates on the White Paper in 1943 and on the 1944 Act. It is, so far, uncannily, almost frighteningly, similar. In those debates, Parliament was deciding to implement the Hadow Report of 1926, after many years, by providing secondary education for all children for the first time, and also to bring in an Act to raise the school-leaving age to 16 and provide county colleges for children from 16 to 18. Those were great days.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.
But to be a Minister of Education
was very heaven!
Apart from the late Sir Herbert Williams, everybody who took part welcomed a school-leaving age of 16. I deeply regret that my old friend the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) seemed in part of his speech to play in this debate exactly the part played by Sir Herbert Williams then. Both urged that one ought not to compel parents to send children to school until they were 16, that raising the school-leaving age should be voluntary. As the right hon. Gentleman the present Home Secretary said in 1944:
Any educationist would tell you that the arguments for raising the age are conclusive, and it is the view of the Government that children should remain at school until that age …
The right hon. Gentleman went on:
… it will be wise to inform authorities that they should have in mind that 16 will, eventually, be the normal leaving age."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th January, 1944: Vol. 396, c. 216–7.]
The right hon. Gentleman conveyed to the House that everybody was in agreement, with some more enthusiastic than others. Even the Communist in the House of Commons at that time voted with the Government of the day. However, in those days my friend Mr. Cove, a keen fighter for education from
the Opposition benches all his Parliamentary life, tried to pin the Government down to implementing the 1944 Act and asked for a date to be fixed. He did this many times in the House, and in Committee said:
…This Bill, as far as equality of opportunity is concerned, is a farce unless the school age is raised to 16, or there is a definite promise to this effect."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st March, 1944; Vol. 398, c. 731.]
But a date was not fixed, and no definite promise was made. All that the Government would concede was an early date for raising the school-leaving age to 15 with a guarantee, modified by a proviso, that three years after raising the age to 15 county colleges would be set up. They had different views about priorities in 1944 than now, for they thought that county colleges should come before raising the age to 16.
That proviso has certainly been overworked. The age was raised to 15 in 1947, thanks to the courage and idealism of the Labour Government after the war. Three years later we should have provided the county colleges. Year by year we have taken advantage of the proviso and county colleges are as far off as ever. The Crowther Report, then, in its two chief demands, is merely asking for what everybody in the House then said was the just due of the children of those who had fought to preserve free Britain and for a date by which that due is paid. In 1944, the battle was over fixing a date, just as the battle today is about fixing a date to the Crowther recommendations that the 1944 Act should be carried out.
Nobody, least of all the Crowther Committee, burkes the difficulties which faced us after the war. One must admit the many post-war difficulties facing each Government and the difficulties facing us now in carrying out the 1944 Act. The 1944 Parliament could not possibly appreciate all that had to be done in education after the war if the Act were really to be carried out. The House was rejoicing, and justifiably rejoicing, at the end of fifty years of religious controversy which had again and again set back educational progress. It knew nothing of the bulge, for the bulge was not due to begin to be created until a year later. Only Labour Members of the House and school teachers knew how much leeway had to be made up in school building, and how large large classes really were.
The most pressing problem, said the then Minister, was the reorganisation of schools. Yet we have not reorganised all schools into primary and secondary now, and building for the bulge even made Governments forbid local authorities for a number of years to do any building at all that had to do with reorganisation. The existence today of all-age schools some fifteen years after the passing of the Act—and according to figures I obtained from the Minister recently 25 per cent. of our children under at least some local authorities are still in all-age schools—is a crying shame in affluent Britain, and thirty-five years after the Hadow Report.
The second difficulty was that of large classes. Over-sized classes remain as the Minister—ironically enough making use of the speeches which we have been making to him on this subject for eight or nine years—informed us, over-size classes in primary schools and two-thirds of our children in secondary schools in over-size classes; and that despite all post-war building, despite all the expansion which has taken place in the teaching profession. Here again, we must indict the Government and their predecessors for not doing enough, for doing too little and too late even despite the advice on the supply of teachers and on school buildings of every advisory committee which has advised Ministers of Education since the war.
Bad school buildings remain. Teachers are more important than buildings. A first-class teacher can do better work in a second-class school than a second-class teacher can do in a first-class school, but a first-class teacher does his best work in a first-class school. Our children need both, and the Crowther Report, like the 1944 Act, demands both.
The Crowther Report recognises the continuous need to cut down the size of classes and to provide school buildings even to deal with that part of the Act which we have already begun to implement. It is only those who have not read the Crowther Report who seem to think that it urges county colleges and full-time education to 16 at the cost of large classes and neglect of the rest of education. That is not so.
The Crowther Report asks that we do both. It asks that we implement to the full that part of the 1944 Act which we have started to carry out—which is no small task—and that, in addition, we implement to the full that part of the Act on which we have not even started. Almost paradoxically, it sets out to show, when arguing the case, that its proposal to raise the school-leaving age is almost the least expensive of the proposals and that cutting down the size of classes, about which the Minister has been talking, makes such a heavy demand on this country in extra teachers, finance and school building, that the extra merely for raising the school-leaving age can be borne, some time at the end of the next ten years, by a nation which is really willing to do the first job.
I wish to deal with the main theme of the Report. Almost every hon. Member was educated at least to the age of 16, and most of us much longer. If education were purely an intellectual training, merely a training in skills, children today would need more than ever before. We could not have survived two world wars and achieved our present standard of living on the education Britain gave her children in 1900. Even the education of the so-called elite in grammar schools and universities has colossally expanded, both in the number of subjects studied and the range in which and intensity with which they are studied all through the century, and especially since the end of the war.
It may be true that Wolsey took his master of arts degree at 15, but what Wolsey knew as a master of arts would not get him a place in a good fifth form in a grammar school today and today's sixth former is already in many ways mentally ahead of and better equipped than the graduate from a university thirty or forty years ago.
The most important and alarming feature of scientific progress in this century is its increasing velocity. The expansion of the bounds of science, both theoretical and applied, since the war has been far greater than what took place in the previous fifty years, just as what took place in the previous fifty years was far greater than what happened in the previous two hundred years. There is no sign of the pace halting. Some of the children we shall be teaching in the next ten years will be earning in the year 2000 and, as the Report points out, the jobs which many of them will have in the year 2000 have not yet been even imagined, let alone started.
Macbeth said that security was man's greatest enemy and only a shallow thinker today could sit back and congratulate himself on what we have achieved in education since the war— undoubted achievements—and complacently think that we can go on in the same way, making a little progress each year, always provided that we do not increase rates and taxes too much.
When sputniks are circling the earth and when America and Russia, and tomorrow India and China, and our greatest commercial rivals in Western Europe are all investing far more in education than we do, the Crowther Report cries out loud and clear for a new and dramatic expansion, both in the number of children receiving higher education and in the improvement of higher education itself.
The demands of modern times weigh heavily not only on the scientist, the professional man, the administrator, the scholar, but also on every citizen. Even the materialist requirements—that every free citizen be as well trained and as mentally prepared for useful service in the economic machine as possible— demand full secondary education for all our children, followed by further education for all our children. Moreover, as the Report shows and as everybody knows, under the present system we fail to select at 11-plus all our most able children and many whom we fail to select at 11-plus are denied the opportunity of going on and providing part of that elite which the country needs.
However, education is more than mere intellectual training. It was my privilege to teach in a grammar school for twenty-five years, sometimes brilliant boys—one later to sit on the Crowther Committee —but also, and to me as important and even more important, average boys and dull boys. All those boys took away from school something far more important than what they learned about algebra, geometry or Virgil. I ask hon. Members to remember their own school days and what they remember particularly. Is it a lesson in history, or geography, or is it not rather something very different, something much more important?
That kind of education, education which is character training, education which is moral and spiritual, takes place in its richest and most fruitful form in the later years of school life. I do not minimise the supreme importance of primary and early secondary education, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) spoke, but already the extra year of 14 to 15 has revealed that it is not merely a bit added on to school, but a qualitative change more than merely a quantitative addition.
From fourth form to fifth form, and from fifth form to sixth form is a move into a new world of education. The problems of adolescence, the growth of responsibility and moral judgment, the increasing awareness of oneself, are all factors which make education from 15 to 18 vital and important and the due of every British child, not just some.
Crowther rightly points out that extending the school leaving age is a challenge to educationists, as it will be to children, and that secondary education to 16 for all will not merely be the old grammar school education writ large. Modern youngsters mature earlier. Old loyalties, unfortunately, are weakening. Home and church do not mean what they used to mean. The world outside, the world into which we plunge 70 per cent. of our children at 15, is a much more difficult and complex world than the world into which we were born. I take as a single example the headlines from last Sunday's News of the World:
Strip Tease Spells Big Money for Girls Alfie Hinds' own Story"—
and the use of the word "Alfie" is significant—
Burden of Fear hangs over Murder Town
Negatives Chemists won't Print
Ex-paratrooper and Peeping Tom
West End Vice Sensation
It's a Tough Unholy Road to the Top, but I'm no Angel
and, quite, appropriately,
Bring Back the Birch (by a Tory M.P.)
The Women voted for Franks!
This is in a Sunday newspaper which said, in its editorial:
In Britain tradition, wisdom and dignity and tolerance go hand in hand
Crowther says of adolescents:
Coming to terms with one's new self is a difficult and lengthy process, complicated by the fact that sexual maturity precedes by several years emotional and social maturity.
I think that we should do well to nurture our youngsters for one year more before we plunge them in a society where
The hungry sheep look up and are not fed
But swollen with wind and the rank mist they draw.
It is an affluent society. Youngsters have more money to spend and more leisure than any previous generation, more opportunities for a good life or for a full life, and more temptations to reap the fruits of an empty life or an evil life. To be ill-educated in an affluent society is, to me, the chief danger that confronts every average American and English child today.
We are told that we will double our standard of living in the next twenty-five years. Even if that means only materially —in abundance of goods—the economic basis of such doubling must be the use and training of every scrap of native talent in every home in England. If it means, as I hope it means, that we will live more abundantly, as well as living in more abundance, it demands that we give to all our youngsters what at present we give to a quarter of them, real secondary education to the age of 16. The question of comprehensive schools will then become an academic issue of the past and all the glorious achievements of the first fifteen years of secondary education will be outstripped, as surely as the nation's grammar schools year by year outstrip all that was done in the grammar schools fifty years ago.
In 1943, Britain had a vision. In 1944, it translated it into an Act of Parliament. At that time nobody counted the cost. Indeed, I find that one speaker estimated the cost of raising the school-leaving age by one year at £9 million. We now know the cost. First, withdrawal of children from labour from 15 to 16. On this, Crowther says:
This year is surely the period in which the welfare of the individual ought to come before any marginal contribution he or she could make to the national income.
Secondly, the provision of school build-ings, not only adequate to provide classes of the size laid down by the regulations but also to bring in the extra children
in the extra year. I believe that a nation which has done so much school building despite all post-war difficulties can cope with the physical demands for buildings caused by raising the school-leaving age in 1960.
Thirdly, and most important, providing teachers in numbers and quality to match the new revolutionary task. If we say that we cannot do this, we are defeatists. Indeed, there is something in what the McNair Report said, in 1943:
… the provision of full-time education up to 16 years of age will greatly stimulate recruiting to the professions both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Fourthly, it means financial sacrifice on the part of the Government, the taxpayer and the ratepayer. One cannot get good things cheaply. Instead of the 3½ per cent. of the national income which we spend on education, we may have to spend 5 per cent. I said in the Navy Estimates debate that a nation which will vote without question 8 per cent. of the national income on military defence ought to be willing to shoulder a burden of 5 per cent. for education. Moreover, if both sides tackle earnestly the questions facing the Summit Conference, where the first step in disarmament is within the grasp of free people, the first victory of the conference will be to release from military expenditure money which can be spent on the much more profitable project of educating the world's children.
I said at the beginning of my speech that Crowther said we must name a date now, and the key argument of the Crowther Report is that if we do not do this towards the end of this decade the opportunity will go, possibly for all time. In the opinion of the Observer, yesterday, unless a date for raising the school-leaving age is fixed now, and the provision of teachers and accommodation is planned at once, it will never be possible to raise the school-leaving age.
The heart of the Crowther Report is that if we do not take the opportunity in between two bulges to do this it may be beyond our capacity ever to do it within the foreseeable future. That is why I say that not to accept the Crowther recommendation is defeatist. I urge the Government, the Minister of Education, and particularly the Leader of the House, to remember all those golden speeches and golden ideals that were laid before this country in 1944 and to accept the Opposition Amendment. It would be a pity if we had to divide the House on this tremendous issue in this significant debate. I urge the Government to name a date and then let the Minister and Parliament and the local authorities tackle the big job of persuading the people to endure the financial responsibility which they will have to accept.
Crowther has counted the cost. It is a heavy one, but it is not too heavy for Britain to bear if we are given a lead, and if we show the will to carry it out. The cost of not bearing the burden of secondary education for all our children may, in a world of educational expansion, be in the long run far greater than actual expenditure. This year is a watershed in the history of British education. If we make the right decisions this Minister's name may be linked in history with that of his illustrious predecessor, the present Home Secretary. They will be remembered respectively as the Minister who laid down the Act and the Minister who carried it out.
If we fail to take the opportunity, history may say that just as we neglected to carry out the Hadow Report for nearly a quarter of a century, we decided in 1960 that several more generations of English children should be thrust out into the world at the age of 15, a world that no middle-class parent in this country would dream of sending his children into at that age.
I end with the quotation I promised my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who, unfortunately, is not here, but whose heart is in this debate. The Crowther Report says:
Each step forward, which seemed so difficult at the time and to many so intolerably expensive, has quickly been found to have justified itself and, indeed, to have paid for itself, … Materially and morally, we are compelled to go forward.
The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) always speaks with great knowledge and eloquence during education debates. I shall not follow him closely, but I hope I may join him in congratulating those hon. Members who have made their maiden speeches today. It has been a great pleasure to me, who for about ten years has taken a modest part in these debates, to hear four excellent maiden speeches from this side of the House.
I shall endeavour to keep my remarks relatively short. My right hon. Friend the Minister and the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) opened the debate by paying right and proper tribute to the authors of this Report, and I am sure that all who are interested in the subject will for a long time regard this great work as one of our chief reference books.
I should like to congratulate the Minister on a clear, sound, and far-seeing speech. When a work like this is published, I regard it as one of the duties of an hon. Member to find out public opinion. The Minister also referred to that. I have been endeavouring to do that, and during the past two or three months I have spoken to parents, education authorities, and teachers. It seems to me that we are all agreed in principle on the implementation of the Crowther Report. The Minister's speech was most encouraging, but in carrying out any vast programme we must have certain priorities.
I agree with the hon. Member for Itchen that the Crowther Report says that all these things should perhaps be carried out simultaneously, but we live in a hard and harsh world. My mind goes back to 1946 when I became a member of the Essex County Council. The Council was implementing the 1944 Act, to which reference has just been made by him. If my memory serves me aright, we suffered a number of cuts owing to the exigencies of our economic position from time to time.
Today, the difference between the two sides of the House is relatively narrow. The hon. Members for Rossendale and Itchen want more money spent more quickly. They are in opposition. The Government have the responsibility of trying to implement these vast and far-seeing proposals as quickly as possible. If the hon. Gentlemen were on our side of the House, I wonder if they would perhaps be a little more cautious in saying that money really must be found. I will not elaborate on that, but it is fair just to remind ourselves that the Chancellor of the Exchequer at this or indeed at any other time of the year has immense demands upon his time and his available cash. Indeed, very recently the agricultural people and the doctors wanted more. While all of us would like to see even more money spent on implementing these proposals, we must approach the matter in a practical kind of way.
The Minister was absolutely right to remind us that in education there is a tremendous lot in the pipeline already. After all, there is the £100 million technical programme of 1956-61, which is working very well in Essex and, I believe, elsewhere in the country. That is to be followed by a three-year technical programme of £70 million. In December, 1958, we had the White Paper entitled "Secondary Education for All—A New Drive." Now we have the Report of the Crowther Council, which has been sitting for three and a half years. It follows on from certain good and sound foundations to which all parties have contributed.
We now have to consider how we are to go forward from where we are. I have found very considerable unanimity m the opinions I have been able to collect. There was, indeed, quite a strong feeling that we should first try to reduce the size of classes. This point of view was expressed to me forcibly by members of the National Union of Teachers, who very kindly came to see me and gave me the benefit of their views on the point specially stressed by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) earlier in the debate. They said that, after reducing the size of classes, raising the school-leaving age should be next in the batting order. They thought that the third step should be the establishment of county colleges.
Apart from the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn), who spoke in favour of county colleges, there has been a good deal of unanimity by those hon. Members who have spoken so far about the order of priorities I have just mentioned. I wish to express my own agreement—I believe that this view is held by many people—with the Minister's idea of keeping people at school as long as they can stay voluntarily. This point is envisaged in this great Report. It is in my view of outstanding importance and I am glad that the Minister stressed it.
I have one point to make on county colleges. As the Report says, we are in rather uncharted waters here. We want to call the teachers "tutors". That may be right, but we do not quite know what we are going to teach in them. It is an experiment. One contribution was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman), who said that there is anxiety about day-release sandwich courses. Indeed, the Minister himself referred to anxiety about the number of students available for further education in this way. I was interested in his suggestion that possibly some county college work could be done in conjunction with technical colleges.
From there, the Minister went on to say that perhaps there would have to be a degree of compulsion upon employers to allow their young people to have the advantage of this further training. In my constituency of Chelmsford we are very fortunate in that the great firms there—Marconi, Crompton Parkinson, and Hoffman—are fully alive to the importance of this matter. The understanding between them, the local education authority and the technical college, which has been tremendously improved as a result of the programme referred to by me are working satisfactorily. I have been one who prefers to see things done voluntarily rather than compulsorily. I appreciate that this point is to be explored, but I urge my right hon. Friend to consider first whether there are not other ways of getting over the shortage of material for these classes.
Practically all that could have been said about teachers has been said. We have gone back a long way. One hon. Member went back to 1918. The hon. Member for Itchen went back to the Second World War. The figures the Minister gave us were fairly good in all the circumstances. I agree with those hon. Members who have said that the key to better education is the quality of the teachers. The Albemarle Report envisages the establishment of a college at Birmingham with a one-year course for youth leaders. That is to deal with an immediate situation. We want the best material we can to teach our children and young people.
In the circumstances, the proposals which we heard from the Minister today for bringing about a great increase in teachers—the numbers are already increased by 25 per cent.—are about as much as can be achieved. Some of the conditions in the school where perhaps the Minister and I were brought up would not come up to the standards of the 1944 Act, but the people who taught us were vitally important. The same is true today.
I have made a passing reference to cost, and I do not want to be in the least controversial. The percentage of our national product now spent on education is nearer 4 per cent. than 3 per cent. Furthermore, the comparisons which have been made in the House and in another place do not always compare like with like. It is dangerous to draw any conclusions from such comparisons.
One aspect has I feel been very seriously neglected. I was very glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) mention research. She was the first hon. Member to do so. She referred to it in her splendid maiden speech. We do not know quite enough about how we lose teachers and pupils or indeed about many other subjects. My hon. Friend the Member for Bath mentioned that £50,000, which is a relatively small sum, is spent on educational research. This is a subject on which more money should be spent rapidly. We might get some very remarkable and helpful results.
I have tried to deal briefly with a few points which occur to me on the great proposals which we are considering. We are considering young people from 15 to 18 years of age. They are human beings. Neither money nor buildings will solve the problem for us. The hon. Member for Itchen underlined the anxieties which we all have about the articles we read in the papers and the things done today by some of our youth. I think that we are all agreed that the education of our people has improved very considerably over the last few years. All parties have contributed to that. Unfortunately, there is still anxiety because a small proportion of young people behave in a way which some of us find a little hard to understand. The Crowther Report deals with this aspect in many of its very interesting paragraphs.
Finally, I believe that today we are going yet one further step—a very big step—in the right direction. If we are to realise the ambition of all of us, namely, to make young girls and boys aged 15 to 18 into good citizens, we shall want co-operation between the home, the church and the schools. If all of us as we grow older approach this with sympathy, understanding and humour, we shall be half way to the goal at which we are aiming.
The Crowther Report is one of the outstanding education documents of the century. It brings to light in a concise form the nature of the educational structure provided for boys and girls between 15 and 18 years of age. It reveals in a striking manner the yawning gaps in the structure —indeed, so yawning are the gaps that there seems to be hardly any structure at all. It is to that aspect of the Report that I want to draw the attention of the House.
A Report that reveals that 45 per cent. of the boys and girls in the 16-year age group get no education at all; that states that 55 per cent. of boys and 72 per cent. of girls in the 15 to 17-year age group receive neither full-time nor part-time education of any kind, and a Report that states that 40 per cent. of the local education authorities do not provide any technical education whatever, must present a challenge which, despite its magnitude, should be welcomed, and met with a resolution that I very much regret to have failed to find in this debate.
We should welcome the Report, and accept its challenge because it has jerked us into a realisation of the weaknesses in the present system of education. I shall return to that point in a few moments but, first, I want to refer to an ingrained habit we have that must be broken, and broken with determination, if this Report is to fulfil its function—the habit, all down the decades, of irrational delay in the implementation of education Reports.
Let me give an example or two. The Fisher Bill of 1918 was pigeon-holed in 1922. There it lies today, under the accumulated dust of forty-two years. In 1926, we had the excellent and epoch- making Hadow Report on the "Education of the Adolescent." Eighteen years had to pass before the main proposals of that Report were implemented. Then, of course, we had the Spens Report in 1938—that has been forgotten in the pit of oblivion.
The Hadow Report was implemented eighteen years later, by the 1944 Education Act but, today, thirty-four years after its publication, there are sections of it that still need implementation. One is reminded of Sir Ian Hamilton's cryptic remarks in his report on the Galipoli campaign, when he wrote, "There was inertia; and inertia prevailed."
Whether we like it or not, and whether or not the truth be palatable—and in spite of our advances in education in this century—there has been far too much inertia, and far too much inertia has prevailed. Those in the schools and those in this Chamber knew that, if a small cloud no bigger than a man's hand appeared on the financial horizon, there came, with painful certainty, circulars from the Ministry of Education cutting down here and postponing there, nurturing in the staffs and the administrators a sense of frustration.
Such has been the ingrained habit of generations, and if the Crowther Report shows anything at all it shows the accumulative consequences of that bad habit. That habit must now be broken. Do not let us look ahead 10, 15 or 20 years. Let us act now. Let us make up our minds now that we will implement the recommendations of the Report. Nothing less than that will serve the purposes of the present time.
I should like to speak on a matter to which very few hon. Members have referred. With the passing of the Education Act of 1944 the now famous tripartite system of secondary education emerged. I am fully aware that that is not part of the Act, but that system developed. Failure in subsequent years to implement the 1944 Act has meant the breakdown of that system in public esteem. What actually emerged—and I think that I can speak from experience now—was a broadly satisfactory system of grammar school education leading to the colleges and to the universities but, alongside that, we have the secondary modern system, which leads to nowhere, and which ends when the pupil reaches the age of 15 years.
I suggest that today we have heard far too much about voluntarily staying on at school. How many hon. Members would be prepared to allow their own sons or daughters to leave school at 15 years of age? I want to be quite fair about this; I was not prepared to let my boy leave school at that age, and it is unfair for us to expect other people to allow their children to leave then—
I suggest that that is slightly unfair to a lot of the hon. Member's colleagues. I do not think that anyone on either side who has been talking about the voluntary principle has spoken in terms of the boy or girl making up his or her own mind, but of doing exactly what the hon. Member suggests—letting the parents make up their children's minds for them.
I want every boy and girl to have an equal opportunity, and the best opportunity that we can provide. That is the main purpose of my observations. There is at present a tendency for the secondary modern school to introduce the General Certificate of Education examination, and I very much regret it. It tends to gloss over a certain weakness in our educational system, and I would rather expose the weaknesses than gloss them over.
If education authorities provided a sufficient number of grammar school places for the children in their areas there would be no need at all for the secondary modern schools to undertake this task. Even accepting the fact that there are late developers, and I do accept it, pupils showing signs of late development should be easily transferred to the grammar schools, and the authorities should ensure that the places should be there for them when they show those signs of development.
I am not suggesting for a moment that the secondary modern school is the answer to the problem of the education of the adolescent. If I may say so, I was asked as far back as 1942 to draw up a memorandum—which came to my hand only a few days ago. I there advocated comprehensive education up to 15 years, with subsequent differentiation in type of education according to the ability and interest of the pupils. However, the secondary modern school has emerged—although there are a few comprehensive schools—and, because it has emerged, it has a function. That function must be clear. It must not ape the grammar school, and it must not be a pink edition of the grammar school.
It is at this point that the structure of our educational system has become chaotic—and I use that word advisedly. It is the secondary modern school pupil who has had a raw deal, and who will, I am afraid, continue to have a raw deal for a very long time to come—and when I refer to the secondary modern school pupils, I refer to the overwhelming majority of all secondary school pupils.
The are over 2,550,000 girls and boys in secondary schools, of whom 320,000 are over 15 years of age. What has happened to the remainder? Such is the measure of our chaotic system. A grammar school pupil can continue until he is 18 years of age, and he can then go to the training college or the university, and rightly so. When a boy enters a secondary modern school he goes there until he is 15. What stands ahead of him in the educational world?—nothing but a shambles. There is nothing that we can offer him. These pupils comprise 75 per cent. of the secondary school population. They form the solid core of the people of this land, and yet more than half these boys and 72 per cent. of the girls receive neither full-time nor part-time education of any kind after they leave school. Such is the nature of the structure of education for the non-grammar school youth today. I cannot listen to many of the speeches which have been made without voicing this word of protest.
Let us look at the matter from another angle. There are six grammar school pupils to every one technical school pupil. I do not want the number of grammar school pupils to decrease. We cannot afford to reduce them. They are the source of our future teachers, professional people and technologists. But this proportion between the number of grammar school pupils and the number of pupils in the technical schools is a pointer to the utter chaos which exists in the non-grammar school sector of education.
There are two reasons for this. First, we have the ingrained habit of delaying and postponing educational matters. Indeed, had the 1944 Act been put fully into operation many of our problems of today would not have arisen. The second difficulty is that the further education of the non-grammar school youth is geared to the employer. It is the employer who is the arbiter and who virtually decides the further education of the non-grammar school pupil. Let us follow the secondary-modern school pupil. At 15 years of age he leaves school. He is probably too young to receive an apprenticeship. If he stays on voluntarily until he is 16, he may be too old for an apprenticeship. In other words, it is the secondary modern school pupil who has to face this conflict of choice at the early age of 15.
When we examine the apprenticeship system itself we find that there is no regularised national system at all. For example, on the one hand we have the apprenticeship system pure and simple. No qualifications are required to enter into it. It is only a matter of time, and at the end of the time the youth can leave without any test at all. That is the broad ladder of apprenticeship. It has no association with education at all. It is a broad, wide ladder of apprenticeship. It is not linked to the national system of education in any way, and, according to the Crowther Report, four-fifths of the children who are in apprenticeships are on this broad ladder totally divorced from our national system of education.
Then there is the narrower ladder which has educational associations through part-time release to technical schools. The decision rests with the employer. A youth may desire to attend a technical school and the education authority may recommend it, but it is the employer who decides whether the employee shall be released. This narrow ladder, which is of an educational nature, is very narrow and steep. The vast majority of young men who go on that narrow ladder never reach the top; 75 per cent. of the secondary school pupils who step on this ladder fail. Few get on to this ladder in the first place, and of those who do, very few indeed reach the top.
Yet the picture is very clear. There are three broad elements in the pattern. From this vast community of youth will come the technicians, the craftsmen and the operatives. Surely there must be some form of education to meet the requirements of all three. Yet we see no trace of a national system to meet these requirements at present. Only in the small narrow field do we find apprenticeships linked up to our educational system. I refer to the part-time release. What about its weaknesses? I ask hon. Members how much we could learn in 220 hours a year. It is the equivalent of seven weeks education a year, by instalments of one day a week—one day in which to learn and six days in which to forget what one has learned. Who can justify that system on educational grounds? Not one educationist would do so.
When we consider the nature of the examination itself we find that 75 per cent. of the students who enter the course never reach the third stage for their ordinary National Certificate; 75 per cent. never reach the top. With such a high rate of casualties it stands to reason that there is something fundamentally wrong either with the teaching or with the examination system which should be overhauled.
I do not deny that historically great strides and solid advances have been made in education in this country, but I do not withdraw one word of what I have said.
The dates 1870, 1902, 1926 and 1944 are, indeed, significant milestones in education, but they are historical milestones, and history belongs to the past. Even 1959 is now dead. It does not mean a thing today. As a geographer, I think I may refer to geography, also. There is more in education than just historical advance. Are we making a geographical advance? How do we compare with other nations? Where do we stand in relation to other great Powers and what relative position do we hold in education today? What place do we hold in the race? Those are the vital questions for 1960, 1961 and 1962.
I am open to correction, but I think I am right in saying that we in this country spend £8 15s. per head of the population per year on education. America is spending £20 per head of the population and Russia is spending £30. In 1938, during the period of great depression, we in this country spent 2·9 per cent. of the national income on education. Twenty years later, in 1958, at a time when "We had never had it so good", we were spending only 3·2 per cent. of our national income on education. It has taken us twenty years to raise our proportion of the national income spent on education by 0·3 per cent.
We need a drastic revision of our priorities if we are to survive in the modern world. I conclude with a quotation from the Crowther Report which, I feel, deserves great emphasis. On page 59, it is said:
… there seems to us to be no social injustice in our community at the present time more loudly crying out for reform than the condition in which scores of thousands of our children are released into the labour market. If it be regarded as an investment in national efficiency, we find it difficult to conceive that there could be any other application of money giving a larger or more certain return in the quickening of enterprise … by which a … nation in a crowded island can hope to make its living.
It is an indication of the tremendous interest in education that there are so many hon. Members wishing to speak in this debate. I am very glad to have been called because, until the General Election last October, I taught in a secondary modern school and I took the B stream of the leaving-year class. Those are the pupils about whom the Crowther Report is particularly concerned.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Minister on the principle that the school-leaving age must at some time be raised to 16. I agree, also, that the most important thing to do in education is to give top priority to reducing the size of classes. No one who has taught in our schools will dispute that large and over-large classes are harmful to the education of the children. Until we achieve a reasonable size of class for all schools, we cannot, I believe, afford the luxury of raising the compulsory school-leaving age to 16.
The nub of the problem, as has already been said, lies in teacher supply. We shall need a great many more properly trained teachers in the profession. I say to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary that I believe it to be wrong that we should still have so many untrained people in teaching and so many stop-gap teachers. At the last school in which I taught, out of a staff of twelve, there were, in September, 1958, four people who were graduates who were marking time until they were called up or went on to something else —they had no intention of becoming teachers—and there were two people who had just completed their training and were embarking upon their probationary year. Thus, out of a staff of twelve, half were inexperienced.
This had its effect. In September, 1958, one of the stop-gap teachers, one of the people marking time until he was called up, was chased though the city streets by the boys of that school. [Laughter.] It is not really very funny. The incident earned for our school in certain newspapers—we hit the headlines —the title, "The Blackboard Jungle of Newcastle". This was very wrong, because the school had a great deal to commend it. The people who taught there did their work in very difficult conditions, and the headmaster, who was criticised by some newspapers, is a man to whom I pay the very highest possible tribute. He is a born teacher, a man who has devoted his whole life to teaching, and the responsibility for that incident was certainly not his. The responsibility rests with the people who allow inexperienced teachers and people who do not intend to become teachers to go into schools such as the one in which I taught.
It has been said that one of the troubles in the teaching profession is that there is a certain amount of wastage every year because young women enter the profession and before long marry and start having families and therefore are lost to the profession. We must also face the possibility that there is likely to be a wastage of men teachers, because when they take on the responsibility of a wife, with the prospect of a family, they become increasingly dissatisfied with the salary that they are paid as teachers and turn their eyes to more lucrative professions. That is a very serious problem which I hope the Minister will consider.
The answer to the shortage of teachers is, bluntly, £ s. d. If teachers were paid a decent salary, there would be a plentiful supply of them. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas)— I did not agree with all that he said, particularly when he was rude to me— hit the nail on the head—
—when he said that idealism was not enough, and that that did not pay the bills of the teacher. I feel that the money which is spent on education should be concentrated more on obtaining the best teachers. Good teachers are far more important than de luxe school buildings. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Sir H. Ashton). He said that in the school to which he went, although the building was not wonderful, the teaching was first-class. I think that good teaching is far and away the most important thing in our educational system.
What concerns me about finance is that about 85 per cent. of all local government expenditure is on education. Therefore, every time there is a rise in teachers' salaries, the rates go up, and we hear the cries of the people who do not want them to go up—the people who want good education for their children but do not want to pay for it. I think that the Government could well look at the booklet which was written a short time ago by the Bow Group, called "Willingly to School", in which one of the suggestions was that to avoid the rates that people pay for education becoming too excessive the Government should pay the basic salary scale of teachers. In that way, the burden on the Exchequer would be heavier, but the burden on the ratepayers would be considerably lightened.
I did not say that. I said that the basic salary should be paid. Obviously local education authorities should pay a part, but the Government should pay more of the burden of education than at present. I do not agree that teachers should be civil servants. That would be wrong. I feel that local education authorities should have some say. I certainly do not believe that education would be improved if it were centralised and based entirely on Whitehall.
One of the points made in the Crowther Report is that there is a wastage of much good material in our schools. The Report refers to young people who have gone into the forces who have shown that they have ability but have not a general certificate of education or a grammar school education behind them. One of the faults is that in our secondary modern schools there is no incentive for the children. They enter secondary modern schools enthusiastic and eager to learn, but by the time they get to the third or fourth year they have become increasingly disillusioned and feel that the secondary modern school offers nothing to them. I welcome the increase in the number of secondary modern schools that have a general certificate of education course, but I feel that this could be extended. I regret that there are still too many areas in which secondary modern schools have not a general certificate of education course.
If the hon. Member waits, I am coming to that point. He is a little too eager. I do not agree that every child in a secondary modern school could take the G.C.E. examination—certainly not; but there are quite a few children in our secondary modern schools who have the ability to do it. To those local education authorities which say that they do not have a sufficient number of teachers of the right calibre to teach up to G.C.E. level, I suggest that at least one secondary modern school in a local education authority area could be used for the children who have the ability and whose parents want them to take the G.C.E. examination and want them to stay on at school until the age of 16.
Is not the hon. Gentleman aware of the danger of the secondary modern school being twisted for the little minority who would take the General Certificate examination and that the purpose of the school could be distorted by the fact that it must obtain examination results that would bring the school a good name?
The hon. Member has misunderstood me. Perhaps I did not make myself sufficiently clear. I said that there should be one secondary modern school in a local education authority area that would cater for the G.C.E. examination. The other secondary modern schools would have a broader educational course, as secondary modern schools have now. It would mean, however, that any child who did not pass the 11-plus examination and who had the necessary ability would still be able to take a G.C.E. examination course and we would, therefore, get the best out of these people. It is about those who do not pass the 11-plus examination that the Crowther Report was particularly concerned.
If the Government succeed in getting more teachers—and it is vital that they should—the size of classes can be reduced. That is of tremendous importance. Secondly, each child would be assured of a better education, because with smaller classes a teacher can afford to give more time and more individual attention to the child who, perhaps, needs a little individual attention. Often, many children who have a great deal of ability may miss the odd point and, because of large classes, it is never satisfactorily explained to them. This has an effect on the child as he progresses through the school. With more individual attention being given, the outlook for our children would be greatly improved.
Thirdly, with smaller classes discipline in the school will improve. I regret to say that discipline has not improved over recent years. If discipline in school is improved, that in itself will help to reduce the tendency towards juvenile delinquency, which is such a great problem.
Fourthly, with smaller classes teaching would become a more attractive career. Possibly, some people are deterred from entering the teaching profession because they are appalled at the prospect of having to face a large number of children in a classroom. If classes were brought down to a manageable size, these people might then have second thoughts and come into the profession and make first-class teachers.
The teaching profession is doing an excellent job, often under very difficult conditions, and the reduction in the size of classes would be welcomed by all teachers. Therefore, if the Minister gives top priority to this task and if he succeeds in his desire to reduce the size of classes, he will earn the gratitude not only of the teachers, but also of the parents.
The Crowther Report is remarkable in that it is unremarkable. It contains no new educational principles, like the Hadow or Fisher Reports, but it states the obvious with cogency, with supporting facts, and with so much clarity that it has wrung a statement of principle from a Tory Minister. What is this principle? It is that after nine years of Tory Government the Minister of Education proposes to start carrying out the 1944 Education Act in another ten years. This is sailing-boat progress in a jet age.
The problem of all-age schools is a very good example of Tory dither. The programme to abolish all-age schools started, stopped and restarted. The Hadow Report, which is the basis for the abolition of all-age schools, is thirty years old, and in two-thirds of the time since that Report was published in 1926 we have had Tory Governments with largish majorities.
The Youth Service is another example of Tory nigardliness. I asked a Question a few days ago about grants to the main voluntary bodies in the Youth Service. The grants were actually lower throughout the period 1952–59 than they were in 1951–52.
The Minister of Education cannot ride off on the difficulties of over-sized classes and the shortage of teachers. He has had plenty of warning of the difficulties lying ahead. I can well understand the present Minister's morbid fear of statistics. His Ministry's statistical approach to the problem of finding teachers has been out in several years. In 1957, the Ministry expected to find 6,000 to 7,000 teachers a year. In that year, the right hon. Gentleman got 4,400. In 1958, he expected a further 6,000 or 7,000 extra and he got 5,200. I am very glad to hear that he is overhauling his statistical department so that perhaps in the future he will get his statistics right.
But if the right hon. Gentleman did not particularly believe the statistics of his own Ministry he had plenty of warning in a more obvious way. Sir Geoffrey Crowther, in February, 1958, warned him of the need for extra teachers. We should bear in mind that reports are apt to be
very gentlemanly and not to set out the facts so crudely as politicians set them out, but the Crowther Report said, of the finding of teachers, that
… the present situation is not in our opinion due to any falling off in the numbers of potential teachers, but to failures of anticipation in the sphere of public policy, which may have been natural in the puzzling circumstances of the last few years, but which in any case are remediable by firm and prompt government action.
I hoped that the Minister would have said today, "I accept a ratio of one in seventeen for classes; I will fix a date in 1965 or 1966, and will go for the 70,000 extra teachers required ". It would have been a bold statement. I really did not expect it. I hoped for it. If the right hon. Gentleman had done that he would have been exposed to criticism if he failed to reach the target, but how much better it would have been if he had tried and failed than that he should never have tried at all.
I want to be constructive and to suggest to the Minister some methods by which, even at this late hour, he can increase the supply of teachers. He should appoint a director of teacher recruitment. He can find a better name for the office, but he should appoint a high-powered officer to set out and get the teachers. He should look first for teachers among mature students.
In this connection, I wish to commend to the right hon. Gentleman the remarkable exercise undertaken by the College of Preceptors. The college circularised most of our schools and received replies from about 40 per cent., which was a very good return. It then analysed the reactions of the teachers to the main ideas in the Crowther Report under their different headings. I believe I am right in thinking that the Report of the College of Preceptors is now in the Ministry of Education. I ask the Minister to look at one which I particularly noted. This is the sentence in the Crowther Report to which I direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman:
Special attention might be paid to seeing that training arrangements are sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of older men and women who are attracted to teaching as a career.
That paragraph was readily accepted by the teaching profession. The columns of the questionnaire had headings as
follows: "Accept", "Reject", "Accept with Reservation". The highest percentage of rejections was 4 per cent. and the lowest was 2 per cent.
I urge the Minister to give unorthodox and vigorous attention to this matter. I also urge the right hon. Gentleman to establish day training colleges in every large urban centre, not just Leeds and Manchester. Could he hurry Brent-wood? I believe that the Essex County Council is anxious to get going, but I think that it will take another two years. I understand that at one time the Ministry of Education believed that not a sufficient number of mature people would come forward, but I am told that for every 100 places at either Leeds or Manchester there were 1,000 applications and that the 100 accepted were of first-class quality.
I have had twenty years' experience of adult students in extra-mural classes; that is to say, students who left school at the age of 14 or 15 and who made up by experience and private study for their lack of secondary and university education. I am convinced from experience that many more of these admirable people could be found and recruited into the teacher training scheme. What admirable teachers they make. They come to the classroom with a wide experience of life, with a stability and keenness for teaching which makes them excellent for their task. I urge the Minister to consult the principal of Hill-croft College, who has had considerable experience in this respect.
I am convinced that if the Minister adopted an unorthodox approach and ran one-year general residential courses for mature people, and then gave them a one-year course in education, he would recruit hundreds, possibly thousands, of this type of student and would be able to make them effective teachers. The Crowther Report also states that the teacher supply problem is essentially one of pump priming. Cannot the Minister take hold of the pump even harder than he is proposing?
I asked the Durham County Council, when I was chairman of the education committee for a short time before coming here, to undertake a small investigation into the number of non-teachers who, in the bad old days in Durham of junior instruction centres, joined the centres and ultimately went into the education world. The figures are small, but remarkable. Out of 22 people who could be traced, 17 with no previous experience of education went into teaching. Three of them became principals of technical or training colleges, three became head teachers, two became educational organisers, and at least half of the total were in senior educational positions. I know that circumstances today are different from what they were in those days, when people were driven into almost any job. Nevertheless, these figures bear out my contention that there are many more mature people who would make excellent teachers than the Minister realises, and I beg him to get after them.
Professional and industrial people are in a rather different category from the men and women I have been talking about, but often in middle life many get tired of a sordid grubbing for money and would be inclined to go into the teaching profession, with its satisfying opportunities, even on a slightly smaller salary. Therefore, the Minister might do well to look at the question of the recruitment and training of those with professional and commercial qualifications who might want to change their work.
The Crowther Report makes recommendations about this short service commission idea for married women. The Minister should look at that and see whether, in an unorthodox way, he can make changes which will recruit people of that sort. The College of Preceptors supports this idea of recruiting in an unorthodox, flexible fashion.
I want to say a word about 1962. I think that the Minister would recruit more graduates into the teaching profession in 1962 if university departments ended their diploma course in May. One of the reasons why post-graduate students are somewhat reluctant to take on the extra year of training to secure their diploma is that they will not earn money for a whole year. There might be some compromise which would attract more graduate teachers, and this should be tried.
If one had fears that the departments of education would not be fully occupied from 1st May, they could undertake refresher courses for married women or other types of person to whom I have been referring, who might be able to enter the teaching profession in a way other than the orthodox. I hope that it will not be long before there will be much greater flexibility in getting teachers into universities for short periods, for a term or so, linked with an orthodox approach to the problem of teacher-training.
There is one very obvious source of supply of teachers which, I hope, the Minister will consider in a different light from that in which it is sometimes considered in the House. Many over-65s are available. They need a financial inducement. Retired teachers are having a rougher time with regard to pensions than they had a right to expect. I should have thought that as a temporary measure, perhaps till 1967 or until the teacher crisis is over, it would be possible to enable teachers of over 65 to continue teaching for four or five years and add greatly to their pension entitlement. I appreciate that there is the very serious problem of the Civil Service rules about this, but I think that this is an exception which would justify special treatment.
The problem, in essence, is the improvement of teachers' conditions. What I have been speaking about are first-aid measures which ought to be tried, and I believe that they would produce substantial results. But there is no doubt that teachers ought to have a higher starting salary. The scale should be shorter. I have never understood why men and women should have to reach nearly middle-age before getting to the top of their salary scales, and I never really felt that the man at the top of the scale, after twenty years, was so much better than a young man of four or five years' experience. The inquiry of the College of Preceptors bears this out.
The teachers seem to be unanimous about the part of the Crowther Report which says that it is necessary to do more than is being done to attract men and women of the highest intellectual calibre into teaching. The number of schools which have accepted that range well over 90 per cent., and mostly 95 to 97 per cent. I would ask the Minister also to bear that in mind. We need much more sabbatical leave and much readier overseas secondment. I admit at once that recently the Ministry of Education has been very far-seeing in this way and has made overseas secondment much easier and attractive.
When I was in Sierra Leone, about three years ago, I was impressed by the possibilities there for teachers, male teachers particularly, to have one or two years' experience in overseas conditions. There are some local authorities which are not very helpful about this.
Also, refresher courses for teachers should be free. There should be none of the rather miserly approach to teachers who want to take a refresher course. It is true that this would involve expenditure of money, but there should be much more easily made available laboratory technicians, clerks and assistance with school meals. Further, responsibility allowances should be given to key teachers and teachers with particularly difficult jobs. The Crowther Report recommends that difficult groups, in particular, should attract for the teachers responsibility allowances. It is absolutely vital if teachers are likely to be faced with 15 to 16-year-olds.
It is quite a reasonable way to take the reports of the headmasters. When governing bodies make special responsibility grants, they normally make them on the recommendations of headmasters, so it is nothing different from what is done in practice. I would be prepared to ask the Minister to think out other ways of doing it.
Finally, the Crowther Report says that the publicity campaign for teachers should be speeded up. I agree with that. The arrangements for a publicity drive cannot be separated from good conditions for teachers, and, of course, good relations between the teachers and their employers. I read of one local authority —I do not think that it was the Durham County Council—where an inspector, after retiring, following his life service in the employ of the authority, received a letter, signed by a clerk, thanking him for his services.
One of the little things which I was able to do in Durham, before I came to this House, was to institute a letter which was sent to all teachers as they joined the authority. It was a good letter. I admit that I did not draft it— I only signed it. I thought that it would be helpful in improving relations between councillors, who are often very much misunderstood by teachers, and teachers, who are often badly misunderstood by councillors. Anything of that kind would be a move in the right direction. We must get teachers and if we are to get them we must provide better conditions and try unorthodox methods. Despite my previous criticism of the Tory Party, I wish the Minister well in his task.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) has made a powerful speech advocating the dilution of the teaching profession. That is one way of achieving what we all want to achieve, but I very much agree with the quotation which he read from the Crowther Report, which is what teachers want much more than dilution.
One thing that struck me is that this is the first time that I have listened to a debate in which the Minister has introduced a Report for which he himself was responsible, having set up the Committee which reported to him. Many times Ministers of Education have had to reap where they have not sown, and sow where they could not reap. My right hon. Friend is very fortunate in this.
This is an important Report, and it is important in its own right. To my mind, however, it is really only a symptom of the intense interest which the whole country is now taking in education. It underlines the belief which is almost universally held, and which has been expressed so often in this debate, that the 1960s ought to be an era for a great step forward in education. I believe that our people now have an appreciation of the sacrifices that they will have to make if we are to go ahead on the lines advocated by the Crowther Report, and a desire to understand the difficulties which face any Government, Conservative or Labour, which attempts to implement them.
That state of affairs gives the Government—and the Minister of Education, in particular—the greatest opportunity ever offered any Administration. I remember speaking in this House when a Labour Government were in power, and later when a Conservative Government were in power, when it was very difficult to create among our people an interest in all the things that we wanted to do in education. Things are different now. This means that there is an obligation upon the Government to prepare a blueprint for the future, covering all the facets of the educational problem.
It is not enough merely to examine piecemeal all the various factors, such as junior schools, secondary schools, technical and technological education, youth services, universities and, most important, teachers' training. They are all inter-related, and it is expedient that Parliament and the country should from time to time be able to see the whole picture so that they can debate and understand it, besides having some say in the direction that we shall take in the next twenty years.
I am sorry— it was done remarkably well by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and the right hon. Member for South Shields.
Although we were then at war they produced a general picture of what was happening and what should happen in education. The Act was preceded by a series of debates and a White Paper— and what might be described as a general debate of the nation, even with a great war in progress. It is a tribute to the 1944 Act that it has stood for so long remarkably unshaken. There were obvious weaknesses, such as the tripartite system, in respect of which it has broken down a little, and now is the time to reconsider those weaknesses.
In the near future we should produce a White Paper, or something even bigger, which will give us an opportunity of seeing the whole plan at the same time and obtaining the country's views of our proposals for the future and our educational philosophy. I would go further than the blueprint went before the 1944 Act. I thought that I would be on very delicate ground in making this suggestion, but the Minister made some remarks about the universities which, a few years ago, would have been quite outrageous. I was delighted to hear him make them, and I was also glad to hear what he had to say about the curricula in schools. Up to now, we have been far too cowardly in talking of these matters, and it is high time that the House gave more consideration to the functions of the universities and the place they have in our educational system.
It is one of the anomalies of our time that while we have, more than ever before, children who are theoretically capable of a university course a smaller proportion than on many past occasions is able to take advantage of it. The obvious deductions have been mentioned in the debate on several occasions—either the qualifications are wrong, or there are far too few places available. In any case, it is clear that the disproportion must inevitably distort the work and curricula of the secondary schools. It would do the universities a great deal of good if they received from time to time more robust attention from this House.
Apart from the general advantages of making a plan, which I have inadequately tried to describe, there are two reasons why I believe it is especially important at present. The first is that we have recently gone in for the block grant method of helping local education authorities to finance education. Having done that, it is essential to give the local authorities notice ahead of our plans so that they may be in a position to plan their future advance at the lowest cost. Nothing can be more expensive, having begun to plan for the future, then to have the plan changed four or five years ahead, thus losing so much of what one would have done had one known.
Secondly, and most important, the sort of progress which the Crowther Report envisages, is obviously enormously expensive and, as I have tried to indicate, covers only a proportion of the far wider expenditure which would be involved if we made a rational advance along the whole education front. We can only hope to achieve it without running into all the difficulties which overspending brings—such as inflation—if we have behind us the whole country, the people who have to provide the money, and who have to make such sacrifices as are necessary.
We can only hope to have that if we explain to them fully and clearly the importance of what we propose to do. There has been considerable interest in the House recently about the methods which we use to curb overspending and there has been expressed a general desire to improve those methods. We all desire it, because it is our duty directly to protect the people whose money is being spent and also to protect them from the far worse and more dangerous indirect effects of national overspending.
We must, however, always remember that national thrift is not an end in itself. The main object which it does so much to advance is to increase efficient and economic production. It is from that source that all our prosperity, the hopes of better social services and a higher standard of living, must spring. Looking at it in that way, investment in education is essential if we are to have an ever-increasing flow of skilled workers, technicians and managers to maintain ever-increasing production.
Although I believe that we should make a plan before we commit ourselves to individual things, that does not mean that we should not go ahead to improve the existing basic deficiencies. As has been said time and again in this debate, and by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland in particular, I am perfectly certain that our first and outstanding object must be to increase the number of teachers. Even if we make no educational progress but just stay as we are, an increase in their numbers is essential. If we are to advance, an increase in the number of teachers is the key to the rate at which we can go ahead. That means that we have to face considerable additional costs, because, as every hon. Member knows but does not always say, the cost of teachers is by far the heaviest burden in education.
Nevertheless, not to tackle the problem now would be to reject nearly all the recommendations of the Crowther Report out of hand, and I believe that the Government must face the additional cost. I am certain that we can meet the challenge thrown out by the Report, by the Albemarle Report and the other reports which are flooding into the Ministry of Education. It will need much hard work and perhaps a touch of inspiration, but I am sure that we shall get that. Everyone knows that Shakespeare said:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
It is true about Government Departments as well. Great national objects have just the same tides in their affairs. There is obviously a tide flowing in education. Let us take advantage of it.
The hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle (Cmdr. Maitland) said that the Education Act, 1944, had stood the test of time. We still have to apply that Act and it is still a long way from having been tested and, to judge from the debate, there is still a long way to go.
The Minister made an interesting speech, but at the end of it I asked myself what he had promised. He said that he accepted the principle of the raising of the school-leaving age, that more building was necessary, that more teachers were necessary and that county colleges should be established; but he did not promise us anything except a short sharp campaign for recruiting teachers. That was all we had, plus the fact that a little more money is to be spent on research in education. However, he avoided giving one definite hope for the future about the main proposals of the Crowther Report.
Anyone who served on the Advisory Council and listened to the debate must be very disappointed, because all the Council's hard work and its definite proposals in this magnificent Report have meant nothing, according to the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He welcomed the Report, but he is to do nothing about it. After a Report of this character, we should be expected to do something concrete before another twenty years have passed.
It is always the dedicated few who make progress and fight for progress in education. We have been told that it was during the war that the 1944 Act was thought out. I hope that we do not have to wait for another war before more progress is thought out. Education has made leaps forward because of a dedicated few local authorities, some Governments and some dedicated educationists. The Crowther Report is almost a textbook for education to those dedicated few, and it seems that for a long time they will have to dedicate themselves to fighting for the implementation of the proposals in the Report.
Under the heading, "Sixty Years of Growth" the Report says, on page 3:
We could not as a nation enjoy the standard of living we have today on the education we gave our children a hundred or even fifty years ago. If we are to build a higher standard of living—and, what is more important, if we are to have higher standards in life—we shall need a firmer educational base than we have today. Materially and morally, we are compelled to go forward.
I hope that will sink in. Materially and morally we have an obligation to apply as soon as possible, and certainly much sooner than twenty years hence, some of the proposals in the Report.
We have heard a lot today about waiting until people are ready. We have also heard it said that we should depend on the voluntary desire of people to keep their children at school. Both as a teacher and as a member of a local authority I have heard that said for many years. If we wait until people are ready, or until they voluntarily desire it, we shall again wait for a long time. Every time the school-leaving age has been raised it has been put up in spite of the people whom it was designed to benefit. Unfortunately, it was very often the working-class parent who, in the past, resisted the raising of the school-leaving age because of economic needs. Today, in the 1960s, we look at this problem in the light of what is best for the young people, and what is best for the country as a whole.
We ought to have had a promise today that on a certain date the school-leaving age would be raised. Unless we fix a date we shall go on in a haphazard way for many years. I had hoped that the Minister would have chosen one of the three dates suggested in the Crowther Report and said that that was the date which the Government intended to achieve—not which they hoped to achieve.
It is regrettable that today only 40 per cent. of the children in the age group which we are considering get either part-time or full-time education after the age of 15.
That figure is taken from the Crowther Report. Sixty per cent. get none at all. It is regrettable that only 5·6 per cent. of girls get any further part-time education. I hope to return to that topic later.
We have also heard about juvenile delinquency. The Crowther Council puts the reasons for raising the school-leaving age very forcibly. The first is that at that age, namely, 15 to 18, young people are at the most difficult period of their lives. They are going through adolescence with all its problems, all its confusion, and all the difficulties which confront young people. At that precise age we turn on to the labour market the majority of our young people, with all the problems with which the labour market presents them. We turn them on to the labour market without making very much provision for their further education. In these modern days, as the Crowther Report puts it, they are confronted by a maze of television, newspapers, cinemas and various other attractions.
The Crowther Council also argues that the extra year could make so much difference to the type of education which we give to our young people. I do not want anyone to think of it as one more year added on to a secondary education. In the last two years particularly special attention should be given to the type of education which our children are given.
One would think from listening to the debate that the Crowther Council was concerned only with what I call the most able children—the children who could benefit from a grammar school education; the children who could take the G.C.E. in a secondary modern school, and those who could go on to universities. But the Crowther Council was concerned not only with the high-flyers, but with the ordinary children as well. It was concerned with those children who because of circumstances—possibly at home, possibly in their own mental ability—are the least likely to reap any advantage from an added educational career.
When people speak of delinquency, they make far too much of the group of people who get into trouble. They miss the mass of young folks who lead honest and encouraging lives. On Friday night I was at a prize-giving. It was a joy to see a large hall full of young folks struggling to their very best to get a further education. It was wonderful to see their achievements. It is encouraging to go into many secondary modern schools and see what is being done for the pupils.
I could take hon. Members to a modern school sited in what was a very large slum clearance area. All kinds of experiments have taken place there. In the middle of a city a little group of backward children even do farming and are encouraged to exhibit their chickens and rabbits in shows. Much is done for them on the dramatic side, on youth hostelling, on visits to other countries and to places in this country. We have a good headmaster with a broad vision. At present, there is not one child on probation. That school is also doing a G.C.E. course.
I hope that we shall not gear all our secondary modern education in secondary modern schools to the taking of the G.C.E. I want to see more children have the opportunity to take it. The Crowther Council argues a case for comprehensive schools as well as any I have heard argued, but I should hate to see us make in secondary education the same mistakes as are being made in junior schools by gearing those to the 11-plus. More able children should be encouraged to take either the General Certificate of Education or another certificate of a lower standard. In Stoke-on-Trent we have had some very encouraging results from the G.C.E. course. In some cases the pupils have knocked grammar school pupils for six.
When we are thinking of the kind of education to be provided for girls, I hope that we shall not think only in terms of domestic science, but encourage them to take more of the other sciences. I have a vivid recollection of interviewing some people for the headship of a big secondary modern school. It was to be a mixed school, and one applicant said that he thought that the only provision needed for girls was "Dom. Science". I was annoyed, because girls already are showing that they have the ability to take a higher degree of maths, more science— even technology—and we should encourage secondary education to provide for them.
During the last few years, the Government have had many opportunities to be much more progressive in their provision of training college places. Figures have been given for 1958, when the Minister was asked to do something about teacher training. Then 12,000 additional places were promised, although it was proved beyond a shadow of doubt, even then, that 16,000 was the minimum number required.
Last year, there had to be the increase of 4,000 places, but that does not by any means take account of the number of teachers who will be required if we increase the leaving age; the number and type of teachers who will be required for county colleges, and the number we ought to be providing in order to reduce the size of primary school classes. Do not let us forget that much of what we do later depends on what we do for our primary school children.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) put forward some very useful suggestions. We have by no means tapped all the sources of recruitment of teachers. Many teachers have left school because of marriage. I am very glad that the old days have gone when women teachers were considered unmarriageable. To be in the profession then was to be left on the shelf. More women could be encouraged to come back, if only to part-time education, for special reading classes and classes on special subjects.
We could recruit more teachers from those who have spent some time in industry. They could bring a great experience of the life they have spent there, and would bring to teaching almost a new breath of air. We could do much more to encourage grammar school sixth-formers to enter the profession, and we could also do much more to encourage some of those at our universities to enter it. Much work could be done there. If that were done, we could take from teachers many of the unnecessary demands that are made of them today—the school meals, and lots of secretarial work.
We could also give those wanting to enter the teaching profession much more encouragement to do so by giving them a sense that the Government of today are urgently concerned with the importance of education. They have not that sense today, though the Crowther Report goes some way towards giving it. We could do much more in the recruitment of teachers, but it will not be a short, sharp campaign. A long, continued campaign will be necessary to make sure that, as we go on, we get both the quantity and the quality of teacher we should have.
I do not think that it is always realised how easily some local authorities are gradually working towards the establishment of county colleges. My own local authority will this year open a new college of commerce that could be a basis of a county college. It is to be opened in September, but we are already wondering whether it will be big enough for the number of people who wish to go to it. The desire is there. We shall have our college of art. This year the women's technical college will be opened in our further education centre. In a booklet which has just been produced for our jubilee year, which is this year, we set out the number and the variety of courses which are available for young folks on part-time day release. Incidentally, I would rather have a system of block release and sandwich courses than part-time day release.
We are trying also to encourage employers to realise that they, too, must play their part if we are to succeed. In these colleges not only will we have a vocational course, but there will also be a course which will give to these young people a sense of integrity, of purpose and of service to the community. That must be added to the vocational course if we are to succeed in our educational purpose.
I hope that the Crowther Report will receive much better consideration from the Government than it has had today. I hope that many of its proposals, such as the raising of the school-leaving age, better building, the campaign for teachers and the provision of progressive further education, will go ahead much more quickly than the Minister has indicated today or than the Motion seems to indicate. Education is one of the most satisfying types of work which anybody can do. I have always felt that my local authority work on education was the most satisfying thing that I have ever done. But it can be satisfying only in so far as those on the local authorities and in the profession, and those dedicated educationists, receive the encouragement which the Government should be giving to them.
Although I agree with some of the comments of the hon. Lady the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater), I certainly do not share her pessimism about the eventual outcome of this Report. I wish to refer to two aspects mentioned in the Report, but in no way do I wish to give the impression that I do not agree with the thought-provoking conclusions and the broad plan for the future educational structure of the country. I agree entirely with the recommendations of the Report.
We all consider that in some way we are educational experts, and this fact has been borne out by the number of Members who have spoken today. Some, like the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), have had practical experience in education. Others of us have an interest in the subject, probably because we have undergone, to a greater or lesser extent, experience in education.
The main conclusion to be drawn from a debate like this is that the basic educational policy of this country must be to implement still further the Education Act, 1944, and the fact that we must spend more and more money on education in the interests not only of the individual, but of the spiritual and material development of the country. The figures which my right hon. Friend has produced today are very salutary, particularly in his reference to the "growing slice of the national income" which is to be spent on education.
There is fairly general agreement that the recommendations in the Crowther Report are excellent, that they are well considered, and that they must eventually be put into effect; but I believe that my right hon. Friend is right to say that there are two overriding priorities, the reduction of class size and the better recruitment of teachers. Both are inextricably interlinked. Any teacher will tell us of the remarkable progress which can be made with a class which is reduced in size only slightly and what a great help it can be to the slower children.
Very sincerely, I believe that we need many more teachers. Very many suggestions have been advanced as to how this can be achieved, but I believe that there is one inescapable overriding factor. We must pay teachers more. I agree with the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) when he says that we must give more attention to the salaries of teachers. We shall never achieve the full complement in our teaching service until the rewards are commensurate with the salaries in other professions. The notion that the salary is second to the call of the vocation may have been all right twenty-five or thirty years ago, but today it is very dangerous and out of date in a highly competitive world.
Very shortly after the Crowther Report was published, a joint committee of the Association of Teachers and the National Union of Teachers stated that:
The advances urged could not be carried out without an early and considerable expansion of teacher training provision beyond that already approved.
Many of us who have listened to the debate will agree with that.
I am glad to follow what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) and by my hon. Friend the Members for Barons Court (Mr. Compton Carr), in his admirable maiden speech. The teaching of English is extremely important. This matter is referred to in the Crowther Report and is treated as one of the most important points raised in the preface. In paragraph 11, it is said:
We have not been able to discuss any one subject of the curriculum in detail. If we have felt able to make any exceptions to this it would have been in favour of some
discussion of the teaching of English and of Mathematics, which seem to us to be the key subjects. We cannot help but be disturbed both by the mediocre standards of spoken and written English among children leaving our schools and by the low standards in the field of mathematics which are (so it seems to us) wrongly accepted as inevitable for far too many pupils.
For a long time I have had an uneasy feeling that insufficient emphasis has been laid upon the teaching of English in all our schools. English, as we all know, is the key to knowledge and to a better and more interesting life. If the vast majority of school leavers today were really literate by the age of 15, we could achieve a highly significant advance without raising the school-leaving age to 16 for some years yet. Too many employers today complain of the lack of real literacy among their staffs, the members of which have had an allegedly thorough education up to the age of 15.
I myself, having been interested in education for some years, have met youngsters who were reasonably well versed in science subjects, but their speech and writing was grievously ungrammatical and they were woefully lacking in the various forms of self-expression.
There is further reference to this matter in the Report. I will not weary the House with long extracts, but in paragraph 316 it is said:
We are all agreed that 'mastery of language' is one of the most important elements of a general education, and one where there is little ground for complacency about the effectiveness of present teaching methods. There is very widespread complaint, which we believe to be justified, about the average standards of competence in the use of language among the boys and girls who leave the schools.
The teaching of English should play a significant r61e in improving general standards throughout the country. I support right hon. and hon. Members, notably my right hon. Friend, in saying that there is too much specialisation today for many children, and too much specialisation, in particular, for those children who will never achieve the heights of attaining full G.C.E. standard or of going on to a university.
I think that it is no use keeping children an extra year at school unless they have benefited from the earlier years of their education, particularly in the basic subjects, like English. We are all encouraged on the other aspects of this by children staying on voluntarily. Those of us who serve on county education committees have done all we can to encourage more children to stay on, and as time goes on I believe that the figures will improve considerably.
Another point to which I should like to refer is referred to extensively in the Report, although it is not the subject of one of the main recommendations. This is the importance of equal educational chances for girls. Last Friday evening, I had the rather unnerving ex-experience of appearing with the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) on the B.B.C.'s popular television programme "Who Goes Home?" I say "popular". It was certainly popular until last Friday. I hope that it is still popular after last Friday.
The usual number of partisan questions were fired at us, but there was one, in particular, which caught my interest and which, I think, was also appreciated by the studio audience. It concerned the importance of equal educational chances for girls. I referred to the fact that we were to debate the Crowther Report today, and I was shocked afterwards to find that the person who had raised the question was the headmistress of one of the major comprehensive schools and a distinguished member of the Crowther Council. One meets people in very strange places.
I am sure that we all realise the need for educational chances for the highly intelligent girl and for the brilliant girl, but I think that, in the past, we have tended to overlook the average girl in our recommendations for better education. There have always been opportunities for the less clever, but all girls must have educational chances equal to boys if only because, by the natural process of things, they become mothers of families and an important educational influence themselves in bringing up those families. We cannot place too much emphasis on that point.
The approach to the teaching of girls is of vital concern, and I am pleased to see that the Crowther Council dealt with this at some length. I should like to quote once more from page 33 of the Report. Paragraph 50 states:
The earlier age at which women now marry has serious consequences for the education of adolescent girls. It hardly leaves
time for a girl to become fully qualified professionally, and to gain experience in the exercise of her skill, before marriage and childbirth interrupt her career. It will, we think, be generally agreed that some period of independence, of being out in the world, before marriage is highly desirable. It is increasingly difficult to reconcile this with the demands of school life. Certainly it points to a radically new conception of the way in which girls of 17 and 18 should be treated. If they are to remain in full-time education, it will, we think, be necessary to treat them far more as students than as school girls.
It is vital that we should bear that in mind in future planning of education, and that it was very wise of the Crowther Council to draw attention to that matter.
Having emphasised the need for added weight to the teaching of English, from my own point of view, and for added help for the average girl pupil, I would say that, in my humble opinion, this Report is a work which will be quoted years from now. As one of my hon. Friends said, it is a textbook which will be used extensively by people interested in education. It forms a fine basis for the future of our educational system. From today's debate, we are well aware of the needs. We must get on with the job of reducing classes and obtaining extra teachers. When all that is achieved, or a great proportion of it, we can go ahead and fully implement the whole of the Crowther Report's recommendations.
Having sat throughout the debate and listened to the speeches of hon. Members, I can say that we are all agreed that the Crowther Committee has presented an excellent blueprint for education. In paying tribute to the Committee's work, however, it is not so much our tribute in words that matters, but the action that goes behind our words that will reveal our satisfaction to the Committee.
The Government's pious Motion welcoming the Report means nothing. Anybody can welcome a Report. We have put down our Amendment because there is need for specific action to be taken following the Report.
I approach the problem from an entirely different angle. My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M Stewart), speaking in the housing debate last week, referred to the "submerged tenth". The same children are involved in the problem which has been dealt with by the Crowther Report. For several years, I have taken an active part in education and its development. In my area, I have traced the beginning of education from the London Lead Company and the Church Commissioners and the beginning of the system in the Weardale area. The curriculum that was available for the young people in those days was sufficient to carry them into the everyday activity of work at a tender age.
In my research into HANSARD, I was interested to find that on 21st May, 1816, a Mr. Brougham called for the appointment of a Select Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into the Lower Orders. I do not have time to quote the whole of the Report of that Committee, but part of it states:
Instead of making them good servants in agriculture and other laborious employments to which their rank in society has destined them, it would enable them to read seditious pamphlets and it would render them insolent to their superiors.
I have yet to be convinced that that principle prevails throughout much of our educational system. That is why I am fighting for what my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham referred to last week as the "submerged tenth".
The Ministry of Labour Gazette of February, 1960, published the unemployment figures of juveniles under the age of 18 on 11th January, showing that 22,049 boys and 13,362 girls were unemployed, making a total of 35,411 boys and girls under the age of 18 out of work. That is the problem that we have to face.
The Minister tells us that more boys and girls are remaining longer at school. The reason for this is that there is no work for them. It is the unemployed 35,000 who represent the problem of the "submerged tenth". It is the problem of the average boy and girl that we must face when we talk of juvenile delinquency. Can we wonder, then, that the Crowther Report recommends that we should raise to 16 the age for compulsory attendance at school?
I speak of my experience in industrial activities as one who left the elementary school on the Friday and started work in the mines on the Monday. That was the process we had to accept. I was anxious to continue attendance at school but economic circumstances at home were such that I had to go to work. These are some of the problems which we have to face among the submerged tenth of working-class people. There is also the problem of apprenticeship arising out of increased mechanisation and automation in industry. All these provide a challenge to the Minister. He must tackle these problems from that angle in future.
It was my experience to present the educational development plan for my county under the 1944 Education Act. It was then to cost about £47 million. That figure would be more than doubled now. There were to be nursery schools, primary schools, secondary schools, provision for further education, and county colleges. What a wonderful structure it was, and with what enthusiasm we as administrators entered into it. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House and my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) will not recognise their own 1944 Act baby today. Its head and feet have been lopped off. We are still talking about implementing the 1944 Act, and the Tory Government have been in power since 1951.
I remember speaking to the Minister of Education when it was intended to close the emergency teachers' colleges. Pressure was being brought upon us to close them and now we are talking about a shortage of teachers. It is true that there has been an extension for the Nevilles Cross College but at the same time Wynyard Hall Training College, where 120 women teachers were being trained, has been closed. It was within the two-year training course at the emergency training colleges that some of the teachers who are now required were to be found.
There is a shortage of medical, ophthalmic and dental services for the implementation of the 1944 Act. The school meals service used to be spoken of with pride. It was to be an educational exercise for boys and girls, but a mockery has been made of it. The reorganisation of the rural schools is at a standstill. Children in the rural areas are, in effect, experiencing a class barrier. There are problems of supply of teachers in the secondary schools.
The curriculum even in the primary schools is becoming narrower, and teachers are victims of circumstances because they have to prepare their pupils for the 11-plus examination. Similar considerations apply in the grammar schools. Those who do not get into the grammar schools are in the "main stream", which is a challenge to the nation and provides one of the greatest problems that we are called upon to face nowadays.
Therefore, I plead with the Minister or with the Parliamentary Secretary to announce a specific date by which he will seek to raise the school-leaving age to 16. We on this side of the House will give him all the help and encouragement he needs to bring that into effect and to provide the necessary supply of teachers.
We have had today a debate on a Report which is historic, and we have had some extremely interesting and well-informed speeches. We have had no fewer than four maiden speeches from the Government benches and we were very glad to hear all of them. As there have been unusually many, I am sure that those who made them will not expect me to comment individually upon them, but I say with the greatest sincerity—
I will resume by saying again how glad we were to hear the four maiden speeches. We are most happy to have with us the hon. Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson). I welcome her particularly as an addition to our very small band of lady Members. We had a most interesting speech from the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Holland), a stimulating one from the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran) and, finally, another very interesting speech from the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Compton Carr). I am sure that I am speaking for everyone in the House when I say that we hope that all these hon. Members will make further contributions to our debates at least as good as they have on this first occasion of addressing the House.
The first thing I want to say concerning the Crowther Report, which is the best-written Report I have ever read, is that I hope very much that every teacher in the country and every member of a local education committee and every member of a local authority education staff will read the Report, because it deserves it. It is extremely closely argued and there is hardly a waste word in it.
I have been a little disturbed to find that there have been persons—not, I am sure, Members of the House—who have made comments on the recommendations in the Report when it is clear from the way in which they have made their comments that they could not have read the Report itself. This applies to some of those who answered the questionnaire of the College of Preceptors. It is an interesting study, but if one looks at the detailed answers one finds that some people have written either "for" or "against" without having direct knowledge of the Report.
I am relatively new to this subject in connection with Parliamentary work and I have spent the last few months seeing as many persons as possible connected with education. I have visited a number of schools in different parts of the country and of different types. I have spoken with directors and chief officers of education and with a number of teachers in different schools and I take this opportunity of expressing my personal thanks to all who have been so extremely courteous and helpful to me in this matter. One thing which strikes anyone who goes on that kind of pilgrimage is the infinite variety of our education provision. It is far from being stereotyped. In particular, in the schools which we call secondary modern, there is every kind of educational experiment going on. This in itself is extremely interesting, but it should lead one to being a little cautious in making generalisations.
For example, in speaking of secondary modern schools one must have in mind the tremendous variety in the type of scholar who is to be found in different education authorities. It all depends on the proportion taken into grammar schools, where we have such a range as, for instance, 10 per cent. only of grammar school places provided in the County of Rutland compared with 57 per cent. in the County of Merioneth, and, of course, a general percentage throughout the Principality of Wales much higher than that of England. This is a fact which has great bearing on some of the discussions concerning the Crowther Report. The crux of the Report is what is to happen to the girls and boys who are now in the secondary modern schools. Therefore, many of one's judgments must be taken in the light of the circumstances which I have mentioned.
This study of mine, brief though it has been, is, in a sense, the story of a conversion. When I started, having read the Crowther Report and its recommendations for the first time—I have since reread a great deal of it—I was somewhat sceptical for one or two reasons. First, I felt very strongly, and still do, that the priority which the Labour Party put first in its educational programme was the right one, namely, a reduction in the size of classes. The Minister today also laid great stress on the reduction in the size of classes. When he first did so I was happy to learn that he was seized of the vital importance of this, but, frankly, I was deeply disappointed when, in reply to my question about what he was intending by a reduction in the size of classes, he indicated that he was not contemplating a reduction in the size of primary school classes below 40. This seems to me to be one of the most serious defects of all in the right hon. Gentleman's approach to this matter.
The right hon. Gentleman made a speech which was, needless to say, a polished speech in many ways and also a very interesting speech. I agreed with a good deal of what he said about technical education and university education and its influence on the schools. But I confess that I felt a very great sense of disappointment at the actual proposals which he made. My disappointment was as keenly felt on this as on any other matter. Apparently, the right hon. Gentleman will not accept within the foreseeable future what most of us feel to be an absolutely essential educational reform, that of reducing the size of classes in primary schools from a standard of 40 to a standard of 30.
We have had a great deal of most eloquent comment from hon. Members opposite about the need for very much improved teaching so that all children shall have the chance of being really competent readers of their own language. One cannot ensure that if the numbers in the primary classes remain as high as the hitherto accepted standard. I say most emphatically that we would have expected from the Government a declaration that, emphasising as they do the reduction in the size of classes as one of their first priorities, there should be a reduction to 30 in primary schools as well as 30 in secondary schools.
It is because I felt this so strongly that I had some doubts about the order of priority with the extension of the school-leaving age to 16, and because of my feeling that the priority should be smaller classes first I was prepared to accept the latest of the dates suggested by the Crowther Council for raising the school-leaving age. There are arguments for and against taking the first of the three years, the second or the last. If one had had a pledge of 30 in primary classes one would have been willing to accept the latest of the dates for raising the school-leaving age.
I would have accepted that also for one other reason. There is no doubt that there is a certain feeling of anxiety among teachers in the secondary modern schools about the compulsory raising of the school-leaving age. I am perfectly conscious of this having talked to a number of them in different parts of the country, but I should like to say to the teachers who are worrying about this subject that they should not be thinking of it in terms of the conditions in which they find themselves in 1960. Nobody is proposing that there should be a compulsory increase in the leaving age in the conditions which obtain today. Even the earliest date suggested in the Crowther Report is seven years from now, and the later date is nine years from now. A very great deal can happen in seven to nine years.
I would say to the teachers, who are undoubtedly a little worried about this, that they should remember that they are going through a most difficult period in the secondary modern schools, that the peak year for the 15-year-olds is 1962, that we all recognise that the numbers in the secondary modern schools at present make for really acute problems for all the staffs concerned and that we sympathise with them. But, as the Crowther Report so vividly illustrates, once we have passed that peak there will be a period in which the strain will be far less and in which it should be possible to make a real step forward by raising the school-leaving age to 16. I think that one can fairly say to teachers who have some doubts on this that they should take heart and not be daunted, because in 1960, next year and even the year after they will be struggling in very difficult conditions.
We have to face the problem: should we rely on children staying on, if they want to, between 15 and 16? Several hon. Members have suggested that this would be a satisfactory way of dealing with it. The Minister laid great stress on the desirability of allowing this movement of staying on to maintain its own momentum and that the Government should not intervene, but let matters take their course, for, as far as we can tell, many years to come.
It is perfectly true that about one-third of children of 15 continue in education at present. In some areas it is higher still and the latest figures show that 46 per cent. of the school children in London remain in some form of full-time education beyond the age of 15. It may be for only a term, or it may be for much longer, but at least that number stay on beyond the age of 15.
We must ask ourselves: is it reasonable to suggest that we should have compulsion—why not let matters take their course, the numbers staying on are increasing and surely that should be sufficient? I cannot feel that it is satisfactory to leave it entirely in this way. I have several reasons for suggesting this. As several hon. Members have said, if we leave this purely to voluntary action then many of the children who most need a further period in school, not merely for book learning but for the stabilising effect on their own emotional development and character, are precisely the ones who will not stay. If we leave it to voluntary decision, then some of the economic factors so vividly described by the hon. Member for Uxbridge come into play, although in rather a different way from that which he suggested.
I agree largely with the hon. Gentleman's main argument, although not entirely with the conclusion that he draws from it. At present. the standard of living of teen-agers has become so high that if we allow a number of children to leave school and go into paid employment. earning relatively large sums of money and, therefore, being able to indulge in conspicuous expenditure, the effect on the other children whom we expect to stay on voluntarily will be such that unless they have a very clearly defined goal, academic or occupational, they will be subjected to a very great strain. They will have to stay at school while the others are earning money and buying new clothes, gramophone records, and so on. A quite unjustified strain will also be placed upon the parents of such children. The Minister should not delegate responsibility in this fashion. We must seriously accept the necessity for raising the school-leaving age to 16 as soon as practicable, and I shall shortly refer to the conditions in which I think that it will be reasonable to do so.
We must also face the problem which is put very clearly by the Crowther Council: granted that we have a general rule that the school-leaving age should be 16, should we allow any exceptions? A minority report suggests that in certain very carefully safeguarded conditions it might be better to allow certain children to leave school and go into employment at an earlier age. This is a matter which I have been at very great pains to discuss with as many competent people as I could find in the schools and in industry, and I have come to the conclusion that it would not work satisfactorily. Without exception, those who would be responsible for making the decision have told me, "As an administrative exercise, we really could not face it. The number of excuses, or even deceptions, which might be brought before us would make the administration of such a scheme quite impossible."
The minority report was wrong in failing to appreciate the fact that there is considerable flexibility at present. Many head teachers have told me that they encourage their elder children to work on Saturdays, during the holidays, and even before and after school. By the time they have reached the age of 14 it does them no harm. One South London headmistress told me last week, "I encourage my girls to work on Saturdays. When they have to stand on their feet all day long, shampooing at a hairdresser's, it takes a good deal of the glamour off the thought of working six days a week." This ancillary work brings-in a little extra pocket money and helps in the change-over from school to full-time working, with which we are all very much concerned.
We are quite justified in telling the Government that the main recommendation of the Crowther Council, that we should now plan specifically for the raising of the school-leaving age to 16, without exception, should be put in hand. We are very sympathetic with the various proposals for part-time technical education, for the development of county colleges wherever possible, and so on. No one could read that part of the Crowther Council's Report dealing with the defects of our technical education for youngsters leaving school without being very deeply shocked.
I find myself more in sympathy with the Minister in his comments on the technical colleges and county colleges than with most of the rest of his speech. In Flintshire, we have a county college under the same roof as a technical college, and it seems to work very satisfactorily. His proposal that the 300 or so local technical colleges should be the centres for county colleges is a sensible one, and I trust that it will be applied.
Now I come to the real nub of that matter, which is the question of the supply of teachers we need to implement the recommendations of the Crowther Report. I will not spend time discussing buildings for two reasons: first, I feel that on the whole our school building programme, in spite of omissions here and there, is more satisfactory than our teacher training programme; and, secondly, although one can manage in unsatisfactory buildings, one cannot manage with unsatisfactory teachers. The supply of teachers is the real key point.
The Minister has said that he accepts the proposal by the Advisory Council that there should be not only the 16,000 extra teachers—at long last wrung out of the Government after a whole year was lost because of the dilatoriness of his predecessor—but that he will accept the recommendation for an additional 8,000. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will explain precisely how that recommendation is to be carried out, and when. This is a question of timetables. The Crowther Report is not a matter of principle, but of timetable— that is its whole essence. We want to know precisely what the Minister's timetable is.
In a Parliamentary reply to me last week the right hon. Gentleman said that he estimates that he will have 308,000 teachers by 1967; that is to say, he will, by 1967, have 44,000 more than in 1959, which is the base year of the Crowther Report's recommendations. If we have these 44,000 extra teachers in 1967, then if we add only 5,000 a year more for the next two years we will have reached the Crowther miminum of 54,000. That is a very reasonable assumption indeed, because, as the House will be aware, 1968 and 1969 are the two peak years, from the point of view of population, for people to go through the training colleges and universities.
The peak year for the 18-year-olds is 1965, and, therefore, 1968 and 1969 are the years in which we will get our maximum output for a generation of teachers and university students who may go into teaching. It is because of this maximum—the bulge coming through the college years and back again as teachers—that the Crowther Report said that we should undertake expansion of the school life in this period.
If we had this position, which depends on the speed with which the training college places are provided by the Government, then we could undertake the Crowther reforms at least at their minimum level. As the Minister has agreed that he can produce 308,000 teachers by 1967, I put it to him that other calculations have been made showing that if there is any real drive and urgency about this matter it should be quite possible to produce 329,000 teachers by 1969.
If we were to do that, we would then have 66,000 teachers more than the base figure for 1959. I know that it is a little difficult to follow these figures, but, for those who have their "bibles" with them, the Crowther Report, on page 153, points out that with 75,000 extra teachers the size of classes in primary schools could be brought down to an average of 30, the secondary school pupil-teacher ratios could be reduced to one to seventeen and the leaving age could be raised to 16. We are not suggesting that all that can be done by 1969, but if we got 66,000 teachers that would be well beyond the half-way mark between the Crowther minimum and the desirable maximum of 75,000. Some hon. Members are shaking their heads, but I have taken these figures from the Crowther Report and if what I have argued is true these things can be done.
Whether they will be done is an entirely different matter. It is on that issue that we are challenging the Government tonight. The Minister said that it was not reasonable that we should ask for seven or eight years' notice of when it is proposed to raise the school-leaving age. He said that only four years' notice was needed for the necessary school buildings, and so on. But that is not the problem. The teacher-training colleges, not school buildings, are the key problem.
We have recently experienced the time it takes Her Majesty's Government, having reached a decision, to produce the actual teachers. The decision to have an extra 12,000 teachers was taken in 1958, but the colleges will not be ready until 1962. The decision to have an extra 4,000 teachers was taken in June, 1959, but I understand that the colleges will not be ready until 1963. It takes four years to build the colleges, and then the teachers have to be trained for three years. Therefore, it is only reasonable that there should be seven or eight years' notice of an intention to raise the school-leaving age.
We are entitled to a far more specific timetable than we have yet received from the Government. There is no danger of training too many teachers. When we have these extra teachers, there are still the needs of the Commonwealth to be considered. There are still the county colleges to be considered. We are nowhere near saturation point in the need for teachers and the Government need not hesitate about giving us the kind of plan for which we are asking.
The Minister said that there were certain imponderables which he could not calculate and which explained why he could not give us a precise timetable. What is it that he does not know about the next decade? There is only one thing and that is the number of children between five and 10 who will be in the schools in the latter part of this decade. That is because he does not know what the birth rate will be in the next five years. However, he does know how many children up to 15 years of age will be at school until 1974. He said that he did not know what the wastage of teachers would be, but he does know that it will be mostly among women teachers, as he suggested. It is precisely those women teachers who will be most able to help him if there is any increase in the birth rate resulting in there being more children in primary schools than he is now in a position to calculate.
The right hon. Gentleman is already in a good position to calculate the number of children who will be in secondary schools and would be affected by raising the school-leaving age. Therefore, we cannot accept from him the attitude that he does not know and cannot quite tell. It has been quoted already, but I make no apology for referring once again to the passage in paragraph 243 of the Report:
… the present situation is not in our opinion due to any falling off in the numbers of potential teachers"—
the teachers potentially are there; we all believe that—
… but to failures of anticipation in the sphere of public policy.
It is because we want to have no repetition of those failures of anticipation, which affect so fundamentally the future of the children of our country and our prosperity as a community, that we have tabled our Amendment. We are asking the Government to formulate proposals to implement the main recommendations of the Crowther Report as speedily as possible. I cannot see how the Government can fail to accept the Amendment If they mean business on this magnificent Report, the least that the Government can do is to carry out what we ask for in our Amendment.
I beg to move, at the end of the Question to add:
and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to formulate proposals to implement its main recommendations as speedily as possible.
It is not very often that the House debates education, but I am sure that everyone will agree that the debate today has been not only one of the best education debates we have ever had, but one of the best debates of any kind. I am sure that much attention will be paid, both in my Department and in the world of education outside, to what has been said in the debate.
I should like to join with all that has been said in congratulation of those of my hon. Friends—four in number—who have taken the opportunity of the debate to make maiden speeches. Everyone of them was of a very high quality indeed and showed not only a great awareness of the subject with which they dealt but a very competent House of Commons manner indeed. Those of us who did not make such very good maiden speeches— I am sorry to say that we are many—will have a sense of envy at the quality with which they added to our debates. We hope to hear them often. Significantly, there were four maiden speeches and four speakers from Wales. I am not quite sure if there is any connection between the figures, but I noticed the numbers.
I should also like to say, I am sure on behalf of everyone in the House, that we hope that the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Sydney Irving) will soon be well again and able to take part in our debates. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
I have listened with interest to the comments which have been made from both sides on the Government's proposals for reaching a conclusion about the raising of the school-leaving age. There is an attraction about a simple and precise statement committing either this Government or the next to a date on which the age should be raised to 16. However, I am sure that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) was right, together with other hon. Members, when he said that if the principle is important the timing is vital. First, we must hit upon the right time' for making the decision. Secondly, we must be sure that we have by that time put ourselves into a position in which that decision can be made successfully.
It must, I think, be agreed in all quarters of the House that we are at present a long way from a date on which it would be practical to insist on every one staying at school until the age of 16 years. The secondary schools could not, at present, take on such a task. They are improving fast—the House would be wrong to ignore that fact— and in four years' time they will be a great deal better, and improving every year. We lose nothing whatever by taking advantage of this interval to improve the schools, and to make a thorough assessment of their likely state towards the end of this decade.
The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) gave us some calculations about the number of teachers who would be necessary if we were to make the proposed change. I hope that she will not think me discourteous—I do not intend it unkindly—but I must say that I was not able to follow precisely the figures that she was discussing. If we were to reduce class sizes to the present maximum—that is, 40 for juniors and 30 for seniors—we would need 60,000 more teachers.
If, in addition, we were to reduce the primary classes from 40 to 30 we would need another 50,000. And if we were to raise the school-leaving age, as is now proposed, to 16, we would need another 18,000 teachers on top of that, making a total of 128,000 teachers in order to effect the three changes that have been discussed. I should very much like to hear proposals for producing 128,000 additional teachers in the sort of time that the House has been discussing tonight.
I shall have more to say in a minute or two about the detailed steps we propose to take to put ourselves in a position to make the decision in the most favourable physical circumstances, but it would be wholly wrong to think that the decision is easy. Even when all the physical provision needed has been made, there are other conditions that are very difficult indeed to be considered. There is the readiness of the schools to provide the right sort of courses and, not least, the support of public opinion, and the feelings of the boys and girls themselves.
I agree with all that has been said about the fact that there is nothing more exciting in education today than to contemplate the large and growing proportion of 15-year-old children who, for reasons considered by themselves and by their parents, decided to stay on in their secondary schools for another year. I have no doubt that the reasons vary from child to child and from school to school, but I am sure that where the school is able to offer a really useful course of instruction leading, perhaps, to G.C.E. "O" level, children and parents easily recognise the advantages to be gained from the extra year.
But the present demand cannot be satisfied everywhere. Several hon. Members have referred to the fact that some schools with which they are familiar are not as well provided for, either with equipment, premises or teachers, as they should be. We expect to see a larger proportion of the schools putting themselves into a condition to offer these advantages in the near future.
In considering this matter of the extra year, one thing is quite certain. There is a much more widespread acceptance today of the view that education extended in this way is a benefit to young people, both in terms of the opportunity to earn their living afterwards and of providing them with the general equipment to live fuller and happier lives. As this climate of opinion grows and spreads, so will shrink the area in which compulsion would eventually have to be exercised. In this matter, parental choice is still a very important and significant consideration.
This growth of opinion is in itself an educative process in which a great many influences play a part; the demands of the labour market—particularly the attitude of employers; the cachet attaching to an extra year of schooling; the improved vocational prospects that result, and the effect of precedent and example set by the boys and girls who already stay on voluntarily for an extra year.
I am glad that the House has given prominence to this matter. What has been said in the House today underlines the advantage that an extra year can give, and will be read outside by parents and teachers with great interest. An extra year at school is not a physic against ignorance and failure. It is a process which has both a vocational and a non-vocational value. We must consider the attitude of the parents and the pupils. As the schools improve, more and more parents will encourage their children to have a longer education.
We shall have to consider as well what the boys and girls think about it, growing up as they are in an atmosphere of free choice. Today's 15-year-olds are physically only one year older than the last age group to which compulsion was applied. But in maturity and development they are as different as can be from their predecessors of twenty years ago. In many ways our teenagers have a grown-up approach to life. This is not a decisive argument one way or the other for raising the school-leaving age, but it does reinforce the case for not reaching a decision too far in advance.
It seems to me that what we propose to do is the wisest possible course in the circumstances of today. We propose to wait until nearer the time at which a decision could possibly be made effective, and meanwhile to take all the necessary practical steps to make it possible.
I am sorry, but I have not got a lot of time.
As has been said by a number of hon. Members—and the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East stressed its importance —at the heart of the matter is the question of the supply of teachers. This will be the fundamental educational issue in this decade. All educational advance, as she rightly said, depends upon how we tackle it. We base our policy on the need to increase the number and improve the quality of our teachers.
My right hon. Friend has told the House of our plans for increasing the supply of teachers from both the training colleges and the universities. In the first place, we have to take all the steps we can to get the most out of our existing resources, remembering particularly that in 1962 we lose a year's normal output from the training colleges.
On the university side, we are greatly concerned that still larger numbers of graduates should appreciate the attractions and opportunities—and they are very considerable—of teaching as a career. We need to attract more men and women of the highest intellectual calibre for sixth form work, especially graduate teachers in mathematics and science.
My right hon. Friend has, therefore, been particularly glad to support the initiative of the Associations of Headmasters and Headmistresses in planning a series of talks in the universities themselves. I have spoken to two of the headmasters who have visited universities on this mission and they both thought the exercise was well worth while. We are in touch with the universities seeking to enlist their support, and I believe they will give it. It is the profession itself which can best put over its own case.
The training colleges are giving of their best at the present time. They are much more crowded than they ought to be, and more crowded than we can tolerate for very long. In fact, the output this year and next will be the biggest ever. As a special arrangement this year we have extended existing dependants' grants for one-year students to students taking the two-year shortened course. We have done this to stimulate recruitment and we will watch the effect.
The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) referred to giving such allowances to students taking the normal three-year course. I think the right time to look into this is when we get the general recommendations from the Anderson Committee which is at present considering university student grants which are closely related to this matter.
We are hoping that it will be not much delayed beyond the end of this month. Certainly we will not have very long to wait. That is the time for us to consider the relationship of awards to university students and dependants' grants for students in the training colleges. We have also asked the training colleges to do all they can to take on more mature students this year—those who would be good enough to become good teachers after a shortened course.
The hon. Lady the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) stressed the importance of persuading more married women who have been trained as teachers to return to the schools, either full-time or part-time. We entirely endorse what she said on that, and we should like to add what momentum we can to the process of bringing back these women into our schools where they are very much needed. I particularly hope that the local authorities will show themselves more and more ready to offer them employment. In many cases, of course, they present special difficulties to the schools in planning timetables and curricula, but married women, as the hon. Lady rightly said, bring maturity and experience to the teaching of young children and to the teaching of older girls who are approaching the time when they will be setting up their own homes in the world outside. There are today about 160,000 full-time women teachers, and of these about 65,000 are married. We have about 11,500 part-time teachers at present in our schools, more than double the number of part-time teachers there were three years ago.
Also, we are, purely as a temporary measure, slightly relaxing the conditions whereby men can be employed as temporary teachers to bring them into line with the conditions already in force for women. The additional numbers we shall have by this means will probably not be large, but every little helps.
It is the long-term programme which really counts. Here we are trying to look and plan as far ahead as possible. We have a double opportunity now to reshape the teacher-training system—the opportunity provided by the lengthening of the course to three years, and the opportunity presented by the big increase in the number of places.
We intend to develop larger training colleges which will be able to give a greater variety of course and a greater strength and depth within each course. At the moment, most general colleges have a normal capacity of less than 300 students, and nearly half of them of less than 200. Only about 6 per cent. of the students are now in the larger colleges of 400 or more, but, on present plans, this proportion will rise to about 60 per cent. More of the larger colleges will take both men and women. We are wherever possible siting these larger colleges in or near to universities or other cultural centres.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) has throughout denied himself the privilege of attending the debate. I think that he might carry his comments back to wherever he has been until now.
We believe that, by doing this, students will benefit both socially and academically. We want to give all students in the colleges, and particularly the specialist students, the opportunity to widen their general interests outside their specialities. We have decided, in the main, to provide further specialist facilities within the general colleges rather than to provide them separately.
These proposals will transform the present picture. So far, out of the 16,000 places authorised, we are well ahead with the planning of the first 15,000, and some of the building has already started. We are just about to settle the remainder in that first programme. Now, we look forward to the further 8,000 places to which my right hon. Friend referred this afternoon. We are very pleased to have the support of the House in our proposals for this extra programme.
Wherever possible, existing colleges are being extended, but in a few cases this cannot be done. I think this answers the question raised by the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Ainsley). The expanding college to which he referred will, of course, more than make good any loss sustained as a result of the closing of the smaller college.
It will help, because we are quite satisfied that the kind of teacher we want, having experience of the kind of course we need, should attend a larger college than the small one in his constituency. New colleges will be built in the West Midlands, at Brentwood in Essex, Nottingham, Cardiff and, for the Church of England, at Canterbury. There are likely to be more in both the North and the South of the country. This programme has presented a great challenge to the voluntary colleges.
Hon. Members will know how great an effort the Churches are making. A special rate of 75 per cent. grant has been made available to voluntary colleges for the expansion programme to date. I am glad to announce that this will be continued for any further expansion of these colleges.
Of course, we want more mature students with experience of other walks of life and this is something that we have very much in mind in our recruiting programme. For these, especially when they have family responsibilities, the usual residential pattern may not be suitable. We shall, therefore, provide more day places in some of the larger urban areas. Two day colleges already exist in Manchester and Leeds and we are trying to establish more to meet the exceptional circumstances of the next few years.
We attach the greatest importance to the longer training course if we are to get the kind of teachers we need. It will provide the opportunity for students to acquire greater maturity and a broader background. We must not, however, forget that the content of this longer course must be framed with the needs of the schools clearly in mind.
The training colleges will continue to carry the prime responsibility for meeting the needs of the junior schools. They must also provide the secondary schools with teachers, especially teachers in subjects in which there is a marked shortage and for which there is no, or no adequate, alternative supply from the universities. I have in mind teachers of science, mathematics, housecraft, handicraft and physical education. We are accordingly planning special wings in most of these subjects at selected colleges where we can concentrate resources of equipment and staff to provide high-level specialist courses.
When all our plans for teacher training have matured, we shall, for the first time in our educational history, have adequate staff to teach all our boys and girls; but they must be provided with the schools, classrooms and laboratories so that the best use can be made of their time.
I am sorry that I omitted to answer the point. The present 16,000 teacher training college place programme was originally timed to be completed in 1964. We have now moved that forward by acceleration to a completion date in 1963, or about a year earlier. We hope from 1963 onwards, as a result of the planning for the new 8,000 places which we are about to undertake—the decision has only just been made—to step in at that point and bring those forward at about that time. It all depends on how we are able to complete our 16,000 programme between now and 1963. Meanwhile, the planning is going on.
In the remaining three years of the five-year school building programme, which was announced in the 1958 White Paper, we shall be improving the position of the schools all over the country. The emphasis will move from the existing priorities in the areas of growing and changing population, mainly in the South and South-East of England, to areas in the North and the Northern Midlands, where there is still more reorganisation to be done. This has been referred to by several hon. Members during the debate. In these areas, there will soon be the new and improved schools which, we hope, will increasingly attract boys and girls voluntarily to seek the advantages of the extra year.
We shall give a great deal of attention in these schools to improving facilities for teaching science, especially at those schools where advanced work is already being done. We started on this before the White Paper programme was launched and we are devoting about £5 million in 1960–62 to further extensions of this kind, mainly in the grammar schools. We hope to ensure within the five-year period that all schools of this kind have the necessary facilities to meet the demand for advanced scientific courses. The local authorities have already done extremely well with their building programmes and we are ready to give them all the help we can with what remains to be done. We shall help them to plan ahead both by announcing programmes two years ahead of time and by settling straight away on a provisional basis the main lines of the rest of the programme.
Since this Government took office in 1951 we have built 4,200 new primary and secondary schools and provided 2 million new school places. This is a record of which we can be proud. Our plans for the next few years will enable us to effect a further transformation of conditions throughout the schools of the country.
I have been particularly interested to hear what has been said about our grammar schools. I recognise perhaps as readily as anyone the value in our national system of education of the traditional grammar school. I was for a long while at a school of this sort. Certainly we do not want to see schools of that kind undermined or destroyed. We have already begun to improve some grammar school buildings. Projects for the first two years of the five-year programme for secondary school building were announced last summer. They included 45 complete new grammar schools costing roughly £8 million, including 30 to replace existing grammar schools which were in really bad buildings. In addition, as I save said, the 1960–62 programmes continue the process of providing science and other facilities by way of extension of existing buildings.
In every constituency throughout the country there are some very good secondary modern schools, and in some places there are some very good bilateral and comprehensive schools. I think the House would want to pay tribute to the excellent work which is being done by many first-rate teachers in these schools.
A good deal of reference has been made in the debate to the county college proposals in the Crowther Report. That subject has occupied a good deal of the time of hon. Members. My right hon. Friend has said that we intend to press on with the expansion of further education on a voluntary basis. Four years ago we launched an expansion programme, and it is going very well. We have authorised no fewer than 400 projects for the establishment of new colleges or the improvement of existing ones. Local authorities are completing these projects at the rate of about one a week.
All these advances in both the secondary and the primary schools and the advances in further and technical education depend upon the teachers in the colleges. We want to see as rapid a recruitment into the teaching profession from all the available avenues—from the universities, from those who have retired from teaching and from the teacher training colleges—as we can possibly manage. I very much hope that all that has been said in the debate will encourage those
|Division No. 57.]||AYES||[11.0 p.m.|
|Ainsley, William||Grimond, J.||Prentice, R. E.|
|Albu, Austen||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil(Colne Valley)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hayman, F. H.||Randall, Harry|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Healey, Denis||Rankin, John|
|Beaney, Alan||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Redhead, E. C.|
|Benson, Sir George||Holman, Percy||Reid, William|
|Blackburn, F.||Holt, Arthur||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Blyton, William||Houghton, Douglas||Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Ross, William|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Bowles, Frank||Hunter, A. E.||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Boyden, James||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Small, William|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Janner, Barnett||Snow, Julian|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Jeger, George||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Callaghan, James||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Stonehouse, John|
|Carmichael, James||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R, (Vauxhall)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Stross,Dr.Barnet(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Chetwynd, George||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Cliffe, Michael||King, Dr. Horace||Swain, Thomas|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lawson, George||Sylvester, George|
|Crosland, Anthony||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Symonds, J. B.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Loughlin, Charles||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Thornton, Ernest|
|Deer, George||MoCann, John||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||MacColl, James||Wade, Donald|
|Delargy, Hugh||Mclnnes, James||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Mackie, John||Warbey, William|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Mallalleu, E. L. (Brigg)||Weitzman, David|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Manuel, A. C.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Evans, Albert||Marsh, Richard||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mason, Roy||Whitlook, William|
|Finch, Harold||Mendelson, J. J.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Fitch, Alan||Mitchison, G. R.||Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)|
|Fletcher, Erie||Monslow, Walter||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Foot, Dingle||Moody, A. S.||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Morris, John||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Moyle, Arthur||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Oram, A. E.||Woof, Robert|
|Ginsburg, David||Oswald, Thomas||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Owen, Will||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Peart, Frederick||Mr. Rogers and Mr. Mahon.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Lianelly)||Pentland, Norman|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Gardner, Edward||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Allason, James||Glover, Sir Douglas||Neave, Airey|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Amory, Rt.Hn.D.Heathcoat(Tiv'tn)||Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)||Noble, Michael|
|Arbuthnot, John||Goodhew, Victor||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Gower, Raymond||Page, Graham|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Gresham Cooke, R.||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Balniel, Lord||Grimston, Sir Robert||Peel, John|
|Barber, Anthony||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Percival, Ian|
|Barlow, Sir John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Peyton, John|
|Barter, John||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Batsford, Brian||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Pott, Percivall|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Hay, John||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Bovine, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Bidgood, John C.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hendry, Forbes||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Bingham, R. M.||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hiley, Joseph||Rees, Hugh|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hill, J. E. B. (S.Norfolk)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Bossom, Clive||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Renton, David|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hocking, Philip N.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Braine, Bernard||Holland, Philip||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hollingworth, John||Roots, William|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Brooman-White, R.||Hopkins, Alan||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Russell, Ronald|
|Bryan, Paul||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Seymour, Leslie|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Sharples, Richard|
|Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden)||Hughes-Young, Michael||Shepherd, William|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Simon, Sir Jocelyn|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Iremonger, T. L.||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Jackson, John||Speir, Rupert|
|Channon, H. P. G.||James, David||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Chataway, Christopher||Jennings, J. C.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Cooper, A. E.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Cooper-Key Sir Neill||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Talbot, John E.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Kitson, Timothy||Tapsell, Peter|
|Corfield, F. V.||Leather, E. H. C.||Teeling, William|
|Costain, A. P.||Leavey, J. A.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Coulson, J. M.||Leburn, Gilmour||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Lindsay, Martin||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Critchley, Julian||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Cunningham, Knox||Litchfield, Capt. John||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Curran, Charles||Longden, Gilbert||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||MacArthur, Ian||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Dance, James||McLaren, Martin||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Deedes, W. F.||McMaster, Stanley R.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley)||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Doughty, Charles||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Watts, James|
|Drayson, G. B.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Maddan, Martin||Whitelaw, William|
|Emery, Peter||Maginnis, John E.||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Farr, John||Marten, Neil||Wise, A. R.|
|Fell, Anthony||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Finlay, Graeme||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Woollam, John|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Worsley, Marcus|
|Forrest, George||Mawby, Ray|
|Foster, John||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Mills, Stratton||Mr. Legh and|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Montgomery, Fergus||Mr. Edward Wakefield.|
|Gammans, Lady||Morgan, William|