The hon. Member will forgive me, but we are not going into Committee of Supply. We are already in Committee of Supply. I do not want to stop the hon. Member, but it is my duty to get on with the business on the Order Paper. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's point of order is one for me to deal with.
Further to the point that I was submitting. I agree that we are now in Committee of Supply. As I understand it, the Chairman of Ways and Means has to conduct this Committee in accordance with the Standing Orders and the precedents laid down in Erskine May. I propose to deal with my point in accordance with that understanding.
I must make it quite clear that I cast no reflection on the Clerks at the Table, from whom we all get the best possible service. This is a question of interpretation of the Standing Orders and precedents. I have no staff or secretarial assistance, but I have a faint recollection that I was successful almost twenty years ago in doing what I am now asking. If that is so, there is a precedent for this. In accordance with Standing Order No. 17, had the Motion which my hon. Friend placed on the Paper—
Order, order. There is no Motion in front of the Committee now, save what is now on the Order Paper. I should be going outwith my responsibilities if I were to suggest to the Committee that I have the choice of considering anything further at this time. We have this business on the Order Paper to proceed with. It is orderly and I hope that the hon. Member will allow the Committee to proceed with its business and, if he has other problems to raise in other places or with different persons, choose a more suitable opportunity to do so.
Sir William, with your assurance that we are in Committee of Supply I rise to open a debate on one of the most controversial subjects facing us at the moment—that is, education. I am sure that the Minister of Education will concede that in our debates on education I have been charitable towards him personally. We all recognise, looking down the Treasury Bench, that we cannot pick and choose in looking for a Minister of Education. The one-eyed myopic is king in such company. But today, even the right hon. Gentleman is being affected with the demoralisation which is affecting his colleagues. Today, not only is education losing its due priority. It is even losing the appearance of that priority.
After all, the two major responsibilities of the right hon. Gentleman are, first, to promote school building and, secondly, to ensure that we have an adequate supply of teachers in our educational establishments. I will deal, first, with building. Less than twelve months ago we had the cuts in the minor works programme. As I have often said in our debates, in a very real sense we have two nations of school children. We have those who are fortunate enough to enjoy their education in new buildings and those who have to endure their education in old buildings which are often slum schools. What we call the minor works programme is very largely a programme to deal with the essential modernisation of the old buildings. In many respects it is a very elementary programme—to provide flush lavatories and that sort of thing.
In 1960–61, the programme for minor works was running at £21 million. Last year, it was cut to £12,700,000. It was practically halved. We understood at the time that this was a once and for all economy. Far from it. For the current year the programme is cut to no more than £10 million, so it is more than halved. The prospect for 1963–64 is not much better. The programme will be something of this character. In other words, not only last year but this year and the following year, possibly even after that, we are to have a minor works programme half of that which the right hon. Gentleman considered necessary two years ago. In education, the right hon. Gentleman is projecting the present economic crisis forward two years.
The same is true of school building. This is not a luxury programme. Its official designation is "Roofs Over Heads". It is an elementary, essential programme. We have only to remember that even today there are a hundred schools in use which were black-listed, condemned, as long ago as 1921. In 1961–62 the school building programme stood at £64 million. For the current year we have a similar programme of £64 million. After a good deal of hesitation and procrastination we had the announcement from the right hon. Gentleman that the programme for 1963–64 is to be cut from £64 million to £55 million, a cut of £9 million, without making any allowance for the increase in building costs.
We tackled the Minister. We appealed to him to review the allocations. He said, "No. Local authorities have been informed of their respective allocations, and I cannot increase them". For that reason, I asked him to tell us in detail what the allocations were. He gave us the allocations. The surprising thing was that they did not total £55 million. They totalled only £47 million. This is a cut of a further £8 million.
It is no good the Minister smirking. It is a very serious matter for the local education authorities. I am glad that some authorities, like my own, are fighting back. Moreover, an examination of the allocations which the right hon. Gentleman has given us shows that for whatever reason, technical or not, these lists have a very marked social bias. We fare far worse in the North-East, for instance, than do authorities in the south of England. We are cut more drastically in the North-East. We have been cut to a quarter, and in my own constituency, in Sunderland, at the moment we have approved 5 per cent. of what we were prepared to carry out.
Hypocritically enough, the right hon. Gentleman is to have a survey made of old buildings. He does not need a survey. I can tell him where they are. They are in the north of England, in Sunderland, in the old industrial areas and the rural areas. These are the areas which, because of the Government's economy policy, will not now be allowed to do what they want to do in providing school accommodation.
In the capital programme for education this year, and more so next year and the year after, we shall have savage cuts in school building. When the right hon. Gentleman was tackled about this by my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) the other night, he confused the issue, as usual, by referring to something else. He referred to educational building and starts made over the last two years. We were concerned about the programme for 1963–64, but as the right hon. Gentleman has called our attention to this, we might as well have a look at it. If we do, we will see something which is a remarkable example of inefficiency for one who was once Minister of Works.
Let us look at the educational building for the past two years. We are mainly concerned not with starts—because anyone can make starts—but with completions. In 1960, we completed £18 million worth of building less than 1958, £5 million less than the year before. In 1961, we completed £20 million worth less than in 1958. If we are concerned about school building, we provided 91,000 places less in 1961 than in 1958. It is true that the starts increased over the two years which the right hon. Gentleman wants to call in aid, but there is here a remarkable position. The amount of work under construction has increased substantially, but, at the same time, the completions have decreased substantially. This is an illustration, if the Committee wanted one, of what happens under the "stop and go" policy of the Government. This is the inefficient pattern of educational building we get.
However, we are concerned with the prospective view of what schools will be built next year, and the year after. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman does not regard me as unkind to him personally, but it is obvious that he has lost ground and that his Department has been pushed from pillar to post by the Treasury dwarfs and that he is wasting his time in the Cabinet. We should have a mounting provision for education, but we had an economic crisis last year and—surely we are not planning for another crisis—we have the Treasury taking the opportunity and saying, "By golly, this gives us an opportunity to cut back the future programmes for school building." This is what has happened with building.
Let us now look at the position of teachers. No one can disguise the fact that we are facing an alarming crisis in teacher supply. In this matter the right hon. Gentleman is guilty on all counts of an indictment which is as long as my arm. I take a couple of examples. If one sought the worst example, which as a partisan politician I might well seek, one could not think of a worse piece of incredible stupidity for a Minister of Education.
The right hon. Gentleman told the Committee in July, 1956:
It is now too late to build any more training colleges. They would come into service only in 1958, and their first students to enter the schools would pass out of those colleges only in 1960, by which date the school population will be declining. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th July, 1956; Vol. 557, c. 445.]
Believe it or not, but when the right hon. Gentleman made that statement the birth rate had been increasing sharply for the second year in succession, and the trend of children staying increasingly on in school was as marked as it is today. In the event, we reached 1960 with 300,000 more children in the schools than there were when the right hon. Gentleman spoke. Worse still, it is not only a case of too late but when we had some response from the right hon. Gentleman it was far too little.
Let me take a second count of the indictment, which is equally fantastic. It is less than twelve months since we debated the crisis in teacher supply in this Committee. At the time of our debate, the right hon. Gentleman and his Department said that by 1970 there would be an increase in the school population of 351,000. They said that in 1970 there would be 7¼ million children in the maintained and assisted schools. What does the right hon. Gentleman say today, less than twelve months afterwards? He says now that the figure is not 7¼ million. The right hon. Gentleman now believes that there will be 7¾ million children in the schools in 1970, or another 500,000.
The Committee will be interested to know that the only new factor that we could not have known at our earlier debate is that today, oddly enough, the right hon. Gentleman is basing his calculations on an estimate that there will be a fall in the birth rate this year. This is clear enough from the new statistics which he has presented to us. If we look at the intermediary years we find the same basic miscalculations. It is absolutely incredible that at a time when all other educationists were making estimates such as those which are now accepted by the right hon. Gentleman, he should have been half-a-million out. But what is far more important is what the right hon. Gentleman is doing about it.
What has the right hon. Gentleman done in view of this new estimate and the fact that he now calculates that we shall top the 7 million in 1964 and not in 1967, as he estimated last year, and that we shall have reached 8 million in the schools by 1972? This is the crisis of the "second bulge" already coming into the primary schools and the trend, which we should all welcome, for children to stay on in school after the school-leaving age—and all this aggravated by the increased wastage in the teaching profession. The right hon. Gentleman's attitude towards the profession and the way he has treated it is not likely to reduce that wastage.
It is against that background that we have the appalling position of the schools as they are today. Consider the question of oversized classes. In this, the space age, and judging them by prewar standards, we have today 2½ million children in classes which are far too large. Nearly 40 per cent. of the children at present at school are in classes too large, not by present standards but by pre-war standards. We have nearly 800,000 children in the primary and junior schools in classes of over 40. This is the size of the problem that we are facing, and the right hon. Gentleman is not even comprehending it.
To remove over-sized classes by 1970, which is not a very ambitious target to set ourselves, would require, the right hon. Gentleman said, when we debated education last year, 73,000 additional teachers. But he has now been advised by the National Advisory Council for the Training and Supply of Teachers, that the number required is not 73,000, but 89,000. I would emphasise that this is without tackling all the other immediate problems before us—without any question of implementing the Crowther Report, without helping the technical schools or dealing with further and higher education, and without paying regard to the tragic problem of the special schools.
If we look at it squarely, the minimum basic unavoidable target that we have to accept is 100,000 additional teachers by 1970. But we have to realise that this is placing the demand for teachers on an unprecedented scale. It is against a problem of this magnitude that at the moment nothing is being done by the right hon. Gentleman.
Would my hon. Friend agree, in view of the complacency in some quarters about large classes in schools in the big industrial centres, that if one child gets measles, or is otherwise ill, that goes all round? Therefore, we cannot measure only in terms of teaching large classes.
I certainly agree with my hon. Friend, and I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman does, also. What we are anxious about is that the right hon. Gentleman should do something about this problem.
This is a year of intermission. This year, because the training colleges have gone from a two to a three-year course—no one quarrels with that; it was recommended in 1919—we are getting no recruits from the training colleges to the schools. Under their present plan, the Government will do no more than fill this gap by the late 1960s. If we do not tackle the question of the acute shortage of teachers which will face the schools towards the end of this decade, I think that we are courting national disaster. I have been content in the past to look forward to 1970, but I think that the problem has become much more urgent and that we have to demand a crash programme now.
Let us look at some facets of this problem. In the primary schools today—in this space age, seventeen years after the war, in a Britain that has "never had it so good"—we have nearly 800,000 children in classes of over 40. It is against this background, when already the bulge is moving into the schools, that we are getting a rapid increase in over-sized classes. In these circumstances, it is surely quite hypocritical for the right hon. Gentleman to express the hope that his grandchildren will go to a primary school. If that is his hope, he had better do something about the primary schools.
What is the importance of this nationally? It does not need more research to bring home to us the fact that the greatest wastage of the pool of ability that is being discovered among our children is in the primary schools. The problem here is the simple one of getting more teachers. It is in the primary schools that we need contact between the child and the teacher. It is here where the shutter falls over their eyes. We want a child to have the confidence of personal relationship with the teacher. It is in these schools that it is lacking. It is in these schools that we have these impossible classes of over 40. It is here that the bulge is now moving in and where, contemporarily with tackling the bulge, we have to tackle the problem of over-sized classes. We have to be ambitious enough to say that we are not content that there shall be no classes of over 40, but that in the primary schools the classes shall not, in any circumstances, be more than 30. That is the objective we have to set ourselves.
This is an enormous problem. Unfortunately, in the primary schools there is much less scope for relying upon teaching aids and new methods of teaching. It is very much a question of personal contact between a child and the teacher. We can only tackle this by having more teachers and the teachers will come from training colleges. I pay tribute, in passing, to the clearing house system which the training colleges are now operating. It is remarkably efficient, and also provides us with very useful information.
I have been looking at this information. It appears that last year we lost 2,500 young people who might well have gone into training colleges and have become proficient teachers if they had had the opportunity. I think it likely that we shall lose 4,500 this year. We cannot afford this wastage. We are facing a crisis. We have to improvise, and if the training colleges cannot provide residential accommodation we must call in aid lodging accommodation. It is a gigantic problem, and improvisation in itself will not do. At the same time as we improvise, we have to extend the colleges much more ambitiously than the right hon. Gentleman is trying to do.
These are some of the problems that face us. We have to say that we are absolutely dissatisfied that only 1,700 students are attending for day training. We have to look at every avenue—at retraining and part-time teaching—to see where there is the possibility of getting teachers and also to see that we take every practical step to encourage them. We have to think about new methods of teaching aids and also, incidentally, about the pay and conditions of teachers. We cannot disregard that, although in the primary schools these aids are of less help than they would be in the secondary schools.
I want to say a word about secondary education. I do not want to dismiss the 11-plus as unfair, but I say that it is an absolute fraud. The 11-plus pretends to be a selection of children to ensure that they enjoy the secondary school education best suited to their aptitudes. Nothing could be more fraudulent. All that the 11-plus does is to sieve out children to accord with the present structure of secondary school education. If we want to give, simply and graphically, the present structure of education, I would call the Committee's attention to three essential figures. In the grammar schools, 78 per cent. of the staff are graduates. In the technical secondary schools, 51 per cent. are graduates. In the secondary modern schools, only 17 per cent. of the staff are graduates.
I am talking in shorthand. I am not arguing the case that all secondary school teachers should be graduates. But one has only to think of these figures to realise how dishonest it is to pretend that we have secondary education for all that there is parity of esteem. These figures demontrate that there are still the same rigidities and disparities in secondary school education that there were before the war. We all know what happened after the passing of the 1944 Act. The old elementary schools changed into secondary modern schools. This is a problem that we have to face if we are to seek to provide a secondary school education adequate enough for our secondary school children.
Grammar schools today are staffed entirely by graduates and specialist teachers, and, as the Parliamentary Secretary knows, so are the good comprehensive schools. If we are enthusiastic about providing a comprehensive secondary education, we had better realise the task that faces us.
I have talked about two nations. In another sense, there are two nations of secondary school children. There are those who attend secondary schools in most parts of the country, and there are the majority of those who attend common secondary schools in London and some other areas. In Anglesey, every child, in fact, attends a common secondary school. Let the results speak for themselves. Figures show that two-thirds of all children in Anglesey get a G.C.E. pass and that they get it at a standard only slightly below the national average for grammar schools. Far more impressive is the fact that compared with the rest of the country twice as many children take the A-level examination, and the results are highly satisfactory. I quote Anglesey only to demonstrate that what can be done there can be done elsewhere, if we are prepared to make the effort to do it.
The urgent and overriding priority is to provide the graduate and specialist staff which is demanded by secondary education today. I have mentioned the need for teaching aids, and I should like the Minister to state the expenditure on teaching aids per child in secondary education in Germany and the Soviet Union compared with this country. They are expending money on scientific education in secondary schools out of all proportion to what we are spending.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman is an ardent Common Marketeer. If we are going into the Common Market, we had better do something about teaching languages in the secondary schools. We know that this is an impossible task as things are at the moment. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary has a liking for comparative figures. Let me, therefore, give him some crucial comparative figures. If we go into the Common Market, we will find that in Belgium, France and Germany proportionately twice as many children are educated to the age of 17 as in this country. In fact, in Holland more than twice as many receive education to this age. If the Minister is enthusiastic about going into the Common Market we had better pull up our socks now, because it is at this level, this crucial, critical level, that we get nothing but petty discouragement from the right hon. Gentleman.
The right hon. Gentleman pretends to be a protagonist of grammar schools, but he has never suggested that his grandchildren will attend them. The Committee will remember the figures I revealed in our last debate. In 1959, 5,000 fewer children were admitted to grammar schools than in the year before. In 1960, 17,000 fewer children were admitted to grammar schools than in 1958. In 1961, 22,000 fewer children were admitted to grammar schools than in 1958, and we are told that this year 27,000 fewer children—that is, 20 per cent. fewer—will be admitted to grammar schools than were admitted in 1958.
Does not this situation show a serious lack of regard for grammar school education? The figures show that thanks to official policy there will be 71,000 fewer children at grammar schools, and today we have the remarkable position that there are more children in the 16-yearold group than in the 11-year group, because whilst the right hon. Gentleman's policy has been discouraging grammar schools from taking as many children as they took in 1958, parents have been reacting by saying that they value more and more grammar school education, and children have been staying on longer at school. This is the trend and its effect on the sixth forms in grammar schools. Against this trend, what a deplorable thing it is to have the Government's niggardly and petty economy at the expense of the universities.
The Parliamentary Secretary can deal with the figures, which were obtained from his Ministry. They related to the grammar schools. I am concerned about whether the right hon. Gentleman is seriously trying to promote grammar school education.
These figures reveal a lack of serious purpose. It is no good his saying that he values and esteems grammar schools if his policy has resulted in 71,000 children being denied the opportunity of such education. This is contrary to the wishes of parents and children, as is shown by the number of children staying on in the sixth form. It is also unfair to deny the children who have stayed on at school the same opportunities to go to universities.
I emphasise the seriousness of the position of the universities. We estimate that in 1964 there will be 24,000 young people who will have qualified and may wish to go to university, but will not be able to obtain a place, and that in 1965 46,000 young people will be in that position. I can think of nothing more deplorable than those two figures. Official policy should have been enthusiastic and ambitious enough to widen the doors of grammar schools instead of closing them, and when we think of the children of the bulge who have fought their way through school and overcome grave disadvantages to obtain the qualifications to enable them to go to university, it is shocking to find that they will not be given the opportunity to do so.
This is an explosive educational situation which the Government will have to face in the next few years. We will have a 17-plus neurosis worse than the 11-plus neurosis. We ought to encourage this trend of wanting to go to university. We ought to say that we are delighted that children are voluntarily staying on at school after the normal school leaving age, and that we will make provision to encourage them to do so.
We have not had that encouragement from the right hon. Gentleman. We have had complete silence about the Crowther Committee's Report. Because of this voluntary staying on at school, and because of the inadequacies of secondary education and the necessity for strengthening it, the least that the right hon. Gentleman can do is to face the problem and say that he accepts the Crowther Committee's Report, and state the date on which the school-leaving age will be raised. Encouraged by these developments, we ought to say that we are prepared to provide a reasonable maintenance allowance for children who stay on at school and resist the pull of teenage jobs.
In view of this spontaneous demand for higher and further education, I do not think that we ought to wait for the Robbins Committee's Report. I think that we ought now to expand further and higher education. We ought to say that we will increase the number of graduates as rapidly as we can. We are concerned not only about schools and education, but about industry and other outside factors.
We should recognise how urgent and real is this need for expansion of the universities. As I have said before, and I call it in aid again, the right hon. Gentleman said at one time—and it was one of the only good speeches that he has made—
We have in this country the lowest proportion of our population in universities of any highly developed country.
We should not go on reminding ourselves of this and not do anything about it. In the same speech, the right hon. Gentleman told us that the Russians had put their red shirts on education and that they had transformed the feudal society of illiterate peasants into a modern industrial society by education. He demonstrated what education can do.
I point out to the Minister that the world is not standing still, and neither can we. Education can be an exciting dynamic thing which can open up new worlds and give us the security in this world which we are seeking. But we shall have to seize the opportunity. My fear is that if we do not seize it we shall not get a second chance. I do not want from either the Parliamentary Secretary or from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister himself a complacent speech of sophisticated sophistry and evasion, which is what we have had before, when we had the debate on the crisis of teacher supply last summer. That was the sort of reply that we had. We want the Government to face up to the facts. We want an assurance of action. What we are afraid of is that already it may be too late.
I doubt whether the Committee has ever listened to a more extraordinary speech on the education problems facing this country than that of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey). He must hope that the time will never come when he is given the task of carrying out all the obligations and undertakings which he has, by implication, accepted in his speech.
It would be very difficult for the casual observer to recognise the education system of this country from the hon. Gentleman's speech. We have had a picture presented to us of dilapidated, insanitary schools—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—staffed by thwarted and rebellious teachers and filled with hordes of dejected and frustrated children reminiscent of the schooldays of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson). I assure the Committee that the truth is quite different from the picture which the hon. Gentleman painted, and I will answer some of his criticisms as I go along.
The hon. Member now finds himself supported in these criticisms by the Leader of the Opposition. Not every hon. Member opposite can make a claim like that. Not every hon. Member opposite wants to make such a claim. It is a pity that the cause—namely, the denigration of the efforts of the teachers and of local education authorities—in which they are united is such an unworthy one.
I do not wish continuously to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I have not denigrated the teachers. On the contrary, I have every sympathy with them, and I wish that the hon. Gentleman had as much sympathy with them. If he had, he would do something to help them.
I understand how susceptible the hon. Gentleman is to criticism on this point, and I sympathise with him.
When the Leader of the Opposition was in Glasgow recently, he was rather roughly handled, and he has our sympathy. But it was a little unkind of him to blame the Tories at one time for the treatment. However, fortunately his speech has been preserved for posterity.
The Leader of the Opposition had a good deal to say about education and about the ways he would like to improve it. The Committee is not often favoured with his views on education, or on what he would like to do about it, but we welcome his interest. On the last
occasion when he had some responsibility for and ventured into this sphere he was not so keen on improving education. Speaking about educational expenditure in his notorious Budget speech of 1951, this is what the right hon. gentleman said—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]. The right hon. Gentleman cannot run away from what happened in 1951. This is what he said:
… the only measures through which we could have achieved substantial savings"—
he was cutting educational expenditure at the time—
would be either to raise the school entry age or reduce the school-leaving age. We did in fact, discuss these. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th April, 1951; Vol. 486, c. 848.]
He was not so keen then on improving the education system for the young people of Britain.
Hon. Members who were in the House of Commons at that time will recall that that was something of a vintage parliamentary week. The night before we had listened to a disquisition on the economics of growth by the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, the hon. Member for Sunderland, North. He was cutting the cheese ration at the time. It lies ill, therefore, in the mouth of any former member of that sorry Administration to accuse this Government of parsimony in matters connected with education. I propose to give a few comparisons to show just how the situation has been improved.
We should, of course, like to go faster on all aspects of education, but it is simply not true that parsimony rather than planning is the keynote of our policy, which is what the Leader of the Opposition said.
We have lost a good deal of time, and I am sure that it would be for the convenience of hon. Members if I pressed on.
My right hon. Friend has said many times that we regard education as an invaluable investment in the future. Of course, there are other investments. The prudent man, like the prudent Government, must have a wide portfolio, and we must make our claim to priority along with others. Hon. Members on both sides would complain very quickly if the demands of education were to overwhelm the total demands upon the resources available for all the public services. All in all, the education service has done fairly well. Certainly, it has done better than at any previous time in history.
All the indicators, including those mentioned by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North, tell the same story. During the ten years since 1952, 5,000 new schools have been built and opened. They contain a total of 2,300,000 places. Those built since the end of the war contain 3 million places. More than one-third of all the children in our schools are in new post-war school buildings, and at present about £200 million worth of educational building is going on. This is an all-time record.
The hon. Member for Sunderland, North referred to the older school buildings. I informed the House a short while ago that about £110 million has been spent during the last eight years on minor works largely to improve conditions in these older school buildings.
The hon. Gentleman had a good deal to say about the pupil-teacher ratio. I will deal later with our proposals for the future, but I think that it will help the Committee if I present the picture against the background of what has been happening during the past two years.
In grant-aided schools and establishments, in March, 1961, there were 312,000 teachers in full-time service compared with 237,000 in March, 1951, an increase of 75,000, or nearly one-third. In the same period, the number of children in maintained schools increased by more than 1 million, or about one-fifth, and the number of pupils of the age of 15 and over nearly doubled. Therefore, the supply of teachers more than matched the increase in the school population. In that period, the number of junior pupils per full-time teacher improved from 30·5 to 29·4 and the number of senior pupils per full-time teacher improved from 21·7 to 21·3.
G.C.E. results, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, are another useful index of the progress in the schools. Between 1952 and 1961, the age group in schools taking the O-level examination increased by 43 per cent., but there were 92 per cent. more passes in the examination. At A-level, 94 per cent. more pupils obtained 117 per cent. more passes.
In technical education, the picture has been completely transformed since the 1956 White Paper. We set a target there of £70 million worth of new buildings. Before the 1963–64 programme was announced, the value of projects programmed since 1956 had exceeded the £100 million mark. The Dip. Tech. has established itself as a qualification fully equal to a university degree, and more than 1,000 diplomas in technology have already been awarded. Lastly, teachers in technical education. We had 12,500 full-time teachers in 1956, and the Willis Jackson Committee set a target of 18,600 for 1961. We actually had by that time 21,500—nearly 3,000 more. I cannot see by what distortion of the language these indices can be quoted as evidence of failure or parsimony.
Tables of international statistics seem to exercise a most extraordinary fascination for hon. Gentlemen opposite. I was surprised to find the Leader of the Opposition, in Glasgow, thinking it appropriate to believe, or pretending that he believed, that the education systems of Spain and Portugal were better than ours. We are not often presented by Socialist leaders with accounts of the achievements of those two Governments. The truth about these comparisons is quite different from the suggestions that are made.
On the point made by the hon. Gentleman, one recent calculation of expenditure per head on education, adjusted to take account of the gross national product per head, shows the United Kingdom ahead of all the countries of Western Europe, save possibly only Sweden, in expenditure on education. During the last ten years public expenditure on education in this country has risen by 128 per cent., and the proportion of the gross national product devoted to the service has risen by 35 per cent. These are impressive figures in any context.
It is one made within the Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I shall be very glad to listen to any comments that hon. Gentlemen care to make about the source, and perhaps we can deal with them on a future occasion.
The hon. Gentleman has made an extraordinary claim. Some of the figures produced by the Ministry are very odd indeed. So far as I can tell, he said that the proportion of the gross national product spent on education by the Treasury in the period he quoted had increased from about 3½ per cent. to 4½ per cent. How does he make it 35 per cent.?
That is ridiculous. The hon. Gentleman is just twisting words. The proportion of the gross national product devoted to educational investment has been increased by the Government by exactly 1 per cent. That is true, is it not?
In my last remark I was trying to deal courteously with the hon. Gentleman because I thought he had fallen into an error which an hon. Member of his experience would have avoided. The truth is that the 1 per cent. to which he refers is the percentage of the gross national product. The percentage I gave was the percentage by which that has increased during this period. I hope that that is now perfectly clear.
There is one further statistic on this point that I ought to give hon. Members, because the hon. Gentleman will still labour under his enthusiasm and his virtue unless I do. In the 1951 speech to which I referred the percentage of the total estimates allowed for education and child care was 8½ per cent. In the estimates presented by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer a little while ago it was shown that the proportion of the total devoted to education and child care has risen to 13½ per cent. We are not ashamed of our record, and neither are we satisfied. We are aware that we shall have very considerable demands to meet in the years immediately ahead.
As I make my journeys around the schools of the country—I suppose I go as far and as often as any member of the Committee—I am constantly impressed not by failure and frustration, but by the magnitude of what is being achieved in the schools. Indeed, the measure of our success and the measure of the success of the local authorities and the teachers is reflected in the demand for more. It is to meet this demand that we have now to bend our efforts. At the heart of the problems of the years immediately ahead is the supply of teachers. How can we get enough?
Last week my right hon. Friend told the hon. Member for Sunderland, North that he hoped to publish before the end of this month a detailed survey on the subject prepared by the National Advisory Council for the Training and Supply of Teachers. I am sorry that this Report could not be available in time for this debate, but it may help the Committee if I outline some of its main findings.
The Report covers only full-time qualified teachers in the maintained primary and secondary schools of England and Wales. It points to a serious shortage of teachers in the years directly ahead and for as far ahead as we can see. The Council has estimated that to reduce by 1970 the maximum class size in primary and secondary schools to 40 and 30 respectively we should need in that year almost exactly 100,000 more teachers than we had in 1960; that is to say, about 90,000 more than we have today.
The Council has estimated that as things are we cannot expect an additional supply of more than 50,000 full-time teachers to meet the demand for 100,000. There would thus remain a gap of about 50,000 teachers. The shortage would not be severe in the secondary schools, but it would be felt much more in the primary schools. The Council's Report suggests that even by 1980 there would still be a gap of 40,000 full-time teachers. On top of this, it estimates the cost in terms of extra teachers of raising the school leaving age as about 20,000, and of reducing the maximum size of junior classes from 40 to 30 as 65,000 teachers. So, to whatever part of our future we look we can see the demand for teachers outstripping the supply.
The Committee will recollect that two years ago, on the eve of the introduction of the three-year course, it was reckoned that there was a good prospect that over-sized classes would be a thing of the past by 1970. What has happened since then to cause this change in our outlook? Two factors are chiefly to blame. The first is the continued growth in school population, and the second is the loss of young women teachers leaving after only a few years' service.
I will first say a word about the school population, about which the hon. Gentleman was so scornful. As I have said earlier, the school population is 7 million, and previously, on the best advice available to us, we estimated that it would remain at about this figure. We can now expect a school population of at least 7¾ million by 1970. Looking ahead to 1980, the school population may then be more than 8½ million. This includes pupils staying on voluntarily beyond the present age of compulsory schooling, but the main cause is the rising birth rate. In this decade we shall need a minimum of over 4,000 extra teachers every single year just to cope with the extra number of children in schools—4,000 teachers every year.
The other major factor is the loss of young women teachers leaving the schools to get married. In general, of course, we must all welcome this trend and welcome the fact that young people are enjoying very early in their lives the security and prospects which enable them to embark on early marriage. I do not believe that this is unnconnected with ten years of good government. But a big price has to be paid in the schools for these early marriages. It is ironic that every woman teacher who leaves us to have a baby is reducing the staff and presenting the schools with another customer. In 1960, about 17,000 full-time women teachers were recruited to the schools; nearly 16,000 left. The rate of wastage is still rising.
In face of the two factors I have described, there can be no easy remedies to our problems. Therefore, we are facing a difficult decade with the rising school population constantly pushing up the demand for teachers and wastage severely draining our supplies. There are, however, things that we can do if we are prepared to be unorthodox and to act quickly. I was glad to note the suggestion of support from the hon. Member during the course of his remarks. In the longer term we can expect a steady growth in our system of higher education generally, and thus a growth of the base from which we can draw our teachers, but it is to the short-term and immediate measures that I now turn.
My right hon. Friend has already asked the training colleges to continue to crowd up their premises to the maximum and to forgo the relief from overcrowding that we had planned and to which they were looking forward. In particular, we hope that the residential colleges will be able to take more day students. This is a very important development already taking place in many of the colleges, and we hope to see the numbers of day students considerably increased.
Next, a number of our new expansion projects of training colleges would have made it possible for us to give up some existing premises. We shall now keep these going. They include substantial parts of colleges, and in some cases whole colleges.
But we must add to these resources quickly, and so we must improvise, as the hon. Gentleman suggested. My right hon. Friend has today written to local education authorities to initiate as an emergency operation the establishment in the more densely populated parts of the country of temporary colleges for day students. These will be in addition to the eight day student colleges already in operation. These measures could increase the number of training places which the present calculations assume will be available by 1966 by a further 7,500 or thereabouts. Quite apart from helping materially to produce more teachers, some of these further places will provide an opportunity for higher education and training for more of the young people, especially the girls, who will be leaving the sixth forms in the coming year.
Before I turn to other measures designed to produce more new staff for the schools, I want to say a word about the question of married women who have already been trained, who have left the service at an early age, and who will, we hope, be free to return in due course. Clearly, we must attract back as many of them as we possibly can. This reservoir of teachers is already big and is growing, at present, at a rate of about 10,000 a year. Of course, it will only be later, perhaps towards the end of the decade, that we can expect to get the teachers back in really large numbers.
The recent estimates that I have just been describing relate only to full-time teachers. I am clear, however, that we must make greater use of part-time service. We must do all we can, by establishing the right conditions in the schools and colleges, to ensure that part-time service is accepted as an integral part of the education service and not just as a marginal fringe. This is the most obvious way to attract more married women back to paid employment in the first instance. Later, many of them may feel anxious to switch from part-time to full-time service.
The local education authorities are already hard at work recruiting part-time teachers, many of them with great success and great imagination. Their campaigns are already bearing fruit. Last year, about 4,600 women returned to teaching. Of these, about 2,000 came back part-time. In 1960, the number of part-time teachers in service, in terms of their full-time equivalent, was about 7,000. We aim to double this number by 1965, and better than that if we can.
I turn now to more unorthodox and possibly more controversial suggestions. As I have already said, the main shortage will be in the primary schools, and all the actions I have so far mentioned are mainly intended to produce more women teachers for these schools. But the infant schools will be under especially heavy pressure. They are staffed almost entirely by women. They are bound to suffer the severest effects of the wastage. It is also these schools which will have to bear the brunt of the rising school population in the next five years. With the best will in the world we cannot either stem the wastage or increase sufficiently the supply to them of qualified women teachers. But there is one way in which we could send them immediate help.
I believe that among young women who are looking ahead more to marriage than to higher education and training, and among older women who have not been trained but who have raised a family, there are many who would be willing and quite able to help the youngest children start their school life.
I know that a good deal of thought has already been given in many quarters to the possibility of some form of auxiliary service. I am sure that, with a short practical training, assistants of this kind, working under the supervision of fully qualified teachers, would be of real help in the infants schools. We are consulting with our partners in the education service to see what can be done about this as a matter of urgency. The need is so great that, if we could get 10,000 auxiliaries by 1965, they would provide a most welcome relief.
I appreciate the country's difficulty. I do not put this point facetiously, but is the hon. Gentleman now telling the country that we are to take this retrograde step of bringing into the base of the pyramid of education what I should call child minders? Are they to have the responsibility of teaching the elements of reading, for instance? Highly skilled people are needed for this purpose. We want the best at the bottom. Anybody can teach in a university.
I will not engage in controversy with the hon. Gentleman on his last remark.
This much is paramount to every hon. Member of the Committee. We have to find some way of bringing aid to the infants schools by the best means we can. It is up to the Committee to help find what is that best way. The suggestions I am making are suggestions upon which we invite the comments of the Committee. It just will not do for hon. Members to applaud sentiments such as we heard from the hon. Member for Sunderland, North and then use denigratory terms such as the expression "child minders" when suggestions are put forward with a view to trying to meet the need.
I feel that I am engaging far too much of the time of the Committee. I have no doubt that the Chair will make such selection of speakers to follow me as it thinks appropriate as the debate goes on.
Finally, we should ask ourselves whether there may by some girls prepared to take some substantial training, though not as long as three years, and then give a limited period of service to the schools before getting married. In other words, may there be a case for some form of short service commission? This could be planned to provide that any woman who, instead of resigning, decided later to continue her career as a teacher after, say, five years of service, could complete a formal course of training and become a qualified teacher. Or, perhaps, she could complete her training when she was ready some years later to come back to the schools.
An arrangement like this would enable more girls to be taken into training and more women teachers to be sent out to the schools. We have no wish to prejudice in any way our full support of the three-year course for the great majority of women entrants, particularly for all those who are quite clear that they want to take a full-time course of education and training in preparation for a career in teaching. It may be that, in such a way as I have described, we could meet a real need in both the schools themselves and on the part of the girls concerned. We should like our partners in the education service to look at the idea. My right hon. Friend will listen with interest to the views of the Committee on this suggestion.
I have shown that the Government intend to press ahead with their provision of new schools throughout the system on a scale never before achieved in this country. I have shown that we are aware that special measures are needed to meet the problems of teacher supply. We expect more graduates to come into the schools. We expect more married women to return. We expect the expanded training colleges to produce larger numbers of teachers. We should like to see the auxiliaries I have mentioned coming forward, and we believe that the idea of a short service commission is, at least, worth considering.
The hon. Gentleman has asked the Committee to comment on something. I think that he is about to reach his peroration—at least, I hope that he is—and I do not wish to interrupt unnecessarily; but he cannot expect us to comment unless he tells as a little more about the proposals upon which we are to comment.
Before he leaves this part of his speech, will he tell us what he means by short practical training for these auxiliaries. What is his definition of "short"? Further, what does he mean by substantial training for those who are not to take the full three-year course? Is he talking of one year or two years, and one year of full-time training later, so that they will be recognised as fully qualified? With respect, we must have a few more details before we are in a position to comment intelligently on what the hon. Gentleman has put before us.
I quite understand the point which the hon. Lady makes. She has highlighted that the ideas I am putting forward are speculative proposals upon which we invite the very kind of comment she now makes.
I should have thought that the preparatory training for the auxiliaries, for instance, might be of twelve or sixteen weeks' duration, that sort of thing.
We shall have to make the necessary arrangements if it is possible to go ahead with the scheme. The hon. Gentleman should not try to create difficulties which do not already exist.
We have much greater hopes for the future than the hon. Gentleman has.
As regards the hon. Lady's second point about possible training for short service commissions, the first idea that comes to mind is that training for this purpose should be, say, two years, with a year of full-time training later at whatever stage proves to be acceptable to the people concerned, to the authorities or to the profession—we are anxious to have their views—before they come back again as fully qualified teachers into the profession. I hope that we shall have the support of all those who have the welfare of the schools at heart in what we are doing.
There never was a time when our public education system was so much aware of the demands and opportunities which present themselves. There never was a time when so much was being done to bring demand and opportunity together. The Committee may take whatever unit of measurement it likes. The evidence is there to demonstrate both the advances of the past few years and the preparations for the next. What we have to do now, and what my right hon. Friend is resolved to do, is to provide for the continually rising standards which each generation expects to find—still more and better schools, more teachers, more opportunities in technical and higher education.
There is, I believe, room in this enterprise for the constructive critic but not for the wholesale condemnation in which the hon. Member for Sunderland, North engaged.
I have listened very carefully to the hon. Gentleman's statement about the achievements of the past and the hopes for the future. Will he give me an assurance that, within a very short time, he will supply to several schools in my constituency an additional bucket so that staff and pupils may have separate sanitary arrangements?
I listened at first with interest and later with incredulity to the Parliamentary Secretary's speech. Quite clearly, his experience in visiting schools about the country has left him quite out of touch with the feeling of the teaching profession. I know of nothing which would be more likely to arouse the wrath of the teaching profession than the suggestion that, because the Government have failed the nation to provide enough places in training colleges and universities to supply qualified teachers for the schools, we should have a corps of child minders. I gather that some of them would have some sort of qualification as a half-way teacher, and that later they would complete their qualifications.
What other profession would tolerate a suggestion of that sort from the Minister? At the very time when the teaching profession is aiming to improve its status, teachers are asked to accept that they are not a profession at all and that these child minders can come in and, I presume, do the work which otherwise infant school teachers would have to do.
What work are these child minders to do? My hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) was quite right in asking his question. Are they to teach children to read? Will they teach them to count their beads, or, as in the old dame's school, to count on their fingers? The hon. Gentleman has asked us to take a step backwards, a very long step backwards to the days when we had paid monitors, when we had pupil teachers practising on the children before they had any training at all which would justify letting them loose in the schools.
I had enjoyed the Parliamentary Secretary's speech until he came to that part of it. It was very interesting not to have the languid air we expect from the Minister at the Dispatch Box, though I fear that that may come. I believe that the Parliamentary Secretary is not a public school boy. Four out of every five right hon. and hon. Members opposite are public school products.
It is easy to pick them out, wherever they sit. Because the Minister himself is a public school product, I understand his misunderstanding of the needs of the education service.
All of us from time to time in the House talk of equality of opportunity for all the boys and girls in our schools. It is supposed to be the prime aim. But is there any hon. Member who believes that we have equality of opportunity in the present system? The chances of a long school life differ in 1962, as they did in 1862, according to the depth of the father's purse. The cheque book is still the passport to privilege, as hon. Members opposite know well, possessing cheque books as they do.
I will give the Committee some statistics which will bear out what I am saying. Out of all the children in the maintained schools of the country, only 28,336 boys are there to the age of 17. The chances of a boy who goes to a maintained school staying to the age of 17 are one in 52. If he goes to an independent school, the chances are one in 17. Is that equality of opportunity? There is a long way to go before we ensure that privilege is not able to buy a way for mediocrity over ability in our schools.
Like everyone else, I have been fascinated by the appeal which the Minister himself bravely made to people who send their children to private schools to send them instead to the primary schools. He ought in all fairness to have pointed out that the size of classes in the independent schools is roughly 13·2 children per teacher. In the direct grant schools the number is 16·7, but in the primary schools it is much more substantial, 24·4.
There are over 2 million children in our schools today in classes of over 35 on the register in the junior school. In the secondary schools roughly 1,750,000 are in over-sized classes. Clearly, there is no reason for the complacency of which I thought the Parliamentary Secretary was in danger when answering the criticisms of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey).
I must be allowed to point out that hon. Members opposite also have cheque books and, on occasions, send their children to public schools. If lounging means that one has been to a public school, may I say that the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) also went to a public school.
I thought the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) had something to tell me which I did not know.
Before I come to some of my constructive criticisms, I am entitled to do what the Parliamentary Secretary did. I want to give a picture of the education service as it appears to the W.E.A. That is an impartial organisation which seeks to serve the public. It estimates that we still have 100,000 children in all-age schools. If they were our children we would be disturbed about it. There is only one childhood and one opportunity. It is hard lines on youngsters who have to stay in those schools.
The Government do not permit local authorities to build new nursery schools. Only one in eight of the 16 to 18 age group of teenagers are getting any part-time education. We have a queue of the pathetic waiting for places in special schools—15,000 handicapped children, including blind, deaf, disabled and maladjusted children. There is something wrong with our priorities when these young people, who cannot fight for themselves, have to hear the disappointing forecast which the Minister had to make this afternoon about the supply of teachers. I realise that the supply of teachers and of school buildings is the key to our problem, apart, of course, from the philosophic approach to education, which is different on this side of the Committee from the approach of hon. Members opposite. We do not believe in privilege in education.
I now want to look at the recruitment of teachers. How is the Minister to attract the best people? He has told us, if I heard aright, that by 1970 there will be even larger classes than there are today. We shall require 100,000 more teachers than we had in 1960 to bring the classes to 40 and 30 respectively by 1970, but only 50,000 will be available. If I am wrong I shall gladly give way to the Minister. My reading of what the Minister has said is that we can look forward not to a diminuition in the size of classes, but rather to an increase if this recruiting problem is not tackled differently.
To attract teachers we must make teaching a more pleasant profession. We all know that the teaching profession has never been so disgruntled and angry as during the past year, or during the current week. Who would have thought that we should see lecturers and professors from our colleges and universities, coming here hoping to influence Members of Parliament to change the policy of Her Majesty's Government? It is incredible that teachers have been driven to talk of strike and have been divided and torn by the policy of Her Majesty's Government. If we are to recruit teachers it is no good trying to find an easy way out with child minders. Only the best is good enough to let loose on the minds of the children of this country. Therefore, we should aim at more college places by expanding the profession and making it more worthy of the people we seek to attract.
There are two points I wish to bring to the attention of the Minister. I remember serving on a Standing Committee of the House a long time ago when we were discussing a pensions scheme for widows of civil servants. The late George Tomlinson was Minister of Education at the time. I recall that promises were made to examine the case for the teachers. Today, as I heard again at the National Union of Teachers' Conference at Scarborough at Easter, nothing disturbs the teaching profession more than insecurity for dependants when something happens to a serving teacher. What proposals has the Minister to make to help to give this security to the teaching profession? I believe that this would be a tremendous help to them in making the teachers themselves recruiting agents because no one is better at drawing people into the teaching profession than teachers themselves.
I say nothing on the salaries question, because that will boil up again in the near future, but I say to the Minister that he aught not to come here with half-baked ideas about lowering the standard of the profession. He must come here with plans, greater plans, for recruitment to training colleges and for expanding the number of places in universities which are given to those who will undergo training for the teaching profession.
On the question of the school building programme, local education authorities today are "cribb'd, cabin'd and confin'd" by the Minister. It is the Minister of Education who decides for local authorities what schools they shall build each year. In the greater part of Wales, we have been told by the Minister, we shall not have a school built next year. As he knows, there are many local authorities there which he has told are to have no allocation. I do not want to deal with a constituency case, but in my constituency, in Llandaff, in the shadow of the cathedral, there is a church school with a great history and tradition, but an inadequate building. The church authorities are anxious to make their contribution. They would get on with the job next year if only the Minister said yes, but the Minister will not do so.
Talk of freedom in local government! Local education authorities are no more free than prisoners. When it comes to school building they do what they are told and they cannot do anything else. Even on minor works improvements in schools, additional classrooms and things to which the minor works programme lends itself are being impeded. The picture for administrators in local government is worse, not better.
I have another point to make to the Minister. I know that he shares my concern and the concern of many about activities in Carmarthen. I have not mentioned this to my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George), but she knows my concern, from the teachers' angle, that 65 teachers were dismissed. I believe that is the working out of the block grant. I am quite sure it is the working out of the block grant that has led to this economy in Carmarthenshire. I hope the Minister will not have to stand at the Dispatch Box in an education debate next year and explain similar dismissals and similar economies in other parts of England and Wales.
The education service, as far as we can see, must be an expanding service. It can only expand if we have the confidence of the teaching profession. It is all right for the Minister to appeal to married women to come back, but I know of someone who had done teaching for thirty years in England and returned as a temporary teacher to a county only to find himself unemployed because of the economies which are taking place. I earnestly hope that the Minister will realise that he is arousing the wrath of teachers and parents alike. If he wants to find the explanation of why so many people are turning against the Government, let him not underestimate the educational policy of Her Majesty's Government.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North was absolutely right. The revolt against the Government today by the general public is as much caused by the evident frustration of our youth in the inadequate efforts made to increase the teacher supply and in the Minister's last announcement of savage cuts in the school building programme. Until there is evidence of a more positive approach to education I believe and I hope that this revolt will spread.
I must confess to feeling a certain degree of diffidence in being called to speak following the Celtic eloquence of the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), but unlike him, I should like to compliment my right hon. Friend for his innovation in the education service. I do this, I must confess, because I think I was the one who thought of it first. Nearly a year ago I propounded very much the same idea at a meeting of the National Union of Teachers when they did me the honour of asking me to address them.
It has always seemed a most appalling waste of the skill, experience and qualification of professional people that they are often engaged from nine o'clock, when the school is opened, or before, to four o'clock, when the children go home, doing for a large part of the day those tasks which—I will not say are beneath them but on which their qualifications are being wasted. It has seemed to me that we are wasting so much of the school teaching potential in employing skilled and professional people in performing those tasks, signing the registers, making up the registers, looking after school meals and so many of the chores of education, to such an extent that, although the public generally feel that when the school doors are closed teaching is finished, in point of fact the teacher's day goes on for a very long time after the children have gone home. I do not believe that this will lead to a deterioration in our teaching service; I believe sincerely that it will lead to an enhancement of the status of the profession.
I suggested this to my teachers, and they sat back and thought about it in a rather stunned silence. I do not know what the effect will be upon the country tomorrow, when it reads about this innovation. It is impossible to decide what attitude we should adopt until we have heard the details and the working out of the operation, but since we seem to have talked exclusively about the teaching profession so far, I must point out that I am rather dismayed by the feeling expressed in the House of Commons, and all too often in the country, that we can churn out numbers of teachers every year, as though we could manufacture them. That is not possible.
Teaching is a profession. It may be called a following but it is also a calling. Everybody who has been engaged in education knows that the best-trained and most highly-qualified teacher, when put into a class, may be incapable either of holding the attention of that class or communicating his ideas to the age levels of the children involved. Furthermore, such a teacher is very often difficult to get out of a school once he is in it. We cannot manufacture teachers as though they were Mr. Henry Ford's motor cars. The idea that we can may mislead the country in its consideration of the whole educational programme.
I know that many other hon. Members wish to speak, and I shall therefore be brief and try to get away from the "bread and butter" of education and talk a little about its fabric, because this subject is in danger of being lost sight of in this debate. Since we are talking of teachers and the way in which education affects the older members of the community, it is right to raise an issue which ought now to be considered in another place. We often talk a lot about technical training, the training of apprentices, and training for industry, but all too seldom do we face the fact that we shall shortly have to be thinking of retraining workers who have already received training in fields which, owing to the rapidly changing nature of our industry, are becoming obsolescent.
Another question that we ought to be thinking about is the great need for a central pool in which information about educational research can be exchanged. All too often it happens that different educational institutions, whether of technical college status or university status, carry out programmes of research entirely unknown to each other. There was a recent case of two universities whose research teams were engaged on practically identical work, but neither knew what the other was doing. They duplicated the programme. If one had contacted the other the work could have been carried on to the mutual benefit of both.
There is also a need for a central pool of information which will enable youngsters to discover which universities have places available for their academic years. At present, if a youngster is prudent he will apply to three or two universities in the year before he takes his Advanced level examination. The universities will probably reply saying that they will be delighted to consider his application when they know the result of his examination. He will know the result at some time in September, after which comes the wild scurrying around—the rat race—to find a university place. Much of this could be avoided if universities were prepared to provide information of places available, which information could be gathered together in a central pool so that youngsters could avoid having to take part in this appalling rat race and waste of energy.
We are waiting for the result of the deliberations of the Robbins Committee. I cannot remember any occasion on which we have waited for so long, unless it was for a gentleman named Godot. As far as I remember, he never did come, although he was talked about a lot. I hope that when we receive the Report of that Committee some attempt will be made to establish a relationship between the various advanced centres of education in this country.
Perhaps some thought will also be given to those unfortunates who are endeavouring to fulfil a five-year apprenticeship course and who suffer from the difficulties of living in the country. A youngster who is engaged on a sandwich course, with day release, may, after doing a day's work, have to travel 20 or 30 miles to his craft centre in fulfilment of his indentures, if he lives in the country. Local railway lines are being closed down, and this process is likely to continue in the future. Local bus services have a habit of drying up at about nine o'clock at night, and they are not of very much use to such a youngster as I have mentioned. He must find some other means of getting to and from his college. People tend to underestimate the fatigue element involved in travelling after a day's work, especially when it is spread over a five-year period. It is a heavy drain on a youngster's energy.
That brings me back to my contention that this five-year apprenticeship ought to be reconsidered. It is not providing a sufficient number of skilled workers. We shall have to consider the creation of a first-year full-time apprenticeship course, probably provided by local education authorities, which implies some sort of boarding establishment. Few local authorities have given any thought to this problem. That, allied to the prospect of retraining later on, may help to solve the problem of the shortage of skilled labour.
The business of training for industry is becoming very complex and involved. It is not generally realised that it is now quite possible for a man to take a year's course not to train in order to obtain some skill in industry, but simply to become fully familiar with the number of courses which are available in the City and Guilds of London Institute alone. That is simply a mirror reflection of the variety and diversity of our rapidly changing industries today.
I am not sure that swollen sixth forms are always a benefit to the youngsters in them, or that they are really educationally sound. The glamour of the last two years in the sixth form is sometimes exaggerated beyond reality. The importance of an extra year in the secondary modern school is also exaggerated. There is no educational value in keeping a youngster in school for an extra year unless he can be provided with something that will catch his imagination. If the extra year is to be of any educational value it must be related to the occupation he wants to follow. If it is not his imagination is dulled, and he is bored. This, far from making him a better man, may even be harmful.
Education is one of the most fascinating and beguiling of all services. It is often vexatious, and sometimes maddening, but at the end, when we look at the youngsters who come out of schools, we see what fine young people they are. Far too often we tend to slam the youngsters and to forget the other side of the picture, which is a very fine one. People talk about the wastages of apprenticeships and of training colleges—of wastage here, and wastage there. There has never been any school or any sort of occupation in which some wastage has not occurred. That does not mean that the system is wrong, or that the youngsters taking part in it are wrong. Let us not be too woeful about our young people. They are jolly fine people, who are providing good material to work upon. I look back to the years that I spent in education with great pleasure. It was an honour for me to be associated with education.
Since the Government have already had ten years of opportunity it would be absurd to expect that the desperate problems of our schools, children and teachers will ever be seriously tackled by hon. Members opposite. I hope that the Minister will forgive me saying that he exudes an atmosphere of profound boredom. That may be an injustice to him. Perhaps he fights gallantly inside the Cabinet. But wherever the blame may lie it is nonsense for hon. Members on this side of the Committee to imagine that we shall influence Government policy. Certain electoral considerations may make a slight difference, in an upward or downward direction, but that is all.
On the other hand, it is important that hon. Members on this side of the Committee should get ready for what I believe will be another period of Labour rule. I am not suggesting that we shall form a perfect Government, but even the strictest critic among us must at least admit that we shall do better than hon. Members opposite. Hon. Members opposite occasionally enjoy themselves by pointing out differences in our ranks. They are entitled to do so.
It will be a bad day for British politics when there are no differences inside both Labour and Conservative Parties. Indeed, I do not want to live in a country which has homogeneous parties, any more than I want to live in one which has one homogeneous, all-embrac-in party. But there is one thing that cannot be said. It cannot be said that we are divided about certain fundamental principles in education. All of us who are concerned about children, about our country and its future, are sick at heart when we see the harm that is done not only to children in secondary schools but to children in the elementary schools as well because of this monstrous business of dividing them according to the results of the 11-plus examination. I am very proud of those local authorities—and I think London deserves a very special tribute—which are fighting so hard against this practice.
I would mention in passing that the harm to the child begins when the child is 6 or 7 years of age. Already the whole atmosphere of the school is tuned to the fact that some children look as if they are material which will pass the 11-plus examination while others do not. It will be a great improvement and will be of great assistance even to the younger children when we get rid of this appalling way of dealing with them.
I have come to the conclusion that when we have a Government who really want to tackle this problem, more important even than new school buildings and the reduction of class sizes is to see that we have got teachers with a sufficiently high standard of education and status and teachers who are really able to teach. I would rather be taught well in a sub-standard school than taught badly in a beautiful glass palace. I hope hon. Members will not misunderstand what I am saying. I am not saying that we on these benches are not passionately concerned with getting rid of the last slum school and the last bad lavatory. Of course, we are. But I hope that the people in the country will now begin to listen seriously to what their future Government have in mind.
We do not promise that in one or two years we can completely revolutionise the state of school buildings. We shall do it, and we shall do it according to civilised priorities. We shall do it, we hope, against a background of rising industrial production. But while we are catching up on the arrears in building left by the present Government, we have the serious problem of how to bring within the reach of every child, teachers of a standard who will really excite and stimulate them and make them conscious of all their own potentialities.
My sympathies go to the teachers these days with overcrowded classes and with all the other difficulties that face them. My sympathies go to the teachers as well as to the children when they, too, are graded into secondary-modern, technical, grammar and the rest. The status of a teacher is usually linked up with the status of the school in which he teaches. All teachers want to go to the schools with the better buildings and the higher educational standards. But is it not common sense when we have only a limited number of first-rate teachers we should see that those we have got are added to as quickly as possible, and in the meantime ensure that their services are used to the best possible advantage?
Part of our case for getting rid of the 11-plus examination and for seeking to get ahead with a comprehensive type of education as fast as possible is that it will make available, not merely to some children but to all children, the best of the teachers who are not available. Even in that sphere we have got a desperate leeway to make up. We have also a desperate shortage of university places. I hope that we shall accept the comprehensive spirit as fast as possible and thus ensure that children have two things which are very precious —parity of esteem and equality of opportunity.
When I talk of parity of esteem I refer to something which I understand a great deal better now than I did when I was a school child and later a university student in Scotland. We were far more democratic. We had far less sense of class and caste divisions in Scotland a quarter of a century ago and more, than we have in London and the Home Counties today. I believe that this is one of the most baffling and serious aspects of our failures in education. Hon. Members opposite cannot tackle this problem because they believe in a class society. They think that we have got to have someone to do the dirty, unskilled jobs. They say, "Why waste good schools and first-rate teachers on the lads and the girls who are going out at the age of 15 to do manual labour? We shall only make them discontented with their station in life".
When Adam dolve and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman?
Our philosophy on these benches is exactly opposite. We want our children to have parity of esteem. We think it is an outrage that it is possible to go into both towns and villages and find the community life of youngsters hopelessly divided and graded. Some have gone to one type of school and others to another type of school. The divisions are bad for all of them.
I have never been able to accept the division of children into those suited for so-called academic education and those who are not. There are obvious differences. There is the type of child who will do well as a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a civil servant and so on. But some of those children with that kind of intelligence have no ear for music, no highly-developed eye for beauty. There are a thousand and one variations from child to child. Some academic children are not so responsive to aesthetic values as other children who will be our future miners, engineers, farmworkers but who, because of failing to pass the 11-plus examination, have been sent to secondary modern schools and often have no opportunity of learning languages or of developing the creative side of their intelligence.
We are doing the very opposite to what we should be doing. The more repetitive one's work in life, calling for nothing but manual skill, the more necessary it is to ensure a balanced life by providing at least the opportunity to appreciate music, art and good literature. I do not accept the view that we have a right to divide children as they are divided at present. I am pleading here for a civilised community in which we give our children parity of esteem, whether they are living in villages, towns or cities, where in their games and other activities they feel that they are brothers and sisters all belonging to one family. That could be done. We could pool all kinds of resources such as buildings and playgrounds, which are now divided. That in itself would be to everyone's advantage.
Then we come to equality of opportunity. We on these benches often made the mistake in the past of talking too much about the "lad o' pairts". There was this desperate concentration on a few working-class children who were able to pass examinations and be pushed on to the higher reaches of education. Nowadays we want all our children to go forward together. We do not want the majority of them left behind with inferior status and in inferior schools.
The question with which I am most concerned at the moment is how in the next three, five or ten years, not only for the sake of the children, but for the sake of the country, we can sustain our prestige and our economic place in the world. How are we to catch up on the leeway? I do not want to repeat the figures which have already been given. We know that we are not producing the number of graduates that other Western countries are producing. We know that our universities are lacking in places.
It is because of that that I brought with me this afternoon a circular which I believe all hon. Members have had. We all get so many circulars that very often because something reaches all of us it reaches none of us. I hope that when hon. Members received the policy statement of the National Broadcasting Development Committee they did not automatically put it into their waste paper baskets. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) who I see is holding up her copy.
I hope that any hon. Members who have thrown their copy aside will try to get hold of one because here we have experts who have gone responsibly into this problem of how we can, as an interim measure, ease the problem of a shortage of university places and at the same time make up for the lack of opportunity of those who failed the 11-plus examination but develop later. We all know what little opportunity there is to pass the 13-plus examination. It depends as much on the part of the country in which one lives as on the ability of the children. If a child fails in the 11-plus examination and leaves school at 15, works at a repetitive job and goes home in the evening to commercial television to learn about "whiter than white", how can one break through?
There is an excellent suggestion in this document and I hope it will become practical policy, if not under the present Government, at least under the next Labour Government. The suggestion is that Great Britain should build its next university not only to cope with 3,000-odd students but that it should be so constructed that it can not only serve this limited purpose but also can become the first real television university. I would make this a very high priority of any Government because in this way we can throw out a lifeline to the adolescent who missed his chance—to the late developer. We can throw out a lifeline to the man or woman of 50, 60, 70 or 80 if you like who happens to be interested in what goes on in the world. We have here the possibility of doing more for less financial expenditure than any other single proposition that has come before us.
We should also bear in mind that some teachers become very weary in the course of the years, and again they have my sympathy. They have to go over the same subjects again and again. Therefore, we could rescue the child who might be unlucky enough to have a teacher who has lost his freshness and is not keeping up with his studies. A whole network could be given to this kind of university of the air. It could have a wide diversity of subjects. Then, instead of the poor teacher being expected to teach during the term and then to give up his holidays to a so-called refresher course, he would also have available a refresher course any time that he liked to take advantage of it. In this way we should be maintaining and developing our standards in the schools.
A great deal more could be said, but I am afraid that in this Parliament we are growing weary of repeating over and over again the suggestions we have made in earlier debates. I hope, however, that even a little may be done by the present Government before they depart and I very much hope that my hon. Friends on these benches will not wait until we are the Government but will be busy now rescuing the people of this country from the apathy in regard to our educational problems that they have been plunged into by the party opposite.
When I talk as I do, I am talking on behalf of the children of the poor. But I am also speaking on behalf of the children of very many well-to-do families. It is a fallacy to imagine that if a child of well-to-do parents fails his 11-plus he will be all right because his parents can afford to send him to some expensive second-rate public or boarding school. The sensitive child is well aware of the fact that these schools are the gathering ground for those who have failed but whose fathers and mothers can afford to pay. That sort of background does not do anything for them educationally, nor does it give them self-confidence.
I believe that intelligent parents of whatever income level would be greatly helped and relieved if they thought that their children would take their places in the community according to their character, temperament and needs, without the present divisions, humiliations and frustrations which anger all those who love children.
I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) will forgive me if I do not follow her in all the points she raised. With one point I agree; I would rather be taught in a ramshackle place by a first-class teacher than by a very poor teacher in a marvellous glass palace. I certainly agreed with the hon. Lady when she expressed those sentiments because it is the teacher who really does the educating and who is far more important than any building.
I regret that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) is not at present in his place because he taunted my hon. Friends about there being a great number of public school boys on this side of the Committee. I do not think that anyone would suggest that my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Miss Quennell) is a public school boy, and in fact 100 per cent. of the men who have spoken from this side of the Committee went to elementary schools, because both the Parliamentary Secretary and myself did so.
I recall that on one occasion I went to Wales to give an address. The lady who was my chairman gat rather carried away by the occasion and said, when introducing me, "Mr. Montgomery was educated at Harrow". I replied, "Not Harrow, dear, but Jarrow". I felt that I had to make that clear lest the impression got abroad that I was an old Harrovian.
This is the first education debate in which I have spoken for some time and I wish to thank the Minister for giving some recognition to the National Association of School Masters and allowing it to be represented on the Burnham Committee. I cannot say that I feel that the number of places allocated to it is at all generous, but the main thing is that it is now on that Committee and this is one of the things I have fought for since I came to the House of Commons. I could never understand the reasons advanced against that body having some representation on the Committee. Its presence on it will mean not only that it will have some say in the salary negotiations but, equally important, that its representatives are now able to be on what are called "committees on the Burnham pattern". The representatives of the National Association of School Masters who are now on these committees will be able to give valuable service and information to assist in the work. This will be all to the good of education and I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his decision.
It is obvious that we must increase the number of teachers. Unfortunately we still have far too many oversize classes and our first priority in education should be to reduce their size. I am pleased, therefore, that we shall have more day training colleges because this is certainly the way to attract more recruits into the profession. The Parliamentary Secretary made a number of suggestions and I should like more information about them before committing myself. It appears, however, that hon. Gentlemen opposite object to them although my hon. Friend made it clear that they were suggestions thrown out so that we could now discuss them. We have been given a chance to put forward other schemes or to suggest what we consider to be wrong with those that have been put forward. It is useless for hon. Members merely to criticise if they do not also make constructive suggestions.
The most urgent need at present exists in the primary schools, and I wonder whether my right hon. Friend would consider having more specialisation in teaching in the primary schools? I have taught in both primary and secondary modern schools and too often a teacher will have the same class with him throughout the day. If it is a bright and well-behaved class then life is reasonably pleasant, but if it is not well-behaved life becomes rather dull by four o'clock, and that time on Friday becomes the most welcome hour of the week because, at least for the weekend, one can relax a little.
In a primary school one must be a Jack-of-all-trades. In a secondary school one has the advantage of specialising in subjects in which one is particularly interested. This is all to the good of both the children and the teachers. As I say, being a Jack-of-all-trades in a primary school is not the most pleasant of tasks. Among the things I had to teach was handwork and art. I have never been classified as an "arty type" and I found the work extremely irksome. However, it had to be done. These jobs become blots on the timetable and make one dread each week. Specialisation in subjects like the arts, music and handicrafts in the primary school would release other teachers to concentrate on teaching arithmetic, English, geography and history and would so improve primary school life that it would become more attractive to recruits.
I remember that in 1954, when teaching in a secondary modern school, there was a shortage of primary school teachers in Newcastle. Because I had previously taught in a primary school I was told to go back to primary school teaching. This was rather depressing because I thought that I had waved a fond farewell to it. If improvements could be made I am sure that more people would want to teach in our primary schools.
Also in connection with the shortage of teachers, I wonder if we are doing sufficient to help the mature students, especially those with families, for many of them have tremendous financial difficulties. I have raised this problem with the Minister at Question Time. I have received a report from Newcastle, where the governors of the training college have been seriously concerned at the financial difficulties experienced by some of their mature students, particularly those who are just married or who have dependants. Many of them have taken on mortgages, and on the level of grant that they receive life is extremely difficult for them. Recently, one of the people on the course had to withdraw because he could not manage on the grant allocated to him.
Students who drop out of these courses represent a loss to the teaching profession. Many of them already have experience of industry or commerce before they decide that they would like to take up teaching. But, because of their family circumstances, many cannot attend a teacher training college or university. I hope that we can do something to assist people of this type.
Would the hon. Gentleman include in this question of grants the possible recruitment of young people by more adequate maintenance allowances for those who stay longer in the secondary schools? If they stayed at school longer they would become available for the pool to be trained as teachers.
I take the hon. Gentleman's point about this loss from the pool. I appreciate the argument and it must be borne in mind by the Ministry, for we must try to encourage them to continue so that we get the best possible people into teaching.
While on the subject of finance, can we be satisfied with the way in which education is financed? Hon. Members experienced in local government affairs will know only too well that a glance at the demands made on the rates soon reveals that the lion's share is taken by education. I believe that most people are prepared to pay for education but I am beginning to wonder whether the present burden imposed on ratepayers is becoming intolerable and whether we can, in all conscience, expect them to pay more.
Perhaps my right hon. Friend could consider the question of the central Government financing more, if not all, of the education service. This question of whether it should be an entirely national responsibility must be considered, because it is becoming increasingly difficult for local authorities to finance the sort of education system we require.
If that were to take place and a greater share of the cost of education were borne by the central Government, would it not follow that local authorities would find the exercise of control over their building programmes and educational policies even more restricted? I was interested to hear the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) say that it was deplorable that local authorities were not able to control their own building policies. Surely, if the purse string were held by someone else, they would be even more restricted?
My hon. Friend may have a point there, but has he considered that in the National Health Service we have regional boards which do the day-to-day administrative work? Perhaps education could be organised along similar lines. I would, however, like the Ministry to give some thought to this problem because I feel that we cannot go on as we are in educational matters, placing a mounting burden on the ratepayers. If we are to have a tremendous increase in the education service we must find some means of providing the additional money.
Education must also be considered in line with our possible entry into the Common Market. I recently had to do some research on this and I discovered certain problems which I hope will be considered by the Ministry. There are great differences between the education provided in this country and that afforded in the Common Market countries. For instance, in Belgium, West Germany, Italy and Luxembourg teachers' salaries are paid by the central Government. Would we have to adopt a similar system should we enter the Common Market?
In almost all the Common Market countries primary school teachers' salaries are lower than those of secondary school teachers. This is rather reactionary and I am sure that we would not stand for that sort of thing in Britain, because it would be wrong if we treated primary school teachers as something like second-class teachers. They do tremendously valuable work—just as valuable, in fact, as the secondary school teachers. It is obvious that if we do not get our primary education system right, with good people to operate it—and these people are, after all, responsible for children in their formative years—the secondary school training will be wasted.
I do not wish to be facetious, but I hope that the hon. Member will impress on his right hon. Friend the importance of what he is saying. If we introduce dilutees into the schools, will not that lower the teachers' status?
As I said before, the Parliamentary Secretary made certain suggestions and left it to hon. Members to comment on them, to put forward alternative suggestions and to be constructive. My hon. Friend is concerned to see that the children of Britain get as good an education as they can, and I am sure that the suggestions he put forward were designed to try to find some solution to our present difficulties.
I found the opening speech of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) gloomy and very pessimistic. In a previous education debate he was a prophet of gloom and despair, because he preached all the time that the Government were shortly going to impose school fees. He taunted my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary by asking him to deny this. This was as long ago as 17th July, 1961, and there has been no mention of it since. I can only assume that the hon. Member's gloomy prophecies will prove to be just as ill-founded this time.
The hon. Member spoke about the Common Market countries and of the percentage of their 17-year-olds who were staying on in their schools. He neglected to mention that they start school at a later age than the age of 5 at which they start in this country and that the average school compulsory period is shorter than it is here. Therefore, with that shorter school life, it is easier to have a smaller ratio of children to teacher and also, I suppose, easier to find the necessary teachers to cope with the 17-year-olds. This, again, proves the tremendous difference between education in this country and education in the Common Market countries. I could never be a partner to anything which I believed would lower the standards of British education or would place the British teaching profession at a disadvantage with its counterpart in the Common Market countries.
If we decide to go into the Common Market we must have a great deal of rethinking about the subjects we teach and indeed about the way we teach them. Language teaching has been mentioned already. Perhaps the reason why this country does not go in so much for language teaching is that we are inclined to be lazy. We know that English is taught as a second language in almost every country and that if we go abroad the foreigner is almost bound to be able to speak English. Therefore, this is the easy way out. But if we go into the Common Market the proficiency with which our people speak French, German and Italian, will be of the utmost importance to the nation.
Undoubtedly, if we went in there would be a freer movement of teachers between the United Kingdom and the Common Market countries and this would have a beneficial effect on language teaching. If we have this freer movement we shall certainly have to give much thought to the mutual recognition of teaching qualifications here and on the Continent. In England and Wales when people go to a training college there is no separate and distinct training for primary school teachers and for secondary school teachers. When I came out of college I could have gone to either school, but on the Continent there is a distinct and separate form of training for primary and secondary school teachers.
Entry into the Common Market would also involve certain changes in our school curricula. We should have to have more emphasis on the teaching of European history and European languages, and if the Government decided in the near future to introduce decimal currency this would make a great deal of difference in the teaching of mathematics and science. I hope that the Minister is looking at these problems because I believe that they would be of great importance to British education should this country go into the Common Market.
Whilst I could not say that I believe the Government's success in education has been world-shattering, nevertheless I believe that it has been tremendous over the last ten years. We have achieved a great deal, and in school building we have done extremely well I hope that my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will continue to work to try to ensure that we get the necessary teachers and more schools and that we eventually reduce the size of classes. In that way they will have done a tremendous service to the cause of education.
I enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery) and his story about Harrow and Jarrow. It is a good story. This is probably the only country where a joke of that kind could be made, because in most civilised countries the class system of education is non-existent. I hope shortly to see us nearer its abolition in this country than we are at the moment.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), when he referred to secondary modern schools, seemed to be saying that one could judge the excellence of a secondary modern school by the number of graduate teachers on its staff. I hope that he will correct me if I am wrong.
My hon. Friend has invited me to intervene and I do so with pleasure. I said that I was speaking in shorthand. I was not suggesting that all secondary school teachers should be graduates. I was saying that the simple figures reveal the fact that the rigidities in secondary education are roughly the same as they were before the war.
I accept my hon. Friend's correction, though I should have doubted it.
We must not judge the remarkable progress which the secondary modern schools have made during the last fifteen years merely by the number of graduate teachers and the number of academic successes they achieve in the fifth form. The profession itself will be very concerned if we equate graduacy with being a good teacher, because probably for the less able children there is far more need for the three-year-trained teacher than for a graduate, and certainly than for an untrained, and the grammar schools have just escaped, since the war, from equating success with academic triumphs at the top of the school, and realise that even grammar school education is much more than examination results.
I raised the subject of school building in a debate on Monday evening and I thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education replied to me complacently and, indeed, contemptuously when I was making the serious plea which my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North reinforced today. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the complaints we were making were based on party political considerations. One of the myths of the Tory Party is that the Labour Party invented party politics, both in national and local government. The right hon. Gentleman does a great disservice to the Tory Party if he suggests that the only people who are worrying about school buildings and overcrowding, and want to move the Government more quickly than they are doing, are Labour people. I know many good Tories in local government who share the anxieties about the school building programme which I expressed last Monday and which my hon. Friend has reinforced today.
The right hon. Gentleman's real trouble is that he thinks that everybody in Britain should be a good non-political Tory, that when the Labour Party was in power it was right, and good fun, and almost a sacred duty to oppose the Government on everything, including education, but that since the Tories took over it has become a heresy to suggest that there is anything the matter with the Tories who are in charge of education and are running schools to which they take good care not to send their own children.
My hon. Friend opposite, if I may so call him—the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education—was less complacent than his Minister. He opened his speech in a swashbuckling style. Later, he got down to practical considerations, but it would be difficult from his speech to gather that this debate takes place at a time when we are facing the greatest crisis in primary education since the war. It is a time when the teaching profession is in disagreement within its own ranks only on whether the best way is to take direct action against the Government, or to build up an educated public opinion against them, but is unanimous that there is something wrong in the present state of education.
It takes place at a time when, about 24 hours ago, the number of university dons in this building was the greatest ever in our history. They were all indignant about the Government. Although they were of every political party, they were protesting not only against the proposed salary award but against the threat that they saw to the future of, and the quality of, future universities. It is at a time when the supply of teachers is so desperately short in the primary schools that the Parliamentary Secretary has had to suggest this afternoon a grave new measure for dealing with it.
It would be a very foolish Minister, or a very foolish Government, who attempted to explain away the malaise that exists from one end of the country to the other in educational matters as due to the wicked Socialist propaganda or indeed, after Montgomery, Liberal propaganda.
I want to raise one or two matters with the Minister. First, I want to say a few words about the veteran teachers now living on meagre pensions. Their pensions, as the Committee knows, are based on salaries of ten, twenty and sometimes thirty years ago. When I spoke recently to some London veteran teachers, there was among them an old gentleman of about 83. The salaries in those days were much lower than those now paid. While the pensions they drew at that time were not bad pensions, they have been eroded year after year by the rise in the cost of living. These pensioners are among the several millions who find that, while the bulk of the people in Britain can protect themselves against inflation by wage increases or profit increases, they have no such protection.
I was proud to note that the National Union of Teachers gave pride of place at its annual conference this year to a resolution urging the Minister to introduce a new Pensions (Increase) Bill for such old servants of the community. This and the action of some trade unions in striking on behalf of the nurses are examples of altruism in a society which is getting more and more selfish and certainly rejoice me.
I thought that I detected quite a note of sympathy in the replies which the Leader of the House has given to questions put to him on Thursdays when we have asked for a debate on a non-party Motion on the Order Paper urging a new Pensions (Increase) Act for public service pensioners. I hope that I am right. I would urge the Minister of Education to do what many a good employer has done for his faithful old retired servants by remembering those who have served education so well in very difficult times in the past, and to whom Britain owes so much, and see whether he cannot use his influence in the Cabinet to provide a new Pensions (Increase) Act which will benefit not only veteran teachers, but also other retired public servants.
Since we last debated education I think that perhaps the most significant development that I have become aware of in educational circles has been the growth of the idea that universities should be regarded as part of national education. Indeed, I was amused that, in another part of this building, one of my hon. Friends said to some university men yesterday, "I doubt whether we can talk very much about the universities tomorrow; we are discussing education." The view is growing that education is one, as some of us have always said it is one, and that the universities ought to come under the control of either the Minister of Education or the Minister for Science. At any rate, there is remarkable and understandable unanimity that it ought to come away from the control of the Treasury.
During the post-war years the University Grants Committee has up to now been quite happy. By and large, its recommendations on university needs and university expansion have been accepted by enlightened Chancellors of the Exchequer. The dons have enjoyed their ivory tower. They have been dreadfully afraid of State intervention. But recently there has been a change of view even among university men. Surprisingly enough, even the National Union of Teachers, not a very enthusiastic friend of the Minister, who tampered with the Burnham Committee's award last autumn and began the wage pause, has advocated that universities should come under the aegis of the Minister. At a recent university colloquy one of the professors described Treasury control of the universities as "Government in the twilight of half-knowledge". He said that an alternative instrument for the government of higher education at national level was needed.
The independent journal Education described the Chief Secretary to the Treasury as the
hatchetman of the Treasury who does the wrong thing with matchless consistency.
I believe that education is one, and that the work of the smallest primary school and of the most advanced research are part of the effort of Britain to match the great demands of this difficult age. When one part of education suffers all suffer. No man is an island, and no part of the educational system is an island. If we give pride of place to the universities, it is because they teach the teachers on the one hand and seek new knowledge on the other, and yet—and yesterday's demonstration was an example of the
indignation that it aroused—the university teacher finds himself unjustly differentiated against.
The Treasury has awarded him a 3 per cent. increase, compared with an increase of 15 to 18 per cent. granted to members in other branches of education. The university teacher is not anti-technical college; he is not anti-school; but he rightly says that the present salary award places him so much out of step with his professional colleagues that young men and women at present at universities will be discouraged from entering the career of university teacher and will find it more profitable to enter the training college, the technical college, or school itself. I am sure that this is bad for the morale of the university, and therefore, bad for education.
This differentiation is not due—and I am sure that the Committee would want to emphasise this to the universities—to a deliberate act of policy on the part of the Government to down the universities. It is due to a purely lamentable accident from the point of view of the university teacher, because his claim was made long before the Chancellor imposed his wage pause. If there was any fault in the pipeline it was not due to the university teacher, but to the University Grants Committee, which spent a long time considering the claims of university teachers for a salary increase.
Even more serious is the question of the new quinquennial grant. It can be argued that the Treasury has a right to fix the amount that the country can spend on education. This was said by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury at Question Time today. Indeed, probably behind the scenes the Treasury must fix—after Cabinet discussion—every item that the Minister of Education spends. But what the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has no right to do, and what even the Minister of Education makes no attempt to do, is to tell the universities that he accepts their programme of expansion, on the one hand, and refuse to find the money for it, on the other.
That is just what the right hon. Gentleman has done. The University Grants Committee has put forward the target of an expansion for the universities to 170,000 over the next decade, and the estimated material and financial cost of that expansion. The Treasury has said in simple words, "Expand to 170,000, but we cannot provide the cost of that expansion." The issue is as simple and as grim as that. Any hon. Member of this Committee must have been told by the deputation of university men from his constituents yesterday just how impossible it will be for each of the universities to carry out a programme which they had set themselves, and which the Treasury wants them to achieve, without providing adequate means to do it.
I do not want to repeat in detail all the arguments that hon. Members must have heard yesterday, but there can be no difference of opinion about the rightness of the target of university extension and the proposed 35 per cent. increase in student intake. Indeed, we on this side of the Committee are worried about whether 35 per cent. is enough.
In the sixth forms of the grammar schools today they have what we might call the first bulge, and this bulge is not merely the old proportion of the increased number of children born between 1945 and 1950. Sixth forms have increased not only by a similar percentage of extra children, but by the fact that today children are more keen on education than ever before. Grammar schools are expanding naturally, side by side with the expansion due to the bulge, and in the grammar school sixth forms there is a growth similar to that taking place in secondary modern schools where, each year, more children are staying on for further education.
Already, sixth formers are finding it difficult to get to universities, and this year some of the young folk whom I know, some with excellent qualifications which would have got them to university ten years ago, are being compelled to turn elsewhere and are being lost to education. The position will get more acute next year, and, indeed, each succeeding year for some time ahead.
All this the Government know, but, like Pharaoh, they are telling the universities that it is right for them to make the bricks, but that they cannot supply enough straw. It seems, therefore, that everything in this university crisis points to one solution, that we must bring the universities out of the hands of the Treasury into the hands of someone who is concerned about education as a whole. Whether that should be the Minister of Education or the Minister for Science might be a matter for debate.
At the recent Gulbenkian Foundation Colloquy, held in the spring of this year, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said:
The Minister of Education has tried very hard during recent years to associate outsiders with the formation of ministerial policy.
How unconsciously right he was. I believe that the power of the Treasury has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished. I share the view of the Association of University Teachers that the Treasury award of 3 per cent. on their salaries was
not an award, but an insult … dishonourable and harmful to the nation at large.
These are strong adjectives, matched only by those used by Lord Boothby when he talked about this being "furtive, disastrous and dishonest."
I mentioned earlier the coming crisis in primary schools. About a month ago I was perturbed when I heard Sir Ronald Gould, at the National Union of Teachers' annual conference, say that some people in the country were suggesting that the crisis might be met by keeping youngsters out of school a little longer by raising the age of entry. I have always thought that Sir Ronald Gould was right on most educational matters. I hope that he is wrong on this.
I think that the battle for tampering with the school age was fought and won, even inside the Conservative Party, in 1951. There were forces in this country which would have solved the crisis of 1951 either by sending children out earlier, or letting them come in later. I firmly believe that no Government would ever dare to set the clock back by tampering with the school entry age. There would be an outburst of anger from mothers in Britain, including my daughter, who is waiting eagerly for the day when her four-year-old child goes to school.
There would be an outburst of anger from mothers compared with which all the strikes and rumours of strikes that we have had recently would be trivial. I hope that the Minister of Education will say that he stands where Dame Horsbrugh stood in 1951, and will resist any attempt to meet the crisis in primary schools by tampering with the age of entry.
I hope that the Minister will tell us, too, what progress is being made in the recruitment of married teachers. This is the key to the crisis. The Government are responsible for some part of the teacher supply problem. We urged them to raise their targets ten to twelve years ago. But part of the crisis is due to new unforeseen factors. Somehow we must cope with the simple fact that women are going into teacher training colleges, coming out to teach for two or three years, and then getting married. We have to win them back to the profession. If we cannot do it in any other way, we might even have to go back to the kind of practice that we had at the beginning of the century, when people went to college and had to sign an undertaking that they would give so many years to the teaching profession when they came out. This would be regrettable.
I plead with the Minister to think very carefully indeed about the suggestion that the Parliamentary Secretary has made today that it would be possible to dilute the infant teaching profession. I spent thirty years as a teacher. The bulk of the teaching profession who teach juniors and seniors could not for a day tackle the highly skilled job of the infant school teacher. It has been rightly said in an intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) that at a university one requires a man of knowledge and not so much a teacher, and that the lower down the age scale one goes in the teaching profession the more highly skilled becomes the teacher.
Any idea that a half-trained amateur can walk into an infant school in England and tackle the tremendous job of introducing a five-year-old child to society, to culture, to education, to the tools of reading and writing, and so on, is a fantastic dream, and I hope that the Minister will hesitate before he suggests that grim and dangerous proposal.
I put to the right hon. Gentleman one detailed suggestion that I made some years ago, I think with the support of the Essex Education Committee, that we might make it possible for the retired teacher to go back to teaching and earn a salary as a teacher in addition to his pension. At present, if he goes back he can earn only enough money to make his pension plus his salary equivalent to what he was earning as a salary before he retired. I know the dangers, but there is something to be said for the fact that a public servant who is retired can go out to work, and provided he does not work in a public service he can draw a pension and his full salary in some other job. During these crisis years perhaps we could get some old but excellent teachers back to help us.
Britain has made tremendous progress in the years since the war. The Minister has a right to be proud of the nation's great achievements in education. The only difference between us is that the Government tend to be complacent. Indeed, they were shockingly complacent on Monday night, although the Parliamentary Secretary was far less complacent today. The right hon. Gentleman seems satisfied with what we have achieved, and seems almost unaware of the vast amount that we still have to achieve if we are to match the challenge of the second part of this century. It is the duty of the Opposition to try to goad the Government out of their sense of complacency and to try to sting them into further action.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) in a debate on education because he is very much less inclined than many of his hon. Friends to bring party politics into this subject where, in my view, they have absolutely no place. Moreover, since he is so much better informed than many people about it, he is much more just in his criticisms of the Government.
I am also glad to follow the hon. Gentleman because he is the first speaker. I think, to touch on the universities. I am tempted to say a great deal in reply to certain speeches made by hon. Members opposite. I should especially have liked to follow the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) and to take her up on some of the points which she raised. Of course I agree with her that teachers are much more important than buildings. I also agree that there is room for comprehensive schools, but no Conservative Minister has ever denied that; and today the Minister was chided on the fact that, therefore, there are fewer people in grammar schools, which I thought was rather harsh.
Of course I also agree that there must be equality of opportunity. The trouble is that, although the opportunity may be there for all, not all are equal to taking it. There must, therefore, be some kind of examination, such as the 11-plus, to discover which particular aptitude a child has and where he should go. And, of course, I agree with the hon. Lady about parity of esteem, a phrase coined, it will be remembered, by a Conservative Minister.
We all know that everything is not perfect. That is largely because of the three ingredients in education—the teachers, the buildings and the pupils—only the last is not in short supply. It is perfectly right that people should criticise and make suggestions, but I do not think it is helpful or just to deny credit where it is due. I sincerely believe that the Minister of Education can justly claim that the Government's education policy, which was given top priority by the Prime Minister when he first took office, has met with a very large measure of success indeed, measured by nearly every criterion. It is indeed the very success of our secondary education system which has created the increased demand on further education, and it is about that that I wish to make a few remarks.
There was a debate in the House on this subject on 5th April, but I happened to be abroad at the time and therefore missed it. I noticed on my return that it was a debate of only three hours and that two of the three hours were taken up by the four Front Bench speakers. So, even if I had been here, I doubt whether I should have caught Mr. Speaker's eye.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury told me on 22nd January that a revision of the scale of university teachers' salaries to take effect as soon as the economic situation permitted was then at an advanced stage. On 13th February I tabled a Parliamentary Question, the answer to which confirmed that university teachers were the victims of the pay pause partly because there had been no "pre-commitment", as it is called, to them but mainly because, unlike all other teachers, they have no Minister to plead their cause in the Cabinet.
I think that they had justification for their grievance partly because, somewhat ham-fistedly, the Civil Service, with which they consider themselves comparable, was treated much more generously. I do not think that the two professions can be compared, since, although their members are recruited from the same source, presumably if people want to be civil servants they go to the Civil Service and can not be heard to grumble if they choose the other profession. But they are certainly comparable with the teachers in the colleges of advanced technology and the teacher training colleges, who also, thanks to the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education, were given substantial increases. As I say, they have some justification for their grievances, but I have always made it clear to the many to whom I have spoken and to those to whom I have written that I strongly support, and will continue to support, the Government's incomes policy.
I wish that people could be induced to understand why the success of this policy is essential to everyone. We really must end the ridiculous habit of giving ourselves an annual rise right across the board irrespective of effort, merit or productivity. Everyone is now agreed, I think, that, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition,
… if we go on doing that we are heading for trouble.
All costs and prices rise endlessly, exports fall, we get into the "red" and have to economise all round. The fact is that increases for those who work in the Civil Service can come only from increases in industrial productivity. There is no other source. It is not possible to take more out of the pot than is put into it and one cannot live "on tick" for ever. It is only as a result of the productivity of those who earn the nation's living, including the Surtax payers, that the rewards of the
so-called non-productive workers can be met. I respectfully suggest to the teachers that they should instil that home truth into the minds of their pupils, especially at a time when so many parents seem to have abdicated any attempt to train the character of their children.
As soon as we can—and I hope that it will be soon—we must settle the proper rates for all these State jobs, and pay them.
No, but the whole of our education policy hinges on the economy. It is of the essence.
Thereafter, with "Neddy's" help, we must ensure that increases in incomes do not exceed productivity and that ample differentials go to greater effort and responsibility.
Before I turn from the subject of salaries, I would ask, not my right hon. Friend, but the Government, to consider whether the University Grants Committee should be responsible to a Cabinet Minister other than the Chancellor of the Exchequer—for example, to the Lord President of the Council, the Minister of Science or, perhaps, the Minister of Education himself, although I think that he already has enough on his plate. I do not want an answer to that tonight, but I should like an assurance that consideration will be given to it. I find that the majority of the Association of University Teachers wants this, and personally I strongly agree with them.
However, more important than the temporary salary-holder are the Government's plans for the future of the universities. This also is the opinion of the Association of University Teachers. It is about these plans that I am very worried indeed. It is foolish to deny or to seek to belittle the enormous progress which has been made. The population in the universities in 1957 was 90,000. Today it is 111,000 and in five years' time it will be 150,000, or so, to quote the Government's Amendment on 5th April, it is hoped. That would be an increase of 39,000, and it is in addition to the increase of about 26,000 in the populations of the colleges of advanced technology and of the teacher training colleges. But the University Grants Committee and on 27th March the Vice-Chancellors said that it would not be possible on the quinquennial grants to achieve this without "a wholly unacceptable deterioration in standards." I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his colleagues will have seen the report from Sir Douglas Logan on the University of London.
It is really not possible to disregard these views, and I must confess to a feeling of the deepest disappointment with the replies of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary on 5th April and of my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council in another place yesterday. Knowing them as I do, their hearts cannot have been in those replies, nor, I think, their heads.
The position is made very much worse by the eves-increasing numbers qualifying for university places due partly to the bulge and partly to the larger output from the sixth forms. Sir Keith Murray has said that today:
about 11 per cent. of the university age group acquire the necessary paper qualifications for university entry and that expert opinion appears to believe that this may rise to 16 per cent.
and then flatten out. Yet today only 4·6 per cent. of this group can enter a university, and even if everything goes according to plan, only 6·4 per cent. will be able to do so in the 'seventies; and that is out of a potential university population of 16 per cent. According to the Sunday Times of last Sunday:
We shall be 40,000 education places short in 1970—and that is a conservative calculation.
Sir Robert, this is not good enough. Can we expand further without lowering standards? My answer to that question is that we must. It is a "must". If the Robbins Committee is not going to be able to report before this time next year we must get on now without it. Quite irrespective of comparisons with other countries, which can be hopelessly misleading, if our secondary schools are turning out, as they are, more and more pupils who could benefit from a university education, then if we fail to provide it for them we are failing them and failing the nation. I urge the Government, with as much emphasis as I possibly can, to change gear and make quite new plans for the future of our universities.
We have listened to a very interesting speech by the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden), especially from the point of view of the situation at the universities and the future for the universities, and I may refer to that later on in my observations.
I recall that when I was a pupil at a grammar school—I am sorry to say that it is over fifty years ago—the master told us that in a grammar school it was not allowed to have more than thirty pupils in a form. That observation impressed me very much at the time, and I have remembered it ever since. The fact is that in 1913 it was not consistent with the regulations to have more than thirty in a grammar school class. Yet fifty years later we have oversize classes in our secondary modern schools and the principle of thirty children in a primary school class has yet to be accepted.
We are familiar with the arguments. First, there is the shortage of teachers. We are also told that there is the building problem. If one is to have smaller classes, it stands to reason that one must have additional classrooms, and consequently one has a building programme to meet. On those two counts the record of the Government over the last ten years is to be questioned.
Who are responsible for the present shortage of teachers? My hon. Friends and I are not. The Conservative Party has been in power for eleven years, and throughout that time they have not faced up to the problem of the training of teachers. After all, the number of pupils in schools is very easily predictable. That is the extraordinary fact about the situation. We can say in 1962 what will be the population of the first year of the secondary school in 1970. The same sort of thing was possible in 1952. The Government should have known in 1952 what would be the secondary school population in 1960 or 1962. Had they acted upon that prediction, they would have been well-informed in plenty of time about the teacher shortage.
The Minister's predecessor failed to face up to that situation. Indeed, as late as 1958, the then Minister of Education was not convinced that it was necessary to have a policy of expansion in our teacher training colleges. At that time the Central Advisory Council said that 16,000 extra places were necessary, and the Minister of that time was so informed by the Council. But he—and only very reluctantly—accepted a figure of only 12,000. At the same time he decided to extend the course to three years.
I have no objection to a three-year course. I believe that a teacher in an elementary school—I may be a heretic in this respect—who goes for training should be thoroughly trained and should even have university degree status of a suitable type. For instance, it might be a type of degree suitable for primary school teaching, I believe that a three-year course is valuable and indeed necessary. However, the attitude of the Minister at that time was that only 12,000 extra places were needed merely in order to maintain the output of teachers and not to reduce the size of classes.
The Parliamentary Secretary of 1957 said that the three-year course by itself would not be accompanied by a significant expansion of the colleges. That indicates the attitude of the Conservative Party and the Government over the last ten years.
I now turn to my own country, Wales. When the programme for the teacher training college expansion was announced in 1959 it was calculated that Wales could do with 2,100 extra places. It was offered 800. Thus, the problem was known, but the Minister refused to face up to it. To put the situation differently, had the Minister's programme stood as announced in 1959 with the introduction of the three-year course, there would have been ninety-five fewer places in the Principality and fifty fewer places at Bangor Normal College.
That was the policy of the Government notwithstanding the predictable nature of the increase in the school population. It is not the fault of hon. Members on this side of the Committee that the present Minister has inherited the difficulty of a teacher shortage. It is not our fault that the quota system must remain, possibly, for many years to come. But many of the rural schools have to close down and a number of semi-rural schools have had to have their staffs reduced because of the mistaken and short-sighted policy of the Government in years gone by.
I turn for a moment to buildings. It may be true that the Government can produce imposing figures of expenditure on school buildings. Indeed, the other night I watched a very interesting party political broadcast by the Conservative Party. It showed a picture of a beautiful school. The programme was very effectively produced. But I could take hon. Gentlemen opposite to secondary modern schools in Wales and also England where the picture is very different. There are still far too many schools which are an insult to our eduction system, and that is particularly true in the rural areas and in the older industrial centres.
Meanwhile—here I come to education in principle—the conditions of the homes have improved. The homes have become more up to date and better equipped and the amenities are better. I hold it as a first principle in education that the condition of the school should at least equal the condition of the home. The school has to educate its pupils and set the tone to the home. This is virtually impossible in a school where general untidiness and general unhygienic conditions exist simply because the buildings are out of date and there have been cuts in minor projects. The time has arrived to clear away these schools, which are a travesty of the name of education. If we are to teach our children, we must teach them in conditions at least equal to the conditions of the home.
Unfortunately, the educational history of this country is one of untidy advance. I admit that there has been advance. We have advanced since the Second World War, but it has been an untidy advance. Our progress has been untidy progress. As a nation we have been inoculated with a mild form of educational fever. That is nowhere to be more clearly seen than in our attitude as a nation to official education reports.
For example, in 1926 we had the Hadow Report, and that was followed by the Spens Report of 1938. The Spens Report was peacefully interred in the cemetery of the Ministry of Education. The Hadow Report was enshrined in the Education Act, 1944, eighteen years after its publication. Why had we to wait eighteen years before the principles of that Report were enacted in legislation? Yet that is the history of this country right down to the present day. We had the Crowther Report a short time ago. It was the talking point in all educational circles. When is it to be implemented? Presumably we shall be told that it will be implemented "in due time". But the generation for whose benefit the Report was made will by then have passed from the field of education. Last year we had the Central Advisory Council's Report on Technical Education for Wales. The Minister must agree with me that there are no signs at all of the recommendations of that Report being implemented. How long must we wait before they are implemented?
The Hadow Report envisaged the reorganisation of secondary education in this country. It was published in 1926. It is now 1962, thirty-six years after the event. There are twenty-six all-age schools in Wales at present. It may be said that that is not a large number. That is all the more reason why they could easily be wiped out, but in any case, it is not right that children should still be going to these all-age schools thirty-six years after the publication of the Hadow Report.
The Education Act, 1944, envisaged a tripartite system of secondary education. The secondary modern school was the outcome of it. What happened was that the buildings used for the secondary modern schools were old-fashioned ones built in the last century. The result is that it is a travesty on the name of secondary education. I admit that we have had beautiful secondary schools built in the last ten or twelve years. Nevertheless, we have to recognise that the secondary modern school system, which could have earned for itself a good reputation had it had a fair chance, has lost prestige in the public eye, with the result that the 11-plus examination has become a fetish and a cause of alarm.
The 11-plus examination is a source of concern now in every home with a child. Children are being coached out of school hours by outsiders. Some time ago, I saw on television pictures of a school run exclusively to get its pupils to pass the 11-plus examination. It was not an education institution, though it was called a school. As they went in, the children were asked why they attended the school, and back the answers came, "I want to pass the 11-plus examination". In the classrooms, they were being crammed to pass the examination. I do not know why the Minister has tolerated the continued existence of that school after its exhibition on television on that occasion.
The 11-plus examination has assumed a significance out of all proportion to its real importance, simply because it is not a qualifying examination. What qualifies is the number of vacancies in the grammar schools. That is the truth of the matter. The whole thing is out of shape and out of gear.
There will be the same situation in the sixth forms of our grammar schools very soon. There will be no vacancies for them in the universities. Pupils who pass the G.C.E. will find difficulty in going to university. I know of a girl who has passes in eleven subjects in the G.C.E. In a few weeks, she will take her Advanced level in three subjects. She has applied to universities but failed to be given even an interview, let alone admission. We all know that propaganda is now being spread about with the idea of piling examination on examination in order to weed out the pupils going to universities. I am against making it more difficult for pupils to go to a university. If a pupil has passed the G.C.E. in three subjects at Advanced level, then that pupil is eligible to go to university and should have a place. Otherwise, what is the purpose of the G.C.E.?
Rather than increase the difficulties, we should expand the opportunities. Otherwise, there will be frustrations in our grammar schools which will spread their influence throughout the education system.
I hope that the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Idwal Jones) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the interesting argument which he has addressed to the Committee.
I rise in response to the invitation from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Committee to express views on the interesting proposals which my right hon. Friend is putting forward for temporary and auxiliary assistants in infant schools. These proposals were immediately and roundly condemned by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas). I know that the hon. Gentleman has had a long and distinguished career and that his judgment and experience in matters of teacher opinion are greater than mine. Nevertheless, I doubt that he does justice to the feelings of the teaching profession.
Quite rightly, I believe, the hon. Gentleman draws attention to the very strong feelings about professional status and dilution which the teachers hold, but I doubt his statement when he gives what he believes will be their reaction when faced with, not a reduction of the standard of available teachers, but with a choice between having or not having in the infant schools in these difficult years some valuable assistance.
If I understand the proposal correctly, the assistants would be people whose quality would entitle them to enter a teacher training college were a place now available, but who, having a period of—
I understood that there were two suggestions. One related to young ex-grammar school girls. I should have thought that, apart from others of, perhaps, more mature years, the obvious entrants this year and next year, unhappily, would be those with adequate qualifications for entry to a teacher training college were such places available. Although I can understand that the teaching profession would have its natural feelings of reluctance aroused by any suggestion of dilution. I should have expected that my right hon. Friend would receive a favourable reaction in the profession to his proposal. I regard it as a practical, workable, and not objectionable step in our efforts to deal with the immensely difficult situation which we face.
I am not so clear about the second proposal, the short service commission. Whatever we call these assistants— auxiliaries, school assistants, or anything else—the name does not matter provided that it does not include the word "teacher". The distinction between them and teachers must be marked and patent. This applies to the short service commission also, if it is to be acceptable. In this latter category, I think that there is a good deal to be said for having a period of only one year of initial training before a short period of service, to be followed, if wastage does not set in and they sign on for the duration, by two years at the end of their initial period.
I come now to a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery), who is not with us at the moment, which was picked up and, apparently, agreed to by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West and commented on further by my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden). There was an exchange between hon. Members about the burden of the rates and the intolerable burden which the education rate, in their view, was likely to impose.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East advanced the view that some, if not all—those were his words—of the cost of education should move to the centre. That was his view, as I understood him, and, with respect, I profoundly disagree. I do not agree either with my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West who seemed to consider that, if the proportion of grant-in-aid was raised, this would in itself bring further and more obnoxious Government control. I see no reason for that. It is an argument which, on the face of it, stands to reason—the higher the percentage of grant-in-aid, the less the independence of the local authority—but I believe that there is no truth in it in fact.
In an education service which is financed on the block grant at the moment, I cannot see how such a consideration could operate. With a service financed on the percentage grant basis, what an authority has to decide, if it puts forward a project which would be subject to percentage grant aid and permission is refused by the Government, is whether, as it has in theory the power to do, it will go ahead and do the work itself entirely rate-borne. As a rule and in practice, authorities do no such thing. The only exception which proves, or improves, the rule which comes to mind is the famous case of Waterloo Bridge, about which a classic London election was fought.
I believe that my hon. Friend's fear is illusory. If, through the anomalies, injustices or unfairness of the rating system, burdens become too heavy, I see no reason why local education authorities should not retain as much independence as they now have and still have their percentage of grant-in-aid adjusted every year or every two years, somewhat increased, so long as they retain the power to raise a substantial proportion of the cost for themselves. If, on the other hand, local authorities, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East seemed to suggest, are to become the mere agents of the central Government, various most undesirable consequences will follow.
In that event, there will be a lack of variety, of experiment, of development and of organisation. It is said that two heads are better than one "even if they're no'but sheep's heads". There being 155 education authorities, I say that 156 heads are better than one, even if that one is on the shoulders of my right hon. Friend. What is more, unless there is worth-while pioneering work to be done by local authorities, we shall not continue to find worth-while people to come to the service of those authorities.
I suspect that we tend, beset as we are with the magnitude of our achievements and of the difficulties facing us, to fall into the error of thinking that the future pattern of our education system is set. We sometimes believe that we can look forward now and see already—it is in the book, in the Act and in Crowther—all the things which we want to see happen, and we believe that those are just the things which will happen in that sort of order in the next decade. There is a danger in this attitude. We may, weary and frustrated as we often are, say to ourselves that we do not even wish to see the distant future. One decade is enough for us. One decade is not enough in a business like education, the effects of which, for good or ill, last a lifetime.
I do not level this charge at my right hon. Friend. The last thing I would charge him with is shortsightedness. I know how imaginative and far-reaching his thoughts are. My point is that if, for some imagined present convenience, we centralise the cost of education and reduce local authorities to the status of mere agents, when the need for pioneering recurs we shall find that we have disbanded the pioneers.
The need for pioneering is still with us. This is the classic rôle of local people and local authorities. If we are, belatedly, to build a youth service worthy of this country, then who better to surround the work with local zeal, enthusiasm, knowledge and experiment than local people? I do not believe we could succeed in a task of that kind were the planning to be done centrally and the administration by however brilliant an administrator, without local voluntary enthusiasm.
I am very interested in what the hon. Member is saying, but I wonder whether it is not an Aunt Sally which he is putting up simply to knock down. I do not know anyone on this side of the Committee who has suggested that there should be central direction and that we should lose the benefit of local people. Would the hon. Member clarify that point a little more?
Then he will no doubt have heard that I was taking up a point made, in a different form, by three previous speakers. I am glad to hear that he does not join issue with the argument I am advancing against the centralisation of the cost of education.
I was saying that the need for pioneering is with us already. As the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) said, can any of us be content with the provision at present for education for the retired and the old? Since we have those increasing numbers of active retired people and their numbers will increase still further, this is a matter to which if we are to do our work of providing happiness—which, after all, is the purpose of human endeavour—we have to pay a great deal more attention than we are able to at the moment. Within our means as activities and developments come along we shall fare very ill if the authorities are degraded to the status of mere agents.
It may seem unrealistic to be talking like this about expansion at a time when we are short of men and particularly of women and of money. We know we shall be short of all three and never have enough, but we cannot afford to let be and grow weary. Educational advances are seldom made for the purpose, the conscious and express purpose, of making money. They are made for humane reasons, because people think they are right, but, in fact, they generally pay. It is a mistake to think that much of educational advance is a long-term cost to the community. It is the finest investment.
The most thrilling example of this, of which I think it would be worth reminding the Committee, is the story of the development of education for the mentally backward since the war. Before the war, as many of us remember, the backward lad sat on the bench at the back of the school. He was generally made rather a pet of. Silly Billy was reasonably happy. He at least had not to make much effort, because the one thing he had learned was that nothing was expected of him and no effort was necessary. He left school and was often a bit of a nuisance. He was often a little lonely and unhappy, but the community had him to keep for the rest of his life.
Now, unless he lives in the area of an authority which had not done its duty, "Silly-Billy" is silly no longer. He is in an educationally subnormal school. Some light has come into his eyes and he has found that there are some things he can do. When he leaves he almost always gets a job and has the pride and self-respect which come with it, and we no longer have to keep him.
What I am getting at is that this development was done not because it was considered a good economic investment, but for humane reasons and in accordance with the simple religious principle that, although all men may not be equal, they are equally important. In practice, it has paid. It is a good rule for our guidance in future, when faced with something which we believe it right to do, to do it because it is right and we may well find that in the long run it pays.
I have digressed a little and I am sorry. I was talking about centralisation. I welcome the initiative which my right hon. Friend has shown in carrying forward into the realm of teaching the same sort of brilliant work which has already been done by his Ministry in school building. I have no fear that this will become dictatorial. I know that neither he nor the Ministry would dream of trying to make it that. They would not succeed if they did, for the tradition of academic freedom is too deep-rooted for that.
In well-trodden fields I am sure that power and influence in our system will always tend to pull as if by a centripetal force from the centre, but that is not to say that all fields remain well-trodden. I think that if local authorities follow their classic rôle of pioneering in field after field, so their work will be copied. The example of the best will be copied by the many and more and more inevitably this process will go on. More power and direction will come from the centre, but by that time, unless we interfere with the independence of local authorities, they will have their eyes on new horizons.
The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), in an important part of his opening speech for the Opposition, advocated what he called a common secondary school. The point I have been trying to make is that it must surely be not the least of the tasks of our educational system to ensure that all schools and their products do not become too commonplace.
I share the dislike of the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Bourne-Arton) of too much centralisation. On the other hand, I am not convinced that all local authorities can be expected to do as much for education as he hopes and desires. For one thing, a great many of the expenses of education are outside their control. For another thing they are not all the excellent pioneering bodies the hon. Member described.
Further, my belief is that the relation between parents and schools is of the greatest importance and, in many ways, of more importance than that between some local authorities and the schools under their control. However, I do not want to go on on that subject, but to take up another point made by the hon. Member. He expressed some approval of the proposal to have a cadre of specialists to deal with infants. If that proposal is put forward because it is felt that infants will be better looked after by such people, I am in favour of it. If it is put forward as an easy way out, I am not.
I believe that to look after infants is a difficult job. I have had a little experience myself. I also believe it is not a job which one can hand over to anyone who is untrained. I often wonder what people would say if they applied this sort of approach to solicitors. There is a great shortage of solicitors in the country. There are a great many jobs in solicitors' offices in which a basic amount of commonsense would probably be enough, but if we proposed to the solicitors' profession that because they could not get enough solicitors people of common sense should be allowed to handle legal matters, we should find that all the praise given in many quarters for opening out and doing away with restrictive practices, and so on, would not be given in the same way when applied to this learned profession.
I want to be brief and to devote my remarks to the subject of higher, or further, or university, education. We all pay lip-service to the importance of education, but I fear that this country is still too much impressed by things that it thinks will give prestige and too little impressed by matters such as education which will develop its skill and which are really fundamental in the sort of society we have and the influence which we can exert in the world.
I am astonished that we find it so easy to cut down on education while, for instance, we find it possible to maintain an independent deterrent. No one has suggested that it is peculiar that we should spent £1¾ million on propping up the façade of Downing Street, but if we propose to spend £1 million an the universities the proposal is examined with a microscope, and cut down. We spend far too much on prestige and pay too little attention to the realities of this world. Faux universities are appealing to the public: Edinburgh, St. Andrew's, York, and Balliol College, Oxford.
Probably many more.
We need buildings, books and chairs to sit on throughout the university world. I wish to address a few words to the Government on the situation about university teachers. The complaint of the university teachers is not that the Government have a policy for wages, salaries and profits, but that they have not got a policy. Their complaint is that the pay pause is haphazard and unfair. Their complaint is that the dockers, because they are powerfully organised, get an increase in pay, but teachers and others, because they are not organised, get no increase. Their complaint is that this country is drifting into a state described by Galbraith, in which we have private affluence in the midst of public squalor.
I do not say that we yet have public squalor, but again and again the pinch is put on the public services, the professions and the things which the Government find it so easy to screw down on while many things which to most of us are of less importance are allowed to increase their share of the national product.
I could say a great deal on many ways in which they could do so. I could recommend a few tax changes, for instance, which were designed to reduce costs. Whether the hon. Member likes it or not, it is a fact that in this country today gambling and speculation pay very well, but nurses and university teachers feel the pinch again and again. The hon. Member must know that quite well and must know that the country feels this strongly.
What have the Government to say to a few simple questions which have been put to them before? The vice-chancellors of universities are not a very revolutionary body, but they have said that the grants forecast under the present arrangement for the next quinqennium are barely adequate to finance the existing state of affairs. They have said that the non-recurrent grants are inadequate because they will be cut down by the inevitable rise in prices.
The Government are still saying that they intend to put up the population of the universities from 110,000 to 150,000. Do they think that the U.G.C. and the vice-chancellors are wrong and do not know what they are talking about, and that they could easily take 40,000 more students over the next five years with the amount of money offered them? Or do they think that standards will be lowered, or do they propose that the universities should have a holiday course when they put through more people? Is this what the Government have in mind?
It is no use saying that we should put up the universities' population by 40,000 and, at the same time, denying what they have been told by the U.G.C. and the vice-chancellors, that this is not possible. Can we be told what the U.G.C. said to the Government? We know that it asked for more money, and the Government turned it down, but we are exactly entitled to know what it recommended, and its reasons for doing so. Unless we are given that information it is difficult to form a completely satisfactory view about the future of university education.
It has been suggested that the universities should be removed from the direct control of the Treasury and put under the control of the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland. Up to now the present system has worked fairly well, because the U.G.C. has not ben treated as merely one of many advisory bodies, or as an irresponsible pressure group. It has been treated as a highly responsible body of people who do not take everything that the universities say at its face value—who are not paid advocates of the universities, but who go into their needs extremely carefully and often revise them before going to the Government with seriously-thought-out proposals.
The rebuff that it has suffered lately has changed its relationship with the Government. The Government must tell us whether they propose to carry on trying to rebuild the foundations that have been broken, or whether they have some other proposals to deal with the universities. If they are to undermine the position of the U.G.C. the universities are entitled to expect a Minister to speak up for them against the Treasury. We must consider the sort of proposals put forward to bring universities into a different relationship with the Treasury.
The Minister of Education is all too familiar with the last point I wish to raise. In universities and technical colleges there are now the most exciting possibilities. In our last debate on the subject the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said that the proportion of the appropriate age group who were receiving degrees in this country compared well with that of any other European country. The difference between this country and other European countries is that the university courses on the Continent are much longer, and many people who complete only part of the course receive a reasonable amount of university education although they do not obtain a degree. These people derive some benefit from their course. We shall have to move towards longer courses at our universities, and this will mean more expense. We must move towards the idea of having an intermediate degree and then higher or further degrees.
It is also very noticeable that although our older universities have difficulty in retaining their staff—and I know that many of them have been tempted across the Atlantic—the new universities do not experience the same difficulty. We are getting staff for the universities in Sussex and York. That is because they are developing new courses and new organisations within the universities. York will be the first collegiate university founded in this country since the fifteenth century.
We must try to get the older universities to adopt some of the methods used by the new universities. The older ones are very tightly bound by statute, and by the set-up of the faculties. With the exciting possibilities now open to them we must encourage them to make use of the experiments being carried out by the new universities. Furthermore, we should increase the size of our universities. Very often our universities have such small departments that there is no fertilisation of thought.
When we debate education we too often regard it as a means of teaching people to do something because it is of practical value. That is of vital importance, but education also means teaching people what to do, and why to do it. It tells them what to make of their lives, and what sort of society to make.
If I speak up for universities it is not because I am blind to the importance of primary and secondary education; very much the opposite. I speak up for universities because I think that they have a fertilising effect on all sorts of professions and all sorts of ways of life. They are the source of teachers at all levels. I make no excuse for stressing their importance, and the necessity for the Government to face the questions which are constantly being put to them and are causing the utmost concern in our universities today.
All hon. Members would probably agree with the definition of the problem which confronts us. Simply stated, it is that the number of children has been increasing, the demand for education has been increasing, and we have not been able to meet this demand with a sufficient increase in the number of school places. The number of children in primary and secondary schools in the past ten years has increased by 1¼ million, but it is not true to indicate—as the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) did—that we have done nothing about it.
In the past ten years we have had a remarkable programme of construction and development over the whole range of education. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his spirited and powerful defence of Government policy. Because hon. Members on this side of the Committee rise to the defence of the Government's record it does not indicate that we are being complacent about the current situation. We are far from complacent. I hope that no one is complacent about the situation. I entirely endorse what the hon. Member for Sunderland, North said when he described it as being an alarming crisis. It is a situation of the utmost gravity and, between us, we must impress this fact upon parents, taxpayers and ratepapers.
But let us have some credit for what has been done. Since 1951, we have been building at the rate of 489 new schools per year. That is not considered sufficient. Nevertheless, it is over four times the rate at which the Labour Government built schools when they were in office.
Since 1951, with the assistance of builders and the enterprise of local authorities, we have provided 227,000 places per year, on the average. That is more than double what the Labour Administration managed to provide in their period of office. Hon. Members opposite have talked about our failure to provide adequate numbers of teachers. I remind them that since 1951 the number of teachers has risen by nearly 60,000, or more than a quarter, as compared with a rise of one-fifth in the number of children.
Let us think of this in terms of cost. This is an important factor, which hon. Members opposite always choose to ignore when advocating programmes of further expansion and development, but which the electorate will not ignore when they interpret Labour slogans in terms of increased taxation. The electorate did not ignore this factor at the last election. In 1951–52 we were spending £381 million on education. In 1961–62 we were spending near three times that—£978 million. Considered in percentage of the gross national product, we were spending 3 per cent. on education in 1951, whereas we are spending roughly 5 per cent. now.
I said that it was roughly 5 per cent. It is rising the whole time; it is not remaining static.
We have before us this afternoon the Civil Estimates. Hon. Members opposite have not referred to them very much, but they show a substantial increase in the amount of money being put aside for the general grant. That indicates that the amount of money being spent on education has also risen substantially.
At the moment I am confining my remarks to Class VI, Votes 4, 8, and 10, and Class VII, Vote 1—which cover the subject before the Committee. The hon. Member knows that quite well. He is right to draw my attention to the point, however, because education is not the only thing for which the Government are responsible. They are responsible for our defence, for the road programme, and for the hospital building programme, and under each of those headings we can point to an increased rate of expenditure.
I have frequently deplored this fact, On many occasions I have said that the expenditure of the central Government is rising too fast and too high. I do not disguise that fact. I deplore the fact that all this has to be financed out of taxation. It will not be new to the Committee if I say that I want to see the emphasis changed a little, so that a greater share of the burden of financing the desirable services is borne more directly by the consumer.
I want to put the record into a proper context. When he was referring to the situation in the primary schools the hon. Member for Sunderland, North said that there were now about 20,000 classes with forty children or over in each. It is desperately wrong that that should be so. I agree that it is shaming that it should be so. But he was not fair enough to point out that in 1954 it was double that amount and that we have made a 50 per cent. improvement since 1954. Perhaps he will be at least as honourable as we believe him to be by confirming the simple fact that if we take today as the starting point we can read all sorts of dreadful things into the situation, but that if we make the comparison with the situation which we inherited from the Labour Government, there has been a great improvement.
The explanation of the hon. Member's figures is simple. The bulge was in the primary schools in 1954. He ought to give us the figures for senior schools, which are higher than they were in 1954. We have this large number of children in oversize classes, by pre-war standards, in the secondary schools, still passing through, when the second bulge is moving into the primary schools.
I am sure that he would not do that. I am sure that he wants to be as fair as he can and that he is not just making party political points. He will, therefore, be among the first to recognise that we have tackled this problem with imagination and vigour. The point which I am concerned to make at this stage is, how are we to meet the existing problem and how are we to finance the methods which we choose to use?
My hon. Friend made one novel suggestion as to how we could meet part of the problem in one small area. He suggested that we should bring into our educational structure the services of auxiliaries. Immediately hon. Members opposite bubbled and frothed and waxed furious and treated us to all sorts of clever little phrases describing the auxiliaries in a debating manner and mocking the whole idea. That is typical of their approach to the problem. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North was brilliant in describing the difficulties of the current situation but he offered not a single thread of a solution. All he said—and I wrote down his words at the time—was that in order to meet this urgent situation we must improvise. He is quite right; we must improvise. Even the hon. Member far Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) occasionally has to improvise. This suggestion by my hon. Friend is just one such attempt to do so in a situation of critical urgency with which we are confronted.
Some of my hon. Friends suggested that this was merely a balloon floated up in order to be Shot at. I hope that it is more than that and that it will be followed up in practice. I have long wished for something of this kind. I have some knowledge of independent education, which is so often abused and attacked by ignorant and envious hon. Members opposite. From my knowledge I am aware that it is not necessarily the men and women who have passed through training colleges and who are qualified who have the greatest aptitude for teaching and looking after children.
I am glad that at last we have some recognition of this from the Ministry and that my hon. Friend has advanced this proposal, because there are many girls in the country who have a natural ability to impart knowledge to children and who from their own education have acquired ample knowledge to teach in primary schools. I agree with the hon. Member for Leek about the importance of being able to teach in primary schools; although the range of knowledge required for that type of teaching of smaller children is more limited than that required at university or other higher educational levels, I agree with him that what is most important at the primary level is that the teacher should be able to win the confidence of the child and to impart her own enthusiasm to the child. That requires, above all, that the teacher should have an understanding of and natural sympathy for children.
Such people are not necessarily only those who have passed through teacher-training colleges. There are many men and women born with this gift, and these are the people who should be encouraged to come forward to assist us in this critical period in our educational experience in order to give the immense benefits which they can give to children in primary schools in the formative years of their education.
I therefore hope that we shall hear no more of these ugly cries from hon. Members opposite. They are doing no service and making no contribution to the solution of the problem. They are merely denigrating and belittling the efforts of those who are attempting to arrive at a solution. I hope that they will desist at once from this sort of slander on the inspired people who could come forward to help in our primary schools throughout the country.
I think that it is much more the case with women. I would rather not generalise, and I apologise if I mentioned men. Probably there are men in this category, but I can speak only from my own experience, and I feel that this applies more to women. The hon. Lady would be a very good example of this, and I look forward to having some experience of it when she speaks from the Dispatch Box.
Presumably my hon. Friend would not subscribe to the words used by the hon. Lady. He is not saying that there are some people who require no training of any kind. I thought that he was talking about people who could be of the greatest assistance with a short period of training.
I accept that. It is right to emphasise that a period of training, even a short period, must be of considerable benefit, and it is also true that men should be encouraged to help in this way. I should like to see an increase in the number of men teaching in primary schools. I readily admit that that is a more difficult problem to overcome, but we should not seek to evade it.
My hon. Friend made some other excellent suggestions as to how we may overcome the difficulty of the shortage of teachers. It has been variously estimated that in ten years' time we want 420,000 teachers. We must try to solve the problem by bringing back some teachers into the profession. The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) made a suggestion which is worth looking into—that we should make it possible for teachers who have retired to come back and to assist in the schools. If we can carry on this development which has been so admirably begun as a result of my right hon. Friend's campaign of persuading more married women to return, it is probably the best thing we can do.
In addition to the auxiliaries, I should like to see more emphasis given—and this is really a side issue of lesser importance—to releasing teachers from what I would call extra-curricula duties. I refer to duties which are not directly concerned with the teaching of children, such as the school meals service and the like. That would be a help but it would help only if those teachers, having been released from duties which they now find irksome, returned to the classroom to make use of their energies thus saved and took extra classes later on in the day, perhaps outside school hours.
I do not particularly want them to do that. I want them to concentrate all their effort and energy on teaching and if it is possible, during the course of the normal working day, to relieve a teacher of some extra duties outside the classroom, then I would hope that that teacher, thus saved from that work, would feel able to devote those energies later in the day to further classroom activities. After all, many teachers in the independent and specialised spheres who work in residential schools work through their weekends and have many extra duties. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery) referred to how much he looked forward to four o'clock each Friday. I am merely suggesting a programme of crash action. I am describing how teachers should do their level best to man classes later in the day as well as doing their normal school work.
The subject with which I now wish to deal is controversial in the teaching profession but will not be considered so by hon. Members. We should encourage the use of closed circuit television in our larger schools, particularly for higher education in the universities and elsewhere. This has got to come. It is widely used in the United States where it works extremely well. Special channels are made available, the instruction is of the very highest order and is carefully vetted. Many of these periods are televised early in the morning and the enthusiatic student can devote a considerable time to this form of study before attending his normal lectures. I hope that we encourage the development of this technique. Perhaps we might be given some information about it when my right hon. Friend replies to the debate.
There is one other supplement to education which is most important: the instruction given to apprentices through day and block release. I agree that the present accent is mainly on technical training but it should not be so. I am reminded of the McMeeking Report and I hope that commercial establishments will follow the example given largely by the industrial firms and that this form of education will be extended.
Young men and women who become apprenticed to a firm and start to learn a trade often become suddenly enthusiastic about the very essence of learning and are keen to acquire knowledge. Many of them are more receptive at that point than they were in their last term at school. We should keep that spirit of enthusiasm and carry over our educational programme into that initial earning period.
The last year at school for a 15-yearold is a subject which has given me a good deal of concern. Many teachers say to me, "You can have no idea how difficult it is to restrain these youngsters. They are just itching to break away from school and get out and earn their living. They have had their school experience. They think that they have grown up and they want to go out and show what big chaps they have become." It is extremely difficult for teachers to control, contain and teach them, and it is especially difficult for the younger teacher.
I did not hear the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) but I entirely agree with the point, which I understand she made, that what matters most in our educational system is that we should attract into the teaching profession men and women of the highest calibre. They should be leaders instinctively. People have missed a great deal if after growing up they cannot look back upon their school experiences and say that they looked up to their masters or mistresses and saw in them natural leaders for whom they had the greatest admiration.
There is another sphere of supplementation of our general education system which has not been concentrated upon in this debate, though it is true that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) made some slighting and scathing references to it. I refer to the rôle of the independent schools. Thank goodness we have these independent schools. The hon. Member should say the same about the work they have done. Hon. Members opposite, for some extraordinary class reason, think it an easy and cheap way of winning applause—and perhaps it is with the audiences they more usually address—to denigrate the work done by the independent system in this country.
Certainly. They have made a tremendous contribution which I hope will receive just acknowledgement from my right hon. Friend when he winds up the debate. It is a contribution which I hope will long be continued and, far from being damaged, will be encouraged. Even my right hon. Friend the Minister, for some reason, does not like private schools very much. I do not know why it is but Conservative Ministers find it extremely difficult to give sufficient praise to the work done by these schools. I hope that we shall hear more about this. It is important and it should become and could become of increasing importance. About 6·5 per cent. of children today have their education paid for by their parents. I wish to heaven that the percentage were far greater.
I have suddenly realised that I ought to declare an interest. I apologise to the Committee for not having done so earlier. I have a direct interest in a private school, but that, quite genuinely, was outside my mind when I was speaking about private schools, as I am sure hon. Members will recognise. I speak about them because I believe that theirs is a fundamental contribution and that we should attempt to marry these two systems so that the two combining parts will continue to contribute to our general educational system.
Assuming a figure of one and a half children per family, the 500,000 children in private schools could represent about 350,000 families. We should recognise that in 1960 3½ million people in this country were earning £1,000 a year before tax. This trend will increase. There will be many more earning at this rate in the years to come. Many who are now in the £750 bracket will shortly be moving up into the £1,000 bracket, and so on. I am sure that this is a trend that everyone will encourage. More and more, these people will seek to find places for their children in the private schools. They will pay for the education of their children. They will do this because they want to exercise the freedom of choice this gives them in selecting the school to which they would like their children to go.
There is one other point always made about the independent schools as though it were a bad point, although, of course, it is a good one. It is that the classes are smaller. In many cases this is due to structural reasons, because the schools are in smaller buildings and have not the ready access to capital resources which the State system has. They are in much smaller buildings and inevitably the classes are smaller. I hope that, as far as possible, in the whole range of private schools today, in view of the increasing demand which is being made on them and which many of them find it extremely difficult to meet, an endeavour will be made to increase the size of the classes. I think that many schools could do it, and it would be a very great help indeed if they did so. I am certain that payment by parents for the education of their children should be encouraged and should receive the maximum amount of support from my right hon. Friend and his Ministry.
I endorse the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I absolutely support what he said about the desirability of getting the highest possible standards in our schools and the closest possible relationship between parent and child.
Education, as I understand it, really means the development of a child's character and mental powers. The development of its character does not just mean, as so many people today seem to think, giving the kiddies the best or giving them everything that they want. That betrays a sloppy sentimental approach which is doing great harm to our national character, and I hope that we shall wake up to the fact that if we really want to give kiddies the best, the way to do it is by training and disciplining their characters. Discipline in school is vitally important and with it must go discipline in the home. This surely is the essence of our educational system.
We can build schools, put in strip lighting, provide playgrounds and facilities for basket ball or netball or whatever it is the children want; we can provide them, after a time, with the teachers necessary and give the teachers the necessary technical teaching qualifications, but all this goes by default and has no significance unless, at the same time, we raise the general moral standard of the children who come under our care. Throughout our schools we require the highest possible standard of work, and the highest possible standard of conduct. These things are vitally important. They are the things for which we should be pressing today, for it is these things which matter most for the future well-being and independence of this country.
No one would accuse the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden) of a sloppy, sentimental outlook on the problems with which we are dealing. I want to deal with two or three of the points which he raised.
I happen to be the governor of three independent schools. One is half-residential, half-day. The fees for the residential boys are £410 a year. I am the governor of another independent school which has produced at least three great cricketers in the history of cricket in this country, and the governor of another school provided from the same charity, which is a direct grant school, and, therefore, I think, comes fairly within the realm of a private school. I believe that the English boy is very much the same no matter in which school one meets him. He is a human being, and expects to be treated as such.
Consider the residential school of which I am a governor. It has a strong science bias, which it has had since its foundation in 1853. When the capitalists were dishing out science laboratories to public schools, we made an application. The distinguished educationist who was advising the capitalists on the matter inspected our school and said, "You have the best laboratories of any school in the country, and I cannot recommend your having a grant."
The headmaster, who had been appointed by the local education authority to be a governor of a secondary modern school recently built not far away, said, "That is an astounding statement to make. I am a governor of this secondary modern school and each of its laboratories is a great deal better than anything that I have in my school." I was bound to say to my fellow governors that when I think that we charge £410 a year for accommodation which is not as good as the parents can get out of the rates and taxes. I begin to wonder whether I am in the right company.
I ask the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West to believe that we are not ignorant of the public schools. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, when I was on his board as it then was, sent me to Eton for a day. I lunched in one of the rooms there, and sitting opposite me were a number of boys who kept nudging one another. At last, one of them, feeling that he was elected—this was when the Fleming Committee was sitting—blurted out, "Please, Sir, what are you going to do with us?" I said, "There are only about 1,000 of you, and I have 3½ million children to look after. I have not got down to you yet. Tell me what you would like to happen to you." There are two things that greatly enrage old Etonians. These boys said, "If a boy here shows no liking for the classics after two years he ought not to be compelled to go on with them." I believe that to be a sound doctrine.
It is enshrined in the 1944 Act that we should have regard to a child's aptitudes. If he has no aptitude for dead languages, then we should see what we can do with him on live ones. Eton said, "We have been over to Slough during the war, and we have made this discovery, that with the same tuition one boy can work these wonderful machines to the required precision whereas another boy cannot. We think that instead of the piffling woodwork that we have as manual instruction we should have some decent machines on which everyone can try his skill."
To my mind, that is the sort of answer that we should get if we made the same inquiry in any school, having regard to the different curricula that there are in different schools. I share the wish of the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West that, somehow, these two systems, the State system and the independent system, could come closer together. I wrote an article in the Hibbert Journal for January this year in which I set out my view that it was about time that the governing bodies association, the Headmasters' Conference, and the representatives of the local education authorities got together to work out their joint problems. I am sure that there are some boys who ought to have a residential education who do not get it, and I am sure that there are some boys getting a residential education who are not fitted for the difficult life of a residential school.
Exclusive though the residential schools may be, once a boy gets inside one he is in one of the fiercest republics which exists, and he has to stand on his own merits, on the tests which his school life bring to him, and, irrespective of his parentage, he will be held in esteem in the school in the same way that the boy in the day school is held in esteem, by the way in which he fits into the republic to which he has secured admission. I cannot think that, if there were good will on both sides, we could not do a great deal towards removing the more harmful differentiations that there are between these two types of school.
I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will feel that I have shown neither ignorance nor envy in the way that I have dealt with the matter. I was alarmed, quite frankly, with what he told us this afternoon. In my teaching career I taught every class in a senior elementary school. Believe me, it is much harder to teach the bottom forms than it is the top forms in that sort of school or any other school.
I wish that the hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) were here. He thinks that he has a patent way of persuading children to read by muddling them up with a bigger alphabet. My trouble was that there seemed to be too many letters in the alphabet as it was. To teach a child to read is to perform one of the most skilled tasks which can fall to the lot of any man. That is why we always leave it to women. If it is a hard job, let the women do it.
These auxiliaries, as they are called, may be brought in to help dress the children at the end of the school session. They may even be able to help them with some of the physical difficulties which confront them. But I implore the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West to believe me when I say that they are exceptionally gifted girls if they are capable of teaching children from illiterate homes to read. That is one of the appalling tasks which confront the infant teacher. She is in the end the most skilled member of the profession. I would not advise the hon. Gentleman to go round offering her advice, because he will find that she can not only read, but can speak.
I also regret that the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West brought up the question about what teachers should do after school if they are relieved of the school meals service. I have my own grievance about the school meals service. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) will recollect that I went to a National Union of Teachers conference charged by the Government with the duty of telling the teachers that if they accepted the schools meals service a proper kind of ancillary service would be provided, so that, while they would remain responsible for the discipline of the school, the other duties connected with school meals would be handled by other people. That promise has never been implemented.
I can tell the hon. Gentleman that I was never more tired in my life than at 4.30 on Friday afternoon in all the weeks in which I was actively teaching. It makes a very great demand on the physical as well as the mental equipment of any human being to have the task of dealing with classes of the size I had. I admit I was unlucky compared with people today. I started with 73 and never had less than 55. In those circumstances, one does not teach the pupils very much, but one gets very tired trying to restrain them from breaking the furntiure.
It is quite unfair to suggest that if the teachers are relieved of some of these duties they should be expected to put in extra time at their proper professional work in the evening, for most teachers do a great deal of extra-curricular work at that period in the day school. They have to teach boys to play cricket and football, and they have other things to do. If hon. Members try to lay down the idea that a teacher who is employed full-time has not done his duty if he does that work conscientiously for ten half days during the week, they are entering into realms which may lead them into great difficulty.
The Parliamentary Secretary knows that I was asked by the Liverpool Daily Post to deal with one or two practical problems. Apparently I dealt with them to his satisfaction, to such an extent that he has always promised me that he would quote the articles. However, he has never yet done so in my presence.
The task of implementing the Education Act, 1944, is a very difficult one. I do not envy the right hon. Gentleman and the Parliamentary Secretary the task which they have to undertake. However, I ask them to realise that parents are more education-minded than they have ever been before and will expect from them a standard of performance which I am sure will be shown at the next General Election.
I assume that my right hon. Friend might also read it. My level is about that of the Evening Standard. In a short break during the debate I
picked up a copy of today's issue in the tea room, and found these words by a well-known Conservative journalist
I have never known the Conservative Party to be so unhappy since Suez. Nothing at the moment seems to be going right, and it is suddenly beginning to be felt that we are not suffering merely from a momentary unpopularity but rather have gone into a permanent decline. Nobody seems to know what to do about it.
All I can say is that the contributions that we have had from the benches opposite today are not really likely to repair that state of affairs. I would say to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden) that if the standard of education given in the independent school for which he is responsible is indicated by his own speech, and its standard of self-discipline is indicated by the length of his speech, I cannot feel great confidence in the education provided.
The one thing on which all of us who are interested in education are agreed is that we are facing a period of the most serious possible crisis. The figures given by the Parliamentary Secretary are not new to most of us who have been studying the matter, but they emphasise the extreme seriousness of the state of our education and the position facing us in the next decade.
This is not, I repeat, new. This state of crisis has been foreseen for a number of years. We have been making various estimates of the number of pupils likely to be in the schools at various ages, the number of teachers required and the number of university places needed. It is, therefore, astonishing that we have had to wait until 1962 for the Ministry to begin to take seriously the question of research and intelligence. It is only this year that the Ministry has set up a division for research and intelligence. Surely, if we are fighting this battle for education this is something which ought to have been done long ago.
A debate was initiated on 19th April by my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden), than whom no one is more knowledgeable on this subject. I do not wish to traverse the ground again, but I must take up one remark of the Minister in the course of that debate. He said that it was a mystery that educational research had been neglected compared with other forms of research. Why should it be a mystery to the right hon. Gentleman? He was Minister of Education from 1954 to 1957. We then had a short interregnum. The noble Lord, Lord Hailsham, who is now Minister for Science, was at the Ministry for a while, and he ought to have had some interest even then in research.
There was then the rather lamentable intervention of the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. G. Lloyd), but we had the present Minister back again in 1959, and he has been there since. Why have we had to wait until 1962 for what everybody would have supposed to be the natural preliminary once it became clear that the increase in school population and its associated problems was not just a post-war phenomenon, but was likely to be with us for generations to come? I feel very strongly about this. However, we welcome even this very belated conversion on the part of the Ministry.
We welcome also that, at long last, the statistics branch of the Ministry has been strengthened and we have some statistics now which are not three years out of date. I hope that every hon. Member of the Committee who has not done so will obtain one of these volumes of Statistics of Education, 1961, Part I, and study it. At last, we have in usable form the basic information without which one cannot plan or adequately criticise the plans, or lack of them, in the education service.
Unfortunately, we have only Part I. We have still to wait for Part II. Part I gives us certain information about the school population. It gives us some statistics about teachers, but nothing about teacher training. We have nothing as yet to match the statistics of school population which are projected to 1980, and we are not given information as to how this projected school population will be dealt with between now and 1980. In this volume, we are presented with the problem but we are not given the solution.
If one studies the statistics, one realises that the problem is quite terrifying. I remind the Committee that the peak year in our primary schools as a result of the post-war growth in population came in 1957. That was the highest point in the total numbers in the primary schools. In our senior schools, the peak point came in 1961. But what has faced us in the past is nothing to what is to come.
By 1966, we shall be back to the former peak level in the primary schools at the time when they were disastrously overcrowded. Then, in the next two years, we shall add more than 250,000 children to the primary schools. In the three years 1966, 1967 and 1968, there will be not far short of 400,000 additional children in our primary schools, above the former peak level. Translating that into terms of buildings and teachers, that is the problem which will hit us in 1966. No wonder the Minister is worried.
Of course, a comparable situation will arise in the senior schools a few years later. We shall be back to the 1961 peak figure in about 1970 and then, in 1972, 1973 and 1974 we shall have well over 300,000 extra children in the senior schools. In other words, in just over ten years we shall have 500,000 more children in the senior schools.
The problem is desperate. It is a problem partly of buildings, but much more of teachers. There is deep disappointment felt in many local authority areas about the cuts in the school building programmes and the holding back of programmes. The Minister gave a sort of defence last Monday evening in reply to the Adjournment debate initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King). There are many local authorities which feel badly hampered in their efforts to deal with their school problem. I have the figures here for the 1963–64 programmes in my own country of Wales. Out of 17 authorities, eight are to have no allocation whatever. They cannot be very happy about that.
In the design of school buildings, the work started by our late colleague George Tomlinson, when he was Minister, in investigating methods of design has been carried on by his successors at the Ministry, and I think that we all agree that in design a good deal has been done. But, hard as it is to teach in an inadequate building, far more serious is the teacher supply problem.
I come now to what was said by the Parliamentary Secretary. We on this side of the Committee have hammered again and again at this subject of teacher supply and teacher training. I make no apology for referring to it once more. A few weeks ago, the Minister himself said in the House that he recognised that this very year there were a number of qualified candidates who wished to go to teacher training colleges, but who will not find places. We have recently seen members of the Association of Teachers in Departments and Colleges of Education who gave us a figure of 24,000 applicants for 15,000 to 16,000 places.
Some of those applicants will, no doubt, find places in technical colleges or universities, but the fact remains that we are undoubtedly losing at this moment, in the face of the prospects before us, possible teacher material, people who ought to have training and who will not receive it.
It is no good the Minister suggesting that the Ministry has been straining every nerve to get every possible place for teacher training in the past few years. That just is not true. I know from my experience. I am connected with certain teacher training colleges. We have had to bombard the Ministry with letters to get consent to expansion, particularly in the training of women teachers who are so scarce at present, and we have had the greatest difficulty. The expansion will not be made in those colleges until 1965 although we would have been perfectly willing to do it sooner.
I have a note from one of the best known local educational authorities in the north of England, which says:
What is of interest is that as far as this authority is concerned all the pressure for providing extra teacher training places has come from the authority and not from the Ministry.
It mentions, in particular, a day training college for which it had to agitate over many months before the Ministry would agree to its establishment. I repeat, it is just not true that in the past every nerve has been strained to get every possible teacher training place, although it is obvious that that should have been done.
We were told by the Minister that he has sent out today a letter asking local education authorities to establish more day training places. My hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland, my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), myself and others have urged again and again that day training colleges in urban areas are one of the solutions. We have also been urging what the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery) said, that the grants for mature men and women should be better so as to entice them into teaching if they have gone into some other occupation but feel that teaching is what they wish to do. We cannot expect older people who have taken on married responsibilities to accept an actual lowering in their standard of living for a couple of years' training. It is unrealistic. The grants for this training ought to be reconsidered.
I come to the proposals made by the Parliamentary Secretary. He pointed out that the latest advice received from the Minister's Committee is that with the present proposals for training we shall be left with 50,000 unfilled teaching posts in 1970 unless we do something about it. That is a staggering figure. Then the Minister said that all he could suggest to fill this was to bring in two types of auxiliaries. I should like to have further details from the Minister about exactly what is meant by that. I can follow the idea of the short-term commission. I understand that what is meant is that persons should be taken into training colleges and have presumably two instead of three years' training, then teach, and at a later stage complete their qualifications before being considered to be fully qualified teachers. Is it to be a condition that anyone who undertakes two years' training only should give a definite commitment to do a certain amount of teaching? If so, what terms are envisaged? Otherwise this will be dilution with no purpose.
The child minders idea is a most extraordinary proposition. The Parliamentary Secretary said that a short course of training of twelve to sixteen weeks was envisaged. If what is intended is that some relief should be given to teachers in the infant schools with the purely physical care of the children—looking after their meals and possibly the cloakrooms and playgrounds—there is some case for that kind of teacher aid, but sixteen weeks' training is not needed for that. If, on the other hand, they are to take part in actual teaching, sixteen weeks' training is quite inadequate.
It should be made clear what is intended. To have the proposition put to us in the unthought-out way in which it was placed before us and not to have a proper explanation of the conditions does not seem a very happy augury. I have just come back from a country where a Budget was placed before the people without adequate explanation and they burned down the main street. I do not know what the teachers will do if this sort of proposition is put before them in such a very inadequate form.
There are many things which we ought to be discussing in the deployment of teachers. For example, I have recently been in the United States and in the short time I was there I tried to inform myself of some of the experiments which have been going on in what is called programme teaching, using teaching machine methods, and so on, and in team teaching. It seemed to me that team teaching was one of the ways in which we might be able to use the highly skilled teacher to advantage. Time does not permit me to go into details, but that is a possible way of giving the less experienced teacher adequate opportunities under a very highly experienced and skilled teacher. I am speaking now not of the primary, but of the secondary schools where, for some purposes, we could enlarge the size, not of the class but of the group, and make them correspondingly very much smaller for other purposes. We might make good use of qualified married women in team teaching at secondary school level.
A great deal more could be done on this, but we should have had research and experiment long before now, not waiting till the crisis is upon us. We are faced with serious crises at all levels of education. There is the immediate crisis in primary schools, the forthcoming crisis in secondary schools, and the crisis which is now upon us—because the post-war bulge is now reaching university level—in the universities.
I do not know whether hon. Members have clearly in mind the position of potential university students. I do not wish to weary the Committee with too many figures, but it is alarming to see that between 1960 and 1965 the number of sixth form pupils will have almost doubled, and the number of younger people who will be hammering at the doors of our universities, trying to get in, must cause us the greatest concern. How, in a situation of this kind, can the Government be satisfied with the way in which they have treated the universities?
One after another our university vice-chancellors have given detailed reasons why their universities will be unable to meet the expansion target set for them. The Vice-Chancellor of Manchester said, on Tuesday, that this very year Manchester, which should have been taking in extra students, will not be able to do so because it cannot see its way, financially. This morning Sir Charles Morris, Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University, said the same thing. So have others, including Birmingham and Leicester.
Yesterday there was a debate in another place. It was remarkable that of the 12 speakers in the debate—it is true that there was an intervention from Lord Montgomery, which made it 13—but of the 12 serious speakers, 11 vehemently attacked Government policy and only one, Lord Hailsham, spoke in favour of it. Among those speaking were people like Lord James of Rushholme, the Principal of the new University of York, and others with experience and knowledge of these matters.
I do not want to quote statistics referring to international academic levels, except to say that this is one question which the new research team might take up. It might give us something really intelligible in connection with the different levels in different countries. I hope that this will be one of the team's earlier exercises.
But the serious problem at the moment is the fact that the Government have pledged themselves to 150,000 students by 1966 whereas the universal opinion among the academic leaders is that they cannot possibly reach that target with the means being given them by Her Majesty's Government. It is, therefore, fair to say that The Government are betraying the nation's interests. Our position in the world in future will depend even more than in the past upon the human material that we have and upon using the intelligence and brains of our people.
We have not very many possessions left in the world. We are no longer a great imperial Power. We must live by our wits. Lord Boothby made a very striking comparison when he said that we are being betrayed in this matter as an earlier Conservative Government betrayed us in matters of defence in the 1930s. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That was what Lord Boothby said; it is not my remark. That is one of the most dramatic ways of putting what many of us feel, namely, that the Government are betraying the future of this country by their failure to give adequate support to oar educational institutions.
I want to dissociate myself from what the hon. Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) said at the beginning of her speech about the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden). I am sorry that I heard only the last part of my hon. Friend's speech; but when I asked whether the first half was as good as the last half, I was told that it certainly was. When an hon. Member makes as vigorous a speech as we heard from my hon. Friend in defence of the great public schools—in English that I would be proud to imitate—I wish to associate myself with him. I am glad that he made the speech that he did.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) used a phrase which struck me as exactly right. He asked the Government to change gear in education, and that is exactly what I should like to do. The progress that we have made in the last ten years has been so steady as to seem dull. Great tributes have been paid to it. I do not wish to go into the statistics of what has been done; my hon. Friend made an extremely good case, showing what we have done.
The Committee would probably prefer me to think of the future. I agree that this service is of ever-increasing importance. We all see that whether we get acceptable terms to go into Europe or whether we stay outside there is an enormous challenge coming to the skill and initiative of our people. As I hope to show later, education, being one of those instruments by which we may make ourselves fit enough for this competition, must be looked at with great care and we must determine, if we are to change gear, where we should do so.
We have had several pieces of advice today. The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said that we should change gear in higher education in the universities. I think that we should all have great sympathy with that, and if I have time I will say something about it. It is not strictly within my own Ministry but I hope to come back to it. We were also asked to change gear in teacher recruitment, and that is at the heart of a great deal of the possibilities in the whole service. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said, "Name a day for raising the school age." It may seem odd to the Committee, but in one way that is the heart of the matter. If we could do that, we should change gear. Although it is merely using it as a peg on which to hang the answers to other questions, perhaps for a moment or two I may dwell on this. These questions are all related in education, but they all come back to teachers. I will therefore ask the Committee to let me say a word or two about where we are in this great problem.
Today almost seven out of ten of our boys and girls still leave school before they are 16. All these children, with a very few exceptions which one could count, as it were, on the fingers of one hand, would have a better chance for life, in mind and in body, if they stayed another year at school. In other words, the educational and social arguments for 16 as the leaving age are overwhelming. I think that both sides of the Committee agree that the reform should come as soon as possible.
Of course, it is happening of its own accord little by little, because more children are voluntarily staying on at school. The great majority of those who will have to be compelled to stay at school after their fifteenth birthday must be either in the secondary modern schools or in the non-selected streams of the comprehensive schools. I was sorry to hear the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Idwal Jones) say that the secondary modern schools were losing in prestige. I should have thought that the opposite was happening. I do not know whether any hon. Member has seen the new N.U.T. film "Our Schools", but in it one sees the vigour and initiative—
I am glad that the hon. Member reminded me that that was the way in which he put it. But I believe that if he were to look around the secondary modern schools he would see that a most remarkable job is being done. One must remember that one of the pitfalls of the Butler Act, the heart of which was secondary education for all, was that we should give the non-selected children merely a diluted form of grammar school education. That was one of the pitfalls. Naturally, the teachers in these schools have almost all been to grammar schools, and we know how much our own school influences us. It is therefore to the greatest credit of these men and women who are teaching in this new kind of school that they have developed a curriculum which is different in kind and not just in degree. I think that the Committee is under a misapprehension if it follows the hon. Member for Wrexham in suggesting that there is not a remarkable forward movement here.
One of the changes which has taken place which is of such immense value to our young people lies in the fact that in the old days parents wanted their children to go to a grammar school because only if they took the school certificate, or subsequently the G.C.E., could they get to certain careers which otherwise were closed to them. Today the opportunities in front of the boys and girls who are going to the secondary modern schools or comprehensive schools, not in the grammar school part of them, are broadening out all the time. A tremendous revolution is taking place which means that the career prospects of the child who is not academically minded and has not gone to a grammar school are improving all the time.
This is very largely due to the expansion of the technical colleges, the alternative route—which hardly existed ten to fifteen years ago—to positions of distinction in this world, and which picks up the child at any stage and any age and gives the boy or girl a chance to go as far as he or she is capable of going. That alternative route, linked with the tops of the secondary schools, is doing what I believe every hon. Member wants to see done and what is certainly the determined aim of my Department—that all children should have a career prospect equal to their ability.
We know of the sense of continuity of education which for centuries has been in the sixth forms of the grammar schools, preparing boys to go to the universities, and we want to see the same sense of continuity of education right throughout the secondary schools. It is a matter of great congratulation, not to the Minister but to the teachers and the L.E.A.s, the people who are doing the job, that this sense of continuity of education is coming in our schools.
Of course, when we look at the problem of raising the school-leaving age we see that it is not one of shortage of buildings. As I said in the debate on the Crowther Report, if we had four years we could build the extra buildings. It is the shortage of teachers which holds us back. Perhaps I may therefore return once more to this great subject.
The prospect does not look good. We have heard all the way through the debate about these new statistics which we have. I assure hon. Members opposite that if only I could get a firm statistic about the future school population, how much easier our work would be. But these calculations of the trends of the population appear to be extremely difficult to make. All I can say is that we have always been wrong on the same side. Now that we have this new estimate of a greatly increased school population we must take it most seriously.
When one studies the teacher shortage one finds that the wastage of teachers is the most serious element. It is that which has thrown out the Crowther calculations more than anything else. However, if one looks inside that wastage one finds that it is much more severe in the primary schools than in the secondary schools. In other words, if we could make a real impression on this shortage of teachers in the primary schools we would be in a fairly reasonable position to name a date for raising the school-leaving age.
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, in his admirable speech, sketched the short-term measures for dealing with these primary school difficulties. I myself put great emphasis on the day student. I think that in 1957–58 we had in all our teacher training colleges only 2,800 day students. A year ago we had 5,800 of them and that trend in the rising number of day students—in the ordinary teacher training colleges and the eight special colleges—is one of the most satisfactory developments.
As my hon. Friend said, we intend now to push ahead with these day colleges. We had to give them a bit of a trial. No one knew whether mature students would turn up and apply to become teachers, but the response has been very satisfactory. Such candidates really must be home based. This must be so for family reasons because, by definition, a student can be 25 years' old or more. Indeed, many of them are over 30.
It follows that there should be a pool of these candidates in all the great cities and I would like to see all the great conglomerations of population supplied with one of these colleges. That is one of the important things we intend to do. We now have a gap. I cannot say exactly how many years it is but, as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary said, every year 10,000 young married women leave the schools. This is building up a reservoir of trained married women, but how many of them, and when can we count on them coming back again, is a different matter.
Obviously, we have a few years to wait before this sudden increase in the exodus of young married women could give us back again what we want. But what do we do in these few years? I know the answer which immediately crops up in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite and, indeed, it occurred to me. They are probably thinking, "Why do you not build more training college places?" If they saw the programme that is now going forward for training colleges, they would know that it would be three years before any more places could be available, even if I got the authorisation. It follows that it must be six or seven years before the additional teachers would come out.
We know that for every 100 places that we build for girl students we do not have very many back into the schools teaching after the first few years. A large number of them disappear. We must consider this gap and what can be done in the next five to six years. I would like to explain a little more about the two suggestions we are putting to our partners in the education service. The first is for auxiliaries. There are two distinct kinds of auxiliaries in our minds. The first are the girls who have their eye on marriage. [Laughter.] I can assure hon. Members that girls not only have their eye on marriage, but a tremendous number of them know that they will, in fact, get married—as long as no bad luck intervenes—within one, two or three years upon leaving school. The headmistresses of the grammar schools I have consulted are quite sure that there are a considerable number of these girls—in the sixth forms of the grammar schools, and so on—who do not intend to apply for places in training colleges because they see marriage coming too quickly.
On the other hand, many of these girls would like to have jobs which bring them in contact with children for the relatively short period before they expect to get married. The Parliamentary Secretary said that the training for such a girl might be twelve to sixteen weeks, although we have not quite decided on that, and I think that it would be a shorter period.
A second point concerns these girls who would work under qualified teachers, relieving them of some of the work which would otherwise prevent them from teaching. If we do not get these girls what could we get in exchange? There is, actually, no means of filling this gap with fully qualified teachers. I believe that one or two of these auxiliaries could do a very good job under a qualified teacher—relieving the teacher of some of the things which these girls could do. [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] In the first year, with children aged 5 to 6, there are any amount of very small jobs; children wanting their shoes done up, or wanting to be taken out of the room, having raised their hands, and so on. [Laughter.] We are joking about the practical way of running an infants' school. I merely suggest these things to hon. Members.
I think that there will also be some older women who would like to come in and do this kind of job. Anyway nothing will succeed if the head teacher of the school in question does not welcome them and does not want them. No one is going to force the auxiliary on the teacher, but I have an impression that many teachers in these schools would be very glad to have a go at this. Let us see, and let us ask.
The other kind of auxiliary is very different. I think it is a matter well understood by the Committee that we are now in a period where the technician, the sub-professional grade, is more and more wanted to take some of the donkey work off the shoulders of the highly qualified man or woman. We see this throughout the medical profession. The dentist has to have a chair assistant and the science teacher has to have a laboratory assistant, and so on.
What one may call the technician grade is now quite a feature of our society and is likely to be wanted still more. Even the architects, I understand, are now considering whether they should have a grade of this kind. Therefore, in proposing that kind of technician or auxiliary, who in my view is badly needed to take the non-teaching work off the shoulders of the secondary school headmaster and headmistress, for instance, I am suggesting something which is in line with the whole of the modern trend.
I should like to work this out with our partners, for we are constantly told by the teaching profession, and I accept it from them, that they have a lot of form filling to do, they have to set up apparatus, or look after meals, and so on, and they would like more help. I should like to have a special category of people who would make this a profession.
Certainly I am not supposing that they will do any teaching. They will always be under the control of qualified teachers and will be under the orders of the staff. The hon. Member, who knows a great deal about schools, knows that there is a lot of work of less importance of that kind which can very well be taken off the shoulders of a qualified teacher.
It follows that if we can do something for the schools we should then be in a very much better position for raising the school-leaving age.
One or two things have to happen before any Minister can feel competent that he can put up the age to 16. Either there must be a massive return of women teachers to schools so that there is a far better net effect on wastage or we must have a bigger permanent provision of teacher-training places. There we have to look at the Robbins Report.
I should like to end by saying that it is not long now before tremendous decicisions will have to be taken by the House of Commons about higher education. I am sure that we are going to be faced with the same "roofs over heads" problem that, first of all, the late Mr. George Tomlinson had in the primary schools. Then it moved through to the secondary schools. Then we started the technical college programme. We are very near a "roofs over heads" problem there, and now the "roofs" problem is coming to the universities.
The rate at which we can advance here depends on the growth of the economy. I wish that it could be more clearly understood what the relationship is between the growth of the economy generally and the advance we can make in education. Education itself is one of the instruments of growth, but it is only one. One must have enough investment. There must be a feeling that hard work is worth while, and we must have an incomes policy which holds inflation securely at bay. This interdependence of the rate of growth and the rate of advance in education reminds me of a very succinct phrase by Julius Caesar. I will say it in English for the sake of my hon. Friends who have been to a public school. Julius Caesar said:
With men I can get money, and with money I can get men.
That is the position that we are in with the great advance in education. With a
better rate of economic growth, we can advance faster in education, and if we advance faster in education we shall by that means increase the rate of growth.
How have we been doing? The total amount spent on education ten years ago was £400 million. This year it is £1,000 million. That is two-and-a-half times as much. The experts say that we should have a policy that provides for a growth of £50 million a year in education. Local education authority expenditure alone increases by more than £50 million a year. If we are to secure the teachers for the primary schools, as we must, and if we are to expand higher education, as we all wish to do, and do many other things—get rid of the old schools, etc.—I must tell the Committee
that the annual increase in the education bill must be much greater than £50 million. This depends on how we conduct ourselves in the economic field. I wish that we could get it across that those who support sound policies, not from one Government but from any Government, which will allow growth to increase are making possible these advances in education so much wanted by the parents and the young people of the country.
|Division No. 193.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Ainsley, William||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Parker, John|
|Albu, Austen||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Parkin, B. T.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Baird, John||Hilton, A. V.||Peart, Frederick|
|Beaney, Alan||Holman, Percy||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Holt, Arthur||Prentice, R. E.|
|Bence, Cyril||Houghton, Douglas||Probert, Arthur|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Blackburn, F.||Hunter, A. E.||Rankin, John|
|Blyton, William||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)|
|Bowden, Rt. Hon. Herbert W.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Ross, William|
|Boyden, James||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Jeger, George||Short, Edward|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Small, William|
|Chapman, Donald||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Collick, Percy||Kenyon, Clifford||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||King, Dr. Horace||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Crosland, Anthony||Lawson, George||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Ledger, Ron||Stones, William|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Deer, George||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Diamond, John||Lipton, Marcus||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Dodds, Norman||Loughlin, Charles||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Swingler, Stephen|
|Driberg, Tom||MacColl, James||Taverne, D.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||MacDermot, Niall||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McInnes, James||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Evans, Albert||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Finch, Harold||McLeavy, Frank||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Fletcher, Eric||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Warbey, William|
|Forman, J. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Weitzman, David|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mapp, Charles||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Marsh, Richard||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mendelson, J. J.||Whitlock, William|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Mitchison, G. R.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Gunter, Ray||Moody, A. S.||Willey, Frederick|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Moyle, Arthur||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mulley, Frederick||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Oram, A. E.||Woof, Robert|
|Harper, Joseph||Oswald, Thomas||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Padley, W. E.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. McCann and Mr. Grey.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Goodhart, Philip||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Aitken, W. T.||Gough, Frederick||Pitman, Sir James|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Gower, Raymond||Pott, Percivall|
|Allason, James||Green, Alan||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Gresham Cooke, R.||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Barber, Anthony||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. C.||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Barlow, Sir John||Gurden, Harold||Pym, Francis|
|Barter, John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Batsford, Brian||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Ramsden, James|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Hastings, Stephen||Rees, Hugh|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Hiley, Joseph||Renton, David|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Box, Donald||Hirst, Geoffrey||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Hobson, Sir John||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Holland, Philip||Roots, William|
|Braine, Bernard||Hopkins, Alan||Sharples, Richard|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Hornby, R. P.||Shaw, M.|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.||Shepherd, William|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Bryan, Paul||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Smithers, Peter|
|Buck, Antony||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Bullard, Denys||Hughes-Young, Michael||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Burden, F. A.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Speir, Rupert|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||James, David||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Jennings, J. C.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Chataway, Christopher||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Talbot, John E.|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Leburn, Gilmour||Tapsell, Peter|
|Cole, Norman||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Collard, Richard||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Taylor, Frank (M'eh'st'r. Moss Side)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Lindsay, Sir Martin||Teeling, Sir William|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Temple, John M.|
|Corfield, F. V.||Litchfield, Capt. John||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Costain, A. P.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Coulson, Michael||Longden, Gilbert||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||McAdden, Stephen||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Crowder, F. P.||MacArthur, Ian||Turner, Colin|
|Cunningham, Knox||McLaren, Martin||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Curran, Charles||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Dance, James||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Walder, David|
|Deedes, W. F.||Maddan, Martin||Walker, Peter|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Marten, Neil||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Doughty, Charles||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|du Cann, Edward||Mawby, Ray||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Duncan, Sir James||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Webster, David|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Miscampbell, Norman||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Eden, John||Montgomery, Fergus||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Elliott, R. W. (Nwcaste-upon-Tyne, N.)||Neave, Airey||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Emery, Peter||Noble, Michael||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Wise, A. R.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Farr, John||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Woollam, John|
|Fisher, Nigel||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Foster, John||Page, John (Harrow, West)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Partridge, E.|
|Gammans, Lady||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gardner, Edward||Percival, Ian||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Mr. Finlay.|