Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1970 Feb 5 Th
Margaret Thatcher

HC PQ [Education]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: House of Commons PQs
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [795/595-615]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1430-1515. MT spoke at c615.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 7732
Themes: -
[column 595]

Education

University Places

1. Mr. Christopher Ward

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science to what extent it is his policy to provide university places for the larger number of qualified school-leavers in the 1970s by expanding all or some of the present universities and by establishing new universities, respectively.

7. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consultations he has had this year with the University Grants Committee about the development of higher education in the 1970s.

12. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to come to a decision about the expansion of higher education in the period 1970 to 1980.

18. Mr. Hornby

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how he proposes to allocate between the different institutions of higher education the places which he intends to provide in the mid-1970s for all school-leavers obtaining two or more A levels.

25. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many students he estimates will be in higher education in October, 1970; and how this compares with the projection of the Robbins Committee.

37. Mr. Ashton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many students were taking full-time higher education in 1963–64 and what is the figure for 1969–70; and by how much this exceeds the Robbins target.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Gerry Fowler)

In 1963–64, there were 239,000 students in full-time higher education in Great Britain. The estimated number in 1969–70 is 439,000 and in 1970–71 471,000; these exceed by 100,000 and 127,000, respectively, the corresponding [column 596]numbers envisaged by the Robbins Committee, which were 339,000 and 344,000. I am considering the total size of the higher education provision to be made during the 1970s, its distribution between different kinds of institution and changes which may have to be made in the organisation of higher education. The Department is in regular contact with the University Grants Committee on these matters and I have in mind further consultations before reaching any decisions.

Mr. Ward

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that a programme for building 30 new universities would be necessary, as well as expanding the existing universities, to satisfy the demand? Would he be more explicit, either about where the resources for this can come from or about the extent to which he can raise the standard for entry to university?

Mr. Fowler

I cannot agree with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion. There is considerable room for expansion within many existing institutions of higher education. We may require some new institutions. No decisions have yet been taken. On the latter part of the question, I should regard with great disfavour any notion that we could push up steadily year by year the qualifications for those who are gaining entry to higher education.

Mr. Lane

In his further consultations with the universities, would the hon. Gentleman stress that, while all possible economies must be considered, it is not the Government's policy to push the universities into any substantial lowering of standards?

Mr. Fowler

What we want to achieve is the maintenance of educational standards, but in the most economical way possible.

Mr. Christopher Price

In looking at the structure of higher education—and if my hon. Friend is to plan for what seems to be between 900,000 and one million students in higher education by 1980—my hon. Friend will find that to do it on the basis of the binary system is very difficult. Will he also in his plans consider unifying the binary system by 1980?

Mr. Fowler

I shall consider every suggestion put to me in the consultations taking place. I am interested to discover that my hon. Friend is thinking to some [column 597]purpose, unlike hon. Members opposite, who merely want to restrict entry into higher education.

Mr. Hornby

When will these consultations be completed and announced? The universities and other institutions will find themselves in considerable planning difficulties unless an early announcement is made.

Mr. Fowler

That is well understood and, as I said in November, I hope to be in a position to publish a White or Green Paper later this year.

Mr. Wellbeloved

Is not this another illustration of the success story of the present Government? Does not my hon. Friend agree that it shows absolutely the dismal failure of the Tory Party in their years of lost opportunity?

Mr. Fowler

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comment.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill

In view of this large increase in numbers, will any of the prospective students be accommodated within the Open University?

Mr. Fowler

That is not the purpose for which the Open University was created.

Teachers (Pay)

2. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now institute an inquiry into the salary structure of teachers.

59. Mr. Longden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now undertake a full re-examination of the career structure for teachers in primary and secondary schools outside the Burnham Committee.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Edward Short)

I have no doubt of the need for a thorough examination of the structure of school teachers' salaries. The management panel of the Burnham Committee have more than once proposed a review either by a working party of the Committee itself or by an independent inquiry. The teachers' panel have not yet accepted this proposal. It is to be discussed again tomorrow and I think we should await the outcome.

[column 598]

Mr. Lane

One of the lessons of the present unhappy dispute is that such an inquiry is more than ever needed. If and when the Government are able to take some initiative or get it going, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that special attention is paid to the position and prospects of long-serving career teachers?

Mr. Short

I hope that the teachers themselves at the Burnham Committee tomorrow will agree to undertake a review. If they refuse to do so, we shall have to see how a review in some other way can be set up.

Mr. Crawshaw

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that, while the present structure remains uncorrected, the current negotiations are rather irrelevant? Does not he further agree that, whatever awards are given, the discontent with the structure will continue?

Mr. Short

There are a number of questions on the Order Paper about the general salary position.

Mr. Longden

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider having the review of the salary structure outside the Burnham Committee rather than inside it?

Mr. Short

As I said, the Management Panel is, I understand, proposing tomorrow that the Burnham Committee itself should undertake the review. I would rather wait and see what happens to that, before committing myself further.

11. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, if he will make a further statement about teachers' pay.

55. Mr. Willey

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, whether he will make a further statement on the negotiations regarding the claim by teachers for salary increases.

66. Mr. Dickens

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the teachers' pay dispute.

67. Mr. Kenneth Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the discussions which he has held on teachers' pay.

[column 599]

73. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, as a means of resolving the teachers' pay dispute, he will offer to the teachers a 35 per cent. salary increase, retrospective to November, 1967.

Mr. Edward Short

At the meeting of the Burnham Committee on 5th January the chairman ruled that there should be a reference to arbitration. The teachers' Panel has refused to provide nominations for the appointment of one of the three arbitrators as the arrangements made under the Remuneration of Teachers Act require. On 23rd January my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State and I gave the teachers' representatives a number of very advantageous assurances about the arbitration procedure in an attempt to overcome their objections. The teachers' representatives still refused to co-operate at this stage but undertook to consider what my right hon. Friend and I had said. They also expressed the view that there should be a further discussion in the Burnham Committee. I understand that this will take place tomorrow.

Mr. Price

While paying tribute to the efforts of my right hon. Friend and his right hon. Friend in trying to solve this dispute, may I ask whether he will say what new initiatives can be taken in the Burnham Committee? Does he accept that the teachers' views on arbitration are such that whatever arbitration procedure he suggests simply will not be accepted and that a solution must somehow be found through the Burnham Committee?

Mr. Short

I must make it quite clear that unless agreement can be reached in Burnham or unless the teachers are prepared to go to arbitration, nothing can happen and there will be no interim increase on 1st April.

Mr. Dickens

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that school teachers have been scandalously underpaid by successive Governments for generations? Is it not time that he stopped this? Would he comment upon the unique circumstances in which teachers find themselves, in that the incomes policy is applied to them and to them alone in our society?

Mr. Short

I do not know what my hon. Friend means by the last part of his supplementary question. If we look upon [column 600]the policy as a set of principles, certainly it does not apply to them alone. Young teachers have been offered an interim increase of 11.6 per cent. That should be borne in mind. The first point is a matter for the Burnham Committee.

Mr. Lane

Would the right hon. Gentleman make doubly clear that the latest arbitration procedure which he proposed will have absolute discretion in the award it recommends?

Mr. Short

The arbitration body, if it is set up, will have complete discretion, and, rather unusually, my right hon. Friend the First Secretary and I, have given an undertaking that in this case we shall not use our powers under the Act to set it aside, in any circumstances.

Mr. Newens

Despite the Answer to a previous Question, would my right hon. Friend recognise that local authorities attempted to limit their offer at a previous meeting of the Burnham Committee to a norm established in the prices and incomes policy? Does he realise that that is regarded by the teachers, rightly in my opinion, as an act which makes negotiations farcical? Will he therefore make it clear that in future negotiations of this sort no such limits must be imposed, particularly as the teachers cannot take advantage of productivity deals— “phoney” or genuine?

Mr. Short

The first point that my hon. Friend ought to bear in mind is that this is an interim claim. Last year the teachers signed an agreement which was to run for two years, ending on 31st March next year. However, the Management Panel agreed to enter into negotiations about an interim award. The latest offer was for 11.6 per cent. for young teachers and 5 per cent. for teachers on their maximum.

Mr. Pardoe

Will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the present mess has come about as a result of the uselessness of the Burnham Committee? Will he sign its death certificate? Will he also consider whether it is not time that the Government took over the payment of teachers' salaries, removing it entirely from local authority hands?

Mr. Short

The second point goes very much wider. On the first point, I have told the Teachers' Panel that once this is settled I am quite prepared to enter [column 601]into discussions on the whole machinery of Burnham and on the arrangements under it, without barring anything at all.

Pupils

(Physical Punishment)

3. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish in the Official Report a list of the schools for which he is responsible where physical punishment of boys by boys or girls by girls is practised; if he will take steps to end these practices; and if he will now remove recognition from other schools until they cease to encourage or to permit punishment of pupil by pupil practices.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Miss Alice Bacon)

I do not have sufficient information to publish such a list but I should have thought that the corporal punishment of girls by girls was rarely, if ever, found in any school and that the corporal punishment of boys by boys is now found in just a few public schools. I deplore the practice, which would certainly be a factor in assessing the efficiency of a school.

Mr. Roberts

But would not my right hon. Friend accept that, since she and the Secretary of State have both expressed their abhorrence of this practice, it is time that some action was taken to curb this undesirable practice which takes place in some of the leading public schools?

Miss Bacon

Her Majesty's Inspectors point out, in any school they visit where corporal punishment of pupils by pupils is permitted, how undesirable this practice is. As I said, it is a factor in assessing the efficiency of a school.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Does not the right hon. Lady mean, in that context, undesirable to these particular inspectors? Are there no other criteria of what is desirable than the rather hog-bound views of these sorts of people?

Mr. Henig

Don't be silly.

Miss Bacon

I am not sure to whom the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) is referring as “these sorts of people” . But whether referring to Her Majesty's [column 602]Inspectors or to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts), he is absolutely wrong.

Expenditure

4. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science why the estimated rate of increase in public expenditure on education in 1972–73 and 1973–74 has been limited to 2 per cent. per annum.

Mr. Edward Short

The recent White Paper on Public Expenditure explains that the figures for 1972–73 and 1973–74 are provisional and that changes are to be expected as programmes are rolled forward year by year and calls are made on the contingency reserve.

Mr. Hill

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that these so-called provisional figures are unrealistic? What is his current estimate for the rate of increase needed to maintain the existing standards for prospective numbers in these two years?

Mr. Short

Public expenditure is controlled in a very much more sophisticated way than it was before, certainly under the previous Government. The programmes for 1972–73 will be decided later this year.

Mr. Newens

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these limitations are being used by Tory education authorities to justify considerable absolute cuts which they propose to make in the education service? Since it is impossible to maintain improvement at this rate of 2 per cent. increase, will my right hon. Friend reconsider the matter carefully?

Mr. Short

There is no need to reconsider anything. If Tory educationists can read and do read the White Paper and the footnotes to the table, they will see that it is clearly stated that these are provisional figures not yet agreed with the Department.

6. Mr. Silvester

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science why the estimated annual rate of growth in public expenditure on education from 1968–69 to 1971–72, as set out in the White Paper on Public Expenditure, Command Paper No. 4234, is lower than the average annual increase from 1964–65 to 1968–69.

[column 603]

Mr. Edward Short

The expansion programmes for the universities and the colleges of education passed their peak by the beginning of the period 1968–69 to 1971–72 and the increased charges for school meals also made for a slower rise in educational expenditure during that period. In addition to those specific factors, the prospective rate of growth for educational expenditure, as for public expenditure in general, needs to be kept broadly in step with the estimated rate of development of the country's total economic resources.

Mr. Silvester

Is it not the case that the Government continually outline needs which have still to be met? Will he say which of those needs have had to be forgone in reducing the rate of growth from that to which we have become accustomed in the past?

Mr. Short

I do not think that any urgent educational needs have had to be forgone.

Mr. Henig

Does my right hon. Friend not think it worth emphasising that this is the very first Government which has made education an absolutely top priority? Is it not a cause for rejoicing that at last this country is spending more on education than on defence?

8. Mr. van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the percentage increase in public expenditure on education between 1959–60 and 1964–65; and what is the estimated increase between 1964–65 and 1969–70, at constant prices.

Mr. Edward Short

The information is not available for the earlier period. The White Paper on Public Expenditure quotes an average annual rate of increase of 4.9 per cent. for education in Great Britain between 1964–65 and 1968–69.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Would the right hon. Gentleman care to consider that it is as certain as can be that there has been a slowing down in this increased expenditure? Would it not be as well to let the Prime Minister know?

Mr. Short

The hon. Gentleman asked me for figures at constant prices. My difficulty is that there are no data for converting the figures from the period of Conservative Government. That is why [column 604]I am in trouble with this Question. I cannot answer the first part of it.

Teaching Machines

5. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will carry out a detailed study of all possible uses of teaching machines in the field of primary, secondary, and further education and as an aid to industrial training; and if he will set up a National Teaching Machine Centre to further research into the manufacture of suitable machines and to produce the necessary teaching programmes.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Miss Joan Lestor)

No, Sir. There are already a number of organisations, including the National Council for Educational Technology and the Educational Foundation for Visual Aids, which are concerned with the use of teaching machines and with the production of curricular material. Indeed, the need is now to rationalise in this field. Matters relating to the manufacture of these machines fall within the sponsorship responsibility of my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Technology.

Mr. Roberts

Would not my hon. Friend accept that this development is still in its infancy? Does not she agree that my suggestion for a National Teaching Machine Centre would rationalise procedure and the ramifications taking place? Does not she also accept that there will be an enormous increase in demand for industrial training, in particular, in the next few years due to technological change and that machines of this type could play a vital part in that?

Miss Lestor

I have already agreed with my hon. Friend that there is need to rationalise. All I can add is that Ministers are considering constantly but particularly proposals by the National Council for Educational Technology for certain large-scale research and development for the progress of this and other things connected with industry generally.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Since this technique is in its infancy, is it not premature to start rationalising—by which one usually means “standardising” ? Is it not very important that there should be still considerable variety in the development of these machines?

[column 605]

Miss Lestor

It was not I who said that the technique was in its infancy but my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts). I do not think that rationalising necessarily means standardising, and if some forms of rationalising result in economies and the channelling of research, that is all to the good.

Chipstead Valley Road School

10. Captain W. Elliot

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, in view of the fact that a viaduct 200 feet high carrying an eight-lane motorway is to be built within 50 feet of a school in the Carshalton and Banstead constituency and of the danger involved to the children, he will sanction the building of a new school away from this danger.

Miss Bacon

No, Sir. The revised route of the M23 motorway, which will be 150 feet west of the main buildings of Chipstead Valley Road School, is acceptable to the local education authority, which is responsible for the siting of its schools.

Captain Elliot

Would the right hon. Lady, in all commonsense, look at this again? I can assure her that there will be a great deal of anxiety among parents, both during the building of this motorway and for many years subsequently. Would she not agree that it is thoroughly justified? Will she reconsider this matter?

Miss Bacon

The hon. Gentleman asked me whether I would take another look at this matter, but I must stress that it is not my responsibility but that of the local authority. It decides the site of the school. It is a little curious to receive requests from hon. Members opposite for us to override local authorities in such matters when they are essentially the responsibility of local authorities.

Schools

(Siting)

13. Captain W. Elliot

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what advice he has given to local authorities about the siting of schools in the light of the Aberfan disaster.

Miss Bacon

None. The siting of schools is a matter for local education authorities, who are best able to judge [column 606]local conditions. The Department is always willing to discuss any particular difficulties.

Captain Elliot

Is it not incredible that in the light of the terrible Aberfan disaster the Minister is disclaiming any responsibility in this matter? Is she aware of the very grave responsibility which will rest with her, whatever she says now, if another disaster occurs?

Mr. Henig

Cheap and nasty.

Miss Bacon

The hon. Gentleman has obviously not got his facts right. In the Aberfan instance the selection of the site of the school occurred many years before the tip appeared. My Department is always ready to discuss and co-operate with local authorities but it is they who are responsible for the choice of site of a school.

Captain Elliot

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

Mentally Handicapped Children

(Teachers)

14. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science why he proposes to allow no part of the pre-diploma teaching experience of teachers of mentally handicapped children to rank towards qualified teacher status; and whether he will make a statement.

20 and 21. Mr. Astor asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what are the reasons for his proposal that holders of the Training Council's diploma for the teaching of mentally-handicapped children should have five year's post-diploma experience of teaching before being recognised as fully qualified teachers.

(2) if he will consider the pre-diploma experience of teachers of mentally-handicapped children as counting towards their recognition as fully qualified teachers.

26. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what has been the practice of his Department with regard to persons holding the Training Council Diploma of Mental Health; [column 607]whether this diploma has been recognised as a qualification for teaching the severely subnormal pupil; what other courses have been available which are devoted to the needs of the severely sub-normal; and what changes he plans and for what reasons.

Mr. Edward Short

The Diploma of the Training Council for Teachers of the Mentally Handicapped is at present the nationally recognised qualification for teachers of the mentally handicapped, and no other courses are provided leading to a similar award. The Diploma is one of the qualifications which is acceptable for qualified teacher status only if it is supplemented by further relevant service. It is my Department's long-standing practice to require in such cases that the further service should be given after the acquisition of the qualification. Post-qualification service is all the more valuable as being the practical application of the training. In the case of this Diploma, previous service is taken into account at an earlier stage when the admission of older students to the shortened one-year course is being considered.

Mr. Hill

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the present proposals must bear hardly upon existing teachers of mentally handicapped children, especially those with long experience? Does not he agree that an appropriate allowance for pre-diploma experience and a shorter registration period would be more equitable to them and would not jeopardise the standards of the teaching profession as a whole?

Mr. Short

First, in the changeover from the health authorities to the education authorities no one will suffer any loss of any kind. On the contrary, these teachers will gain a great deal, most of them immediately and throughout the next five-year period, all of them eventually. Secondly, the normal period for a sub-qualification diploma is ten years, and we are allowing five years. Thirdly, this was agreed after consultation with all the teachers' organisations and local authority organisations.

Mr. Astor

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that more than half of the teachers at present holding diplomas will suddenly and unexpectedly [column 608]find that they are of unqualified status? Will he also bear in mind that under these regulations it will take a person approximately eight years to reach qualified status, taking into account pre-training and service?

Mr. Short

The Committee on Unqualified Teachers has considered the hon. Member's first point and is bringing forward a proposal to give these teachers a special status. They will lose nothing; they will carry on as they are.

National Film Archive

15. Mr. Allason

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, in view of the staffing difficulties in the National Film Archive, he will make a direct grant to it.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Miss Jennie Lee)

Since it was set up in 1935 the National Film Archive has been part of the British Film Institute. The funds allocated to the Archive by the Institute have risen from £39,000 in 1964–65 to £79,000 in the present year. These figures exclude all overheads. The Governors of the Institute keep the staffing needs of the Archive fully in mind and I am sure will continue to do so. The staff has increased from 30 to 41 since 1964–65. This, I think, is in the best interest of the Film Archive at present.

Mr. Allason

Does the right hon. Lady agree that the existing staff is not able to cope with the urgent task of copying the very early nitrate film before it decomposes?

Miss Lee

I thoroughly agree with the hon. Member that the Archive needs more money and more help, but so do many other projects which we have in mind. The Film Institute is well aware of its needs. I think that this is the best arrangement at present.

Authors (Public Lending Right)

16. Mr. Channon

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress has been made with a public lending right scheme for authors.

Miss Jennie Lee

I have now had replies from all the interests involved about the scheme which I put to their representatives without Government [column 609]commitment on 1st July last. I am considering these replies with a view to a further meeting in the near future.

Mr. Channon

Will the right hon. Lady say what is the result of the experiment at Hove and whether there are likely to be any other experiments?

Miss Lee

The experiment went very well, but the difficulty is that there is an enormous divergence of views about both the principle of this scheme and how it should be applied. We are working hard. A great deal of work has been done both by the Arts Council and by my Department, and we are trying hard to narrow those divergencies.

Opera and Ballet

(Report)

17. Mr. Channon

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action Her Majesty's Government propose to take to implement the Arts Council's Report on Opera and Ballet.

Miss Jennie Lee

The Report contains many recommendations, both short-term and long-term. On the major one for three new opera houses outside London, the Government will consider costed proposals when they are submitted. Most of the recommendations are for action by the Arts Council who will, for example, be making a start in 1970–71 in giving grants to experimental dance groups and for choreography.

Mr. Channon

I agree with the Minister that there are many important proposals, but is she in a position to tell us what is to be the future of the Covent Garden site?

Miss Lee

I have just received the full report on the Covent Garden site, and we shall have to discuss that later. The Arts Council advise that in long-term planning for the future we should consider improving the amenities of Covent Garden when the redevelopment takes place, as well as looking after the needs of the regions.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is necessary to secure a spread of patronage so that it is not so highly centralised, in the Arts Council? Have the Government in mind proposals for the further encouragement of municipal help towards the arts, which would [column 610]enable patronage to be spread more widely?

Miss Lee

The figures are by no means discouraging. For instance, 109 building projects are going on, and the £2¼ million committed from the Housing of the Arts Fund has attracted £10½ million, which means that this additional money has come from local government or private sources. We want more money from all those sources, but the movement is in the right direction.

Primary and Secondary Schools

(Teachers)

19. Mr. Hornby

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his estimate of the current shortage of teachers in maintained primary and secondary schools.

Miss Bacon

I estimate that the gap between the number of qualified teachers and the present target figure is about 35,000. We are trying to eliminate all classes over 39 by the beginning of the next school year.

Mr. Hornby

Will the right hon. Lady give her estimate of the date by which the schools will have the required number of teachers, bearing in mind the current recruitment figures and the raising of the school leaving age?

Miss Bacon

I estimate, on the basis of the present forecast, that the target figure will be reached in the middle of the 1970s. It was formerly believed that these ratios had to be achieved to eliminate oversize classes, but I have every hope that classes of over 40 pupils will be virtually eliminated well before the target figure for the total teacher supply is reached.

Mr. Marks

My right hon. Friend will be aware that six months ago she was being asked many Questions about the number of teachers likely to be unemployed, rather than about the shortage of teachers. Has she any evidence of unemployment?

Miss Bacon

No, none whatever.

Teachers

(Wastage)

22. Mr. Silvester

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what survey he has made of the reasons for [column 611]teachers leaving the profession at different ages; and if he will list the main reasons given.

Miss Bacon

The Government Social Survey is conducting on my right hon. Friend's behalf a survey of male teachers who left English and Welsh schools in the last school year. We hope to have provisional results in a month or two.

Mr. Silvester

I welcome that reply, but does the right hon. Lady agree that it is important to find out the stage in a person's career at which dissatisfaction with salary and responsibility is the main reason for leaving, so that an intelligent career structure can be arrived at?

Miss Bacon

Yes, I think it is very important, although there is sometimes an exaggerated idea of the wastage. For instance, in 1967–68 the net wastage of men under 60 was about 2 per cent. Very often those who move out of teaching go to other sides of the education service, and are, therefore, not lost to the education service generally.

Direct Grant Schools

23. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now make a statement about the future of the direct grant schools.

Mr. Edward Short

Not until I have considered the second report of the Public Schools Commission.

Mr. Dudley Smith

In view of the Minister's well-known hostility to direct grant schools, does not he think that it would be far fairer to say now that he intends to abolish them, just as he proposes to do with the grammar schools?

Mr. Short

I have no hostility to any good, efficient school. What I have hostility to is public funds being used to preserve selection in areas where local authorities have abolished it.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Can the Secretary of State think of a single educational reason for the continuation of the direct grant system?

Mr. Short

As I said, direct grant schools in many towns, including the town of which my constituency is a part, preserve selection when the local authority has abolished it, and I cannot for [column 612]the life of me see why we should use public funds for that purpose.

Mrs. Thatcher

When does the Minister expect to receive the report of the Donnison Commission? We were expecting it before now.

Mr. Short

I understand that I shall receive my copy very shortly. It will be printed, and, as soon as it is available, it will be made public.

Graduate Mathematics and Science Teachers

24. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has to meet the shortage of mathematics teachers; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Fowler

I refer my hon. Friend to my written reply on 22nd January to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Fortescue).—[Vol. 794, c. 172–3.]

Mr. Dalyell

But notwithstanding a helpful series of Written Answers, which demonstrated that this was the first Government to face up to this thorny problem, none the less would my hon. Friend not recognise that there is a serious crisis when so many of the mathematics teachers are between the ages of 55 and 65 and are due to retire in the next decade?

Mr. Fowler

I have noted that there are relatively more graduates in mathematics aged 50 and over than in any other subject. I have also noted that the proportion of such teachers has decreased in recent years but that the proportion of mathematics graduates under the age of 35 has been increasing. In March 1968, 27.8 per cent, of mathematics graduates and 24.1 per cent. of non-mathematics graduates were over 50, but at the same date 34.1 per cent. were under 30, compared with 31.8 per cent. in other subjects.

Mr. Lubbock

Why not try paying them more?

Mr. Fowler

I take it that the hon. Gentleman is suggesting, as many have suggested in the past, that we should have differential rates of pay for mathematics and science teachers. It is a matter for the Burnham Committee and not for me. But there are objections to that suggestion.

[column 613]

Teacher Training

28. Mr. McNamara

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the number of teachers in training in 1963; and what is the latest figure.

Mr. Fowler

The number of students in initial training courses in England and Wales was 57,398 in October 1963. The provisional figure for October, 1969 is 115,700—an increase of 102 per cent.

Mr. McNamara

Is my hon. Friend aware that that reflects great credit on the Government and their achievements and that the House owes a particular debt of gratitude to the colleges of further education for the work done in order to make possible this tremendous expansion?

Mr. Fowler

We are extremely grateful to the colleges of education for their enormous efforts. This has been one of the great success stories of education, not only in the past decade but in the history of education in this country.

Open University

(Science Students)

29. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what facilities for practical work will be available for science students enrolled with the Open University; and if he will make a statement.

Miss Jennie Lee

For the foundation course in the first year, 1971, students will use the facilities of other universities when they attend two-week residential courses in the summer. Arrangements for courses after the first year are still being worked out. The possibility of using local facilities in schools and colleges on a part-time basis is also being investigated.

Mrs. Short

Will my right hon. Friend make it absolutely clear that science students enrolled in the Open University will not have to make do with third-best conditions and that there will be no suggestion of “do it yourself” science in the back kitchen or anything of that kind?

Miss Lee

Apart from the question of science in the back kitchen, there will be provided a great deal of home infor[column 614]mation and many home kits in the correspondence course packages. These will be supplemented by the use of laboratories in some universities and also, we hope, in some local schools and colleges.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Now that we have the Open University, will the Minister recognise that there are far too many students taking second and third degrees and becoming professional students at the expense of the State? Will she encourage these students, especially where these degrees are not necessary for industry, to take their second degrees through the Open University instead of at the taxpayers' expense?

Miss Lee

While not accepting the premise on which the hon. Member bases his question, I think he will find that the Open University is attracting committed students who will need the facilities offered to promote their usefulness in society and their jobs, and for their private pleasure.

Schools (Women Welfare Officers)

30. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what opportunities exist for the training of women welfare officers to work in schools, particularly in the priority areas.

Mr. Fowler

The appointment and training of welfare assistants to work in schools is a matter for individual local education authorities. In some areas short courses, or part-time day-release courses, are provided at colleges of further education and other institutions.

Mrs. Short

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a considerable shortage of women to do such jobs? Does he not think that his Department should encourage local education authorities to act in this matter, particularly in areas such as Wolverhampton where we have a great need for this kind of work and have a large number of educated Indian women who could well undertake such work if training facilities were available?

Mr. Fowler

I have no figures as to the proportion of welfare assistants who are female. As for the educational priority areas, the same general arrangements apply there as elsewhere. If staff are employed to work with immigrant children, their salaries may qualify for [column 615]special grants under the Local Government Act, 1966.

Student Grants

31. Mr. Henig

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he will announce the new levels of student grants for the academic year 1970–71.

Mr. Edward Short

Student grants are not normally reviewed at intervals of less than three years and were last increased in 1968. I received a deputation from the National Union of Students yesterday and listened carefully to their views.

Mr. Henig

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that there are particular instances of hardship even within the existing level of grant, particularly by virtue of the fact that some students for various reasons are unable to get the full amount at which their parents are assessed? Will he look into this matter and discuss it with the National Union of Students to improve the situation?

Mr. Short

I have already told my hon. Friend that I had discussions with the National Union of Students yesterday. I have a great deal of sympathy with students, but I must consider them in education with all the other claims being made on educational resources.

Mrs. Thatcher

Would the Minister say what level he used to forecast the cost of student grants in the White Paper on Public Expenditure?

Mr. Short

The hon. Lady will find that that is explained. If it is not, I will write to her.