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Education

Volume 387: debated on Thursday 25 March 1943

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Instruction In Finance

19.

asked the President of the Board of Education, whether, in view of the desirability of a more widespread knowledge of finance, he will ensure the inclusion in the curriculum of the schools throughout the country of some instruction on this subject?

While the younger children learn something about pounds, shillings and pence, my hon. Friend will no doubt appreciate that a study of advanced finance is appropriate only for older children. Some such instruction is already given in secondary, central and junior commercial schools as well as in part-time evening classes. The question of its proper place in the curriculum of secondary schools in the future is under consideration by the Norwood Committee.

Will my right hon. Friend see that it is not made impossible to ensure that really comprehensive instruction in finance is carried out in secondary schools in the near future, and will he include the methods by which bankers make their profits, and also the banking system and Treasury deposit receipts?

Education Bill

20.

asked the President of the Board of Education when he contemplates being able to bring in the promised new Education Bill?

22.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether it is proposed to introduce an Education Bill this Session?

I cannot at present add to previous replies, particularly that which I gave to the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) on 28th January.

While I realise that my right hon. Friend wishes to bring in a really comprehensive Bill, can he say whether it is contemplated that it will be brought in this Session? Discussions have been going on now for nearly three years.

As my hon. Friend will realise, to recast our educational system is a big task, and therefore I can give no undertaking, but while my answer may appear negative I do not want the hon. Member's hopes to be dashed or any fears to be aroused, because I hope to make steady progress.

If the right hon. Gentleman cannot give us an assurance about this Session, can he hold out a reasonable prospect of our getting the Bill this year?

Does the right hon. Gentleman's original answer mean that the Bill when introduced will be a really comprehensive Bill?

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain exactly what is holding up this Bill?

While there is nothing holding up the preparation except that there is much hard work to be done, I think it would be wrong if I allowed the Bill to be rushed and there was bad work in consequence.

24.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether it is his intention in the proposed new Education Act that parents shall continue to have the statutory right of their children being educated in accordance with their religious faith?

I think that when the hon. Member sees my proposals as a whole he will be satisfied on this point.

Teachers (Supply)

23.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has formed any estimate of the number of elementary and secondary men and women teachers, respectively, who will be available during the next three years; the total number required; and how many are likely to be received into training colleges and have finished their training during the next three years if hostilities have not ended?

As the answer is necessarily somewhat long, and contains a number of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that an adequate supply of teachers will be available in the next three or four years?

The answer goes into that question in considerable detail and shows that that will be the case, but that does not mean that I underestimate the difficulties or the wisdom of the hon. Member in putting this Question.

Is it possible for the Board to take any steps to bring back to the schools some of those teachers of very low medical category who are now in the Forces? Surely they could be much better employed in the schools than upon some of the jobs they are now doing?

I am in touch with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service about the call-up and about the question of demobilisation of teachers at the end of the war.

Following is the answer:

According to the latest returns received from local education authorities (December, 1942) the number of public elementary school children was 4,602,559 and the number of teachers in these schools was 151,651, of whom 29,322 were men. The ratio of one teacher to just over 30 children is practically the same as it was in the years before the war. In Secondary Schools the number of pupils in October, 1942, was 512,545 and the number of teachers was 24,972, of whom 10,400 were men. At present the ratio of one teacher to just over 20 pupils is roughly the same as in the last year before the war.

I hope that local education authorities will be able to maintain this position by the various means, such as the recall or retention of teachers who have married or reached retiring age, which have served hitherto during the war, but this must depend upon circumstances which I am not in a position to forecast but shall continue to watch closely.

I anticipate that the number of men and women who will complete their courses of training in 1943, 1944 and 1945 will be approximately 500 men and between 4,000 and 4,500 women in each year. The figures for 1944 cannot at this stage be given with any accuracy owing to the claims of other forms of National Service on those admitted in 1942 over the age entry below which entitled students to the completion of a full course of training; and the figures for 1945 are necessarily conjectural since it is not yet known how many students will be admitted to two year Colleges in 1943. It is not possible to give any estimate of output in 1946 in the absence of any decision as to what the conditions of admission will be in 1944. The men students proceed to the Forces on completion of their training: the women go straight into the schools; and something under one-tenth of them serve in the secondary schools.