SIR,—In your issue of November 21st you were good enough to publish a letter from me on the position of graduate teachers in the national schools. In that letter I quoted figures given in a Parliamentary answer (Hansard, 21.11.46) showing that at that date there were in training for the national schools: (a) 1,100 degree students in their fourth year, (b) 13,500 two-year trainees and (c) 6,500 one-year emergency trainees from which I deduced that the proportion of graduate teachers to other categories was roughly five per cent, in the forthcoming new draft to the schools. I have endeavoured to obtain from the Minister more recent information on this position, and I have been favoured with a letter, dated the 4th instant, signed by the Minister, giving me this up-to-date information, but at the same time pointing out that, "by an unfortunate oversight, the figures given (in the answer quoted by me) were not accurate," and he has been kind enough to give, in one table, corrected statements for last year's and for this year's figures compiled on the same lines. I transcribe these details as follows:—
NUMBERS OF TEACHERS IN TRAINING
(a) Graduates in profes- sional year at university training depts. and post- 1946-47 (Nov., 1946) Men Women Total 1947-48 (Nov., 1947) Men Women Total
graduate colleges ... 904 987 1,891 1,104 1,244 2,348 (b) Students at other per-
manent colleges, mainly
following 2-year courses 3,579 11,359 14,938 4,010 12,182 16,192 (c) Students in emergency
training colleges follow-
ing 1-year courses ... 4,300 2,200 6,500 8,500 3,000 11,500
30,040 By an odd coincidence it will be seen that the proportion of graduate teachers to other categories is very nearly identical, approximately 12 per cent, for each of these years. The Minister has expressed himself unable to give similar figures for the teachers actually engaged in the schools at the present time, but I submit we must assume from the figures supplied for teachers in training during the past two years that the proportion of graduate teachers to other categories may be reasonably estimated at approximately 12 per cent., and compares unfavourably with the proportion stated in a Parliamentary answer quoted by me to have been 16.4 per cent. in 1938. A very authoritative inter-departmental committee was appointed to report on the training of teachers, and published, in May, 1944, two Schemes, A and B. Scheme A immediately became much more widely supported, and it was strongly hoped that the Education Act, which received the Royal Assent a few months later, would adopt the recommendations of that scheme; this urged in the strongest terms the desirability that the minimum period of training of teachers should be three years, and that that training should be conducted at the universities. The report on Scheme A closed with the following weighty warning.
"We make this proposal for a major constitutional change at a time when fundamental reforms are being made in our educational system, when we are within sight of full-time education for every boy and girl up to 16 years of age, with compulsory part-time education up to 18, and when it is necessary to attract to the pro- fession of teaching men and women of high quality and potentialities. We believe that in years to come it will be considered disastrous if the national system for the training of teachers is to be divorced from the work of the universities or even to be running parallel with it. We are not looking a few years but twenty-five years ahead, and such an opportunity for fundamental reform as now presents itself may not recur within that period.''
It is, I submit, a deplorable sequence of the legislation of 1944 that this warning is in process of being progressively ignored.—I am, Sir,