27 DECEMBER 1963, Page 14

THE ROBBINS DEBATE Sin,—It seems surprising that in discussing the

Robbins Report, Helen Gardner and Angus Maude both barely make mention of the effect of the Report on teaching training colleges. One can understand Miss Gardner preferring to keep off the topic, arguing as she was in favour of two Ministries, but one would have expected Mr. Maude to bring the issue more into the open from the point of view which he was putting forward.

Surely one of the most disturbing features in our State schools at the present time is the low morale of so many of those who are in teaching. How frequently one is told in Staff and Common Rooms that 'we teachers are no longer respected as we used to be.' If I were Minister of Education I would regard the raising of this morale as my most urgent duty. It seems to me that by following Robbins, in part at least, we tackle the task at the right end, namely at the teaching training colleges.

The proposal to up-grade these colleges into Colleges of Education and to bring them. within the ambit of universities seems to me a bold but appro-

priatc one, and the distant vision in Robbins of such colleges offering degree courses open even to those who do not propose to make teaching their career is an imaginative course for us to follow. Right at the very start of their career future teachers will have the feeling of training for a learned profession, and their increasing involvement in the life of a university will surely of itself do much to raise their status. This is not a recommendation without its controversial side, and it is perhaps surprising that it has been the subject of so comparatively little public comment.

But having made that start, how unwise it seems to separate Ministerial responsibility for these Colleges of Education from the Ministry which is responsible for the schools in which the students will subsequently teach. Even if it can be argued, as Miss Gardner suggests, that education is not in fact a coheren.t whole, one and indivisible, it surely cannot be denied that the training and preparation of the teacher force is emphatically one coherent whole with their subsequent employment, with the type of schools in which they teach, and the sort of curricula which they will be operating. It therefore seems to me to be most unwise to separate into two Ministerial hands the oversight of the one and of the other.

Is not this an additionally strong reason for one Ministry and not two?