The urgent necessity of increasing the output of teachers in Northern Ireland was emphasised by the Northern Ireland Minister of Education, Mr William May, in the Ulster Commons at the end of March 1960.
On the same day the minister announced a long-term development plan for large-scale additions to Stranmillis Training College in south Belfast and said that the extension programme would begin as soon as was possible.
Mr May, who was moving the estimates for the Ministry of Education, said that the total sum that he was asking for was £16,092,840, which was an increase of nearly £1,700,000, more than 10 per cent, on the expenditure for the year 1959-60.
Explaining the increase in the estimates Mr May said: “If our relative educational position vis-a-vis the rest of the world is to be maintained, expenditure in future years is likely to increase quite substantially.
“The largest increased item of expenditure this year is one of £680,000 in teachers’ salaries, due to an anticipated increase of about 400 in the number of teachers and to the operation of the new salary scales which came into full operation from October last. “There are now about 110,700 teachers, compared with 17,900 ten years ago, but there are 50,000 more children at school. Although staffing ratios are better than they were, there is still in primary schools more than 1,300 classes with more than 40 pupils on the roll. About 100 of these had more than 50 pupils on the roll.”
The minister said that this staff-pupil ratio had to be addressed. He stated: “That state of affairs must be remedied as quickly as possible and I am studying the need for teachers in the future.”
He continued: “The reorganisation involved in transferring all children over the age of to secondary schools will relieve accommodation problems and make it possible to improve the staff-pupil ratio in many primary schools, but will at the same time present difficulties in adequately staffing secondary schools, unless the supply of teachers is materially increased.”
Reflecting on the 1947 Education Act Mr May said: “The 1947 Act provided for an increase in the school-leaving age to 16, and the implementation of this provision will call, not only for increased school accommodation, but for a substantial addition to the teaching staff.”
Mr May said that there was “an urgent necessity to increase the output of the training colleges” and to “induce more graduates to enter the teaching profession”. He said that he believed that the new salary scales in operation would prove a considerable incentive.
Dealing with intermediate schools, Mr May said that they were gaining confidence in themselves. He remarked: “They are no longer in any way apologising for their existence.”
The minister added: “The development within some of the Belfast intermediate schools of technical intermediate streams is working well and has led the Ministry of Education to have second thoughts about the need for separate technical intermediate schools in the city itself.”
He said that he had little doubt that before long that the Belfast intermediate schools would retain an increasing number of pupils beyond the school-leaving age.
He commented: “The time might not be far distant when we can look to the intermediate schools for recruits to the training colleges.”
The minister also noted that facilities were being extended for special educational treatment in Northern Ireland. At the end of March 1960 there were 19 special schools in Northern Ireland and it was expected that three more would be opened inside a year – one in Belfast, one in Londonderry and one in Ballymena.
Meanwhile in the field of further education, the Belfast Education Authority was considering the transfer of the Stanhope Street Further Education Centre to the new premises to be provided in East Belfast at Tower Street. It was hoped then to make use of the existing Stanhope Street premises and to extend them if more land could be acquired as a centre for the bakery trade and for catering.
In conclusion Mr May said that there was still a good deal of new school building to be done. Of the 180 or so new intermediate schools required, 71 had not reached the building stage and of those 33 had not reached the drawing board.
He said: “It will take at least five years to finish off the job completely even if all the loose ends are tied up in the course of the present year.”
Viscountess Craigavon is laid to rest beside her husband at Stormont
A spray of spring flowers from the garden of her Wiltshire home was left on the coffin of the Dowager Viscountess Craigavon when she was buried in the tomb of her husband in the grounds of Parliament Buildings, Stormont, at the end of March 1960. The flowers had been arranged by her daughter, the Honourable Mrs E A C Linzee, who attended the funeral, which was private.
The burial service was conducted by the Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Right Reverend Dr F J Mitchell.
After a simple service in St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast which was conducted by the Dean of Belfast, the Very Reverend C I Peacocke, the cortege left for Stormont. It halted at the west end of Parliament Buildings and the coffin, flanked on the one side by the Prime Minister, Lord Brookeborough, and members of the Cabinet, and on the other by the Speaker of the House, Sir Norman Stronge, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman R G C Kinahan, and members of the Ulster Unionist Council, was carried past the front of the building to the graveside.
The coffin bore the spray of flowers only, but there were 13 other floral wreaths, including tributes from the government of I Northern Ireland, the Ulster Unionist Council, the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council and the Ulster Young Unionist Council. These were later placed on the tomb.
The Governor of Northern Ireland, Lord Wakehurst, was represented at the funeral by Major Robert Stephens and the Northern Ireland government representatives included the Minister of Finance, Captain Terence O’Neill, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Brian Faulkner; the Minister of Commerce, Lord Glentoran; the Minister of Health and Local Government, Mr J L O Andrews, and the Leader of the Senate, Colonel A R Gordon. The Speaker of the Senate, Sir Roland Nugent, and the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Norman Stronge, were also present at the funeral.
The Lord Mayor represented the citizens of Belfast.
Representing the Ulster Unionist Council were Sir Clarence Graham, chairman of the standing committee, and Mr S J McMahon, chairman of the executive committee.
Senator Joseph Cunningham represented the Ulster Unionist Labour Association, and Mr Isaac Hawthorne, chief whip of the Parliamentary Unionist Party.
Sir George Clark represented the Orange Institution, and the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council representatives were Mrs Martin Wallace and Councillor Florence Breakie, deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast.
Mr R A Butler, Home Secretary, was represented by Mr H Black, Assistant Secretary to the Northern Ireland Cabinet; Sir Robert Gransden, Northern Ireland Government Agent in London, by Mr W H Baird; the Minister of Labour and National Insurance by Mr R H T Rea; the Minister of Education by Mr A E Hawthorne, and the Minister of Agriculture by Mr H J Montgomery.
Also present were Dame Dehra Parker, former Minister of Health; Sir Harry Mulholland, former Speaker of the House of Sir Richard Pirn, Inspector-General of the Royal Ulster Constabulary; Lady Glentoran, and Major G Thomson, Clerk of Parliaments, and Mr A J Kelly, Secretary to the Cabinet.
Harsh word from Lord Justice Curran
Speaking in Belfast City Commission during a shopbreaking case at the end of March 1960 Lord Justice Curran said: “The only thing these fellows understand is punishment. What they really need is a good thrashing.”
A 41 year old housewife named Hewitt from Carlisle Street, a 17 year old man called McGartland and a 16 year old juvenile had pleaded guilty to shopbreaking and stealing a quantity of spirits
McGartland and the juvenile asked that an additional charge be taken into consideration. Both were ordered to a period of borstal training, subject to a medical report on their condition.
The on the woman was deferred, subject to a welfare report on her three children.
Meanwhile, a sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment was imposed on labourer named Adair who was found guilty of breaking into a warehouse at Duncairn Gardens with intent to steal.
Lord Justice Curran said: “People who have the ingenuity and resourcefulness to climb up on roofs and cut holes in ceilings, when caught, cannot be allowed off scot free.”
Lord Justice Curran said that the accused had stated in evidence that he had some drink that night. The judge remarked: “If that was so, it is possible that the liquor did give you Dutch courage with which to carry out the job.”
The judge told Adair: “We are dealing with a job that was obviously planned, and you and whoever your friend was, were carrying out a real job here, and I cannot possibly overlook it.”
Another case heard was brought against a labourer called McLoughlin. He was accused of having broken in a house of a Mrs Wright at Graham Gardens and stolen an apron worth 5s. The jury found McLoughlin not guilty and he was discharged.
Sunday golf protest in Lisburn
At the end of March 1960 Lisburn golf course opened for the first time on a Sunday in the history of club. It was decision which brought protests from nine Lisburn clergymen.
The members of the golf club at their annual meeting passed by 51 votes to 31 a resolution to introduce Sunday golf. At the same meeting they decided that the bar should remain closed on Sundays.
A statement issued by the Lisburn ministers who were opposed to the development stated: “In view of our churches’ teaching regarding the proper observance of Sunday, this step is regarded as deplorable. We feel that the worst effect will be on the young people of the district, to whom Sunday golf will offer yet another temptation. We know that this action will be deplored by the great majority of loyal Church folk.”
The nine ministers were Chancellor C J McLeod, the Reverend Dr J K Elliott, Canon Dr R Adams, the Reverend T G Keery, the Reverend W Boyd, the Reverend H Irvine, the Reverend. S H McElhinney, the Reverend H Young and the Reverend J McAllister.
Mr H M Crawford, the out-going captain of the club, who presided at meeting, said when told of the ministers’ statement: “I do not feel that I can make any comment on the matter. All I can say Is that the resolution was passed by 51 votes to 31, and that is that.”
A member of the club said: “Members of the public have been ‘invading’ the golf course on Sundays for many years now, although the club members themselves have never played.
“In view of this, I wonder why the ministers have never complained before. After all, what is the difference in townspeople playing on Sundays and members of the club doing the same thing?”