HC Deb 05 March 1970 vol 797 cc596-8
4. Mr. Astor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals have been submitted to him to give a special status to those teachers of mentally-handicapped children who will not immediately be recognised as fully qualified teachers after the transfer of ministerial responsibility.

Mr. Edward Short

A working party which I set up in October made recommendations on this matter. These are now under study by the associations of local authorities and teachers concerned.

Mr. Astor

When the right hon. Gentleman considers this recommendation, will he bear in mind that these trained teachers of mentally handicapped children should not be adversely affected if they apply for advanced courses or senior posts?

Mr. Short

I gladly give that assurance, and I hope that all concerned will take note of it. They should not be adversely affected in any way.

Mr. Crawshaw

Does my right hon. Friend agree with the need to encourage more people to go in for this type of teaching? Will he explore every possibility of inducing people to take up this valuable work?

Mr. Short

Yes, Sir, and this is one reason why, in the next few days, I shall be introducing a Bill to transfer the educational care of these children to the education service. Teachers in this sphere will then become qualified teachers in the clear sense of the term, and their pay and prospects will be greatly enhanced by the changeover.

Sir D. Renton

When giving further thought to this issue, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it is asking a bit much of somebody who may already have had five years' pre-diploma experience to be required to have a further five years' post-diploma experience before being accepted as qualified?

Mr. Short

I consulted all the bodies concerned, the local authorities and all the teachers' associations, and this was the consensus. Indeed, one body suggested 10 years.

Mrs. Thatcher

Would the right hon. Gentleman accept that while there is a good deal of satisfaction among teachers of mentally handicapped children about this, many hon. Members are anxious to put their views on this issue to the right hon. Gentleman and look forward to doing so on the Floor of the House when we debate the Bill to which he referred on Second Reading?

Mr. Short

I am certainly aware of that and of the view which the hon. Lady expresses. As I said in answer to the first Question, the time has come to raise the whole status and standards of the teaching profession.

20. Mr. Rossi

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent consultations he has had with teachers of mentally-handicapped children about problems raised by the forthcoming transfer of ministerial responsibility.

Mr. Edward Short

My officials recently discussed the training of staff and other matters with representatives of the Training Council for Teachers of the Mentally Handicapped and of the Association of Tutors of Training Council Courses. I have had a number of informal discussions with both teachers of the mentally handicapped and with students in training. I am inviting the Chairman of the Training Council to meet me for an early discussion. I expect to initiate wider consultations on staffing matters at a suitable stage in the preparations for the transfer.

Mr. Rossi

Is the House to understand from that reply that the Minister has not yet reached agreement with those teachers about the question of qualified teachers' status and conditions? If that be the case, can he advise the House what is the stumbling block in the way of his reaching agreement?

Mr. Short

I have reached agreement with all the teachers' associations concerned with qualified teachers and with the local authorities who are taking over this service.

Mr. Molloy

Will my right hon. Friend be prepared to consider seeking the views of the voluntary organisations, which are so active and have such remarkable knowledge of the problem?

Mr. Short

I have met a good many of the voluntary organisation people.