§ 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 597 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. 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?
§ 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 598 to doing so on the Floor of the House when we debate the Bill to which he referred on Second Reading?
§ 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. 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?