HC Deb 19 November 1970 vol 806 cc1402-3
3. Mr. Marks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will refuse to sanction the opening of any independent school for children of compulsory school age which is not purpose-built and whose teachers have not received approved training.

Mrs. Thatcher

My approval is not required to the opening of an independent school.

Mr. Marks

But is the right hon. Lady aware that, according to the Public School Commission, 25 per cent. of the teachers in the recognised schools are unqualified. Could she say how many teachers in the unrecognised schools are unqualified, and will she do something about it?

Mrs. Thatcher

If the hon. Gentleman wishes to put down a Question to that effect I will answer it, but it is not my intention to rule out the independent school on the basis of unqualified teachers.

Mr. Alan Williams

Will the Secretary of State not accept that there is bound to be public concern about the quality of teaching when letters are sent, such as one that was sent to me on 26th October from her hon. Friend, referring to a teacher as being unsuitable for teaching in maintained schools and then going on to say "I am sure the best advice I can give is that she should settle into a permanent full-time post in a suitable independent school"?

Mrs. Thatcher

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would also take into account that I have had many representations from the Opposition benches to keep on unqualified teachers who otherwise would have been sacked.

Mr. Fowler

In regard to the purpose-built schools, would the right hon. Lady not agree that the last Government in pushing through comprehensive schools had the effect in constituencies like mine of creating schools where buildings, far from being purpose-built, are a mile away from one another? Would the Ministry give priority to tackling that kind of thing?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think there is a great deal of truth in what my hon. Friend says, and I ask the Opposition benches to take note.