HC Deb 01 April 1971 vol 814 cc1651-3
5. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what measures she proposes to make the teaching profession more attractive to would-be entrants.

Mrs. Thatcher

There were 18,500 more teachers in maintained schools in October, 1970 than in October, 1969. This was the largest increase ever. The latest figures suggest that a higher proportion are remaining in the profession.

Mr. Jones

Is the Secretary of State aware that the number of suitable applicants for training in the teaching profession declined last year? Does she agree that salaries are the prinicipal factor in this decline and will she not consider coming out in defence of the profession and denouncing the ramshackle and derisive pay increase currently offered by the management?

Mrs. Thatcher

The number of applicants to the colleges of education was down—that is to say, the non-graduate applicants for teaching were fewer—but there were more graduate applicants, so there is a net increase in the number of people coming into teaching.

Mr. Alan Williams

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that her answer merely demonstrates the problem being encountered at the moment by graduates in finding employment and has no longterm significance?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, I would not agree. A large number of graduates are interested in coming into teaching as teaching.

13. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will ensure a new salary structure for the teaching profession which gives added incentives to those with added responsibilities and those who intend to make it a lifelong career.

Mrs. Thatcher

The reformed pay structure proposed by the management panel of the Burnham Committee, on which I have two representatives, is designed to achieve these objectives.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Does my right hon. Friend agree that a most important factor is to provide a career structure which will make it worth while for men and women to stay in teaching as long as possible? Does she also agree that one of the difficulties in the past has been the vast number of girl teachers who have qualified and then left the profession, thus leaving a great gap at the bottom of the scale?

Mrs. Thatcher

I agree that pay structure is most important, and we hope that those young women who leave teaching will come back into the profession later.

Mr. Armstrong

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is not a crime for a lady to train as a teacher or to accept university training, to do a little time in school, then to get married and have children and afterwards to come back into the teaching profession? Will not the new structure proposed by the authorities penalise women and also divide the profession, in view of the distinction between primary and secondary schools which we on this side of the House have for so long been trying to end? Since the right hon. Lady has a direct responsibility on the negotiating body, will she try to do something about this situation?

Mrs. Thatcher

No one is suggesting that what the hon. Gentleman said was alleged to be a crime is in fact a crime. Certainly my hon. Friend did not suggest it. It is something that usually happens in the normal course of events. We hope that these young women will come back into teaching. On the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, it seems that the teaching profession is divided on the matter of structure, but I do not necessarily accept that the structure itself is divisive. Indeed, it gives far more opportunities to those teaching in primary schools to become heads and deputy heads than applies to those teaching in secondary schools.