HC Deb 15 June 1972 vol 838 cc1706-8
11. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the expected numbers of pupils and teachers, and the resulting pupil-teacher ratio, in maintained schools in England and Wales in the year 1983 given that there is no change in current policy.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I regret that I cannot usefully add to my answer to a Question by the hon. Member on 22nd May.—[Vol. 837, c. 289–90.]

Mr. Spearing

But that Question asked for the figures up to 1983 and the hon. Gentleman gave only the figures up to 1976 on the ground that that was the furthest that the national expenditure survey had gone. Would not he agree that if the consultations referred to earlier by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) are to be meaningful, the figure for 1983 should be published? Will he also agree that the figure is likely to be in the ratio of 17 to 18 pupils per teacher? Is not this a reasonable aim if the present system is continued?

Mr. van Straubenzee

The hon. Gentleman may feel on reflection that he has not done justice to my answer of 22nd May, in which I set out the reasons why it would not be meaningful to make a longer projection. I shall not enter into any speculation about the figures in the second half of the hon. Gentleman's question.

16. Mr. Marks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what were the numbers of teachers and pupils in primary and secondary schools in January 1972; and what is her estimate of the numbers for January, 1976.

Mr. van Straubenzee

In January, 1972, there was the equivalent of 388,500 full-time teachers in maintained schools and about 8,391,000 pupils. In 1976 I expect the respective numbers to be 453,000 and 9,072,000.

Mr. Marks

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that discussion and consultation on the James Report is extremely difficult unless he produces all the figures that were made available to the James Committee? Is he taking into account when he publishes pupil-teacher ratios the point that first-year teachers will be working for only 80 per cent. of the time?

Mr. van Straubenzee

All the considerations such as those mentioned by the hon. Gentleman are given a weighting in arriving at the estimates I have given. With the forward figures which have already been made public, I would have thought that discussion could be very meaningful indeed.

Sir R. Cary

Can my hon. Friend say whether, following the excellent plans announced at the beginning of the Session to help primary schools, a greater number of teachers have been attracted into those schools?

Mr. van Straubenzee

There is some encouraging evidence, particularly with some of the better qualified people, that they are beginning to think very seriously in terms of primary schools and are no longer simply regarding them as below their competence, remembering that it is an important sector of our education.

Mr. Barry Jones

Is the teacher quota a minimum or maximum these days?

Mr. van Straubenzee

It is a general guidance figure.