HC Deb 19 November 1974 vol 881 cc1085-6
8. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether it is his policy, in accordance with administrative memorandum 21/73, that nursery assistants with the NNEB qualification and with many years' experience in nursery classes should be placed under the supervision of newly qualified teachers with no previous experience of nursery classes; and if he will make a statement on this matter.

Mr. Armstrong

My right hon. Friend thinks it right that the main responsibility for nursery education should rest with qualified teachers but he recognises the invaluable contribution which well-trained and experienced nursery assistants make.

Mr. Hooley

Is my hon. Friend aware that a good deal of resentment is felt by experienced nursery assistants who have trained specifically for the job as being superseded by, or put under the supervision of, teachers who, although qualified, have no training for nursery schools? If that continues, it will call in question the Government's attitude to the NNEB qualification.

Mr. Armstrong

I am aware of the tension. But within the framework provided by the regulations it is for local authorities to decide upon the appointment and deployment of their staff. Experienced holders of the NNEB certificate who have taken further training to fit them for added responsibilities may be employed as unqualified teachers in nursery schools and classes.

Mr. Christopher Price

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is a serious problem since most youngsters of three to five years are not in nursery schools and have no prospect of being there? What percentage of three-to five-year-olds is it the Government's intention to try to put in nursery schools?

Mr. Armstrong

We are anxious to move as quickly as possible to giving parents of children between the ages of three and five the opportunity to have their children in nursery classes or nursery schools. We are pushing ahead and we recently announced a programme for placing extra nursery classes in areas of great social need.