HC Deb 20 July 1982 vol 28 cc199-200
9. Mr. McWilliam

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will estimate the number of teachers who will be required in the years 1982–83, 1983–84 and 1984–85, together with the pupil to teacher ratios assumed for each of those years.

13. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many teachers he expects to be employed in State schools in September of 1982, 1983 and 1984.

Sir Keith Joseph

In this year's public expenditure White Paper it was assumed that the number of teachers employed in maintained schools in England would be 405,000 in January 1983, 390,000 in January 1984 and 380,000 in January 1985. The overall ratio of pupils to teachers would thus remain close to the figure of 18.6: 1 recorded in January 1981. The actual number of teachers employed in those years will depend on a number of factors, including the priorities of local councils, and future levels of pay and prices.

Mr. McWilliam

Will the Secretary of State tell the House why he has decided, inevitably, to worsen the standards of education in this country by not taking the opportunity when he had it to improve the pupil-teacher ratio?

Sir Keith Joseph

Because we believe that it is right, in the interests of increasing economic vitality and employment in this country, to get a better balance than we have now between Government spending and total national revenue.

Mr. Bennett

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is extremely dangerous to reduce the number of teachers employed in schools in line with the reduced number of children, because that inevitably leads, in primary schools, to teachers having to teach mixed age groups, and in secondary schools to a major reduction in specialisation? Is it not important that, using the extra teachers, we should improve education standards, not reduce them?

Sir Keith Joseph

It is greatly in the interests of school children that the economic condition of the country should improve, and the Government believe—they fought an election on that belief—that to achieve that end it is necessary to have some restraint in public spending.

Mr. Greenway

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the term "ineducable" was deleted from the education vocabulary some years ago? Does he agree with me that the deployment of teachers is the key to success in teaching policy?

Sir Keith Joseph

I certainly agree that the deployment of teachers is an important factor. It was the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) who referred to his ineducable hon. Friends below the Gangway.

Mr. McNally

When the Secretary of State says that the cuts in teachers numbers are scare stories, does he realise that many people in education are scared that the cuts are a Treasury hatchet, for which he is the front man, scared that his boast that he has maintained and improved student-teacher ratios is being abandoned, and scared that the quality of teaching is bound to fall in the next two or three years? That is what people in education are scared about.

Sir Keith Joseph

I am surprised that the hon. Member should fall so low as to try to foster a scare story that he cannot really believe. A review of the Government's plans for local authority expenditure for 1983–84 will, as for other expenditure, take place in the usual way as part of the 1982 public expenditure survey, prior to the RSG settlement for 1983–84.

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