HC Deb 20 July 1982 vol 28 cc201-2
12. Mr. Dobson

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in view of the threat to standards of literacy and numeracy in primary schools referred to in the recent report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate, he will take steps to prevent further teacher redundancies.

Sir Keith Joseph

The current average class size in primary schools is the lowest ever. It is for local education authorities to decide how to manage the necessary reductions in the number of primary teachers, but I do not believe that ruling out redundancies would protect standards.

Mr. Dobson

In the light of the recent report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Schools, which said that existing standards, particularly in numeracy and literacy, could not be maintained if current levels of staffing remained the same, how, if the Secretary of State does not regard that as a scare story, will redundancies among existing teachers improve the chances of children achieving decent standards of numeracy and literacy?

Sir Keith Joseph

I must repeat—I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman could absorb this—that effective teaching is the key, together with pupil motivation. That cannot be measured in financial terms.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that in principle he is in favour of village primary schools? Does he accept that in sparsely populated areas, such as Lincolnshire, it is necessary to have an above-average number of teachers to maintain those village schools and their standards?

Sir Keith Joseph

To be against village schools would be like being against motherhood. Of course Ministers are in favour of village schools, but, on the basis of proposals made on the initiative of local education authorities, Ministers must take into account the educational and financial implications of keeping each school as it is.

Mr. Sheerman

Will the Secretary of State talk to his colleague, the Secretary of State for Industry, who seems keen to put a computer into every school, while at the same time the Secretary of Stale for Education is hell-bent on ensuring that there is no one to teach computer studies in any school?

Sir Keith Joseph

The Secretary of State for Industry and I conspired to get not only computers, but teachers who are equipped to teach the study of them, into every school.

Mr. Madel

Does my right hon Friend agree that the comments of Her Majesty's Inspectorate on numeracy are an incentive for local education authorities to step u.p their in-service retraining programmes? If we move to an education block grant system, will my right hon. Friend pay special attention to those local education authorities that have a good record of retraining teachers in shortage subjects?

Sir Keith Joseph

The retraining of teachers in shortage subjects is crucial. I commend to all hon. Members and all in the educational world the excellent report of the Cockcroft committee with regard to numeracy.