HC Deb 22 February 1983 vol 37 cc791-2
11. Dr. M. S. Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many unemployed teachers there were 10 years ago, five years ago and last year in (a) primary education, (b) secondary education and (c) further education.

Sir Keith Joseph

In round figures, the numbers of people registered as unemployed and seeking teaching posts in England in September 1973, 1978 and 1982, respectively were 1,000, 4,000 and 9,000 for posts in primary schools; 1,000, 6,000 and 13,000 for posts in secondary schools; and 1,000, 3,000 and 6,000 for posts in higher and further education.

Dr. Miller

Why should there be any unemployed teachers in Britain in an era in which education is, if anything, more important than it has been throughout our history?

Sir Keith Joseph

The teaching force has fallen proportionately far less than the number of children in schools. The more jobs that are not justified in the public sector, the fewer there will be in the private sector. The trading base has been partly wrecked in the past by Government overspending.

Mr. Forman

What efforts are being made by my right hon. Friend's Department to ensure that some of the 13,000 unemployed secondary school teachers receive retraining so that they can teach some of the shortage subjects that are important to the future of Britain and its industrial base—for example, mathematics?

Sir Keith Joseph

I cannot give an immediate answer to that question. Retraining courses are available, and there will be an increasing demand for retraining to meet the expected rise in numbers in primary education.

Mr. Foulkes

The Secretary of State has revealed that there are nearly 30,000 unemployed trained teachers in England. What other avenues of employment would he recommend them to seek?

Sir Keith Joseph

There must be an infinite number of answers to that question. The proportion of teachers unemployed is, I fear, far less than the proportion of unemployed people with other skills in the private and public sectors because of the bad state of the economy, due, in part, to excessive Labour Government spending, with its consequences on inflation, interest rates and taxation.

Mr. Madel

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that under the new technical education initiative being organised by the Manpower Services Commission additional funds will be available for retraining unemployed teachers? Should not local authorities, therefore, lose no time in making applications for those funds?

Sir Keith Joseph

My hon. Friend is right in general, but I would not wish to encourage too large a hope for additional teaching numbers in the new pilot scheme. Large numbers of local education authorities have already expressed interest.

Mr. Dobson

If the Secretary of State is interested in increasing parental choice and improving education standards, does he agree that one of the quickest ways of doing that is by putting those 30,000 teachers back to work? Does he propose instead to close or permit the closure of even more than the 350 schools whose closure he has allowed in the past three years?

Sir Keith Joseph

The hon. Gentleman seems to ignore the fact that there are now 1 million fewer children in schools than there were seven years ago. He also ignores the problem of who would pay for the extra teachers in post. Presumably he would be happy to see more firms go bankrupt and more people thrown out of work in the private sector to pay for them.