HC Deb 23 July 1985 vol 83 c856
8. Mr. Patrick Thompson

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement about the present and future representation of teachers and local authority representatives on the Burnham committee.

Sir Keith Joseph

On 2 May I announced my decision to review the composition of the teachers' panel of the Burnham primary and secondary committee. All the teacher unions have now submitted relevant membership figures, which are under consideration within the Department. I expect to complete the review before the end of the calendar year. I have no present plans to make wider changes in repesentation or to the negotiating machinery generally.

Mr. Thompson

While I welcome and support my right hon. Friend's reply, may I ask him whether he agrees that the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965 is outdated, that the Burnham structure should be abolished as soon as possible and that a new general teachers' council should have the opportunity to advise on matters of pay structure and assessment?

Sir Keith Joseph

I certainly agree that at present the Burnham structure does not seem to have many friends, but that does not mean that it is obvious what could be put in its place, legislative time permitting, which would be better. Nevertheless, the Government are considering the options and will be glad to receive the views of the local education authorities. I am not able to agree with my hon. Friend that a general teachers' council would necessarily be a reinforcement to educational quality, but I am willing to listen to arguments

Mr. Stanbrook

Is there not a better way of negotiating teachers' salaries in place of one which, when there is a disagreement, does so much damage to the children, the teachers themselves and the parents?

Sir Keith Joseph

I think that my hon. Friend is wrong in attaching all those consequences to the structure itself. It is the representatives of some of the teachers' unions who have drawn those damaging consequences upon the children.