HC Deb 19 March 1985 vol 75 cc765-6
6. Mr. Heddle

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he next plans to meet representatives of the Professional Association of Teachers to discuss the current pay claim.

Sir Keith Joseph

I have no current plans to do so, but I meet representatives of the Professional Association of Teachers fairly frequently and I know their position.

Mr. Heddle

Does my right hon. Friend applaud members of the Professional Association of Teachers and others who, through moderation, conscience and conviction, are continuing to set a standard of dedication to our schoolchildren? Is not the answer to settling the teachers' pay dispute for them to adopt the new assessment procedures already adopted and approved by the local education authorities?

Sir Keith Joseph

I agree with my hon. Friend in applauding those teachers, whether members of the PAT or not, who stick to serving the children, as is their professional duty.

Mr. Spearing

Does the Secretary of State agree that on Sunday, in a public statement on the pay dispute, he made it clear that in his opinion only a minority of teachers were unsatisfactory? Would it not be more appropriate, in the second half of the 20th century, to provide all teachers with the support to make them better teachers, without arbitrary and impossible forms of assessment? Would not that approach get the agreement not only of the PAT but of all teachers in the profession?

Sir Keith Joseph

An appraisal system for all teachers is very much in their interests. It will permit the career development of every teacher. After all, appraisal is now going on informally. All that I am seeking is that it should be done formally for the benefit of all teachers.

Mr. Greenway

Is it not sad that some teachers, who are not members of the PAT, have got themselves into a cycle of striking and refusing to teach examination pupils, mark books, and so on, thereby increasing classroom difficulties, which makes them suffer from extra stress when they return to the job?

Sir Keith Joseph

I agree with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Radice

May I remind the Secretary of State that he is actually responsible for running education in this country? [Interruption.] Hon. Members should read the Education Act 1944. The right hon. Gentleman therefore has a duty to answer the question that I asked earlier: what is he doing to help solve the teachers' dispute?

Sir Keith Joseph

The hon. Gentleman knows that we have a decentralised system of education in this country and that I have certain statutory duties, but he also knows that both the employers and the teachers' representatives are today, and I believe tomorrow, having a meeting with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.