HC Deb 26 March 1985 vol 76 cc213-25 3.31 pm
The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Sir Keith Joseph)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement about the White Paper published today setting out the Government's policies for school education in England and Wales. Copies of the White Paper and a summary are available in the Vote Office.

The Government have two principal aims—to raise the standards achieved by pupils of all abilities and to secure the best possible return for the resources invested in school education.

We have set these aims because education at school needs to develop to the full the capacities of every pupil, and to promote the nation's ability to seize the challenging opportunities of a technological and competitive world. The schools need to build on Britain's values and traditions and on its ethnic diversity; they need to educate pupils to their own full potential and for the responsibilities of citizenship and for working life.

Both what is taught and how it is taught need to serve these purposes better than is now the case in many schools. National standards would rise dramatically if all schools matched the present achievements of the best comparable schools. The Government have a duty in law to take a lead in securing that all our schools have an effective curriculum effectively delivered by those responsible.

Together with their partners in the education service and with the customers of the service, the Government will take action in four broad areas of policy to raise achievement at all levels of ability.

First, we shall continue to take the lead in promoting agreement about the objectives and content of the curriculum in primary, secondary and special schools. The curriculum should be broad, balanced, relevant and differentiated for variations in pupils' abilities and aptitudes. Agreed and explicit objectives will help to focus the efforts of local education authorities and schools and motivate pupils towards aims shared also by parents and employers.

Secondly, we are taking action on examinations. As the House will recall, we are establishing the general certificate of secondary education. It will serve the curriculum better than the examinations it replaces. It will put a new emphasis on understanding, on the application of knowledge, and on oral and practical skills. Through the development of grade criteria it will award grades only to those who attain the required standard in defined aspects of each subject. We shall introduce a new examination, the AS-level, to broaden the programme of students on A-level courses. The new certificate of pre-vocational education will offer a wide range of courses for other students over 16. We are working towards the establishment by the end of the decade of a national system of records of achievement for all school leavers which will record not only examination successes but other achievements at school.

Thirdly, we shall promote teaching quality by improving the professional effectiveness of teachers and the management of the teaching force. Better initial training will result from the reform of courses which the Government have already set in hand. We intend to make in-service training more effective by funding it through a specific grant to local education authorities. We shall seek an early opportunity to legislate for that change, as I informed the House last week.

We intend that it should be a condition of the grant that satisfactory arrangements are made for identifying and meeting the training needs of individuals and the service. Adequate arrangements for appraising the performance of each teacher are essential for the career development of individual teachers and for the good management of the teacher force. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I will seek powers to allow us to require local education authorities to make such arrangements if we consider such action necessary.

Fourthly, we shall develop the contribution that governing bodies can make to good school education. In the light of the response to the Green Paper "Parental Influence at School", the Government have decided, as soon as the legislative programme permits, to propose two measures to the House: first, to entrench the powers of governing bodies of county, controlled and maintained special schools in relation to the functions of the local education authority and the head teacher; secondly, to reform the composition of those governing bodies so that there can be an equal number of parent and LEA-appointed governors, and teachers and the local community will also be represented, with no single interest predominating.

The programme of action will take time to accomplish in its entirety. It may be difficult to achieve it in full within existing real levels of expenditure per pupil, but much progress can be made if the education service gets the most out of what is available. The more it succeeds, the stronger its future claim on resources.

Much of what needs to be done is neither a question of money nor of action by the Government alone. The education service is a partnership. Each partner has important responsibilities that the Government intend to preserve. Each can do his job effectively only with the help of the others. Co-operation and professional commitment have secured notable achievements and built up many strengths in our schools. The Government believe that co-operation and professional commitment will continue to be the norm within the education service. We believe that local education authorities, the Churches and other voluntary bodies, governors, teachers, parents, employers, and all others will join in the common endeavour to make standards of achievement and behaviour at every school as good as they can be and need to be in the interest of the pupils and our national future.

Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)

Does the Secretary of State accept that raising the levels of achievement of all our children is an objective that we in the Opposition strongly support? However, apart from the sensible decision to abandon his harebrained scheme to give parents a majority on governing bodies, can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what is new either in his statement or in the White Paper? In that document, we search in vain for the answer to the $64,000 question of whether the Secretary of State can deliver. Quite apart from the HMI reports, the Secretary of State himself admits that it may be difficult to achieve his programme. within existing real levels of expenditure per pupil. So why are the Government proposing to cut local authority education spending by 9 per cent. in real terms between 1984–85 and 1987–88, at a time when the number of pupils is estimated to fall by 5 per cent.? In short, the right hon. Gentleman is attempting the hopeless task of squeezing a quart out of a pint pot.

Is the Secretary of State further aware that his remarks about partnership ring very hollow in a week when half a million children's education is being disrupted by the teachers' dispute? [HON. MEMBERS: "Whose fault is that?"] Wait for it. The parents of those children will not understand why, instead of his empty words this afternoon, the right hon. Gentleman has not announced a new peace initiative. The truth is that the Secretary of State is fiddling while Rome burns.

Sir Keith Joseph

I am genuinely glad that there is an objective that both sides of the House share—to raise the achievements in behaviour, and in examinations at all levels of ability, of children at school.

It is extremely sad that teachers have chosen to disrupt the schooling of millions of children. The teacher unions seem to be in the business of rejecting. They rejected a pay offer. They rejected arbitration. They rejected—refused even to consider — a discussion on structure and appraisal.

The hon. Gentleman asked me about resources. In his comparison, he ignored two factors. First, he had not taken into account the share that education could expect of the unallocated margin. Secondly, for the later years to which he referred, he ignored the crucial point that the spending proposals for distribution between local authority services are provisional.

The hon. Gentleman asked me what the White Paper contains that is new. There are the notable initiatives—already decided and put into preparation by the Government — of improving teacher selection and teacher training, seeking agreement on the objectives of the curriculum, transforming the examination system and introducing records of achievement. All those initiatives, already announced, are drawn together in the White Paper so that people may understand the interaction between all the Government's proposals.

In addition, however, the White Paper announces the Government's decisions on AS-levels, on a massive extension of in-service training and on the readiness of the Government to ask Parliament for specific grant powers in connection with in-service training. The White Paper includes new announcements on the readiness of the Government, if necessary, to seek parliamentary authority—

Mr. Radice

The right hon. Gentleman has said that many times.

Sir Keith Joseph

This is the first time that the Government have formally announced that they will seek parliamentary authority for specific grant powers in connection with in-service training, with extra resources being provided, as announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. We confirm in the White Paper that we shall, if necessary, be ready to ask Parliament's authority to require LEAs to appraise teachers. Finally, there are a number of announcements in the White Paper on the governance of schools and on truancy. There is plenty of new material.

Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South-West)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there will he a special welcome for the additional funds for appropriate in-service training courses? Is that not further evidence of the Government's commitment to work with the teaching profession to ensure that the education service is backed by appropriate skills and training? If teachers want to retrain, the necessary funds will be available.

Sir Keith Joseph

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. There is much in the White Paper that teachers should welcome, including rendering in-service training more effective and increasing the resources for it.

Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)

I too welcome the in-service training provisions, but will the Secretary of State assure the House that the introduction of AS-levels will not further disadvantage children from small and under-funded sixth forms, and make it more difficult for them to enter tertiary education at the expense of those in the private sector?

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House that school governors — we welcome the fact that there will no longer be contention among them — will be properly trained? Will the right hon. Gentleman find money for that training, and will he assure us that it will not be taken from teachers' salaries?

Finally, the Secretary of State said that education is a partnership. That is something that few schoolmasters would currently agree with. Will the Secretary of State bear in mind the fact that it takes two to tango?

Sir Keith Joseph

I am only too eager to co-operate with teachers and local education authorities in pursuance of the objectives which the whole House shares. Higher education has responded to the consultation that it will not disadvantage those who have not had the opportunity to take AS-levels. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman welcomes the Government's decision on the governance of schools and I hope that it still ranks as what the hon. Gentleman has referred to as high-octane Liberal policy.

Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the White Paper presents a programme for education possibly as great and important as the Education Act 1944, when taken as a whole? Does he further agree that the teaching profession would be well advised not to listen to the weasel words from the Opposition Front Bench of the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice), who, I believe, does not mean what he said? Nor should they be advised to listen to the leadership of the National Union of Teachers and others who are sowing dissent and low morale in the teaching profession. Will my right hon. Friend encourage teachers to read the document and consider it carefully, as I think that they will find in it much that is rewarding?

Sir Keith Joseph

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Previous schools White Papers have rightly had to concentrate on scale and structure. This one addresses itself to the even harder questions of quality and effectiveness.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

When will the Secretary of State admit to himself and his party that, according to Her Majesty's Inspectorate, cuts in education are so horrific that schools all over the country have quite insufficient money to carry on with? Is he aware that the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts recently visited schools in fairly plush areas where the capitation allowance has been doubled by parents? Does he believe that, in working-class areas with massive unemployment, parents can give any money when their children do not receive a proper education? Is he aware that the struggle is going on partly because morale is so low?

Sir Keith Joseph

HMI also emphasised that the quality and effectiveness of management varies sharply between local education authorities and that there is much capacity for redeploying resources from less effective to more effective educational purposes. Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that spending in real terms per child at school is at record high levels? Will he also bear it in mind that the pupil-teacher ratio is at record low levels? Will he also bear it in mind that it is open to a local education authority to raise the capitation allowance—

Mr. Flannery

With rate capping?

Sir Keith Joseph

—where parents cannot be expected to provide as much help as those in more prosperous areas.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

Did I hear my right hon. Friend say that he would be asking Parliament to require a regular appraisal of teachers, thus linking pay and performance? If so, could that not go a long way towards overcoming the wicked strikes which damage children in special schools and those sitting examinations? Will he remind the Opposition that the Houghton award lost its value under a Labour Government between 1974 and 1979 and point out that it is high time their wicked hypocrisy ended?

Sir Keith Joseph

My hon. Friend has failed to notice that the Government's intention to legislate is expressed as "only if necessary" or some such words. We still hope that, sooner or later, teachers and their employers will reach a bargain on appraisal which will be good for education, negotiable and affordable. If they do not reach such a bargain before long, the Government have confirmed their intention to ask Parliament for authority to require local education authorities to appraise teachers. However, in that confirmation, there is no mention of the word "money."

Mr. Jack Ashley (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

Is the Secretary of State aware that there is a great deal to criticise in the statement and White Paper ? However, I warmly welcome his decision to reintroduce the mandatory requirement for specialist qualifications for teachers of deaf and blind children, and assure him that the all-party disablement group will warmly welcome that announcement and decision.

Sir Keith Joseph

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman and take his criticism as purely ritual.

Mrs. Angela Rumbold (Mitcham and Morden)

While I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement, will he tell the House, first, how he believes that it will improve teachers' morale; secondly, how it will enable local education authorities to operate more efficiently; and, thirdly, to what extent it will increase the professionalism of the education service for its customers—the children?

Sir Keith Joseph

To ease my hon. Friend's problems—I know that she will read the White Paper in full—a summary explaining all such matters has been produced and is extremely readable. In brief, there is much in the White Paper to raise teachers' morale, such as the confirmation of recognition of their central importance, an expansion of the network of in-service training, and the sort of unification of the exam systems which they have long wanted. There is plenty in the White Paper to improve the effectiveness of education, which we all want.

Mr. Derek Foster (Bishop, Auckland)

If the Secretary of State is really interested in the achievement of all our children, does he not realise that the motivation of teachers is absolutely crucial to teaching quality? Surely he must be aware that teaching morale is at an all-time low because of cuts in the education service and the continual denigration of their professionalism by the Secretary of State and his hon. Friends.

Sir Keith Joseph

I readily recognise that the changing trend of pupil numbers from expansion to contraction has entailed a great loss of promotion opportunities for teachers. I readily recognise that that has implications for morale, which is why it is so much in the teachers' interests to welcome the opportunities that could come to all effective teachers from an appraisal system, and why I think they are so misguided in wanting to retain the present informal appraisal system which is in existence, as they know, and in refusing to co-operate in designing a formal procedure for appraisal, which is enormously to their benefit.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Leeds, North-West)

Has my right hon. Friend noticed that not a single comment from the Opposition has been truly critical of the White Paper, so much is it in tune with the views within the education world of reasonable and thinking people? Will he also note that his White Paper is quite dramatic in that in many areas, such as the three examination changes and the specific grant for teacher training, he has at last done something which Labour Government after Labour Government under Lord Mulley and Shirley Williams could not bring themselves to do, just as they could not bring themselves to set up a youth training scheme? Regarding school governing bodies, will he say that the motivation of pupils depends on the involvement of parents, that parents should be the largest single element and that the local authority element must no longer dominate and be open to the political abuse that we have so often witnessed?

Sir Keith Joseph

I agree with all that my hon. Friend says. It should be a comfort to schools and teachers that the broad objectives of the White Paper are shared by both sides of the House.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)


Sir Keith Joseph

I have heard them approved by Front Bench representatives of the official Opposition. I recognise that the Opposition imagined that they would be able to spend more money on schools, although I think that that is just another sign of the never-never land in which they live. I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Jack Thompson (Wansbeck)

I have not had the opportunity to read the White Paper in depth, but one section which is of concern to me relates to the education of under-fives. That section states that, although the Government support the education of under-fives, they do not propose to spend more money on it. Is this not an area where more money should be spent? If that is a symptom of the entire White Paper, I cannot see how the education service will be vastly improved by it.

Sir Keith Joseph

I invite the hon. Gentleman to join the real world. There are not, and will not be under any Government, enormous new resources to spend on education. We are concentrating on the compulsory age range. That is why in the chapter about under-five education we undertake to maintain at least the present proportion of the population attending under-five schools and do not give false promises to extend it substantially.

Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside)

Will my right hon. Friend acknowledge that our schools represent an enormous national investment in terms of educational resources? Is he aware that many of those who have left school and who wish to achieve some of the educational qualifications which they lamentably failed to achieve when they were at school, now wish to have access to those resources? Will he confirm that continuing education will be included in discussions on the White Paper, so that the nation might get a better return from the investment of those educational resources?

Sir Keith Joseph

Yes, although it is outside the age bracket addressed by the White Paper. The Government are concerned with, and will be formulating proposals in connection with the wider access to, continuing education.

Mr. Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

The Secretary of State said that this is not only a question of money, but he must agree that it is crucially a question of teachers being able to implement his proposals. Does he understand that teachers all over the country feel under-valued and let down by the Government? The Government are, rightly, asking them to do a challenging and difficult job, but with fewer resources, less capitation—whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say—in buildings that are less well maintained, and for wholly inadequate pay. Is it not about time that the Secretary of State recognised that money is an essential ingredient in implementing any proposals for education? Is it not about time that he fought for the education service? His colleagues in other Departments are prepared to fight for their budgets. Why does he not show the education profession that he is prepared to fight for the investment mentioned by the hon. Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin)?

Sir Keith Joseph

I recognise that teachers have a hard job, but I ask the hon. Gentleman to recognise, too, that many schools around the country are islands of excellence in which, in conditions completely comparable to those schools where there is less excellence, teachers manage to produce remarkably effective results in behaviour and in academic performance. What that minority of schools can do can be done throughout the system, and that is what the White Paper addresses itself to.

Mr. J. F. Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his White Paper will be widely welcomed, especially by parents, who will have a much bigger say on governing bodies? Will he say something about how teacher assessment will work, and the role that headmasters and the governing bodies will play in that assessment?

Sir Keith Joseph

The Government have set aside £1 million of taxpayers' money to run a series of experiments in appraisal, so that the most suitable system can be judged. I imagine that when appraisal is, as it is bound to be, introduced, it will be subject to discussion among the local education authorities, teachers and the holder of my office. Differing combinations of assessors will be involved, including headmasters, heads of department, peers of the teacher, each judging reciprocally, and no doubt representatives of the employers. The pilot schemes are intended to judge the best combination.

Mr. Ken Eastham (Manchester, Blackley)

The Secretary of State referred to assessing teachers, but will he consider giving teachers the opportunity to make an assessment of the Department of Education on the resources that it is providing for teachers to do their job? Will he comment on the special problems of inner cities where there is high poverty, many one-parent families, children who are underfed and a lack of the other normal things that are essential to education? What special additional assistance will the Secretary of State he giving to such areas?

Sir Keith Joseph

There is a system available by which teachers as citizens make judgment on the Department of Education—it is called a general election. As for inner-city children, it is because the opportunities of children depend so much on the quality of schools that I once again say that it was wicked of the Labour Government to abolish direct grant schools.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Will my right hon. Friend accept that the vast majority of people both in and outside the House will be pleased with the White Paper and his statement? Does he agree that highly qualified teachers in specialities in which there is a shortage, such as maths, science and design, can only be properly awarded when there is a proper structure for their appraisal, and the same applies to those in scale 1 whose promotion prospects have been dimmed by the falling rolls?

Sir Keith Joseph

I agree, although the problem of recruiting potentially skilled teachers in shortage subjects for which there is a great deal of demand in the world of commerce—such as maths, physics, craft design and technology — will be difficult, although slightly less difficult once the appraisal system is in being.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

Does not the Secretary of State understand that, in each of the sectors that he has announced, additional academic, scholastic and organisational burdens will be placed on teachers, particularly in respect of his legislation for compulsory formal assessment? Does he agree that any real partnership requires confidence, and that the spread of excellence of which he speaks can be achieved only by co-ordination and not coercion? Does not his attitude to teachers and the fact that he has produced this booklet this afternoon show that he does not understand this, does not understand the teaching service and therefore should not have introduced the White Paper at this of all times, when schools are in chaos?

Sir Keith Joseph

I marvel that the hon. Gentleman, whose sincerity I do not impugn, could have spoken at such length without mentioning children.

Mr. Spearing

That is what it is all about.

Sir Keith Joseph

Exactly — the White Paper is addressed to the needs of children.

Mr. Peter Lilley (St. Albans)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there will be great support for the £100 million available for in-service training but that there will be some surprise that as much as half of it should be absorbed by covering for teachers having this break during normal teaching hours, especially as, in my area, the majority of teachers carry out their in-service training during the holidays or after school hours? If this practice were followed throughout the country, there would be twice as much available for in-service training for the sum that the Department can provide.

Sir Keith Joseph

My hon. Friend may have a point, and in-service training is conducted in holidays as well as in term time and at weekends. Some compensation for the employment of relief teachers is a necessary part of the programme.

Mr. Skinner

Is it not a measure of this Government's attitude to the teaching profession and to education generally that, at a time when the education system is in turmoil due to the Government's actions in refusing to pay the teachers a proper wage, the right hon. Gentleman introduces this White Paper as a cover? Is it not also worth noting that the teachers are striving to make up for lost ground during the six years of this Tory Government, and that compares with the fact that he, as the Secretary of State, and the rest of the Cabinet in one of their first acts when they came to power, made up the lost ground in their own salary while depriving teachers? Why does he not pay the teachers their money and get the education system back on the rails?

Sir Keith Joseph

Let me correct the hon. Gentleman. Teachers lost the full benefit of the 1974 award before the Labour Government left office in 1979. The real value of their pay has gone up 9 per cent. since 1979. Those are the facts.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that parents must welcome this new approach because the standard of education has given them considerable concern in the past? I draw his attention to the system of appraisal, which, although it will be difficult to establish, is necessary because at the moment there is little difference in pay between the highly qualified teachers and unqualified teachers. Is my right hon. Friend aware of the recent incident in which a child who condemned the action of teachers who went on strike was disciplined by the school?

Sir Keith Joseph

I agree with my hon. Friend's last reference, which is a sad one. I marvel that Opposition Members, while in general welcoming the purpose of the White Paper, made far less fuss than I would have expected about the wide range of under-achievement. Masses of children under-achieve their potential and I should have thought that there would have been far more emphasis from the Opposition about that. Our desire, like theirs, is to put that right; that is a common bond that I welcome.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. This is an important Back Bench day. I shall call as many hon. Members who are rising as possible, but I should like to bring the questions on this statement to an end by quarter past four because there is another statement. Those hon. Members whom I have not been able to call may be able to catch my eye in the subsequent debate on the Easter adjournment motion.

Mr. Alan Howarth (Stratford-on-Avon)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there will be widespread appreciation of, and respect for, the strategy of better schools that he has set out, as expressing his and the Government's particular concern for the relatively disadvantaged in our society? In this respect, is he aware that there will be particular appreciation of the emphasis placed on grade criteria, records of achievement and more practical orientation for some pupils of curricula and examinations?

Sir Keith Joseph

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that discriminating praise.

Mr. Nigel Forman (Carshalton and Wallington)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it would be easier to make a good assessment of what we believe to be a sound White Paper if we could have a debate on it? Will he support a call for such a debate?

Sir Keith Joseph

I should welcome such a debate. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal has heard what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes)

From my right hon. Friend's description of the White Paper, it sounds positive and extremely exciting. He spoke about education for the under-fives earlier. Can he reassure the House that the present study of education for the under-fives, which is due to report in the autumn, will not be overlooked and that action on it will not be denied by the contents of the White Paper?

Sir Keith Joseph

I welcome praise, even when it is followed by a "but". We take the effective education of the under-fives seriously, but we cannot undertake to find more resources for them. We shall certainly study any evidence produced about how it can be made more effective.

Dr. Ian Twinn (Edmonton)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, contrary to the posture taken by the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice), the White Paper will be welcomed in the country and in the world of education? In considering the content of the curricula in schools, will he give the House an assurance that more emphasis will be given to the role of wealth creation in society, so that there is in schools a climate in which the culture of wealth education can survive and flourish?

Sir Keith Joseph

Indeed, the Government regard it as an important ingredient to try to inject into the school system and into higher and further education.

Mr. Robert Hicks (Cornwall, South-East)

I welcome this confirmation of our educational objectives. How does my right hon. Friend hope to resolve the fundamental dilemma, which has existed for a long time, of finding sufficient resources at a time of financial restraints, when we require to attract and sustain the quality teaching force that we all hope to have within the state sector?

Sir Keith Joseph

Yes, it can partly be achieved by more effective deployment of the massive resources that the education system already has. There will come a time when no doubt that will be fully exploited, when more resources may prove to be necessary. Plenty can be done within existing resources if they are sensibly used.

Mr. Richard Tracey (Surbiton)

My right hon. Friend is to be congratulated upon his sensitive consultation on the enhanced responsibilities of school governors. However, is he satisfied that he has hit the median line between on the one hand governors simply rubber-stamping the views of the local authority and on the other hand parents holding the rest of the ratepayers to ransom?

Sir Keith Joseph

I searched the country for supporters of my proposal for parental governor majorities but found so few friends that I had to strike a compromise—which I believe will be effective.

Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)

At one stage the Secretary of State described his proposals as broad, balanced and relevant, but is not the opposite the truth? Will they not be more restrictive? The Secretary of State is taking greater central Government control over curriculum, in-service training, what is taught by teachers and the appraisal of teachers. When that is coupled with control over teachers' jobs, pay and conditions of service and with the cuts because of the rate capping of local education authorities, it can only mean in reality a deterioration in the standards of education generally. The current education policy is not relevant. Youngsters are not being educated for work because the jobs are not there; nor are they being educated in life skills.

Sir Keith Joseph

How can the hon. Gentleman speak of an assault upon teachers' jobs, when teachers have one of the most secure jobs in the country?

Mr. Radice

What about redundancies?

Sir Keith Joseph

Voluntary redundancies. If the holder of my office does not venture a view on the curriculum, who else can lead the partnership towards more agreed objectives? As for jobs, the function of the schools in preparing children for the world of work and for being independent, or perhaps employers, as well as developing their cultural potential is part of the several parallel strands that are necessary to get this country once again more fully employed.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels (Leicester, East)

Will my right hon. Friend accept that his statement and the White Paper are much welcomed by Conservative Members? His reference to governors and to the fact that local authorities will not have majority control is also to be welcomed. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, while trying to make schools better than they are now, the best course to take would be either to make all teachers subject to the Employment Protection Acts or to give them not the right to strike?

Sir Keith Joseph

I should be interested to know how my hon. Friend thinks one could achieve his last point.

Mr. Eric Cockeram (Ludlow)

Is it not the case that the greatest obstacle to raising teaching standards has been the attitude of the leadership of the National Union of Teachers, which has repeatedly shown itself to be more interested in disrupting education through strikes than in rewarding excellence? Will the Secretary of State therefore welcome the initiative of the more moderate teachers' unions which seek to co-operate in raising standards?

Sir Keith Joseph

Yes, heartily, but I must in fairness say that the National Union of Teachers has expressed interest—indeed, a desire for some system of appraisal, so there may be some common ground, despite the present discontent.

Mr. Gerald Bowden (Dulwich)

May I give a special welcome to the requirement that schools should make a statement of their aims and educational objectives? This would, I believe, harness the efforts of the teachers, the aspirations of parents and the interests of the children to a common end. May I ask the Secretary of State to give an assurance that such a statement of aims will be put in plain English which can be understood by everybody and not wrapped up in arcane educational jargon?

Sir Keith Joseph

Yes. As an example, I should like schools to accept such new objectives as something like Wordsworth and word processing

Mr. Michael Stern (Bristol, North-West)

May I thank my right hon. Friend for that section of the White Paper which lays down new guidelines for minimum sizes of schools? In particular, will he in due course pay attention to the problems caused in certain areas by authorities laying down unrealistic sizes of school entry forms which mean that those schools remain under-subscribed while adjoining schools are over-subscribed?

Sir Keith Joseph

I suspect that my hon. Friend is hoeing a local furrow, but I agree with him.

Mr. Tony Baldry (Banbury)

With the introduction of AS-levels, will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity to publish a simple guide for employers which will set out the role of and the differences between O-levels, A-levels, AS-levels, S-levels, CSE, GCE, 16-plus, 17-plus, CPVE, GCSE, BTEC, TVEI and YTS?

Sir Keith Joseph

I appreciate the enjoyment my hon. Friend has had in asking that question, but I have to tell him that the days of CSE and O-levels are numbered.

Mr. Tony Favell (Stockport)

Even though next to the bottom of the class, may I congratulate my right hon. Friend upon the great concern that he has shown for the deaf, the blind and those suffering from partial hearing by refusing to accept the ACSET report, even though it would have saved money, and instead for having listened to those who really know about these matters — the parents of children who suffer from this kind of affliction and those who devote their lives to teaching them?

Sir Keith Joseph

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, but the world of the deaf and the blind is very articulate.

Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Bristol, East)

I welcome my right hon. Friend's brave initiative, but does the White Paper address practical, technical and vocational training for children so as to fit them for the world of work?

Sir Keith Joseph

The technical and vocational education initiative is now at the pilot stage in a majority of local education authorities. The intention is that the extra money for in-service training should be used primarily for TVEI-related disciplines precisely in order to provide a larger pool of teachers with skills to teach the subjects which my hon. Friend has in mind.

Mr. Radice

Is the Secretary of State aware that he has confirmed this afternoon that there is little new in the White Paper? Is he also aware that he has confirmed that educational expenditure by local authorities will fall by 9 per cent. in real terms over the next three years? Incidentally, contrary to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, the last two years do not include the unallocated margin, a point which he always tries to raise. It is also a bit thick for the Secretary of State to claim credit for the Clegg award, as I heard him do this afternoon —[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, he did. Cannot the Secretary of State understand that there is no way in which he can achieve his plans without the support of the teaching profession? I repeat that the time is right for the Secretary of State to take an initiative in the teachers' dispute.

Sir Keith Joseph

The hon. Gentleman is still wrong. The last two years of his comparisons ignore the fact that the figures for distribution of expenditure are, explicitly, on a provisional basis. Why should not the Conservative Government take credit for the Clegg award, which was paid during our time in office? Of course the teachers are partners. Effective education cannot conceivably be delivered without effective teachers. It is in order to improve the effectiveness of teachers that much of this White Paper is addressed. The hon. Gentleman often shows evidence of generosity, but in this case he is being very grudging.