HC Deb 04 April 1989 vol 150 cc10-1
9. Mr. Patnick

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what has been the change in the ratio of pupil-teacher numbers over the last five years for which figures are available.

Mr. Butcher

The overall pupil-teacher ratio in maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools has improved from 17.9 in January 1984 to 17 in January 1988. There are now more teachers relative to pupils than ever before.

Mr. Patnick

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. Would he care to comment on the initial teacher training recruitment, which is vital if the trend established under the present Government is to continue?

Mr. Butcher

Yes, I should like to report to the House on initial teacher training, but before I do so let me give the House some new information. We have received a massive response to our recent advertising campaign, and more than 8,000 people have expressed an interest in teaching as a career. Surely that gives the lie to the assertion that those who wish to enter the teaching profession are being deterred by alleged demoralisation in the profession.

Recruitment to ITT reached a record in 1988; it was up by 5 per cent. on recruitment in 1987. Primary recruitment was up by 12 per cent. Secondary recruitment was down, but by only 250 students; the underlying trend is still upward.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Of the 8,000 people to whom the Minister referred, how many were interested in teaching science, maths, combined technology and similar subjects? Does he have evidence to show that the Government's recruitment drive is solving the shortage of teachers in those subjects?

Mr. Butcher

I do not have a breakdown of subjects of interest referenced by those 8,000 responses. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the figures from the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers he will find that there was a higher placement of teachers of maths and science than was the case for teaching in the generality. The fact is that many people are looking for a job in the profession. There are geographical difficulties and differences in standards of living in different regions, and we are aware of them, but I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman would care to talk to his ex-colleagues in the teachers' unions about, for example, regional pay.