HC Deb 04 April 1989 vol 150 cc11-2
11. Mr. Wallace

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has any plans to provide additional resources for teacher recruitment.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

My Department's action programme includes bursaries, in-service training, the teaching as a career unit and new publicity, which has amounted to over £51 million in the last three years. That programme will continue and will be extended.

Mr. Wallace

Is the Secretary of State willing to accept that there are still acute shortages in subjects such as maths and physics and that in the last two years his bursary scheme has reached target only once in one subject? Does that not represent a failure? Is it not a fact that far more resources are required if people are to be brought into teaching, not least in subjects such as maths and physics, in which there exist important and serious shortages?

Mr. Baker

Last year saw record figures for the intake of trainees into initial teacher training. The number of applications for the autumn of this year show an increase of 10 per cent. over the number last year. I accept, however, that there are difficulties in the subjects to which the hon. Gentleman referred—in maths, physics, technology and chemistry—and that is why I have extended the bursary scheme to chemistry trainee teachers.

Mr. Baldry

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the deciding factor in whether a sufficient number of people come forward is the way in which the profession portrays itself? To that end, does he agree that every teacher should take cognisance of the advice given by June Fisher, president of the National Union of Teachers, that teachers should stop whingeing and moaning and should take a pride in making a success of the Government's education reforms?

Mr. Baker

My hon. Friend is right. Far too many people at the teacher conferences last week were talking down their profession. We want to extend the opportunities for qualified people to become teachers. That is why we are putting forward our proposal for licensed teachers, a proposal which is being widely welcomed by many Labour local education authorities. It is absolutely absurd to believe that people who are qualified—who have had two years in higher education and experience in business—should not come into the teaching profession.

Mr. Fatchett

When will the Secretary of State recognise that we are now faced with acute teacher shortages in our schools? When will he also recognise that morale is at an all-time low in the teaching profession? How does he think he will be able to attract more people into the profession when this year he has imposed a cut in real living standards on teachers? When will he stop kicking teachers around?

Mr. Baker

In the recently completed advertising campaign we received over 8,000 applications from people seeking to be teachers. The numbers going to initial teacher training later this year are up by nearly 10 per cent. compared with last year. As for attracting people into the profession, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will welcome our proposal for licensed teachers, because many Labour education authorities are welcoming them.