HC Deb 02 May 1989 vol 152 cc11-3
9. Mr. Matthew Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many licensed teachers he estimates will be recruited in the next two academic years.

Mr. Butcher

The number of licensed teachers will depend on the suitability of candidates presenting themselves for licensed teacher status and the extent to which local education authorities and school governing bodies wish to appoint them.

Mr. Taylor

Does the Minister agree that the most suitable people to help in teaching are those who are already there, but that they are being forced out of education because of the lack of morale under the Government and the difficulties with pay and conditions and with operating under the various changes that the Government have introduced? Would it not be better to tackle those things and to start talking to teachers once again through some proper machinery instead of trying to introduce failed and under-qualified ex-executives into teaching?

Mr. Butcher

Teachers' pay has increased by 40 per cent. in the past three years. In looking for signs about whether morale is improving or otherwise, the House will recognise that the response of the teaching profession to the major reform of GCSE and the extent to which teachers are opting for training, with enthusiasm, on the national curriculum are not signs of a profession that is demoralised. We have a great deal of hope for the future but, of course, we want to continue to address the difficulties of geographical and subject teacher shortages.

Mr. Patrick Thompson

In connection with the recruitment of teachers and other related issues, and bearing in mind that the voice of teachers is divided between at least four unions, will my hon. Friend and his colleagues look again at the idea of a professional teachers council to represent and to raise the professional standards of teachers in every way?

Mr. Butcher

That idea has been mooted fairly often in the past few years. Some teachers in the profession would like an organisation that would speak for them as a professional body and not as a politicised, unionised body. That issue is still open. Either through ignorance or otherwise some of the teachers' unions have made assertions on the subject of licensed teachers which are quite untrue. At the moment, graduates without initial teacher training represent about 7 per cent. of qualified teachers in secondary schools and 39 per cent. of teachers in secondary schools are not graduates. What we propose will do nothing to dilute the professionalism of the profession.

Mr. Straw

Will it be possible for applicants who have completed two years of higher education but who have failed their teaching practice on either a BEd or a PGCE course to be eligible for licensed teacher status?

Mr. Butcher

Let us assume that such an individual has an HND, which is not a graduation in the strict sense of the word. That person would be eligible to do two years' teacher training in a school. Only if he satisfies those who must assess him for that can he enter into the profession. I am not aswering an unequivocal "yes" to the hon. Gentleman's question. I would like to look at it in a little further detail and write to him. But everyone has to have two years' higher education, O-level GCSE in English and maths and two years' training in the schools. I would have thought that those were all excellent proposals.

Mr. Gerald Bowden

Considering the difficulty of recruiting suitably qualified people in the teaching profession, can my hon. Friend confirm the reports that the city technology college in Nottingham, which had advertised 13 teacher posts, has had over 900 teachers expressing interest in them and 250 firm applications?

Does this not suggest that, where the school regime is right, teachers will want to go there?

Mr. Butcher

I say to anyone who has any doubts about the ethos and efficacy of CTCs that they should go to Nottingham and talk to that excellent head and director. He is going to build and staff an inner-city school which will change the life chances of inner-city children. That is what CTCs are all about. He is making those children fit for the world of work and they will be whole men and women into the bargain.