HC Deb 30 January 1990 vol 166 cc142-3
1. Mr. Hunter

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what measures are being taken to improve initial teacher training in the area of classroom experience.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Alan Howarth)

On 1 January the Government introduced revised criteria for the approval of initial teacher training courses. The requirements for school experience have been strengthened. This autumn we shall be piloting the articled teacher scheme, in which more than four fifths of the training course will take place in schools. I am pleased to say to my hon. Friend that his own local authority, Hampshire, is participating in one of the pilot schemes.

Mr. Hunter

I warmly applaud the Government's commitment to improve initial teacher training, but may I ask my hon. Friend to take matters a stage further? Does he accept the proposition that in no circumstances should any teacher be granted qualified status unless he or she has first demonstrated in the classroom that he or she is capable of doing the job of teaching?

Mr. Howarth

I readily accept my hon. Friend's proposition. We have made it a rule that no qualification attracting qualified teacher status should be awarded unless the student has demonstrated a satisfactory standard of teaching in the classroom. That means that the student will have to show that he or she can keep order and manage children in the classroom and can teach in such a manner that children learn effectively.

Mr. Flannery

What an alarming lack of knowledge about teachers Conservative Members show. The Education Reform Act 1988 does not even apply to the private sector. The Government have imposed it on the public sector, yet it has nothing to do with the sector in which they are involved. How can the Minister advance the cause of children and teaching by putting in front of a class a so-called licensed teacher▀×someone who has never taught a class? Are not the Government demeaning our children and our teachers by that dreadful Act and by their sheer ignorance of teaching children?

Mr. Howarth

The hon. Gentleman all too frequently chides us for not doing enough, in his view, to increase the supply of teachers. The licensed teachers scheme is a new initiative that will encourage mature entrants--people who have been doing something else in life, who decide that they would like to teach. Many valuable recruits will be brought into teaching in that way. There will, of course, be a carefully designed teacher training package, individually designed to suit the particular licensed teacher. The scheme will be arranged between local education authorities and the schools in question and am pleased to note that more than half the local education authorities in Britain dissent strongly from the hon. Gentleman's view and have applied to us for funding under the scheme.

Mr. Thornton

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a vast amount of experience in the classrooms in our schools and that more ways should be found of utilising that classroom experience in initial teacher training? Will he give an undertaking that he will look into that, with a view to allowing opportunities for career development for teachers, so that their classroom experience can be used in our initial teacher training colleges?

Mr. Howarth

As I mentioned earlier, we have strengthened the requirements for classroom experience. The new criteria that we have published for the accreditation of teacher education strongly insist that there should be an increased element of practical classroom experience for trainee student teachers. Therefore, there will necessarily be a close working relationship between teacher training institutions and schools. It is for them to develop the flexible pattern that meets their own requirements. The fact that there should be a close working association between teacher training institutions and schools is not in doubt and we have insisted that those who teach and lecture in teacher training institutions should have no less than one full term's teaching experience every five years to update their experience.