HC Deb 14 June 1994 vol 244 cc510-1
11. Ms Estelle Morris

To ask the Secretary of State for Education when he expects the publication of the results of the pilot scheme on school-based teacher training.

Mr. Patten

I understand that Ofsted intends to publish a report on the first year of the school-centred initial training scheme in spring 1995. I and my ministerial colleagues have been most impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of the schools involved and the popularity of the scheme with students.

Ms Morris

Is not the pilot project a sham? By the time the results are published, legislation promoting school-centred teacher training will already be on the statute book. Would not a sensible Government have waited for the results of the pilot project before railroading legislation through Parliament?

Mr. Patten

That is entirely wrong and an insult to the schools, many of them state maintained and not grant maintained, which are collaborating cheerfully and vigorously with this important new scheme for training teachers where they are best trained. To my mind, that is at the chalkface—in the classroom. It is at the suggestion of Ofsted that its report should be published next year, in the spring of 1995, so that the first year's experience and the first term's experience of full-time teaching by those excellent students can be examined.

Mr. Evennett

Does my right hon. Friend agree that schools should have a major role in devising and running teacher training? Does he also agree that we need the very best trained teachers to meet the demands of the future?

Mr. Patten

I agree entirely. My hon. Friend sets great store by the Teacher Training Agency once, should Parliament decide, it is set up, under the chairmanship-designate of an extremely distinguished schoolteacher, the high master of Manchester grammar school. Upon appointment, he has suffered the most vicious personal attack from the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) and I think that she will come to rue that attack.

12. Mr. Pickthall

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what information he has on the number of schools and the number of students participating in teacher education partnership schemes.

Mr. Robin Squire

All courses of initial teacher training for secondary teachers provided by higher education institutions must be run in partnership with schools from this September, and all courses for primary teachers from September 1996. Some 60,000 students are currently on courses of initial teacher training; information on the number of schools involved is not centrally collected.

Mr. Pickthall

Is the Minister aware of the large number of problems being valiantly tackled by the current partnerships arising from the increasingly school-centred nature of teacher education? Does he agree that until those problems are resolved and the whole system has been assessed, it is sheer folly to pass the current Education Bill, which will extend that mode of education? Is not he convinced, as the Opposition are, that the policy being pursued in that Bill represents hope arising out of prejudice rather than policy based on available data which the Government are ignoring?

Mr. Squire

I reject the hon. Member's allegations. As he well knows from our mutual membership of the Standing Committee considering the Education Bill, the proportion of courses, both currently and in the immediate future, which will be school centred represent a small percentage of total teacher training. I agree with the hon. Member in one respect, because I pay tribute to the importance of the partnerships between higher education and schools that exist and will continue to exist.

Mr. Hawkins

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is enormous demand from parents for better trained teachers so that all teachers come up to the highest standards of the many thousands of good teachers already in schools? One of the saddest things to note has been the independent analysis which shows that up to one third of newly qualified teachers are not competent. That is why I suggest that there is a demand from parents for better trained teachers. Our policy will produce that.

Mr. Squire

The Government share my hon. Friend's concern about raising the standards of teaching. That is why we have established the Teacher Training Agency as a dedicated body, which will bring together all the strands of teacher training which were previously the responsibility of four different bodies.

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