HC Deb 21 March 1995 vol 257 cc136-7
11. Mr. Butler

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what is the average number of hours worked (a) per day and (b) per week by classroom teachers in (i) primary and (ii) secondary schools during term-time. [13252]

Mr. Forth

The work load survey, based on teachers' own returns and carried out for the School Teachers Review Body, showed that the average total hours worked by full-time classroom teachers during a term time week in March 1994 was 48.8 hours for primary teachers and 48.9 hours for secondary teachers. Data are not available on a daily basis.

Mr. Butler

Does my hon. Friend agree that those figures show, yet again, just how hard teachers work and fully justify the Government's decision to increase their salaries by just short of 40 per cent. in the past five years and to allow in full this year's pay recommendation? Does he share my regret that parents, teachers and governors have been forced to lobby Parliament today because local education authorities continue to spend on discretionary and politically correct measures rather than fund properly, with the money that they have available, the full teachers' pay settlement?

Mr. Forth

I am glad to join my hon. Friend in praising good teaching by good teachers. I agree that to concentrate simply on the number of hours worked reveals only part of the picture: it is the effectiveness of those hours which matters. My hon. Friend is absolutely correct about LEA spending. It is interesting that a number of LEAs have been able to order their priorities in such a way that they have been able to meet the teachers' pay rise in full and to continue to provide well for their pupils and schools. If all authorities approached funding in that manner, we would not have to witness the artificial hysteria that has been generated in some quarters.

Mr. Battle

Is not the truth that teachers have been totally demoralised as a direct result of 17 years of the Government's education policy? Today's lobby of Parliament, which has brought together teachers, governors and concerned parents, should be listened to by the Government, because they are withdrawing capital funds from local authorities to repair schools and they are undermining those authorities' ability to pay the wage bill. Why are the Government shuffling off their responsibilities, as usual?

Mr. Forth

I am slightly surprised by the hon. Gentleman's assertions for two principal reasons. First, it is certainly true that teachers' worth has been recognised in the pay increases that they have received under this Government, under whom they have done extremely well—and rightly so, I believe. Average teachers' pay, after 1 April 1995, will be £22,200 per annum. That amply rewards the contribution that they are able to make.

As for the hon. Gentleman's second assertion that the pay awards cannot be met, he obviously did not listen to my earlier reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, North-East (Mr. Butler), in which I pointed out that a number of authorities, including many controlled by the Labour party, have found it possible to fund the teachers' pay award in full. I welcome that.