HC Deb 19 January 1988 vol 125 cc629-30W
70. Mr. Nicholas Bennett

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the Government's policy on the initial training of teachers.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I recognise the importance of initial teacher training for the quality of teaching in schools. We are therefore concerned to develop a high quality, robust and cost-effective training system.

In 1984, the then Secretaries of State published detailed criteria against which initial teacher training courses would be assessed for approval, and established the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education to review initial teacher training courses and advise on whether they met the criteria. In carrying out its task, the council is able to take into account reports of Her Majesty's inspectorate which are being made on all the initial teacher training institutions concerned.

I have recently asked the members of the council to continue to serve until the end of 1989. I shall be considering what arrangements should thereafter be made for the approval of initial teacher training courses.

My right hon. Friend and I periodically review the total numbers of students to be admitted to initial teacher training courses, and the distribution of these numbers between the university sector and the polytechnics and colleges sector, between primary and secondary courses and, within secondary courses, between different subjects taking into account inter alia the pattern of the existing teaching force and the forecast requirements of the maintained system. The most recent review covered intakes for the period 1987–89.

Target entry numbers for initial teacher training institutions in England and Wales have already been established for 1988 and 1989. For later years, my right hon. Friend and I propose that intakes for 1990 should be determined for that year alone in order to allow for the conduct of a major planning exercise to cover intakes for the three years 1991 to 1993. This arrangement will allow fuller account to be taken of the teacher requirements of the national curriculum in the light of consultation on the attainment targets and programmes of study for the core and foundation subjects which may be recommended by subject working groups as and when they are established. It will also ensure that the new Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council and Universities Funding Council., as well as the Wales Advisory Body, will be able to play their appropriate parts.

My right hon. Friend and I plan to bring forward early next year proposals for intakes to initial teacher training for the year 1990 which will then be subject to discussion with those concerned, including teacher training institutions, the funding councils and the Wales Advisory Body as appropriate. We would expect to bring forward proposals for the three-year period 1991 to 1993 as a basis for consultation early in 1990.