HC Deb 14 October 1991 vol 196 cc66-7W
Mr. Spearing

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what evidence he requested from Her Majesty's inspectorate of schools concerning the objectives of the statutory probationary year for teachers, prior to his decision to abandon the requirement; what replies he received; and if he will place them in the Library;

(2) what observations he has received from Her Majesty's inspectors of schools concerning aspects of the teachers' probationary year; and what consequent actions he has taken;

(3) what have been the common criteria by which Her Majesty's inspectors assess the success of teachers in their probationary year; what means he proposes to ensure similar criteria are applied in future training; and by whom such criteria will be applied.

Mr. Eggar

Her Majesty's inspectorate gives my right hon. and learned Friend independent advice on all matters relating to teachers and their work. Under the current statutory arrangements HMI does not itself assess probationary teachers, or decide whether they have completed the probationary period satisfactorily. This is a matter for LEAs and for the governing bodies of grant-maintained schools.

Mr. Spearing

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what representations he has received concerning the desirability of abandoning the statutory probationary year for new teachers; and if he will place copies of any such representations in the Library;

(2) what consultations he has had concerning the significance and efficacy of the statutory probationary year required before qualification as a registered school teacher, prior to his decision to abandon this requirement;

(3) what statutory obligation he intends to introduce concerning the obligations of school heads and their staff to teachers joining their schools immediately subsequent to completion of training courses;

(4) what are the steps he intends to take to put into effect his proposal to abandon the one-year probationary period of new teachers in schools prior to their full qualification.

Mr. Eggar

My right hon. and learned Friend intends to improve the present arrangements for the transition of teachers from students to experienced professionals. Initial teacher training will be made more responsive to the needs of schools, and a new specific grant will be available in 1992–93 to stimulate initiatives in induction of new teachers. Regular cycles of appraisal for school teachers are already statutory requirements, and the delegation of staffing powers to individual schools gives governors a greater incentive, in the last resort, to take action under normal employment law where performance is plainly unsatisfactory.

Against this background, my right hon. and learned Friend has concluded that statutory arrangements for school teacher probation are unnecessary, and has proposed that they should come to an end with effect from 1 September 1992. He is currently consulting all those with an interest, including the employers, the teacher unions and the initial teacher training institutions. Copies of the Department's letter, which invites comments by 22 November, have been placed in the Library.