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Column 92reasons has left and done something else and then wishes to enter teaching in their 30s. At the moment, they can do that and I would not want to exclude them, but the suggestion of two years is not a loophole to include anyone who has not been trained in higher education.
Mr. Straw : I am glad to have that assurance. I also asked the Secretary of State whether the qualification that those people attain will be a graduate qualification. Will it be a degree, and how will it be validated?
Mr. Baker : They will be given qualified teacher status. They will not be studying for a PGCE, so they will not achieve graduate status, but in virtually all cases they will be graduates in another subject. But I shall move on to that point in my proposal for articled teachers, which are quite separate from licensed teachers. In all respects the new route is more rigorous than the present arrangements whereby an LEA can recommend anyone for qualified teacher status, without a minimum level of education being stipulated and without any further training being provided. The advantage is that someone who wishes to make a career change will not have to go back to college for a year--which can be very off-putting. They will be trained in post, but the training will be explicit and rigorous. Licensed teachers will bring with them valuable experience from outside the profession. It is quite wrong to suggest that they will dilute the quality of the profession, as I hear was said at the teacher union conferences. That is an insult to people with important skills to offer whom we need to attract. It is also quite wrong to describe them as teachers on the cheap. In fact, licensed teachers will not come cheap, since to provide training in post while paying a salary and providing cover where needed will require a commitment of resources. We recognise that. The training of licensed teachers is already eligible for grant under the LEA training grants scheme, and I am considering what more is required.
We know that we need to increase the number of good teachers. We know that there are people out there who want to be teachers--good people with valuable experience. We also know that it is hard to insist that someone in mid-career should return to college for a year. The licensed teacher scheme squares that circle. It is one small but important measure towards ensuring that we obtain a sufficient number of high-quality, well trained and well qualified teachers, and I invite the Opposition to support it.
I now turn to the proposal for articled teachers, which has developed from a series of proposals that were put to me when I visited teacher training colleges, universities and polytechnics. I want to do more to attract into teaching graduates who want to train in schools but do not want to spend another year in college taking a PGCE. It is aimed at young graduates of 20, 21 or 22 who have studied three years of physics, French, history or English and do not wish to take a PGCE course in college, although that option will continue to be available.
We have been discussing with teacher trainers, chief education officers and heads a new experimental type of course for what my senior chief inspector has called "articled" teachers. Those students will do two years of school- based training. They will be doing actual teaching for much of the time. The money they get will reflect that. They will also enrol at a teacher training college which will
Column 93award them a PGCE when they complete their training. I shall be inviting bids from LEAs and teacher training colleges jointly for pilot schemes to start in September 1990.
The students will get a balance of practical experience and training in teaching methods. Most of their training will be done by teachers in the school. I shall be monitoring the scheme closely. LEAs and teacher trainers have welcomed the scheme. They agree with me that new forms of teacher training are needed and that we must be flexible in considering them.
Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster) : I am sure that my right hon. Friend has read the quite outstanding report by HMI on St. Martin's teacher training college. That college always gets an outstanding report. If it were to apply for the scheme, I trust that it would stand a good chance of getting it.
Mr. Baker : I know where it is, and it is a very good teacher training college. We would envisage that the young graduates in other subjects would be taken on in schools and paid a salary. They would also enrol at a college so that they could do some of the theoretical and background work of a teacher training course. That would last for two years, and would attract many people into the profession. I now turn to the question of the quality and rigour of initial teacher training. All courses of initial teacher training have to be approved by the holder of my office. Courses are approved against specified criteria. The Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education--CATE--advises me on whether courses satisfy the criteria. I have reviewed the criteria and the machinery for applying them. I propose to reconstitute the council with effect from 1 January 1990 with a wider remit and new, tougher criteria. I shall ask it not only to scrutinise new courses but to monitor those it has already seen. The new criteria will take account of recent developments, including in particular the national curriculum. For example, all new primary teachers will have to have studied English, maths, science and design and technology. The criteria will also, as far as possible, be expressed in terms of competencies. In approving a course, I want to be clear about what the student can do when he or she completes the course. For example, all new teachers will have to be able to teach and assess the subjects they have specialised in, to the level appropriate to the top of the age range for which they have trained. I shall be issuing a consultation document tomorrow. It will set out my proposals in detail and contain the text of the new criteria. I am asking for comments by 30 June. Initial teacher training is now becoming more rigorous and practical. But we can and shall do more. I have set out the action which the Government have taken. We accept that there is a serious problem that must be addressed.
I have set out the actions we are taking to attract more people into the profession, our action on bursaries, licensed teachers and articled teachers, the criteria for teacher training courses and the increase in the number of teacher training courses in 1990. It is a positive programme for action to deal with the problem. We have been faced with a complete absence of ideas and total negation from
Column 94the Opposition. The hon. Member for Blackburn has not produced any new ideas since he was appointed as my shadow. He is a perfect shadow ; he is totally shadowy. We have heard no new ideas. The ideas that were supposed to be new were a recycling of my ideas. I understand that he is to make a great speech this week on something--on what, I do not know.
The Opposition should apply themselves more rigorously to deciding what should be done about teacher shortages instead of analysing the problem. They have been in opposition long enough to come up with some ideas. The fact that they have not produced any ideas means that they will be in opposition for even longer.
Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney) : The Secretary of State has rehearsed the various measures that he has taken or proposes to take to help ease the shortage of teachers. But he has not attempted to tell the House his estimate of the net contribution that those measures will make to the overall shortage of teachers. He has not explained why, after his three years at the Department of Education and Science and after 10 years of the rule of his party, Britain is experiencing a far more serious problem of teacher supply in 1989 than existed in 1979.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) described the position as a crisis in teacher supply, the Secretary of State was playing with words when he said that he would not quite go along with that, but teacher shortages in certain areas and certain subjects are a matter of major concern. Let us settle for there being a crisis in the shortage of teachers in certain subjects and certain areas. That is different from what the Minister of State was reported to have said when she wanted to nail the myth of teacher shortage. I shall speak not just of a crisis in teacher supply. In my own area of London, and especially in the borough of Tower Hamlets, it is more a calamity and catastrophe.
In Tower Hamlets, the basic and most necessary of all the obligations on local education authorities--the obligation to supply schooling for children of school age--is not being met. It is a question not of children being sent home from school, but of children not being able to get into school. Throughout the past year, 400 to 500 children have been counted who were of school age, but were unable to find a place in school. Many were Bengali children and for them the deprivation of education was even more serious because of the linguistic and other cultural problems than it was for the ordinary residents of the area. After heroic efforts over the past six months, the number still stands at about 286. That is the number known. I fear, as do most people in the area, that there is a considerable additional number of uncounted children who have been unable to obtain a school place.
I am not describing a case in which the education authority--in this case, the Inner London education authority--has failed to provide schools. In the past 12 to 18 months, about five new schools have been built. The difficulty is that we have the schools, but not the teachers to man them. The last three schools completed in the borough have a capacity of more than 300 children, but have been able to accommodate only half that number as a result of the teacher shortage.
The problem is at its most vivid and most intolerable when one can cite children who cannot find places in
Column 95school, who are out of school and should be in school. But that does not measure the dimensions of what is a major crisis in teacher supply in London and the south-east and what is a catastrophe in the case of inner London. I shall describe the vacancy position for full-time posts in the borough of Tower Hamlets. In nursery schools, 95 posts have been approved and there are 17 vacancies. In primary schools, there are 868 posts and 118 vacancies. In secondary schools, there are 742 posts and 122 vacancies. Those vacancies are met substantially, although not completely, by supply teachers. Without supply teachers, there would be a complete breakdown of education in the borough of Tower Hamlets.
In addition, the borough has a shocking turnover of permanent staff. In the last year for which there are figures, 1987-88, 33 per cent. of permanent staff in nursery and primary schools left. In secondary schools, the figure was 27 per cent. There is hardly a teacher to be found who has more than three years' experience in the borough.
Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar) : Does my right hon. Friend agree that the case that permanent vacancies are filled by supply teachers is worse than it seems in view of the fact that in one school in Tower Hamlets there were 10 different supply teachers in the first 15 weeks of the year? That is not teaching ; it is just child-minding.
Mr. Shore : My hon. Friend is correct. I was going to say some additional words about the role of temporary teachers. Many temporary teachers are drawn from Australia and New Zealand. As the Secretary of State knows, they come over for a year or two. Schools are lucky if they stay for a full year, but at least they may stay for six months. I shall read the House a letter I received earlier this year from the education officer for division 5 of ILEA, which is Tower Hamlets. He said :
"the Division has only managed in the past 3/4 years to keep schools open by the use of casual cover teachers mainly from New Zealand and Australia. These teachers have for some time been experiencing considerable delays in getting their qualifications recognised by the D.E.S. This has meant that they have had to be employed, and paid initially at unqualified teacher rates, pending receipt of recognition. This often takes many months".
That has been a major problem, which I have pursued with the Secretary of State.
I cannot see any sign that matters will improve, even if all the schemes mentioned by the Secretary of State produce additional teachers. Unless different action is taken, I very much doubt that those teachers will find their way into the inner cities, where the teacher shortage is at its worst. I have two reasons for that belief. First, in division 5 we know from our own demographic records that we need 1,800 new places and the teachers required to look after those children by 1990. A further 1,000 places will be needed by 1992 and an estimated additional 500 by 1994.
The second reason for my pessimism is that it is at least possible at present, under ILEA, to target teachers and efforts to recruit them on the boroughs where there are the most grievous shortages. Tower Hamlets and Hackney, the adjacent borough, are receiving most of ILEA's attention. But by next April, there will be no ILEA and we shall all be fighting for teachers with our own resources.
Column 96There will be appalling competition--an auction--for scarce teachers throughout London and the most deprived boroughs will come out worst.
ILEA is doing a great deal. The Secretary of State mentioned returning teachers, who are crucial. ILEA has been spending a considerable amount on a campaign to attract teachers back into the profession and it has also agreed to introduce an allowance for so-called non-qualified teachers--that is, qualified teachers from Australia and New Zealand whose qualifications are not recognised by the Department of Education and Science--to encourage them to stay in the authority. In addition, ILEA is trying to give increments for experience and is paying many to assist teachers with travel. But what ILEA has done is unlikely to solve the problem. The problem is too serious, especially in London where teachers have to face the appalling problems of finding accommodation.
When I considered the rather self-congratulatory speech of the Secretary of State, I could not help but think about some of the actions he has taken that have been anything but helpful. Why did he have to rate-cap ILEA when he knows that the payment of teachers and money for facilities could help to ease the teacher shortage? Why has he ignored all the evidence that teachers' pay is a major factor in creating a shortage of teachers? It is not only the Department of Education and Science which could help to ease those problems. The Home Office and the Department of Employment, when considering applications for work permits, do not recognise primary teachers as one of the priority categories. Teachers with primary teaching skills from Canada or elsewhere are not registered as a priority category and, therefore, are not given a permit to work in the United Kingdom.
It is a peculiarly bad situation. It is difficult to understand why, when the Select Committee on Home Affairs reported specifically on the borough of Tower Hamlets in its "Bangladeshis in Britain" report at the end of 1986 and pointed out that they were under-achieving educationally and not getting the quality, quantity or kind of education that they needed, the Minister has done nothing to help to alleviate what is basically a disgrace and a shame to the whole of our education system. That is extraordinary.
In conclusion, I remind the Secretary of State that he is a Minister in a Government whose Prime Minister started her third term with a pledge to take on, to help and to ameliorate the problems of the inner cities.
Mr. James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth) : I listened with interest to the elegant and eloquent speech of the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). I can understand even more than previously why he is held in such respect and affection in his constituency. He spoke with clear knowledge about London and I am sure that he will forgive me if I do not follow him down the road that he has signposted.
Like many of my hon. Friends, I welcome and enjoy Opposition Supply days. I am not certain who, on the Opposition side, is responsible for the selection of subjects, but whoever suggested this one on teacher shortages must be working for us. I am tempted to say that to initiate a debate on this subject is the equivalent, if not of shooting oneself in the foot, then of shooting up the blackboard. But then that is the increasing tendency of the hon.
Column 97Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). Witness his exhibition last week when he sought, on a completely bogus point of order, to attack my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the production of the consultation document on higher education.
However, even the hon. Gentleman is not all bad. I welcomed his comments in The Sunday Times about the suggestion for a "Queen's award for education for good schools". I welcome his conversion to that point because some years ago I suggested it to my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State, now Lord Joseph, but he did not feel inclined to take it on board. I have also suggested it to my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State, except I ventured to suggest that it might be termed, "The Secretary of State's award for schools". I hope that now that there is some unity between the hon. Member for Blackburn and me on this, he might advance the case--
Today's Opposition topic is teacher shortages and, like so many others, it is wide of the mark. The facts are that last year 1.5 per cent. of all primary and 1 per cent. of all secondary posts were unfilled--that is actually fewer than in 1987. The shortages, not surprisingly, were most felt in the south-east--Particularly London which was the point made by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney. But it is fair to say that there is no overall significant shortage of teachers. Indeed, I was pleased to read that the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, reporting on the first destination survey of students completing university courses of initial training for the teaching profession in 1988, said :
"It is pleasing to note that in 1988, after a slight dip in 1987, the figure for qualified students known to have obtained a teaching post in the UK returned to its normal level (75.1 per cent.) ; this was despite the increase in output."
That last phrase should surely be the key to teacher shortages. There is an increase in the number of people joining the profession. That suggests that this debate, like so many others initiated by the Opposition, is out of date. That is par for the Opposition course and once more they have chosen to debate a subject that is showing signs of improving. It seems that Opposition Members are deliberately deciding to select subjects that show Government policies in an improving light.
Despite what the Opposition say, young people are increasingly seeing teaching as an attractive and worthwhile profession. There is little truth, if any, in the allegation that teaching is an underrated profession with morale at rock bottom. Indeed, the evidence suggests the opposite.
Like my hon. Friends, I am certainly not complacent and, although there may be sufficient teachers overall, there are shortages in certain subjects and recruitment difficulties in some regions. These points have been recognised by the Government for some years, and clearly the Government's action is now bearing fruit.
I welcome the more flexible use of starting salaries and incentive allowances. I welcome the more active local recruitment of teachers. I welcome more part-time working and, above all, I welcome the active encouragement to former teachers to return to the profession. That point was hammered home by my right hon. Friend.
Column 98In fact, 1988 was an excellent recruitment year for teachers, but, that having been said, the training for teachers must be right. Social theory is OK but it may be thought to be a poor substitute for actual classroom practice. Education best takes place in a disciplined environment and in some cases, and in some schools, that necessary discipline is lacking. I hope that when my hon. Friend the Minister of State replies, she will give some thought to how the subject of teaching is taught in our colleges. I hope that she might persuade those who produce the syllabus in those colleges to build in more classroom practice.
I am absolutely convinced that the overwhelming majority of teachers are committed to their work and to the young people in their charge, and I should like to see their remuneration reflect both the importance of their work and the commitment which the majority of them bring to it.
I should like to see good teachers getting more money and greater differentials in the profession, with those who are the best getting the best pay.
My right hon. Friend has already sought to persuade the Treasury to make available additional funds for teachers. I wish him well when the new round starts and hope that he is successful in obtaining better funding. I found it significant that the Chancellor is a signatory to the Government's amendment to the motion and I am certain that, when my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Treasury read the report of the debate, they will study with care the references to increased pay for teachers. I hope that when they do so they will recognise the importance of having a reasonably remunerated profession and that they will ensure that the necessary funds are made available.
Earlier I referred to the fact that in some areas and in some subjects there are difficulties and I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will not let a vocal, if shortsighted, opposition to licensed teachers prevent him from going forward with this idea. Good teachers are those who have the knowledge and qualifications, and the ability and willingness to communicate that knowledge to children and young people in the classroom.
I support the concept of licensed teachers and look forward to reading, in due course, the detailed proposals, but I believe that the trailed plans might be inadequate in one respect. It seems that present ideas make provision for local education authorities to supervise schemes for licensed teachers. I believe that that may not work as well as it should, because some local education authorities remain heavily union oriented and we are all well aware of the views of certain unions regarding the concept of licensed teachers. It would, therefore, seem to me preferable if responsibility for supervision of licensed teachers were to lie with the individual school. Let it be their decision. Schools and heads will enjoy a greater discretion under the Education Reform Act 1988 and that discretion should operate in this area as well as others. I was pleased to hear my right hon. Friend say that licensed teachers should be supervised by experienced teachers for a period of, say, two years.
Mr. Roy Beggs (Antrim, East) : Having had a lot of experience in schools for many years, I should like the hon. Member to tell the House how schools that are understaffed will find the manpower to supervise and train the licensed teacher.
Mr. Pawsey : I have already said that it will be on-the-job training. I believe that experienced teachers have a great deal of knowledge to impart to those who are eager to learn, and those who are coming forward to take advantage of the licensed teacher scheme will be anxious to learn and, in turn, to impart their knowledge to the young people in their charge.
I believe that at the end of two years and only after the satisfactory completion of that period the licensed teacher would be fully qualified. If that idea is regarded, as it clearly is by certain Opposition Members, as being revolutionary, let me say that the right already exists in grant- maintained schools and, if we trust those schools to supervise licensed teachers, why should not other schools have a similar right?
Licensed teachers would enable genuinely committed men and women to enter the profession, would constitute an additional source of experience and expertise and should be welcomed by all who are genuinely concerned about teacher numbers. Licensed teachers would not dilute the quality of the profession. That point has been well hammered home by my right hon. Friend. The word he used in this context was "rigorous", and he was right. Clearly, this route to the profession will be a difficult one, but I am certain that many will wish to take advantage of it. It is unfair and unjust to suggest that licensed teachers will dilute the profession. Licensed teachers, in my view, will help to ensure an adequate supply of intelligent and gifted people who want to teach and to work with the country's youngsters. They should be encouraged to come forward, for they will do much to improve the quality and standard of state education. 8.32 pm
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey) : The honest seeker after truth might have been slightly surprised by the different interpretations put upon the same facts in this debate. The debate opened with the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) arguing factually matters that were not contradicted by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State was then asked implicitly to accept or deny the comment made by his colleague the Minister of State that the teacher shortage was a myth. There was no denial of that, yet the Secretary of State admitted that there clearly was a problem. He announced that the Government had taken measures, were taking measures and would take measures--all of which is welcome--but did not suggest--and he was specifically asked that question from these Benches--that even all those measures together would ensure that we had the number of teachers we needed.
The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) then confirmed the facts and showed that in inner London particularly--it is worse here than elsewhere--there is not just a problem but a fundamental, deep-rooted and long-lasting crisis. He used stronger
Column 100words than those, "catastrophe" and others. I have a constituency which, except for the river in between, is next door to his, and we in Southwark share many of the same desperate week-by-week problems and concerns about shortage of teachers that he has argued apply to Tower Hamlets. Southwark, Tower Hamlets and other inner London boroughs have all had terrible recruitment problems over many years. Then we had the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) saying that some of the proposals are good but, reading between his lines, arguing, and possibly for the first time, that nothing will solve the fundamental problem unless there is more money for teachers and more fundamental ways of improving their morale.
The reality is confirmed in the recently published annual report of Her Majesty's senior chief inspector of schools, entitled "Standards in Education", which makes the case extremely clearly. At the end of that report, from paragraph 67 onwards, the senior inspector points the way forward in the light of the Education Reform Act 1988 and says :
"In addition there are a number of sphinxes along the route whose riddles will need to be solved if the education service is to respond effectively to the many changes it is called upon to make. The first of those centres on that most important component of an effective education service namely, ensuring a sufficient supply of suitably qualified and competent teachers trained and willing to set about doing all that needs to be done."
He concludes that section with these words :
"Standards of learning are never improved by poor teachers and there are no cheap, high quality routes into teaching."
He then goes on to make it clear that the need for teachers will grow because of the demands that the new educational format places on the education system The national curriculum, the new
responsibilities for schools that follow from the GCSE and, as increasing numbers of hon. Members know, the practical implications for teachers' time of more and more assessment and more and more non-contact work, mean that we shall need more and more teachers. Nothing that the Secretary of State has said today suggests that we will catch up and supply our education service with those numbers of teachers as a result of the sorts of small, limited-effect remedies that he has proposed.
Lastly, the senior chief inspector makes the point that, in addition to the general problem and the growing problem because of new demands, there are, of course, the specific problems which we all know have now been identified in specific subjects to complement the specific geographical areas of difficulty. Then we have his recommendation :
"In seeking to ensure that is what happens"--
that is, that we manage to meet the demands of the educational future--
"teachers' pay, conditions of service and the nature of the changes intended will all have a part to play. But of great importance to most teachers is that the work they do is seen to be valued and rated highly by society ; that its difficulties are understood and that teachers and education are not used as convenient scapegoats for all society's problems. Currently"
and this is his finding ; not a party political finding-- "too many teachers feel that their profession and its work are misjudged and seriously undervalued."
That is this year's report on the teaching profession and that is why, when it comes to voting on the motion at the
Column 101end of the debate, it would be wrong to vote for the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State, the Chancellor and others, which
"welcomes the clear indication of the success"
of the measures so far taken. Although of course there have been some successes, after 10 years in office the Government are complacent if they say that what they have done has been successful. What they have done so far has not succeeded. We do not have the teachers in place. We do not have teachers with morale in place. We do not have teachers as a profession paid adequately to ensure adequate supply in the weeks, months and years to come.
In inner London one feels that as strongly as anywhere. We are short of over 650 teachers in London alone. It is two and a half times worse in the capital city than the average across the country. It makes me reflect that, perhaps, there is above all one simple question that the Secretary of State and his colleagues must answer : what is a teacher worth? If we imagine that teachers are in a free market, good performance and high productivity would lead to improving salaries. As the Secretary of State has acknowledged that teachers during the past year have put on a good performance and increased their productivity--given all the other demands on them--surely market forces should prevail, at least to some extent, and teachers should be awarded a substantial pay increase. However, they have received an increase of 6 per cent., which is below the current inflation rate. That is derisory. It does not recognise the teachers' hard work during the past year, let alone the other demands we make of them. It is about time--and the Secretary of State ducked this issue from the beginning to the end of his speech--that teachers were offered salaries comparable with those that could be earned by graduates in careers such as accountancy, management or industry. One will not get people to stay in teaching if they are not paid the same as they would receive if they sold their skills elsewhere. I find it ridiculous that one police force in England and Wales--the Metropolitan police--spends more on recruitment in a year than the Department of Education and Science does on recruiting teachers as a career. Last year, the Metropolitan police spent £1.1 million. The Department of Education and Science's teaching as a career unit spent £0.9 million. We should learn from the Metropolitan police. Perhaps we should have a "wanted" notice, such as the police have, to make people aware of the drama and the danger of the present position in words such as
"Missing teachers. Do you know one? Have you seen one? Can you help?"
It is about time that the Department of Education and Science made people aware of the nature, the urgency and depth of the problem which it is not investing sufficient money to redress, even from its departmental budget.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : The hon. Gentleman muddles up like with unlike. If he wants to compare the recruitment of the police and the recruitment of teachers, the comparison should be between what the Home Office spends on recruiting police and issuing general advertisements and what the Department of Education and Science spends. The Metropolitan police, as a direct employer, is like a local education authority. The hon. Gentleman should look at the local education authorities' budgets for recruitment. That is the analogy.
Mr. Hughes : I shall deal exactly with that point. When there have been shortages in recruits to the police or armed forces in the decade that the Government have been in office, the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for Defence have said that we must pay more because we need people to work in the front line. We have heard no such response from the Treasury to help the Department of Education and Science to a similar job. Of course, the front-line responsibility for recruiting comes from the education authorities, which are the direct employers. However, we all know from where they get their money. They obtain their money from the Department of Education and Science ; most of their money comes from grant. The Government need to give a lead, which in 10 years we have not seen.
It is a disgrace that we are asking people who go into teaching to stay at a regularly lower level of income and with lower levels of career prospects than they would elsewhere in the professional world. I intervened to ask the Secretary of State about the bursary schemes. There have been some improvements in the sense that bursaries may have reversed the decline of those going into shortage subjects. However, many of the targets have not been achieved. The Secretary of State has admitted that in the House.
The licensed teacher scheme still has the sort of problems mentioned in the intervention by the hon. Member for Antrim, East (Mr. Beggs) during the speech of the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey). In order for licensed teachers to be trained by full-time, long-term teachers, the teachers already in post need the time to do the training, in addition to their other responsibilities. That means there would need to be more teachers to cover the same amount of teaching time. That means more money will be needed, because one must supply the resources. Of course, it is a good idea for those already in the profession to train others in the classroom, but they cannot do that without more money being given to those education authorities, because training is an additional function and teachers are already hard pressed and overworked. What about the pool of inactive teachers? We need to look more closely at recruiting from that supply. There are more than 400,000 people currently in that pool. I am sure that many of them would come back if they thought that their careers would be well rewarded and worth returning to.
It is, of course, welcome to have new ideas put forward. We heard, but only in shadowy terms, the idea of articled teachers, although it appears to have a potential. I shall not reject it as a possible idea, but other approaches are needed too. Many ideas currently being put to the Select Committee by the employers, the Association of County Councils, are practical ways of recruiting people, of holding people and of assisting those who have family commitments and otherwise might not be able to return to teaching.
The regional difficulties will not be solved by differential pay, which appears to be rejected by all the best evidence. If we are to tackle teacher shortage, the Government's housing policy needs to change to ensure that teachers in areas of high housing cost can find somewhere to live, that they have the ability to travel to work and that they can move to where the jobs are.
One of the difficulties is that the consequence of shortages is that not only does morale go down and
Column 103reliance on supply teachers go up, but we ask teachers regularly to cover for colleagues as well. That means that more and more teachers are teaching subjects with which they are not familiar. The difficulties not only concern recruiting teachers from Australia and New Zealand, but regularly there has been pressure for Irish teachers, for example, to be accepted as qualified and allowed to teach here. It has taken a long time to persuade the Department of Education and Science to allow many of them to come to help.
In the months to come, with the national curriculum, teachers will have substantial new pressures on them. I say to the Secretary of State and his Ministers that we need to restore free bargaining between employer and employee, with the almost certain result that teachers will be paid more. More money must not just go to the teachers who go to the Government's favoured institutions such as the CTCs. Why should people be paid more to teach in a CTC than in any other school in a hard-pressed city front-line environment? The reality is that they are being paid more because it is one of the only ways in which the Secretary of State can be sure that he will get teachers into those colleges. That is another form of distortion in favour of his latest scheme.
We need to improve the range of senior grades. An enormous number of teachers are held at a top grade without any prospect of improving their lot thereafter. We need to develop secondment schemes and increasingly to put more money into in-service training. We need to widen the bonus schemes too.
I have put five specific ideas to the Secretary of State, but I end with this. Unless we increase substantially the funding for schools and for teachers from the Department of Education and Science budget, we shall not deal with the continuing problem of teacher shortages. The latest public expenditure figures show that the increase in the schools budget will be less than 4 per cent. between this financial year and the next. Unless the Secretary of State or his Minister of State give an assurance tonight that planned spending on teachers will at least keep pace with inflation, we shall end the next decade with the same problems as we have ended this. Now is the time for investment for the future. The Government have the ability to spend money. They must now do so.
Mr. George Walden (Buckingham) : The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) predictably accused my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State of complacency. That appears to be a rather surprising suggestion, because, if my right hon. Friend had been complacent about teachers, they would have had a much easier time than they have had in the past few years.
I believe that my right hon. Friend knows well that we face a potentially serious problem. What he has not been able to underline--I imagine for reasons of state--is that it is a problem not only of quantity but of quality. My right hon. Friend will face a very serious problem as we get up to the demographic dip in 1995. On the one hand, he will be competing more and more intensively with other employers outside who will be in a position --because they will be private enterprise firms--to improve the package of
Column 104attractions that they offer to young graduates and, on the other, he will need to do two things at once in his general strategy on education.
My right hon. Friend is trying to raise the standards in schools at the same time as he is trying to expand the number of people in higher education--incidentally, I congratulate him on his consultation paper on that subject. If my right hon. Friend does not succeed in recruiting not only the right number but the right quality of teachers, we shall see an expansion in higher education, but also a dilution of higher education. That would be a catastrophe. There are some universities where quality is not all that it should be now. Because of the failure to recruit sufficient teachers of sufficient quality, there is the stark possibility of a failure to deliver the national curriculum in schools and a simultaneous watering down of British higher education. That is a fearful prospect.
I am glad that my right hon. Friend announced tonight--I shall look at the details tomorrow--that he will tighten up the conditions and criteria in teacher-training colleges, because, as I have already said, my right hon. Friend has two problems : he must get more teachers and better ones. I hope that he will do whatever he can to demystify some of the pseudo- professionalism that arises in those institutions. I hope that he will continue to support and encourage best practice because he will do a great service to the profession as well as to parents.
Recently I read a study by an academic--my right hon. Friend probably paid for it--which came, as such educational studies often do, to conclusions of a stunning banality. The problem posed was why it was difficult to recruit teachers and there were three parts to the answer : first pay, secondly status, and thirdly the children--that is especially important.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) is wrong to say that teachers must be reasonably paid. Given our current situation, teachers should be well paid, provided that the pressures on them to improve the quality of their profession in the ways hinted at by my right hon. Friend are maintained and provided that the profession accepts the desirability and inevitability of differential pay according to merit as far as possible.
My right hon. Friend must make it clear to the Chancellor of the Exchequer- -I am sure that he will--that we must not think in terms of paying teachers what we can get away with, but paying them well, because a potential crisis is looming in the mid-1990s. If he is short of arguments for convincing the Chancellor, he could point out that if the Chancellor cannot afford to pay for education, he cannot afford an economy. It is education that will produce the highly trained technicians that will be needed and they will decide whether his economy sinks or swims. If we cannot afford to pay for education, we cannot afford a civilised country. I do not need to give any illustrations to the House of the yobbishness and the loutishness with which our society is infested and which has a lot to do with basic problems of education. I hope that my right hon. Friend will succeed in not only getting whatever crumbs he can from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but in making clear to him that we need a forward-looking strategy that will deal with the growing crisis rather than waiting until it is upon us.
The second problem regarding the recruitment of teachers, as suggested by our expensive academic study, was that of teacher status. When the average person is