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I want teachers to reoccupy the place that they formerly held in a society in which they were once regarded in similar fashion to doctors. During the past 20 years, the profession has suffered a dramatic loss of public esteem. The teacher unions, especially the NUT, must accept their fair share of responsibility for the way in which the classroom teacher is now all too often regarded.
Mr. Hawkins : Does my hon. Friend agree that the main difficulty has been that many of the unions, and the NUT in particular in this area, have pretended to be industrial, smokestack industry unions, which in itself has been damaging to the reputation of good teachers ? The militant unions, especially the NUT, have dragged down the image of teachers. They have done the biggest disservice to education. Only when teachers stop playing at being militant trade unionists will they recover their respect.
The Bill improves teacher training, which in turn enhances the stature of the individual teacher. It will increase the esteem in which teachers are held. It helps to restore a true professionalism to what at times has been a desperately beleaguered group. I commend the Bill to the House.
Mr. Cynog Dafis (Ceredigion and Pembroke, North) : I apologise for being absent for part of the debate, and I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for nevertheless giving me the opportunity to speak. I declare an interest. I am an adviser to the NUT and to UCAC, the National Union of Teachers of Wales--"national" meaning something different in both those titles.
In discussing part I, I want to open on a positive note. During the past week I have spoken at some length to various people interested or involved in the kind of pilot partnership training schemes that have flowed from circular 9/92 and, in Wales, circular 35/92. I talked with two union officials, a headmaster, more than one member of staff at a university education department and the head of English at a comprehensive school. I emphasise that they all spoke positively about the principle of partnership and school-based training. I was most impressed by the enthusiasm that they showed for the active involvement of practising teachers in the training process. It is recognised that that is an entirely new approach and that something fresh is happening--that schools and teachers are sharing the training process so that it is not left entirely to university staff, with schools simply providing them with facilities. Something new, valid and important is happening.
There is recognition also of the enormous gain for students in being closely involved in the life of a teaching department and of a school. In the model that I examined, that involvement lasts 24 and one half weeks out of the total of 36 weeks for the school year. The teacher to whom I spoke told me of the satisfaction and stimulus that she derives from that involvement with students, who become part of an academic as well as a training process.
Column 663The same teacher told me also that she is beginning to feel exploited. She spoke of the extra burden of work imposed, which meant that she and her colleagues must seriously reconsider whether to continue the partnership, and she said in effect that that would be conditional on her and her colleagues being given extra time as teachers or extra money.
The burden is considerable. The responsibilities of that teacher, who is a general mentor, are defined so as to ensure that the students' school experience is broad, coherent and relevant ; lead the team of subject mentors and co-ordinate work across subject areas to achieve that ; introduce students to the school ; assign students to shadow form teachers, to gain classroom experience ; arrange for students to pay weekly visits to feeder primary schools ; liaise with tutors from the department ; meet students weekly for a training session focusing on different areas of competence ; provide support, professional guidance and counselling to students ; and assess and discuss progress and help to set goals. There is more to it than that. I could read a similar list of responsibilities in respect of subject mentors.
The House does not need to be reminded that teachers are already overworked. That is having a significant negative effect on their morale, imposes strain and in some cases breakdowns, and causes people to leave the profession. That is the result of an overburdened national curriculum, the process of continuous assessment, recording achievement and so on--and constant changes in school curriculums. For that burden of extra work, that general mentor is allowed two additional free lessons, as we used to call them--two additional protected times. No wonder she spent most of her May day holiday at school, in preparation--as she does for much of her so- called holidays. Being a rather hard-boiled old nut who spent some years in the teaching profession, I find it astonishing that teachers are willing to participate in all that. If somebody had asked me four years ago to undertake that work in addition to my existing responsibilities as a head of English, I would have shown them the door. I might have felt guilty, and perhaps I would have telephoned the university education department to say that I would, after all, participate.
It is a tribute to the commitment and professionalism of teachers that they are prepared, as are so many schools, to take on that extra burden and to extol the virtues of the new system to me--but at the same time they say that they are seriously overburdened. Theirs is a labour of love, no less.
One senior member of the university department to whom I spoke explained that the partnership system is surviving because of the tremendous reserve of good will in terms of the dedication of teachers and their desire to be part of the process of helping a new generation of educators. That is why the system works for now. But the same person told me that the system would not be sustainable in the long term. That bold statement perfectly mirrors the comments of the school teacher--that staff will not continue unless additional resources are provided for extra time.
Accordingly, the university concerned agreed to increase the sum delegated to schools from £600 per student to £900 for the next year. At the same time, the transitional funding provided for the university education
Column 664department is coming to an end, with the loss of £120,000 per year. As a result, the department is running the teacher-training course in deficit--it is not paying its way. It is subsidised by other aspects of the department's work, such as degrees and postgraduate work. Teacher training constitutes one third of the full-time equivalents in that particular education department.
It may be thought that, if more work and funding are delegated to schools, less work will have to be done by universities, so that there will be a transfer of responsibilities, functions and funds. It does not work like that. The new model of teacher training, which has much merit, is a much more intensive process than used to be the case. It requires extra input from the school and university--not from one rather than the other, but from both. That corresponds with the teacher's comments.
Mr. Gunnell : Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the financial deficit that he described is common to a large number of higher education institutions because their transitional funding has decreased while they have to pay money to schools ? Does he agree also that, because schools are not coming forward in sufficient numbers, an inherently and fundamentally unstable situation is being created that will cause the initiative's eventual demise ?
Mr. Dafis : I was making exactly that point, but would prefer not to have to make it. The policy is unsustainable. The Government should have learned some lessons about unsustainable initiatives from the national curriculum. The same will be true of the new system. The teacher to whom I spoke confirmed the need for the university to maintain at least its current level of activity, rather than reduce it. She wanted more input from the university, not less. She referred me to the value of the theoretical and academic expertise that the university can provide--the theoretical backing to her work at a practical level in the school. That contradicts the dismissive and philistine comments of Conservative Members about trendy theorists and eggheads.
Everything indicates that the initiative is underfunded and under- resourced. Leaving that aside for the moment, given proper resourcing, and if mentors were provided with substantial extra time to perform the extra work, we would have a useful model for teacher education. It has a sensible division of responsibilities between school and higher education institutions, and it is being created as a result of the combined expertise and enthusiasm of school and university staff in partnership. The word to emphasise is "partnership". The model has the particular advantage of creating a close, interactive relationship between academics, who are important people, and practising teachers, bringing developments in theory and innovative ideas to schools from the universities and feeding back the day-to-day realities of teaching and learning to the universities. That, in turn, would have a significant potential effect on the quality and direction of research.
Our concern should be how to make that fundamentally, good model sustainable in the long term ; it is manifestly not so at present. It is currently, and will continue to be, increasingly difficult to get schools to participate. That should occupy our attention, as it does the schools and university in Dyfed. They are looking carefully at the quality of the work that is being done and are conducting
Column 665seminars and conferences in doing so. Instead, the Government have what I can describe only as a hare-brained scheme to make schools into lead institutions.
As I understand it, higher education institutions would be nothing more than contractors offering services to schools--in the market, of course-- and have no more security or ability to plan for the future, no more ability to think long term in terms of innovation, research programmes and so on, than the market alone ever affords. This is part of a syndrome that people everywhere are worried about in relation to institutions of higher education and research generally. It is clear to me that the hidden agenda is to water down the intellectual, theoretical and educational content of teacher training. It is no accident that words such as theoretical and intellectual are being rubbished tonight. That is a disturbing tendency, and that kind of language and vocabulary is far too familiar from right- wing Governments and political movements. In effect, we are seeing a move towards the return of the pupil-teacher. My mother was an uncertificated pupil-teacher. I am sure that she was excellent, and if she were alive today she would be doing a degree, following a proper course in teacher training, and would be a far better teacher than she was in those days.
All of this is utterly unacceptable in Wales. Surveys conducted in Gwynedd and Dyfed--in Gwynedd by Bangor normal college--have shown overwhelming opposition to the idea of school-led training among headmasters and headmistresses of schools. The enormous contribution of higher education institutions and the development of educational practice in Wales is well recognised. I could speak at length on my experience of the value of a theoretical approach, for example, to linguistics as backing for the way in which language is taught in schools, and the linkage of teaching language and using language to teach and learn. A whole area has sprung from a theoretical base in the work of people such as Douglas Barnes and shows perfectly how valuable and practically important a good, theoretical basis is for pedagogy, for proper teaching.
In Wales, we wish to see continuation of the integration of academic and theoretical study, research and training for the practice of teaching. Let us have no misunderstanding that we wish to see accreditation remain a function of higher education institutions. We wish to see partnership develop and grow. I trust that the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales will hear that message loud and clear. I hope that it will not see it as part of its business. One needs to understand that, praise the Lord, we will not have an independent and separate funding council in Wales. The Higher Education Funding Council will take charge, and I trust that it will not see the promotion of the idea of schools as the lead institutions for training as part of its functions, although the Government intend to give it that power.
I hope that the writ of the Teacher Training Agency will not run in Wales. I ask for confirmation of that, and refer to clause 17, which says that the Secretary of State will be able to
"provide for the transfer to the Teacher Training Agency of the property, rights and liabilities . . . of the Teaching as a Career Unit."
What will happen to the Wales office of the teaching career unit ? It has done good work and I hope that it will not come under the aegis of the TTA, which we very much wish to
Column 666see as an English institution. I would like to see the Bill amended to make it quite clear that it will not-- [Interruption.] I can only offer my deepest sympathy to all those who will have to suffer the effects of the existence of such a body.
Clause 16(2) provides :
"The Secretary of State may by order confer or impose on the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales such functions supplementary to their functions as a funding agency as he thinks fit."
All I want to know is which Secretary of State that is. Is it the Secretary of State for Education or the Secretary of State for Wales ? It should be the latter, and I trust that even the existing Secretary of State for Wales will not wish to impose functions that are foreign to what we want to see in Wales.
We are fortunate in Wales that the reality of Welsh nationhood and distinctness offers us some protection from the worst potential effects of the Bill. I welcome the intention, stated in the consultation document last September, to introduce different arrangements for certain aspects of teacher training in Wales. In Wales, what we need is not the inadequate protection of administrative devolution. Although that offers a degree of protection, as is the case here, we need more than that. We need the power through the democratic process in Wales to take our own initiatives, to carry through our own reforms, based on the principles that are dear to us of co-operation and partnership, and the sensible idea of pragmatism at the same time. I hope that it will not be too long before we can start that process.
Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam) : The debate has been extremely enlightening, because it seems that we have heard from the Opposition an endless stream of destructive dogma. I wonder whether they are seeking to skate over endless reasons why there cannot be a teachers training agency. When I look, for instance, at my notes of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) I see that she said that the Bill is not constructive or purposeful ; that it is a waste of time ; that it is a tatty Bill. Can those really be the remarks of a serious spokesperson on education who genuinely cares about the children in our schools ? Perhaps she is trying to cover up the serious flaws of the Labour party and its record on education. For instance, I remind her that the worst 10 A-level results in 1993 were returned largely by Labour-controlled local education authorities. The only exception was Tower Hamlets. I remind her that the most damning indictment of Labour's local education policies is, perhaps, the high percentage of children in Labour areas who leave school with no examination passes at all.
Lady Olga Maitland : I am talking about education standards in schools. Let me list the worst 10 : Rochdale, Lambeth, Manchester, Islington, Liverpool, Haringey, Tower Hamlets--again--Salford, Birmingham and Southwark.
Mr. Gunnell : The hon. Lady is clearly concerned about standards in schools ; she clearly believes that the Bill will help. Why is it better to impose a great deal of student teaching, rather than professional teaching, on schools ?
Column 667The Bill proposes to increase the number of classes taught by people who are learning the job. Can you explain how that will help children ?
Lady Olga Maitland : I will deal with the hon. Gentleman's remarks in due course. Let me say straight away that the whole purpose of enabling teachers to learn the job in schools is to allow them to learn from the experienced teachers who are already there, and to gain expertise in the task first hand.
We have heard many disparaging remarks about my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I can only say that I regard his tenure as an enormous success : he has produced many considerable achievements, and the Bill is another step along the road. [Interruption.]
Lady Olga Maitland : The Bill may well be scorned by Opposition Members, but it will be enormously welcome to parents who want their children to benefit from the very best teacher training that is available.
Lady Olga Maitland : We are still trying to collate evidence from the pilot schemes, but the evidence that we have obtained so far is extremely encouraging ; otherwise, we would not have acted as we have.
I welcome the Bill, because it fulfils a real need. Some 12 years ago, I launched my pro-NATO organisation Families for Defence. It was not directly related to education--save for the fact that I received evidence from school children about the pressures of heavy political indoctrination and bias imposed on them by teachers who had just left teacher training colleges. They were clearly interested not in education, but in manipulating young children. A paper to which I contributed--"Peace Studies in our Schools--Propaganda for Defencelessness", written by Dr. John Marks- -revealed the depth of this serious problem.
I found it particularly sad that the teachers who were undermining our young people were also undermining the dedicated work of good teachers who found it difficult to stand their ground. I pay tribute to the majority of teachers--decent-minded people who care only for the children. They care not a jot how many hours they must work ; they do not watch the clock ; they serve only to provide for future generations. They, however, have been undermined by weak, out-of-date, misguided teachers who have come up through the system and are a long way from what I would describe as traditional standards in teaching--what we would associate with "Mr. Chalky".
We must beware of the political mischief that can go on. We should look at the source from which teachers come, and ensure that we provide them with the training which has breadth, diversity and flexibility that will give them a chance to develop their talents unhindered by the dogma
Column 668that has imbued teacher training colleges up and down the country. The time has come for us to focus on children's needs, and their right to learn unfettered by other issues. The teacher-- the person in whom a child puts his faith and trust--will be the vehicle for that child's future, and it is therefore important to look seriously at how teachers are trained.
There should be rigour in the classroom ; we should concentrate on the national curriculum. I am delighted that even Labour now admits that the core curriculum has enormously benefited young children, having opposed it bitterly in the past.
The fact is that all professions work within accepted boundaries, whether the profession involved happens to be medicine, law or, indeed, teaching. In setting out the boundaries for education, we should be quite clear about what we expect from our teachers. We expect rigour, and concentration on the basic skills that children need for the future--the ability to read smoothly and fluently at the right age, comprehending what they are reading ; the ability to write correctly and fluently ; the ability to spell ; and the ability to punctuate their written work correctly. Unless teachers focus on those important skills, they will have under-served their pupils when they go out into the world of work.
During last year's rows about teacher tests, I was saddened by my encounters with a number of English teachers who said that they did not approve of such tests. Spelling tests, they said, destroyed a child's love of literature. What nonsense! It is time for teachers to set standards, and I believe that they will do so much more readily and easily if they can develop their skills unfettered by what I would describe as the political masters in teacher training colleges.
Mr. Edward O'Hara (Knowsley, South) : Can the hon. Lady identify one of the teacher training colleges where all these awful things are happening ? Let me offer a simpler challenge : can she identify a teacher training college ?
Lady Olga Maitland : I shall give examples a little later. We must look seriously at the crazy world of teacher training. Far too much time has been devoted to education theory ; we must examine what is actually happening. Teachers coming out of training colleges tend to focus on racism, sexism and gender politics. What has that to do with children learning ? The HMI report published on 7 December 1993 was scathing about the standard of teaching, revealing that in urban schools 40 per cent. of lessons were judged unsatisfactory and that, in some schools, two thirds were found to be poor or unsatisfactory. We cannot be complacent about that. The inspectors were highly critical of the low expectations that teachers had of children ; overall, nearly 30 per cent. of lessons in primary schools were found to be unsatisfactory.
Lady Olga Maitland : The schools in which teachers will train will not be the inadequate ones. We should, however, bear in mind that some teachers are performing poorly, and look at how they came to be trained. We should note, for instance, that
Column 669"In the worst schools the inspectors criticised . . . the inadequate knowledge the teachers of older primary children had of their subject areas ; the unacceptably low standard of work ; the fact that many children were engaged in mundane tasks such as copying and colouring ; the poor punctuality, persistent bad behaviour of pupils, unfinished homework, and the slow pace of lessons". We have so much to work on.
Mr. O'Hara : I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way. As the hon. Lady is referring to the HMI report, is she also aware that in paragraphs 110 to 112 of that report the inspectors are extremely complimentary about the quality of preparation of teachers in the departments ? About 90 per cent. of courses are at least satisfactory. In the same paragraphs, they are critical of the support which is offered to these teachers from the schools during initial training and during induction. Yet the hon. Lady is proposing that the training responsibility be taken from the colleges and given to the schools. Where is the consistency in that ?
Lady Olga Maitland : I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks, but I will continue. He asked me earlier to give some examples of poor teacher training. I refer him to the South Bank university--or, as it used to be known, the South Bank polytechnic. The HMI inspectors, commenting on the university's two-year degree for mature students from ethnic minority backgrounds, said :
"The quality of the students' writing is a cause for concern. Apart from the work of a few fluent writers, assignments display persistent formal problems--particularly with articles, suffixes, paragraphs and spelling . . . One student has such chronic difficulty with tense and number that she would make a poor model for pupils." That is simply looking at the way that students are performing, without taking into account the fact that in many other colleges, which I could draw to the attention of hon. Members, political dogma gets in the way of real learning.
At the University of Brighton--or Brighton polytechnic, as it was known--on the first day of a course a student teacher was told that competition in sport was elitist and that the words "first", "second" and "third" should not be used to rank children. The students were told to use words such as "beetroot" and "turnip" instead. The student pointed out that he had marks deducted for using the word "his" when talking about an imaginary teacher in a presentation. The student was also told that using a word such as "caveman" instead of "cave person" would result in failure in the final examination. Finally--this is perhaps the most worrying point--the student was told that spelling and grammar were of secondary importance. These are the many reasons why we have to concentrate on building the base of teacher training.
The Institute of Education in London does not encourage rote learning of mathematics tables, for instance. It prefers children to learn through games. A course at the College of Education in Scotland was explained by a student who said :
"The course . . . had turned out to be largely Left-wing sociology overlaid with Politically Correct discipline."
These kinds of attitude are not helpful in preparing children for life.
Ms Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar) : Does it not occur to the hon. Lady that the Institute of Education may be right and that children can learn spelling and tables very well through games--in fact, it may be a better way of learning than boring them to tears with learning by rote ?
Lady Olga Maitland : Over and over again, it has been found that learning by rote is an essential discipline for children through their school careers. There is no soft option in learning ; it is very unfair to lead children to believe that they can somehow skate through their school careers without any pain. There is always pain ; schooling is a preparation for later life.
The way in which some colleges have become obsessed with their own ideologies is extremely worrying. I draw the attention of the House to Nene college in Northampton. Hon. Members may recall that in 1990 it twice rejected a Cambridge classics graduate for a teacher training course. When Mrs. Annis Garfield reapplied posing as a left-wing, Afro-Caribbean, animal rights activist and filled out her form with appalling spelling errors she was immediately invited for an interview. It is hardly surprising that we have to persist in this endeavour. I am also concerned that the correct rigour be applied to the education of young children.
The curriculums in colleges are loaded with political ideology. They seek to demean religious education, for instance. They seek to undermine the teaching of Christianity, which is part of the ethos of our society. This society is a Christian society, no matter what multi-cultural mish-mash teachers choose to make of it.
Last week, as a member of the Education Select Committee--the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Mr. Jamieson) accompanied me on this occasion--I went to Bristol to look at inner-city education. The hon. Gentleman and I may well have different views about what we saw on our visit to some schools in deprived areas. I found it very worrying that, by and large, the male teachers were unfit to be what I call perfect role models, in the sense that they were scruffy and full of sociological jargon.
At one school, only three out of seven male staff members wore shirts and ties ; the rest wore jumpers. I do not feel that it is at all helpful for young people, who perhaps come from very broken and disturbed homes, to find that the one male figure in their lives whom they trust is hardly a fit person to look up to as a role model. At a primary school in Tower Hamlets a teacher had a pony tail as well as a woolly sweater. We are trying to give teachers a certain status so that they may be respected. How can they be respected if they undermine the very professionalism which the majority of their colleagues exhibit ?
I think that the whole purpose of teacher training colleges and the Teacher Training Agency should be to look at the methods by which children are taught. We examined examples of mixed ability teaching and that, combined with mixed topic teaching, to my mind was an absolute disaster.
We are considering the opportunity for teachers to train on the spot, in schools where there are already the highest standards and where there is no mixed ability teaching which seems merely to confuse children and benefits neither the weaker nor the brighter child. We are also considering how we can enable new teachers to develop in what I call the halls, or schools, of excellence, where they
Column 671can be taught and guided by a peer group which has years of training behind it, schools which already have the best possible results and which will therefore provide an example from which trainees can learn.
Mr. Colin Pickthall (Lancashire, West) : I like to think of myself as a courteous man and I have no wish to be ungallant, but I do not think that I have ever heard such a load of ignorant tripe as the speech of the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland). It could have come only from someone who has never been near teacher training in her life. Indeed, I wonder whether she has ever been near teaching or schools with her eyes open.
In an attempt to understand why the Government should persist with this pathetic mutilated Bill after its terrible mauling in another place, I read some of the ponderings of the Centre for Policy Studies on teacher training and, in particular, I re-read a pamphlet entitled "Teachers Mis-Taught" by Sheila Lawlor of the CPS, who seems to have been responsible for what passes as the thinking behind Conservative policy on teacher education. It is interesting that Lawlor's pamphlet appears to have provided the structure for the Library briefing on the subject, although the latter is mercifully free of Lawlor's dogma assertions and errors of fact.
I read Lawlor's work and the Bill in the wake of 22 years' work at a former teacher training college. I emphasise what my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. O'Hara) was trying to tell the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam--there are no such things as teacher training colleges any more and there have not been any since the mid-1970s. The fact that the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), the Minister and the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam repeatedly referred to teacher training colleges shows that they are stuck in a time warp. The hon. Lady said that the people coming out of those training colleges were responsible for some of the horrors that she described--for example, the evidence of pupils being indoctrinated--as having happened 10 years ago. The colleges did not exist by that time.
I began my career in a training college which diversified into BA courses and other forms of work in the mid-1970s. It became fully diversified in the 1980s. I worked alongside many colleagues who were going through immense changes in their professional lives while fashions in education were dictated not by educationists but by politicians from Shirley Williams to Lord Callaghan, from Lady Thatcher, to Lord Joseph, to the present Secretary of State. The pamphlet to which I referred is extraordinary because of its mixture of lies and virulent prejudices masquerading as argument. On the very first page, it states :
"the present system demands that all teachers are trained to teach in the same way, irrespective of subject, pupil or teacher". That is simply untrue. It also states :
"Teachers have imposed on them in training courses and later, a single method of teaching, often at the expense of the subject itself".
That is also untrue.
We heard from the Secretary of State today that, to his pleasure, he has discovered that some tutors from higher education institutions have been going into schools. I have
Column 672news for him : I was going into schools as a tutor of teacher education 24 years ago, and so were all my colleagues. We were teaching there and learning. He and the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth talked incessantly about the producer interest. The latter also said that schools are not involved in training. That is untrue. Ms Lawlor also said that, given subject mastery, the teacher will learn "how" to practise with "time and experience". Practise on what and whom and to what effect we are not told. There follow 45 splenetic pages dressed crudely as research but based on a hatred of theory, a word that is trotted out as though it came from Dennis Wheatley. She tells us that education students can undertake theory "so long as it is not linked with practice."
I have never heard such nonsense--what theory is not linked with practice ? The pamphlet evinces a hatred of special needs education, a hatred of anything multicultural, of anything to do with gender and of anything contemporary.
Ms Lawlor's underlying desire, it seems, is the closure of the education departments of higher education institutions, which, coupled with the closure of local education authorities, as recommended by the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Riddick), would leave schools and education in the hands of Government-appointed quangos stuffed with Tory ideologues.
The Secretary of State says--no doubt it will be repeated--that the choice of whether to go into the new system will remain. Opposition Members do not believe him. What will be the outcome if, as is happening now and as the SCOP--Standing Conference of
Principals--survey suggests, schools do not take up the option in sufficient numbers ? Only 12 head teachers out of about 1,300
dragooned--first bribed, but then dragooned--in precisely the same way as we have seen happen in the case of grant-maintained status. I would not normally dignify this appalling piece by Ms Lawlor by referring to it in the House. However, I do so because it demonstrates clearly the paucity of thinking behind the Bill. When the Conservative Government consult, it appears that Ms Lawlor is the consultee. It is hard to find anybody else who agrees with the Government on the teacher education policies that are before us. As a relief from Lawlorism--if I may use that expression--it is appropriate that we should remind ourselves of what exactly a student teacher has to undergo. I intended to go into that matter at some length, but my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Ms Morris) has done so much more clearly and brilliantly than I could. First, the student has to acquire subject expertise, either through the PGCE route, in which case he or she already has it, or in an integrated way through the BEd or the BA(QTS).
Secondly, the student has to learn about the legal and social structure of schools and the education system, about health and safety regulations and practice, about child and adult psychology, about pastoral care, about the methodologies of teaching and about the functions of learning. He or she has to learn about what the curriculum
Column 673is, what its component parts are and how to operate it, and a great deal more. All of that is what the Tories dismiss, with a simple sneer, as theory.
Trainee teachers have to prepare for practice--I have spent many years helping students with this--in structuring a timetable for the first time and in structuring individual lessons and groups of lessons. The last of those is a difficult and time-consuming business--to be referred to these days as episodes, I suppose. That has to be done for a variety of talents and for a variety of levels. Then comes the practice, in which the students are supervised not only by the school teachers but by the tutors with whom they have been working for many weeks. After the practice comes the process of evaluation and debriefing--again an extensive process--in school and in the higher education department.
Then the cycle starts again, ratcheted up a notch to a more sophisticated level. That is an immense and complex task. Given the stress that school teachers are under, particularly at present, it is impossible to imagine how they would cope with all that on top of their prime responsibility, which is to teach their pupils. Teaching, and not the training of students, is the job for which they are trained.
Of course, students are not expected to cope. I believe that, under a system like this, they are expected to flounder on their way through a new system. I quote again from the introduction to Ms Lawlor's pamphlet, which refers to the need
"to acquire experience of how to be a good teacher, often insensibly"
I repeat, "often insensibly". Many smaller primary schools do not even have proper staff rooms in which a student can be taken aside and talked to. Certainly there is no spare staff time in which to do any of this work. Clause 12 says virtually nothing about the implications for resources and nothing about staff time, although there are clear hints, in the "Review of Pay and Conditions", that teachers may be required in future to participate. I should like the Minister to clarify that point.
In the circular of 23 November 1993 we were told that primary schools should take the lead responsibility for training--in this case, the training of class assistants--and for handling funds. There is nothing in the Bill about how even that task would be resourced. Even large secondary schools are squirming under the pressure caused by the increase in training weeks introduced by circulars 9/92 and 14/93. I know that from experience because my wife, who is the deputy head of a large comprehensive school and is responsible for that activity, tells me, in great detail, about it.
The Lords amendments made sensible changes, but unfortunately the Lords could not ditch the Bill entirely. We shall have to ditch it, because of the recent growth in partnership, which other hon. Members have discussed at length, and because of the necessity to work out the complexity of the costings, which are still not clear even in the existing partnerships. There is no doubt that they will present us with great difficulties. We should ditch it because it leaves no time to evaluate the recent pilot schemes. School-based initial teacher training is to be forced in without evidence, on the basis of dogma and an ignorant misunderstanding of what higher education and schools in partnership are trying to achieve.
Mr. Butler rose