I thank my hon. Friend for his informative reply. Does he agree that a further way to improve the overall standard of teachers when the school population is falling is to urge local education authorities to weed out from our education system the less desirable and less proficient teachers who are bringing it into disrepute?
We expect local education authorities to meet the challenge of falling school rolls by adopting positive policies that maintain the inflow of able recruits to teaching and ensure that teachers are deployed where they can best serve the pupils. Most teachers do a good job. I hope that LEAs will act resolutely to deal with the minority who do not.
Is it not a fact that throughout the population there are doctors and engineers who are not as good as we would expect — [HON. MEMBERS: "What about MPs?"] Everyone knows about MPs. Therefore, is not this question an attack on a profession that is striving to the best of its ability to educate our children? Does it not come from a source that seems to rejoice in ignorance and fails to understand that a large number of young people in secondary education——
Does my hon. Friend accept that the quality and development of teachers depends considerably on effective leadership from head teachers, and that effective leadership is undermined by political interference by some local education authorities? Will my hon. Friend condemn such practices?