Teacher Supply

Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 1:25 pm on 18th January 2001.

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Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Speaker of the House of Commons 1:25 pm, 18th January 2001

We now come to the main business, which is an Opposition Day. I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education 1:33 pm, 18th January 2001

I beg to move, That this House views with deep concern the crisis of teacher shortages which is hitting schools across the country and which has led to some schools operating a four day week, children being sent home early, increased class sizes and the use of non-specialist and unqualified staff; deplores the Government's complacency in the face of this crisis; notes that many teachers are leaving the profession because of the increased red tape and bureaucratic burdens imposed by this Government; recognises that the teacher shortages are damaging standards in schools; and calls on the Government to revive the teaching profession by getting rid of the excessive bureaucratic burdens faced by teachers, setting schools free and letting teachers teach. As I start this debate, I would like to pay tribute to the teachers and non-teaching staff in our schools who, today, are having to work even harder in the face of difficult circumstances to ensure that children receive as good an education as possible, given the problem of teacher shortages faced by schools throughout the country. Our debate takes place against the backdrop of a crisis that has all but crippled our education system. In all parts of the country, schools are facing massive problems in recruiting and retaining qualified teachers. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg for, just as worrying, is the impact that the crisis is having on the quality of education that children receive. Behind the headlines, teacher shortages are having a damaging effect on standards in our schools. There is an immediate crisis in teacher supply, but there is also a crisis in the quality of education which our hard-pressed teachers can provide.

We know what the Government's response will be from what they have been saying over the past few weeks. First, they will tell us that there is no crisis, as the Secretary of State did at Education questions last week, when he said: There is a problem, but not a crisis.—[Official Report, 11 January 2001; Vol. 360, c. 1220.] I suppose that we should be grateful for small mercies. The week before, on 7 January, the Prime Minister said on "Breakfast with Frost" that in the vast bulk of this country, this is not the great problem. Of course, it is just the sort of problem that the Prime Minister has refused to debate on television with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. First, the Government say it is not a problem, and then it is a problem, but not a crisis. I wonder what we are going to be told this week? Perhaps the problem is a little bit bigger or has become a little local difficulty. It may even—to use a word that is favoured by new Labour—be a challenge.

It is no good the Government claiming that the problem is merely being whipped up by the Opposition. In a letter to the Department for Education and Employment, the director of education at the royal borough of Windsor and Maidenhead stated: The threat of sending home pupils because staff are not available to teach them is imminent. We are facing a crisis. There are many other such concerns. In a letter published on 4 January, David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that teacher recruitment was "approaching meltdown". Last November, Derek Dorey, the head of Selsdon primary school in Croydon, said: We are facing a crisis of huge proportion in staffing. On 28 December, John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: The teacher supply crisis is having a substantial effect on the education of thousands of pupils in secondary schools. Shortages exist across the country. Also in December, Professor Alistair Ross, of the Institute for Policy Studies in Education, said: This is serious, and we are in for a long-term national crisis. Furthermore, the Minister for School Standards received a letter this morning from the National Union of Teachers, which states: England and Wales are facing the prospect of the worst shortage in teacher supply for many years. It is not as if the Government have not been warned about the problem. Time and time again, they were warned by Opposition Members and by members of the teaching profession that teacher shortages had reached alarming levels. It is noticeable that the Government have not initiated in their four years in office a single debate on the teaching profession and the problems that it faces. This is the third such debate, each of which was initiated by the Opposition. In he two Opposition day debates that occurred last year, we urged the Government to take action to prevent a crisis. They have also been urged to do so by the Secondary Heads Association, the other teacher trade unions and other groups.

The Government have been told for many months that the system is close to breaking point, but we can go back even further than that. In October 1997, in a press release on the first report of the Select Committee on Education and Employment, which dealt with teacher recruitment, the then Chairman, the hon. Member for Barking (Ms Hodge), who is now the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment and present on the Front Bench, said: The Committee chose this as its first report because teacher supply is an issue that goes right to the heart of education policy. Sufficient high quality teachers are essential if we are to raise standards in our schools. In our report we conclude that there is a crisis in teacher recruitment. At that time, however, children were not being sent home early, no schools were completely reliant on supply teachers from abroad or were on four-day weeks and there was no proliferation of unqualified and non-specialist staff. If there was a crisis at a time when schools were operating normally, what on earth is the situation today?

Photo of Ruth Kelly Ruth Kelly Labour, Bolton West

Would the hon. Lady care to compare the current Government's spending on education with that planned by the previous Conservative Government? If the previous Government's plans had been implemented, would there not have been 10,000 fewer teachers than are currently working in our schools?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I am happy to compare the current Government's spending on education with that of the previous Conservative Government. The figures show that they are spending less, despite having come into power in May 1997 and promising to spend a greater proportion of the national income on education than the previous Government. I suggest that the hon. Lady pay more attention to her figures and not take the Whips' brief so seriously.

Since all the threats to which I have referred arose, the Government have not taken the necessary action to prevent the crisis from harming the quality of education that our children receive. Indeed, their complacency is breathtaking. It is not as if the figures have not been showing a problem. The Secretary of State's own Department's figures show that recruitment levels have dropped since 1997 and vacancies have been rising. Indeed, official figures show that teacher vacancies have increased by almost 50 per cent. under the Labour Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is not true."] The Secretary of State and the Minister for School Standards say that that is not true, but those are the official figures released by the Department for Education and Employment.

I can understand the Secretary of State indicating that those figures are not worth trusting. After all, last autumn, when the Department was saying that there were only 1,000 vacancies across the country, a survey by The Times Educational Supplement and the Secondary Heads Association showed that there were 4,000, which is four times the figure produced by the Secretary of State's Department.

We do not have to examine official statistics to know the position: we just need to look at last week's edition of The Times Educational Supplement, which contains 272 pages of job adverts. The Secretary of State is not the only person to distrust his Department's statistics. As the director of learning services at Essex county council said in a letter to the right hon. Gentleman: Schools have expressed concern about the current definition of a vacancy used by your Department, where any vacant post covered by a contract of one term or less is not counted. This definition does not show the true extent of the problems facing schools.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment

Will the hon. Lady confirm for the House and for those interested whose definition that was? I have replied to the director, and presumably through him to his chairman at Essex, pointing out that that is exactly the same definition as that applied by the previous Government.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

If the Secretary of State thinks that it is the wrong definition, why has he not changed it in four years? The answer is that he has not changed it and his official figures do not show the true extent of the problem faced by schools up and down the country. The head teacher of Great Totham primary school in Essex told my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale) that the situation is getting desperate; the Government is living in cloud cuckoo land if it says that there is no crisis When Edmund Burke talked of lies, damned lies and statistics, I can only assume that he was thinking of a future Department for Education and Employment.

Instead of learning lessons from the statistics, the right hon. Gentleman is intent on spinning them. Last week he rubbished figures from the Graduate Teacher Training Registry.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

The right hon. Gentleman says that he was right. This week he has leapt on statistics that show a small increase in the number of applicants. What do those figures reveal? They show a decline in applications for the subjects that are currently desperately short of teachers: mathematics down almost 4 per cent., English down 2 per cent., French down more than 9 per cent. and history down 7.3 per cent.—a rather more worrying figure, given the number of children who, according to a report this morning, do not know who Winston Churchill was. That is the true picture behind the right hon. Gentleman's spin.

Overall figures show a fall on the numbers recorded four years ago. The latest figures for recruits to initial secondary teacher training courses show that over the past four years the number of recruits is down by 1,000.

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

The hon. Lady is giving very much the same speech as was given before Christmas. What proposals does the Conservative party have to resolve this crisis?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I shall come on to that point. It is fascinating that when the hon. Gentleman discusses education in the House, he does not want to talk about the teacher shortages created by the Labour Government. His friends on the Labour Benches are doing what he wants, but it is time he considered the situation in our schools, which I am describing for his benefit as well as for that of those on the Government Front Bench.

Photo of Peter Atkinson Peter Atkinson Conservative, Hexham

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Scottish Executive has recently given Scottish teachers a 21.5 per cent. increase in salary? That will provoke a recruitment and retention crisis in Northumberland schools, because the difference in salaries on either side of the border will be immense. Northumberland county council will be unable to match such increases because its education authority is among the worst funded in the country—indeed, as far as secondary school pupils are concerned, it receives the lowest funding—and the schools are already having to cope with a £1 million cut in their budgets. The promise of "education, education, education" is wearing very thin in Northumberland.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

It is obvious from what my hon. Friend has said that, far from "education, education, education", Northumberland has cuts, shortages and shortages, and that its children are suffering as a result of the actions of this Government and of the Labour-controlled county council. Our proposals for a national funding formula will help to even out the discrepancies, and to improve the situation of those authorities that suffer from such differences in spending on their children.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

No, I want to make some progress.

The Government have told us that there is not a crisis, because the number of people registering an interest in going into teacher training has been going up. That is all very well, but it does nothing to tackle the problems faced by schools today. Perhaps the Government should consider the evidence of the latest Smithers report, published in December, entitled "Attracting Teachers", and the survey conducted recently by the National Union of Teachers. They show that, of those training to be teachers, some 10 per cent. fail to qualify. Nearly 30 per cent. of those who qualify do not go into teaching, and 7 per cent. of those who go into teaching drop out in the first year. Of every 100 people training to be a teacher, only just over half will go into the classroom for more than a year. An increase in people registering an interest is not going to solve the problem that our schools face today, tomorrow or in the months to come.

There is a crisis now, the situation is worsening and we have nothing but spin and complacency from the Government. The result of the Government's inactivity is plain to see. Schools across the country are in crisis, with head teachers and their staff fighting valiantly to ensure that the damage to our children's education is minimal. The fact that many schools have avoided switching to a four-day week, or worse, is a tribute not to the Government—whose incompetence put the schools in this position in the first place—but to the heroic efforts of the teaching profession.

The head teacher of St. Mary's high school in Cheshunt had faced circumstances in which a third of her pupils were having to lose out on lessons and go home early. She wrote yesterday: As from Thursday 18th January 2001, it has been possible for all students at St. Mary's High School to return to school for their lessons.We are grateful to those supply teachers and non-teaching staff, who are making this possible … We thank … our own staff for their dedication and commitment to our students.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment

Yes, and she also said: We thank the local authority and the DfEE for working with us at this difficult time … We all agree with the thanks that she has given.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

We do, indeed, note the thanks that the head teacher has given. I am sorry that the Secretary of State had to intervene, because I was making the simple point that the teachers are the ones who have borne the brunt of the problem, not the bureaucrats. The teachers are the ones who have to deal with the crisis on a day-to-day basis in the schools, with the children in their classrooms.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the reasons teachers have been flocking out of the profession in recent years is that, too often, the role of teacher has involved an exercise in crowd control? Does she also agree that the Government's guidelines on the legitimate use of physical restraint by teachers when dealing with recalcitrant pupils should reflect the common-sense instincts of the majority of the British people, and not the politically correct prejudices of the liberal establishment?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that the politically correct prejudices of the liberal establishment have had a damaging effect on discipline in our schools. That is one of the key issues that teachers cite when they leave the profession.

Photo of James Clappison James Clappison Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

The problems experienced by the school to Cheshunt are part of a wider problem affecting Hertfordshire. It is even affecting some of the leading state schools in the county and, indeed, the country, such as Watford grammar school for boys, whose headmaster has said: It is becoming increasingly difficult to even get shortlists of suitable candidates for teaching positions. We are having to use every means to fill jobs. The situation in Hertfordshire is extremely serious.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

My hon. Friend has illustrated the reality. However, this is a serious problem not just in Hertfordshire but throughout the country. When I was in Cumbria recently, I heard from teachers there about the problems they were experiencing in filling vacancies.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Labour, Halton

May I ask a simple question? What is the hon. Lady's solution to the problem?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I understand why the hon. Gentleman does not want to hear about the problems that his Government have created, but he is going to have to hear about them.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I will tell the hon. Gentleman what we will do in due course, but first he must hear about the problems caused by his Government's policy. Let me tell him that when he goes on the electoral stump—

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I am answering the hon. Gentleman's question. Let me tell him that when he knocks on those doors, people will not ask him what the Conservatives propose. They will say "We pay the tax; where are the teachers?"

Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Is my hon. Friend aware of the problems of St. Edward's school in Chipping Campden, in my constituency? For the first time in its 40-year history, the school has advertised a vacancy for a science teacher and has received not a single application. I know that that has happened in London, but if it is starting to extend to areas such as Gloucestershire, what on earth will the problems be in schools that cannot find teachers to teach?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

That shows that when the Government claim that the problem has hit only schools in London, they are plain wrong. The problem is being experienced by schools throughout the country. We wish the teachers and pupils at the school cited by my hon. Friend all the best in overcoming the difficulties that they, like those in so many other schools, are facing.

The crisis is affecting standards. In Essex, head teachers have been forced to use unqualified teachers to plug the gaps—67 in 61 schools throughout the county. In north London, a school has reported that only one in three maths teachers has maths qualifications—a higher proportion, I suspect, than obtains in the team that produces the Secretary of State's statistics. Throughout the country, head teachers are being forced to use supply teachers to bolster permanent staff.

Back in May 1997, the incoming Labour Government promised that class sizes would be smaller. They should try telling that to the 90 pupils at Bishop Reindorp school in Guildford, who have been put in a single class because of teacher shortage. Now we face the threat of industrial action. Let me make it clear that we do not support such action by the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers; teachers and heads should go on trying to work together, as they are all doing, to ensure that children are protected from the worst effects of the crisis. But, as head teachers in Barnet said last month in a letter to parents, there is only so much extra work that we can ask our staff to do. Schools have had to shorten hours because of the crisis. Schools have had to send children home for half a day per week, or longer. There is little doubt in the minds of parents that there is a real crisis in our schools, and that it is affecting standards.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

No, I must make some progress.

The general secretary of the National Union of Teachers told the Minister for School Standards today: Teachers are being asked to teach subjects for which they are not qualified; teachers who would not normally have been first, or even in some cases second, choice are being employed simply because there are not enough applicants for posts. Children are being taught in larger classes and subject areas are being dropped … Children's education is suffering because they are being taught by teachers who are being overstretched, stressed and in some cases not qualified to teach the subject for which they have been employed. What have the Government done? They have failed to address the key issue for which answer is needed. The problem is not just about recruitment; it is about retaining teachers. Why are teachers leaving in droves? Because of the work load caused by red tape and bureaucracy, and interference in the classroom.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education


A good example has been provided by Dr. Chris Nicholls, head of Moulsham high school, in Chelmsford, who said in The Times Educational Supplement that the Government's "dictatorial" and "heavy-handed" approach has marred Labour's first term, and that the endless initiatives from the Department for Education and Employment have left teachers feeling demoralised and overburdened.

Dr. Nicholls said that the Government's approach has simply been too prescriptive and over-the-top …We don't seem to be able to do anything in schools these days without filling out forms … We are now living in a bureaucratic nightmare. Even teacher recruitment is tied around with red tape, as demonstrated in the graduate and registered teacher programme. Let us look at an application form for that programme for primary schools. I can understand a requirement to ask for a few pages of details on applicants and their needs, but how many pages does the application form have? Are there one or two pages? Are there four, five, six or seven pages? Are there nine pages? No; the application runs to 23 pages.

It is no wonder that the director of education at the royal borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said that one of the major problems with the programme is that "it is over-bureaucratic" and that the application form is unnecessarily complex and … de-motivating for candidates and for schools. The director of education suggests—I should like the Secretary of State to take these proposals seriously—that the graduate and registered teacher programme should be changed to reflect the recruitment difficulties experienced in places other than central London, and that the allocations need to reflect the full range of teacher shortages and not focus almost exclusively on secondary shortage subjects. He also suggests improving the application procedure.

Perhaps the Secretary of State could take up those constructive proposals and change the programme to ensure that it is not so bureaucratic. He could also try to ensure that the changes help schools outside London.

If the Government really want to help resolve the current crisis, why do they not consider relaxing the restrictions now? All along, however, what we have had from the Government are not concrete proposals, but spin and no delivery. The Government's only response has been a new telephone line, a special unit in Whitehall, phoney statistics and a dogged determination to avoid admitting what every teacher across the country knows—that the education system is in crisis.

Teachers need to be left to teach. They need to be freed from the suffocating burden of directives, circulars and guidance that flows daily from the Secretary of State's Department. New teachers who started at the beginning of last year would have received 140 guidance circulars from the Department for Education and Employment by the time that they were six months into the job.

A Conservative Government will stop telling teachers what to do and allow them to do what they do best—teach. We have pledged to match, pound for pound, Labour's spending on schools. However, we shall ensure that that money finds its way to where it is most needed, because too much Government money is being squandered on waste and bureaucracy. By devolving powers and budgets to schools, we shall ensure, on average, an extra £540 per pupil for every school in the country.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education


We need to give head teachers the freedom to use incentives to attract teachers who are right for their schools.

Those measures will go some way to ensuring that teaching is once again made an attractive profession. It is also vital that we ensure that teachers are doing the job that they entered the profession to do—to get on with teaching, and not endlessly fill in the Secretary of State's paperwork.

The Government were elected claiming that things can only get better, but they have got worse. Across the country, too many schools have reached crisis point.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

No. I am coming to the end of my speech, so I shall not give way.

Schools have reached crisis point, with teacher shortages, classes being sent home early, increasing class sizes, unqualified staff, non-specialist staff and standards falling.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

No, I will not give way.

It is little wonder that people are saying, "We have paid the taxes, so where are the teachers? We have paid the taxes, so where has the money gone? We have paid the taxes, so when will the Government deliver?" This Government will never deliver. Only a Conservative Government will set schools free, let teachers teach and deliver the standards in education that our children deserve.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment 1:59 pm, 18th January 2001

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: welcomes the enormous strides taken over the last three years to make teaching a more attractive profession; particularly welcomes the introduction of a new career structure and performance-related pay to assist retention, a greater emphasis on continuing professional development and the development of golden hellos in shortage subjects and teacher training salaries, which mean that there are more people training to be teachers now than at any time in the last eight years; further welcomes the practical steps taken by the Government to assist headteachers facing recruitment problems in some areas and the measures which have been taken to reduce needless bureaucracy in schools; applauds the improved achievement levels by both primary and secondary pupils, the big reduction in infant class sizes since 1997 and the substantial increase in teaching assistants and learning mentors to offer practical support to pupils and teachers; and notes that the number of teachers in post is higher than at any time in the last decade as a direct result of greater investment in education by the Government, and that the School Teachers' Review Body will report soon. The only delivery likely to come from the Conservative party is what was in store when highwaymen of the 18th century said, "Stand and deliver." The people to whom that command was directed found themselves ejected from their carriages and robbed of their money. They certainly did not get anything back.

We need to inject an air of reality into the debate. The first thing that I want to do is thank Ralph Tabberer, the chief executive of the Teacher Training Agency, and the officials of my Department who have been so badly maligned this afternoon by the hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May). They have worked hard over recent weeks and months to ensure that staff are available in schools and that action is being taken in that regard. I also want to thank my right hon. Friend the Minister for School Standards for her excellent work over recent weeks.

The hon. Member for Maidenhead believes that using the word "crisis" often enough will convince people that a crisis exists. It is certainly possible, by using that word all the time, to change the atmosphere and make it difficult for schools to attract the people that they need and encourage them to apply for jobs. It is also possible by that means to make it difficult to persuade young people that teaching is a good profession to enter, and to make it difficult for returners—people who may be thinking about going back to the profession after taking early retirement, for example—to want to return to teaching.

Repeating the word "crisis" makes all that possible, but it will not resolve the problem. The Government have been clear all along that a problem exists. That is why we took action in 1998 with the golden hellos, about which I shall speak in a moment. That is why we made available £180 million last Match to introduce programmes—such as the graduate teacher programme, to which the hon. Lady referred—aimed at resolving the problem. The Conservative party is not committed to matching the Government's total education spend, but only our spending on schools. A. Conservative Government would not be able to afford to put those programmes in place. The graduate teacher programme, therefore, would not be available under a Conservative Government, as they would not have the money to pay for it.

However, I thank the hon. Lady for the one positive suggestion that her speech contained. There was only one, and it had to do with the graduate teacher programme. There is a need to scrutinise all the forms, and to listen to and respond to anyone who believes that they can be slimmed down and made less bureaucratic. It is important that we spread the graduate teacher programme, and we have doubled, to 1,680, the number of people taking part in it. Those people must be made available across the country.

I accept the hon. Lady's suggestion in that regard, and think that it is sensible. I heard no other suggestion as to what we should do. I am very sorry about that. I came here this afternoon prepared to listen and respond positively to the debate, as I have just done.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury)

With regard to the graduate programme, will the Secretary of State explain why a lady constituent of mine has been refused access to a teacher training course? She has A-levels in English and history, and a second-class honours degree in anthropology. She wishes to teach history at a secondary school. The refusal was based on the claim that she could not guarantee that her degree in anthropology had a 60 per cent. history content. My constituent is eager to get into teaching, but is being prevented from doing so by Government bureaucracy.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I would not dream of trying to deal this afternoon with every application to an institution or for school-based training. I emphasise that school-based training is available, so the surveys from institutions, to which the hon. Member for Maidenhead referred earlier, do not add up to the total picture.

However, the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) referred to a constituency case. I can tell him that what makes the difference is the course content. Leaving her A-levels aside, if her anthropology degree had sufficient history content to enable her to train to teach secondary school specialists, there would be no reason for her not to be accepted.

Conservative Members cannot have it both ways. The hon. Member for Maidenhead chided the Government because she said there were too many people—and she read from the National Union of Teachers letter—who were being asked to teach subjects that they were not equipped to teach.

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

Is the right hon. Gentleman not being a little disingenuous here? Is not the reality that the Teacher Training Agency and the training programmes need to be dramatically reviewed? The nonsense of someone going through an undergraduate course, obtaining a degree and then not being considered appropriate to be trained in a specialism is insulting.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I am grateful for another sensible suggestion. I can confirm that we are reviewing circular 4/98. We believe that common sense should be applied. However, common sense means that people have to have sufficient course content, whatever their degree, or take conversion courses. Let us agree that common sense is common sense. If we can get people with the expertise and the background to do the job in specialist subject areas, we should—it is in everyone's best interests.

One instance was raised in the press recently. Someone took a psychology degree but did not indicate in the form that she filled in to apply for a maths course that she had undertaken sufficient course content in statistics and maths. It was not surprising that the institution did not know that that was the case.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

On the maths content of courses for those who wish to undertake teacher training, will the right hon. Gentleman look at the availability of maths courses? I have had a case of a lady with a first-class degree in English who was told that she needed to improve her maths to go into teaching and then found it difficult to get a suitable course that would provide that training for her.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment

We will examine the position immediately on this and any other instances that right hon. and hon. Members wish to raise. However, we introduced the tests for maths, English and information technology to ensure that whoever people are, whatever degree they have taken and whatever course they have been on, they are equipped to do the job in the classroom. Quality first, second and third has to be the hallmark of where we are going in order to continue what the chief inspector of schools identified last year, and what I hope will be identified and continued by the new chief inspector in his annual report in February—that the quality of teaching and of teachers has risen substantially over the past four or five years.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Labour, Halton

The hon. Member for Maidenhead advised me earlier what my constituents would be saying to me about education at the election. However, I see my constituents on a regular basis between elections, and they tell me that they see a rise in quality and standards. As my right hon. Friend mentioned, we have seen an increase in standards in key stage 2—they are double what they were in my constituency in 1997. My constituency has three new classrooms and a new school. That is the sort of quality that teachers want, and that is what the Government are delivering. Will my right hon. Friend agree with me on that point?

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment

How could I possibly disagree with that? It is a consequence of improved teaching and teachers in the classroom, and I thank them for it. Ultimately, the correlation between improved standards, increased levels of test results and qualification at GCSE and A-level is a result of the improvement in teachers and in the teaching in the classroom. The two go together. Paradoxically, some people are glad to have an improvement and want to reward teachers for it while others find it difficult to believe that improved teaching leads to improved exam results. They suggest that the results must somehow be fiddled, that statisticians do not have the qualifications to do the job accurately and that independent statisticians cannot be trusted. A party that says that about those who are delivering the nationally assessed and independent statistical data is not fit to be in government.

Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Labour, Leeds Central

As my right hon. Friend refers to the position 10 years ago, will he confirm to the House that the teacher vacancy rate in 1991 was approximately double the present rate? As someone who, as a chair of education, was dealing with a recruitment crisis for teachers in inner London just before that time, I do not recollect that any practical assistance whatever was offered by the then Conservative Government to help us to deal with that problem.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I confirm that the number of vacancies in 1991—when, as my hon. Friend will remember, we were in the throes of the recession that followed the 1988–89 boom—was 5,500. I mention the boom and the consequent recession because at the time there was a dual problem in recruitment. With the artificially created boom in 1988, London and the south-east experienced the most enormous rise in house prices—as anyone who was around at the time will remember. We continue to feel the effects of that. However, cuts in teacher training took place throughout almost all the 1980s—especially in secondary teacher recruitment and training.

It was precisely at that time that we needed expansion, however. That is why there are fewer teachers in their 30s and early 40s at present than there would otherwise have been—a point to which the attention of the House has been drawn previously—and we should not have the current gap, which I acknowledge, between new entrants and the over-45s.

In the economy at present, 1.1 million more men and women are in work than four years ago. There is low inflation and continuing growth—with prosperity leading both to demand on housing in areas of high employment and, of course, to demand for labour and thus competition for the attention and recruitment of young people. That is a simple fact.

If we were not expanding the teaching profession, the problem would not be so great. Increased investment in education leads to increased demand for teachers—as does the reduction of class sizes. That increased demand for teachers leads to pressure on recruitment—especially in schools in London and the south-east, but also in other parts of the country.

There is thus an economic factor. As my right hon. Friend the Minister for School Standards has pointed out, the last thing we want is to be able to recruit in a recession, but to be unable to match the expansion in resource investment with an expansion in the teaching profession.

That is the position we face. In England alone, an extra 7,000 plus teachers have been in the classroom—in post—since 1998. We know that there is a major problem, but we also know that simply to repeat the word "crisis" will do nothing to resolve it. We have endeavoured to take steps to make it possible to change the position.

We introduced the golden hello scheme, first, for specialist subject areas, and reversed the decline in recruitment for teachers of maths, languages and science—although problems remain. As long as we are recruiting almost 50 per cent. of all maths graduates for teaching, there will continue to be a major challenge.

We extended the scheme with the new graduate salaries—£6,000 for nine months' training—and added the golden hello of £4,000 for those who actually take up teaching. We introduced the graduate teacher programme under which we are prepared to pay people £13,000 for undertaking that work-based route. We are extending the school-based, initial teacher training programme that many people are convinced will offer a way forward in the future.

We shall not stern the problem, however, unless we persuade both mature students and new entrants that teaching is a first-class profession. As I pointed out to one union leader two days ago, it must be in the interests of the teacher unions—competing in the run-up to the school teachers' review body—to sell to the world out there that teaching is a good job to be in. If they do not, the pressure on their members will increase, not decrease, because the more we can recruit, the more easily we can lift the burden from existing teachers. They will not have to cover if the cover is there. They will not have to cover if sickness absence does not increase. It is in everyone's interests to get this right, which is why we need ideas.

On 27 December, we introduced an advertising campaign. Admittedly, it has not yet transferred interest into applications, because it takes weeks for people to submit applications and for those to be processed. That is why I was right in saying, at Education questions this time last week, that comparing one date with a different date in the previous year would lead to a misunderstanding about the level of applications. It did, because applications, as attested to by the graduate teacher training registry this week, are 10 per cent. up on this time last year.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment

Yes, but I will give hon. Members another statistic first. If the advertising campaign continues to be as initially successful as we hope that it will be, there will be a substantial uplift on that figure, because I can confirm to the House that, as of last Tuesday, 100,000 inquiries have been made for teacher training, which is 61,000 more than this time last year. That is something to rejoice in.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

A few moments ago, the right hon. Gentleman said that the Government had reversed the decline in applications from maths graduates to enter the teaching profession. Will he accept that the Graduate Teacher Training Registry figures that he quoted, which were published last week, show that there is a continuing fall in the number of applications from maths graduates?

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment

Yes, I confirm that there was a 2 per cent. fall by comparison with last year, but it was the most enormous reverse of the position that we inherited, and which continued in the, first two years of our Government, in which applications from maths graduates were almost in free fall. That is why, far from sitting on our hands, we introduced golden hellos. We moved rapidly because the fall in applications from maths graduates had become so grave. So we have taken steps—

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Secretary of State for Education and Employment

No, I must make progress, because the debate finishes at 4 o'clock and I want us to make as much progress as we can.

So where do we go from here? We have got inquiries up enormously. We have got applications up. We have got an improvement of 9 per cent.—over 2,000—in those in training now, compared with this time last year. The position is improving but is still a worry.

My right hon. Friend the Minister for School Standards recently introduced further measures to bring back former teachers to the profession, by providing free courses and making it possible for those who undertake them to be paid for doing so. We have put in place resources for the most disadvantaged schools, to enable them to pay recruitment and retention bonuses. We have submitted evidence to the school teachers' pay review body, which will present its findings in two or three weeks' time.

I believe that the combination of measures already taken and the work that the Department, the Teacher Training Agency and local authorities have done is yielding fruit. The local authorities have recruitment managers paid for by the Department. That money would not be there if there were not a standards fund and a central budget specifically for these matters. Those local authorities would not exist if Conservative Members had their way, so God knows what they suppose that schools would do if they were in real difficulties and needed to call on immediate help and support locally.

We are also working with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and local authorities on housing, as has been spelled out many times. The efforts of councils such as Reading to pay sums of money to those who are prepared to provide rented accommodation to teachers from other parts of the country who are looking for jobs in the area should be applauded—not maligned, as they have been in some parts of the press. That is precisely the sort of thing that would make sense in a sensible world.

Taken together, there are more resources to employ more teachers; more inquiries from teachers; more people recruited to courses; and more people being placed in jobs, but, yes, there is enormous pressure in an economy with a buoyant labour market, so it is vital that we make teaching attractive. That is why we have taken steps, through performance-related pay, to increase enormously the future salary and promotion levels of teachers and to reduce bureaucracy and administration.

About two fifths fewer documents were sent to primary schools last term, compared with a year earlier, and 66 per cent. fewer to secondary schools. Slightly more were sent to primary schools than secondary schools, because 216 of the 490 pages sent to primary schools last term dealt with the grammar guide. I mention the grammar guide only because spelling, grammar and phonics are close to our hearts—at least, to some of us.

When I read in the papers, as I did this morning, that the so-called Campaign for Real Education says that literacy programmes are not working, but the Opposition tell us that we are imposing too many specific requirements on teachers, I wonder when the right in this country will get its act together. The contradictions are so stark now. With one breath, those on the right say that teachers should teach phonics more rigorously and that they should teach spelling as dictated from the centre; with the next breath, they say that teachers should be left alone to teach as they will.

The zealots want to dictate precisely how phonics should be taught in every classroom, but the free-for-all view—not to let teachers teach because of course they should be left to do so—suggests that the Government should not instil any teaching methodology and, presumably, that the grammar guide should not have been issued because it represents bureaucracy. Between those two extremes lies common sense.

Common sense suggests that we spread the best practice to every school and that we support teachers and enable them to do the job well. When their confidence and self-esteem are lifted, as results improve and children flourish, so will recruitment to the teaching profession, as will the quality of opportunity because standards in every classroom will be of the best.

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 2:22 pm, 18th January 2001

May I apologise to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, to the Secretary of State and his Front-Bench team, and to the hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May), who leads the Conservative party's education team, for having to leave the debate early to travel to another engagement? I have given those on both Front Benches notice of that fact.

I do not want to begin with empty words of thanks and congratulation to the teaching profession. Few hon. Members who have spent their lifetime in education, especially working in the more difficult areas of Leeds and Middlesbrough, fail to appreciate the value not only of education but of what our teachers provide young people with. It is immensely sad that, every time we debate education, we talk about all that is wrong with education and the education service, rather than celebrating the achievements.

It was interesting that, despite all the difficulties—I shall return to them because they should not be glossed over—an analysis and poll in The Times EducationalSupplement showed that two out of three teachers still enjoy their jobs. We should celebrate and build on that, rather than merely talking about the problems. Although the hon. Member for Maidenhead makes some telling points, she fails to recognise that teacher recruitment has been a problem since 1983. With the exception of the period between 1991 and 1994, when there was a recession, the targets set by previous Governments since 1983 were missed. Indeed, the maths targets between 1994 and 1997 were missed on average by nearly 25 per cent. We have to take that into account and say, "A plague on both your houses", because no one has been able to master how to recruit teachers in a buoyant economy. We cannot simply ignore that problem.

I want to raise many issues with the hon. Member for Maidenhead, but I am principally concerned about her remarks that quality is being damaged. I reject that statement. I accept that there is enormous pressure and children in some schools do not have teachers, but in the 1980s, I worked a four-day week virtually every week because of union action. So it is not new for heads and schools to be working in such a way. Of course it is not good for kids not to have a teacher in front of them, but I reject what the hon. Lady said about quality.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

Drawing on the hon. Gentleman's expertise, which I recognise, will he comment on the implications of a large number of supply teachers working in a school in succession? I am not being negative about such teachers, many of whom are very good, but does he not agree that a rapid turnover of staff, or the use of non-specialist teachers to teach subjects with which they are not completely familiar, is bound, even with the greatest effort in the world, to have an impact on standards and quality?

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

I totally agree with the hon. Gentleman, but that is not my point. I am saying that what has happened over the past three or four years is not new; it has been happening for the past two decades. When a school does not have a regular supply of teachers whom the youngsters know and respect and who are able to lift their morale and self-esteem, that will, of course, affect the product. However, the idea that that has happened in schools only since this Government came to office is nonsense.

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

In a moment.

Let us consider the results of the standard assessment tests at key stage 2, which were introduced by the previous Government to measure student performance. Between 1996 and last year, passes in English increased from 57 per cent. to 75 per cent, in maths from 54 per cent. to 72 per cent and in science from 62 per cent. to 85 per cent. Is that a fall in standards? Those figures reflect the reality of what has happened in our primary schools, and we should celebrate it. GCSE results over the same period have increased from 44.5 per cent. to 49 per cent. That is not because exams have got easier, but because our youngsters and teaching are getting better; and that is not lower, but higher quality.

The real problem lies at level 3, which causes most concern in this country. The previous Government constantly and desperately ignored that problem after their revolution in education in 1992–93 and the incorporation of further education colleges, but 40 per cent. of our students are now achieving level 3, which is a remarkable state of affairs.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

The hon. Gentleman's peroration went on to make the point that I wanted to raise.

My constituency of Slough provides a typical example of the improvement in standards that the hon. Gentleman describes. It has the most improved urban education authority in the country and standards for achievement at GCSE level have exceeded the national average for the first time. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that has been achieved at a time when the town has had difficulties in recruiting qualified teachers? Does he also agree that it is an example of how well and how hard our teachers have worked during that time? They and the children should be congratulated. If we can do that well at a time of recruitment difficulties—

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

I have got the point of the hon. Lady's peroration. I take every opportunity that I can to praise the teaching force across the country. Of course, there are examples of bad teaching and there are poor teachers, but teachers make up a work force of whom we should be proud. I send my hearty congratulations to the teachers in Slough on their efforts.

Photo of Mr Roy Beggs Mr Roy Beggs UUP, East Antrim

I agree entirely that good teaching contributes to raising standards. When teachers and children work well together, the best results are achieved. Although I agree that the majority of teachers are dedicated, committed, love their jobs and love children to succeed, does the hon. Gentleman not accept that leadership in schools is also vital? We must not overlook a growing concern. Many school governors now receive very few applicants from whom they can choose to provide the future leadership in their schools.

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

I could not agree more with the hon. Gentleman. The public sector is no different from the private sector and leadership, wherever it occurs, is the absolute key to improving the standards of a teaching force. If there is one thing that I would take the Government to task for it is that over the past decade—and not just since 1997—head teachers, in particular, have been taken away from their core business to do other tasks at the periphery of leading a dynamic team in a school. That is sad. One of the sad aspects of the Tories' proposals for free schools is that managers would do even more bureaucratic work instead of leading their school communities.

In his latest report, Lord Woodhead of Smith Square said that 90 per cent. of schools had a higher proportion of good teaching than when they were previously inspected and that 70 per cent. of them had significantly improved their exam performance. I rest my case. Standards are not dropping as a result of the problems that schools face. We must recognise that teachers are making heroic efforts to maintain standards in very difficult circumstances.

One would expect a Labour Government who promised "education, education, education" to reward teachers for the efforts that they are making and their performance. Have they received better rewards and better conditions of services? The Times Educational Supplement said last week that 80 per cent of teachers said that their job was more stressful under tiffs Government than it was before. I find that hard to believe—I was incredibly stressed out by 1997. The survey found that 91 per cent. said that Government had failed to raise the status of teachers. Raising their status is crucial if we want to retain them. There is nothing worse for those who go to the pub on Friday night—I do not, because I do not drink—than to have people poke fun at them because they are teachers.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

They laugh at the hon. Gentleman because he is a Liberal.

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

I shall ignore the hon. Gentleman's sedentary intervention. It is important that we raise teachers' status.

One in 10 teachers questioned in the survey said that they had been assaulted, and that is a worrying statistic that must be tackled Some 85 per cent. said that they were increasingly pressurised as a result of their job since 1997. Have the rewards increased because of the extra pressure, the extra work and teachers' extra productivity?

The Government say that 190,000 teachers will receive £2,000 more as a result of threshold payments. I welcome the extra money for teachers, but only 190,000 out of 500,000 will get it. The majority of the others will have only a 3.5 per cent. pay rise this year—40p a day for a cup of coffee is what most teachers will receive for all the efforts that they have put in. I defy the Minister to come to the ballot box—[HON. MEMBERS: "Dispatch Box."] I am sorry; I have got elections on the mind. I defy the Minister to come to the Dispatch Box to say that such a pay rise is sufficient reward for the efforts that teachers have put in.

Turning now to head teachers—I declare an interest, in that I was a head—the Government are telling them that they do not trust their judgment on threshold assessments, so an external assessor must come to the school and if he does not agree with that judgment, he will make a decision over their head. Does that give head teachers the impression that we value them and their judgment? I urge the Minister to reconsider the issue of external assessors and to get rid of them, because they are an expensive nonsense. The Government should pay Cambridge Education Associates a small sum to go away and allow head teachers to get on with their job.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the Government's characteristics, which they display in their interference in the classroom, in their second-guessing of head teachers' judgment through external assessors, and in many other examples, is their complete and utter failure to trust teachers?

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

I certainly feel that there is a great desire to control everything in education from the centre, except in higher education, and that is a genuine failing on the part of the Government. If we have another Labour Government after 3 May, they must allow professionalism to triumph in education; otherwise we will simply have a technician service, and I do not think that anybody in the House wants that.

A person in my office calculated that a Railtrack employee would have received a bonus of about £6,500 for working over the Christmas period. It would take teachers, with their 3.5 per cent. pay rise, 10 years to make up that difference. That gives a sense of the imbalance in the rewards of teachers and others.

The McCrone report in Scotland was the equivalent of our Green Paper. We must remember that the Scottish Parliament has existed for a relatively short time, yet that report recognised that education was crucial and said that the Parliament wanted to back teachers to the hilt. Not only did it produce its own version of the Green Paper, but it set up partnership discussions with political parties, the Executive, local authorities and trade unions to hammer out an agreement for the future.

We must compare that with the way in which this Government dealt with their Green Paper. We never had a debate in the House about the Green Paper, about performance-related pay or about threshold assessments. The Government forced that policy through; they even forced it through the courts to mike sure that it was implemented exactly as they wanted. That, too, is a massive failure.

The Scottish Executive have promised teachers a 21.5 per cent. pay increase over three years, giving certainty to schools and the profession. They have promised 4,000 more teachers to reduce class sizes throughout the education system, improved conditions of service, recognition of increased demands and a statutory right to support for professional development. None of those has been introduced by this Government under the policy of education, education, education, yet they are crucial to the teaching profession and for raising standards.

On threshold payments, the Minister is famous for saying to teachers, "We want something for something." I admire her enormously for the effort and energy that she puts into her brief, but telling teachers, after all that they have delivered, "You have to do more to get your threshold payments," sends out entirely the wrong message.

In Scotland, there is no performance-related pay, no payment by results and no bureaucratic threshold. There are no external assessors checking on head teachers and there is no denial of employment rights for part-time staff and those belonging to trade unions. What a difference devolution has made. What a contrast there is in Scotland now that Liberal Democrats are in government. [Interruption.] I thought the Minister would like that.

If we are to make a real impact on teacher shortages, the Government must recognise that they must have a new approach, and that pay and conditions of service matter. I do not accuse either the Secretary of State or the Minister of not wanting to improve standards or not wanting to support young people. I think that they do, but I believe that they have got a great deal wrong.

The Minister is right to say that bureaucracy is not only about paperwork. Most of the bureaucracy has come about through initiatives. My argument with the Minister is that we are having too many initiatives. If we want to reduce bureaucracy, we need to reduce significantly the number of initiatives and stop forcing schools to do things that they do not want to do.

Ofsted says that there is a problem at key stage 3. It has produced evidence that shows that there is some difficulty, especially with year seven, and a dip in performance. What do the Government do? Every school has to respond to a key stage 3 initiative, even though the Ofsted report has praised a school for its key stage 3 work. It might be poor in information and communications technology or in languages, but it has to have an incentive in respect of key stage 3.

Liberal Democrat Members have supported the idea of specialist schools. I have always supported the idea that every school in the land should be noted for a specialism. It is absurd that when the 30 per cent. quota with the local education authority is reached, it is not possible to have any more specialist schools. Surely they are either a good thing or a bad thing. Either they are worth having, or they are not. The Minister is right to say that they have shown improved examination results and less truancy. That being so, we should try to extend them to cover every school.

When the Minister replies, I ask her to explain why we are not recognising community schools in London and in our other large cities as specialist schools. These are schools that offer a range of provision that embeds itself in the community. Why is that not a specialism? Why are we not having ethnic language specialist schools? Why are European languages the only yardstick for language schools? That is insulting in areas such as Bradford, for example, where there is a huge ethnic minority population. We should cherish and celebrate the languages of that minority.

In rural areas, there is often only one school. Why cannot it be a specialist rural school so that it is celebrated in that way? We must consider other ways in which we can support schools.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

The hon. Gentleman talks about specialist schools. Will he bring it to the Government's attention that the 30 per cent. ceiling applies regardless of the specialism of the schools in a particular area? It is nonsensical that, regardless of particular existing specialisms, a technology college, for example, can be prevented from acquiring the status that it deserves and demands.

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point. I hope that the Minister was listening. We have completed some research which reveals that schools with specialist status are predominantly in middle-class areas. They are not in the—

Photo of Ms Estelle Morris Ms Estelle Morris Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment, Minister of State (Department for Education and Employment) (School Standards)

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to point out, in addition to his response to the question of the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes), that the Conservative Government were responsible for the worst form of restriction. They restricted specialist schools to grant-maintained schools.

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

The Minister has taken the words out of my mouth. I was about to make that riposte, but I was trying to be generous to the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

The hon. Gentleman is always courteous in the House, and he deserves a courteous response.

If we are to have specialist schools and to develop that approach as a central theme, we must remove absurd restrictions and ensure that all schools can bid appropriately.

The Prime Minister said that he wants the best of our state schools to be as good as the best public schools. Hear, hear—I want that, too. What is the great difference, however? Let us take away class sizes and facilities. The great difference is that our public schools allow the heads and their staffs to define the priorities for the youngsters in their school and to move ahead. We want to see a level of professionalism that is missing at present.

The hon. Member for Maidenhead should not get excited and think that I am supporting her free schools initiative. To be fair, she did not go on too much about free schools this afternoon, having had her nose bloodied at the north of England conference.

We are proposing to cut bureaucracy and set schools free. Imagine what bureaucracy would result from 24,000 separate schools competing with each other. What would that do for recruitment and retention? How would that help to resolve the crisis in teacher recruitment?

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He says that he wants the state school system to emulate the successes of the public or independent school system. How does he think the independent schools cope so well in a competitive environment?

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

I thought that the hon. Gentleman would answer the question, but he has posed another question. I am delighted. If the school in which I worked in Leeds, John Smeaton community high school, had £7,500 per student instead of £1,700 per student, I could have offered a better product than I did.

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way a second time. He is contradicting himself. Only a few moments ago, he said that a school's success was nothing to do with its resources—it was about freedom from bureaucracy and the ability of the head and the teachers to run their own school.

Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

The hon. Gentleman does me an injustice, which is unusual for him. He is quite a courteous person, when he is not speaking about grammar schools. Hansard will demonstrate that I said that I wanted to strip those things out. They are the obvious differences between state and public schools. Freedom, professionalism and trust are extremely important.

Imagine the chaos if every rural primary school and every small secondary school had to close, as they would under the Conservative proposals. Let us be honest about that. If there were equity of funding on a per capita basis from the centre across the whole country, every small primary school that is currently subsidised by the local authority under the formula system would close. We hear no answer to that.

Imagine saying to a group of head teachers in front of one of those big posters, "We are campaigning against bureaucracy, but by the way, you will now have to organise your own admissions, your own appeals, your own SEN tribunals, your own statementing processes, your own psychology, speech therapy and sensory impairment services, and so on. That will not increase your bureaucracy, but you will have to organise it. Also, you will have to sort out your own buses and taxis, your governors' support, your legal services, your payroll and every other service. Don't ask LEAs for any support, as we are abolishing those."

That is the nonsense implied by the Tories' proposals. I challenge any hon. Member to stand in front of one of the posters and quote that. That is where the £540 comes in. It is not £540 on top of what the Government are promising, or what we are promising. It is £540 taken away, to be given back to schools for those bureaucratic services. That is nonsense, and it will do nothing to alleviate teacher shortages.

May I offer the Minister some suggestions for dealing with the current crisis? The state of teacher recruitment and retention is well known, so I shall not dwell on it. Rather than go into battle with the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, the National Union of Teachers and the other teacher unions, the Government should set up a taskforce to see what immediate steps could be taken to sort out the crisis.

What about short-term contracts with pension protection for recently retired teachers? A significant number of people are leaving the profession and short-term contracts with pension protection would help. What about DFEE contracts with supply agencies to take supply teachers off their books and give them short-term contracts within schools? What about funding LEAs directly to work with DFEE recruitment managers to provide a pool within their authorities? What about using LEA advisers to teach in some schools? What about offering short-term experience contracts to Ofsted inspectors? What better opportunity could there be than to have a port in the Ofsted inspection system and get all the Ofsted inspectors to do some real work in the schools? What a popular move that would be. Moreover, we should abandon the external threshold assessors and ask them, rather than wandering about, to go into schools and teach. We need long-term solutions.

The Secretary of State was not being entirely honest—honest is not the right word though, because I would not accuse him of being dishonest. But he was certainly manipulating the truth when he talked about the GTTR figures last week. [Interruption.] I have already used the word disingenuous. The hon. Member for Maidenhead also alluded to this point. On 3 January we had the GTTR's figures. A GTTR board decision was taken in October last year to produce figures only in the first week of every month so that there can be no political manipulation or misinterpretation. The hon. Lady and I, and the Minister, went to Bridlington in the first week in January, sunny as it was, and in a debate we openly used those figures showing a 16 per cent. drop in applications.

The Secretary of State did not like that. Suddenly, the chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service produced an ad hoc set of figures at his own discretion for the Secretary of State to use in today's debate. That is utterly unacceptable. The hon. Member for Maidenhead did not have an advance copy of those figures, and nor did I. The Secretary of State received them in a press release that was embargoed until midnight. That is not open government. UCAS is an independent organisation which should be providing information to all on a fair basis, but there has been some manipulation. The Minister should respond to that point.

The press release from the Minister and the chief executive of UCAS did not show that, while there was a drop in virtually all the major traditional national curriculum subjects, since the Conservative Government left office there has been a 35 per cent. fall in applications across all subjects. That is how dire the situation is, and that is why it is rightly said that there is a crisis.

I am delighted that the Secretary of State has promised to revisit the issue of inappropriate degrees and to try to clear a path through that. It is important that we recognise that degree status entitles one not simply to an understanding of particular subject knowledge, but to a range of skills and applications. Teacher training should enable people to consider how to use skills and knowledge and move into other areas.

In The Times Educational Supplement last Friday there were 236 maths vacancies. The problem cannot be resolved simply by saying that we need to recruit more maths graduates. It is madness to say that a teacher can come from New Zealand with no national curriculum training to teach in our schools, but someone with a sociology degree cannot be trained to be a maths teacher.

We must attract more graduates to teaching. In reply to a question last week, the Minister said that the Liberal Democrat proposal for a 100 per cent. training salary could not be afforded. If £6,000 results in 100,000 responses to the telephone advertising campaign, how many more would come forward if there was a proper 100 per cent. salary training for people coming into teaching? Rather than dismiss that, I hope that the Minister will support it.

We want to offer solutions. We want to work with the Government and the Opposition to find solutions to some difficult problems. Teachers are at the heart of an education system. If we have good teachers, well paid and well valued, every child in Britain will matter, not just the few whom the Conservative party would like to support, or those whom the Government are trying to support.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Chair, Education Sub-committee 2:55 pm, 18th January 2001

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis). Usually, 90 per cent. of what he says is good stuff, but the remaining 10 per cent. I ignore. It is like the Liberal Democrats' rather poor amendment. The hon. Gentleman's speech was much better. However, it cannot be right that, at 2.56 pm, in a short debate, with another two Front-Bench speeches to be delivered, Back-Bench speakers will have only about half an hour. The hon. Gentleman spoke for 33 minutes and the hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) spoke for more than half an hour. Mercifully, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was quite short in comparison. It is not good for democracy or for Parliament for Back Benchers to have so little time. [Interruption.] Plenty of Liberal Democrat and Labour Members are present.

Today's debate is exactly the same as one we had a couple of months ago, and no doubt we shall have another in a couple of months' time when the official Opposition again try to prove that there is a crisis by constantly repeating that fact. As Chairman of the Select Committee on Education and Employment, I am trying to be reasonably objective, but as far as I can see only a few schools have a real problem. For a few days a few schools introduced a four-day week, but with help from their LEA and the Department, the problems were quickly solved.

Let me put the problem in perspective. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Benn) cogently made the point that the teacher shortages 10 years ago posed a far greater problem. However, this is a debate about recruiting teachers. The Nuffield Foundation document "Attracting Teachers", the result of research by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson, makes some good suggestions. We must consider teacher recruitment across the board.

I have previously spoken about the nature of the economy. We are at the top of the economic cycle. We have real competition and we are losing many women who, 15 or 20 years ago, would have gone into teaching. A diverse and interesting range of jobs is now open to them. Many of them still go into teaching, but a woman can do anything now. In the old days, a woman was either a secretary, a teacher or a nurse. Speaking as a man with a son and three daughters, I am glad that girls leaving school can now do anything that they like, and they do. That is magnificent, but it has implications for the teaching profession.

The problem is about pay, status, respect and conditions of employment. I was looking at the Green Paper, which is now a couple of years old, in which there are some good ideas about school design. When I go to schools, I see the need for simple things like space in which to work—a desk and shelf of one's own or somewhere to put one's personal belongings, computer and so on. That is very important. We were promised that there would be all sorts of innovations, and Lord Puttnam, I think, was going to design the staff room of the future. However, I have not heard much about that recently, and I still go to dreary staff rooms, with a few rather worn armchairs clustered round the sides of what obviously used to be a store cupboard or perhaps an old classroom.

The Green Paper and the Nuffield research also deal with the private sector. I am not someone who says that we cannot learn lessons from the private sector. Of course we can. Twice as much money is spent on pupils in private education, as the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough reminded the Opposition Front Bench, and one can do a lot more with twice as much funding. Not only did I read about private schools, but I asked a recently retired distinguished head what were the problems in the private sector. Even with the ability to pay more, the private sector is finding it difficult to recruit science and maths graduates as teachers. I was told so by someone who was recently running a large public school.

We need to address problems with accommodation, status and so on. However, in a debate such as ours, we should also discuss the way in which people in an educational partnership can help. Parents, it is true, often do not really respect teachers, even in the private sector, as one learns from talking to people in that sector. The retired head teacher told me, "They really think of us as servants, you know. Quite good quality servants, but not up to their standards."

We must address the real problem that exists in this country and bring parents into the educational process much more as partners. We made a clear statement on that in the Select Committee report on early years, which we published only last week. Parents should be partners. If they are valued as partners, they will value and respect teachers. We must learn from that and develop respect on both sides. There is therefore much to work on regarding parents.

That partnership approach includes the trade unions. It is perhaps unfashionable for Labour Members to say that we should expect much more thoughtful comment, leadership and wisdom from the trade union leadership in the teaching profession. I mix with teachers' union leaders a great deal and have introduced an innovation whereby they are all are invited to talk to the Select Committee about how they see the future of education. We are trying to treat them as full partners.

The other evening, I was at a prizegiving at the Queen Elizabeth school in Wimborne, Dorset. When one talks to teachers, one sees that they do not have half the prejudices that one reads about, even in the polls in The Times Educational Supplement. Incidentally, some rather good things were said about the Government in the TES survey. The hon. Member for Maidenhead did not mention one aspect of that survey, which covers not just political issues, but how teachers feel about life.

However, the teachers in Wimborne told me, in confidence, that they were worried when they heard the trade union leadership being strident. The strident tone of the teaching unions does not do the partnership much good. Their comments on the day when the chief inspector of Ofsted retired are an example of that. Everyone has his or her own ideas about the former incumbent, but I must tell the House that the comments of the trade unions annoyed a lot of people. They were crass and inappropriate, not as a judgment but as a way of speaking. It does teachers no good when trade union leaders speak in those terms, or when people hear at Easter conferences only the most extreme and discordant voices. Union leaders must therefore take their responsibilities more seriously.

I also want to mention the press. Many people switch on the "Today" programme and a lot of them like John Humphrys. I think that John Humphrys personally is quite a nice man. However, he represents the strident school that thinks that everything is a crisis. To him, a few teachers on a four-day week at one school is a national crisis. "Today" is important because it sets the tone for the rest of the day and, often, for the rest of the week. However, if one goes back to the original story, one can see that it does no one any good always to treat everything that happens in education as a major crisis.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

It is not good enough for the hon. Gentleman, especially in the light of his role, to dismiss the crisis as one school that was once on a four-day week. There is a genuine problem, which the Secretary of State has acknowledged. The Liberal Democrat spokesman has acknowledged a severe problem. Schools throughout the country are affected and, if I may, I shall give one example.

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. It has already been pointed out how little time is left. Interventions should be very brief. I think that the hon. Gentleman has made his point.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Chair, Education Sub-committee

The hon. Gentleman has had his chance. Nearly all our debate has been Opposition Members making speeches and interventions. I am trying to correct—and, given my role, I believe that I have every right to do so—the balance of the comments of the Opposition spokesperson on education. I wish to balance what she described as a national crisis, in which schools would fall to pieces tomorrow, with the fact that that is a relatively minor problem. I accept that it is serious problem, but I am trying to put it in perspective.

In conclusion, I was trying to talk about the partnership that makes education work. It is a partnership in which the media have responsibilities. I picked out the "Today" programme but, generally, we have a very good and highly responsible educational press in this country. It joins the argument and, more often than not, raises the level of debate and discussion. However, even when the broadsheets get into the education field, too often we see a different aspect.

I have to say at least one uncomfortable thing to my own Front Bench, just to balance the fact that I have been rather kind on the question of whether or not this is a crisis. Some of us who represent English constituencies will increasingly question the ability and resources of three parts of the United Kingdom but especially one in the news at the moment—Scotland. We shall ask how Scotland can spend a great deal more money on education than England apparently can. I have the figures from the Library. Per capita, £814 a year is spent on education in Scotland. In England, that figure is £636; in Northern Ireland, it is £896; and in Wales, it is £645. Thus England is at the bottom.

Many of us who remember the original balance of resources that flowed from the Exchequer to different parts of the United Kingdom question very much the generosity of the Barnett formula, which gives Scotland the ability and resources to afford that sort of expenditure per head. English Members of Parliament—including some on the Front Bench, I am told—will increasingly question the Barnett formula and the flow of resources to Scotland, compared with the flow of resources to other parts of England.

If one speaks to people in the private sector and reads the Nuffield report, one sees that teachers like working in the private sector because more emphasis is placed there on the ability to teach than on keeping discipline. No Opposition Member commented on the disgraceful intervention made by the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow), who said that the role of teachers in most state schools was to provide crowd control. That is a gross travesty. We should consider the damage that one such Back-Bench remark can do when it is reported in the press and teachers read it. [Interruption.] Opposition Members do not know the hon. Member for Buckingham as well as Labour Members; we understand exactly where he is coming from. It is damaging that an hon. Member can make such comments with no reprimand.

I want to provide some balance. Of course there is a problem with discipline in some schools and we must get to the roots of it. In my first education speech in the House, I suggested that it was about time that we gave kids with less academic ability something constructive to do. The number of experiments on getting kids into more work-related activities—such experiments have so far been conducted in 21 schools, where they apply to children at the age of 14—should be increased. Furthermore, we still underrate the value of information technology training for that sector of pupils. The standard of information training in Britain is still well below that in many of our European competitor countries. I want this country to become the information and learning society of Europe and to be determined to use every resource to be the most successful country in achieving that.

My experience in schools suggests that giving less academically able children the opportunity to gain IT skills early on allows them to contribute, makes them feel valued and gives them self esteem Research also shows that that is the case. I hope that the Government listen to that message, as such opportunities make life in the classroom so much easier and better. Where they are available, the whole school will benefit from all the children feeling valued and having value.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Opposition Whip (Commons) 3:12 pm, 18th January 2001

I shall endeavour to be brief, although I should like to raise many issues.

My family has a certain tradition of teaching that stretches back to my grandmother, who taught classes of more than 100 pupils in Kennington at the turn of the last century. My grandfather was a peripatetic woodwork teacher in the West Drayton area, where I now live, and my aunt was a senior lecturer in education at Goldsmith's college.

I even married an English teacher and a special needs teacher—I refer to one person only Indeed, I have spent much of my time in the company of people from the educational world. One of the messages that I receive most clearly from such people is that the less politicians and politics are involved in education, the better. Obviously, hon. Members of all parties are well-meaning, but teachers are sick and tired of political interference.

I pay tribute to teaching staff and to members of the local education authority in Hillingdon. I do not have time to mention all the achievements of my local schools, but I should like briefly to refer to Mr. Robert Preston, the headmaster of Abbotsfield school. He has managed to get his school out of special measures, but my reason for mentioning him is to give the Department for Education and Employment a gentle reminder that he is still waiting for replies to two letters. The first was sent in September and the follow-up in October. Doing the courtesy of providing an early reply would be a good way of giving a pat on the back to somebody who has done a good job.

The debate is timely for me, as the director of education in Hillingdon, Mr. Philip O'Hear, convened a meeting last Friday of the three Members who represent the Hillingdon area, along with heads of primary and secondary schools and local education authority representatives. As a former head teacher, he has brought a great deal of expertise to the LEA. Although he and I might not agree on everything, I recognise that he has been doing his very best.

I should like to outline some of Hillingdon's current problems, a great many of which relate to staff shortages. In one primary school, 60 per cent. of teaching posts are filled by temporary appointments. There is a significant turnover of younger teachers. Almost 30 per cent, of teaching staff in Hillingdon are under 30. That is yet another problem, in addition to the pressures on the London area and all the other problems that teachers face.

One of the most disturbing concerns in Hillingdon is that many of the vacancies are arising because teachers are moving to another LEA area. In particular, we are suffering because neighbouring LEAs such as Brent benefit from the excellence in cities scheme—indeed, I think that that applies also to Harrow and Slough. That has put our LEA in competition with those of neighbouring areas, and it is at a great disadvantage in terms of incentives and support.

Furthermore, I do not think that some of the areas of deprivation in the borough are adequately recognised. I refer especially to Yiewsley, West Drayton, and Hayes and Harlington, but other pockets also exist. We have written to the Department about those concerns and I urge it to consider the problem seriously, as we are losing out.

As time is short, I shall read out some of the comments of heads who attended the meeting. I shall not name them, as it would be invidious to do so, but I am sure that they would stand by their words if a Minister were to visit the area. I know that the Minister for School Standards has already made such a visit, but bearing in mind the current situation, perhaps it would be appropriate for her to do so again. The area is not terribly far away, and Ministers are always welcome—we are a friendly lot down in Uxbridge.

One head told the meeting that he laughed out loud when he heard the Secretary of State saying that there was no crisis. I appreciate that we must be careful not to give a dog a bad name, but I think that the teaching staff recognise that a crisis exists and they want it to be acknowledged as such. Other teachers at the meeting said that standards are seriously at risk; that senior management are just firefighting; and that the situation is only getting worse. One head was worried that people are being appointed who would not normally have been appointed. It was said that one school would take anybody who could walk and talk at the same time, and that if an applicant could chew gum as well, it would be a bonus.

Another request was made for experienced teachers for asylum seekers and it was pointed out that Hillingdon had a big problem in that respect. Retention problems were mentioned and it was said that teachers felt overloaded. Concerns were expressed about political interference and impossible deadlines. House prices and salaries were, of course, identified as an additional problem. I have many other issues to raise; perhaps I shall have to take another opportunity to do so. One primary school head referred to the problem of the demise of the B Ed degree and its impact on recruitment.

I have also been told that classroom assistants are bearing the brunt of the teacher supply problem. They feel that their position is largely unrecognised and relatively unrewarded. We have another problem that we are taking up with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, concerning funding, and the cash settlement in particular. Perhaps it could be noted that we are awaiting its reply to a letter about that problem.

While I am on the subject of replies, St. Mary's primary school in my constituency is waiting for an urgent reply because of a period of tender that expires on 26 January, but in fact that reply has not been awaited all that long, and I shall send on the proper details later. I have just received the information, and I thought that I would get that one in.

The timing of the problem is unfortunate because it has occurred at a specific point in an election cycle. Given the politicians that we are, the subject will become a focus. That is unfortunate, because it means that the focus will not be on resolving the problem. We should seriously consider removing the subject from the strictly party political arena, even at this stage in the election cycle, because retaining it there does a disservice to children, parents and teachers.

I echo the comments of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) about raising teachers' status in society and improving everyone's attitude to them. I do not know which Minister can give a steer on the matter, but I am sick and tired of seeing teachers portrayed on television as rather bizarre people. The heroes, especially on children's television, are the kids who rebel, and anybody who does well is regarded as a swot.

Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Labour, Leeds Central 3:21 pm, 18th January 2001

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall), not least because we have one thing in common: I, too, have a spouse who is a special needs teacher. We have many a conversation on a Friday night about how the day has gone, and about the experience, stresses and strains of teaching in an inner-city school.

There is consensus about the existence of a problem: hon. Members agree about that. The question is what we do about it. The most disappointing aspect of the Opposition opening speech was the lack of ideas about how to tackle the current difficulties. The House does itself a disservice if we spend time wailing, gnashing our teeth and pulling our hair out about a problem instead of trying to identify practical solutions. However, I am glad to say that we have begun to do that in the later stages of the debate.

I welcomed the speech by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State because he outlined practical steps. I was also grateful to the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis) for reminding us of the facts about improved educational performance. It is important to recognise the success of teachers in our country, and not to be dragged down by the argument that standards are falling, which they are not.

I want to mention briefly the reasons for the structure that we now have for getting more information about what happens in schools. I think that future historians will identify the famous moment in 1976 when Jim Callaghan made his Ruskin speech as the beginning of the process whereby Governments of all political persuasions have sought greater means to influence what happens in schools. He talked about the secret garden of the curriculum. More than a generation later, that secret garden is well and truly open.

When some hon. Members talk about the burdens that are placed on teachers, we must acknowledge that the national curriculum and the inspection framework flowed from Jim Callaghan's speech, principally because these structures give us more information about what happens in schools. Society now acknowledges that the success of our schools is partly due to, for example, the quality of the leadership and the approach to teaching. It is not simply a matter of leaving all schools to get on with it by themselves. We have a lot to learn from each other. That applies to teachers as much as to any other profession.

We need to recognise that greater accountability has accompanied these changes. If we are honest, none of us finds greater accountability easy to accept. The teaching profession has experienced that in the past two decades, and the medical profession is beginning to do so. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman), who chairs the Education Sub-Committee, that respect for teachers is currently an important issue partly because parents are better informed and educated than they were in the past. The position of teachers as the fount of all knowledge, the people to whom we all look up because they know things that we do not, does not apply as much nowadays. Although it is difficult, teachers have to get used to that.

Greater information about what happens in schools has also enabled the Government to say, "We can do better." I welcome that. Although we have always known that social background and previous educational attainment have a major impact on children's achievements, we realise increasingly how individual schools and leadership can make a difference.

I want to highlight the case of one school in my constituency, Little London primary school, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State kindly opened a couple of months age after the fire that destroyed the old school. It is located in the 11th most deprived local authority ward in England and Wales. A high proportion of children receive free school meals. However, in the past three years, a dramatic improvement has occurred in the percentage of children achieving level 4 in English and maths, which has increased from the mid-20s to the mid-50s.

The secret of that success has been good leadership, hard work, committed and dedicated teachers and the support of the literacy and numeracy strategies. They have been highlighted as an example of damaging Government intervention in schools, but the response of many head teachers and staff in the schools in my constituency tells me that that is not the case. They have focused effort on improvement, and ultimately the children benefit.

I welcome today's debate because it keeps education at the forefront of our concerns. The Government and all hon. Members need to continue to hold an open dialogue with the teaching profession. Clearly, we must learn from teachers how we can give them more help to do the job that they want to do.

I conclude with perhaps a slightly controversial point. We must all value teachers, and that includes teachers valuing themselves. Our job is to give support, praise and encouragement, but I believe that teachers should be more confident about what they are doing. When teachers say, "I am a teacher, I am proud of that and proud of the difference I make to children in my class. I believe that I am doing a good job," they will receive a "Hear, hear" from all hon. Members, and they will also encourage others who are considering teaching as a profession to become teachers.

Photo of James Clappison James Clappison Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 3:27 pm, 18th January 2001

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Benn). Although I did not agree with all his remarks, I agree that we need to find new solutions to the current problems. However, we need to recognise the nature and scale of the problem and that the Government's current policies simply do not work. The evidence for that is clear in the numbers of teachers who are being recruited and the problems that schools face.

We need to define the nature and scale of the problem because it has been suggested in same quarters that it is local, affects only one or two schools and that it can be solved if one or two schools get some extra teachers. It is a nationwide problem, which affects all types of school in every part of the country. In an interesting speech, the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) mentioned the problems of the private sector. Earlier this week, the Independent Schools Council, which represents 1,300 independent schools, complained of recruitment problems. Dulwich college, which is at the top of the academic league, has difficulty in attracting teachers. Other academically excellent schools in the state sector, such as Watford grammar school for boys and Watford grammar school for girls, experience difficulty in attracting teachers. I infer from all that that there is a problem throughout the country, especially in the south-east, where the most extreme manifestation of the crisis occurs.

My constituency is no exception. I have referred to the difficulties of Watford grammar school for boys; those apply to all types of school in my constituency and throughout Hertfordshire. Let the teachers speak for themselves. In an NUT survey of schools in Hertfordshire, every school admitted suffering some staff shortages. The survey found that many teachers are turning to agency work to bypass the increasing bureaucratic burdens of teaching. It stated: Hertfordshire's children are often taught by short-term, daily supply teachers or are covered by non-specialists. That is not good enough for children in Hertfordshire, and it is not good enough for children in the rest of the country. It is not good for the hard-pressed, hard-working teachers in Hertfordshire and the rest of the country, who deserve our esteem. They should not be placed in that position.

We have been told that we must be careful about the terms we use to describe this recruitment problem. I shall adopt the term that the Secretary of State used on the 'Today" programme in November last year. He said: Yes, there is a serious problem and had we not acted at the end of March I think we'd have been very close to meltdown. He went on to say that there had been a problem of recruitment in the early part of the last academic year, but that the policies that the Government had introduced, on top of the golden hellos, the training bursaries, the advertising programme, and the graduate teacher programme, had made a difference and had enabled teacher recruitment to turn the corner.

The Secretary of State's credibility is not assisted by the fact that, at the very time he said that the recruitment drive was close to meltdown, the Minister for School Standards was issuing press releases, such as that in December 1999, saying: These figures indicate encouraging progress in recruitment to teacher training. We have started to make a difference … The outlook for teacher recruitment is better than it has been for some time. Those are the views of the Minister, but at the same time the Secretary of State evidently thought that there was a crisis which was close to a meltdown.

The important point is: what is the position today? What is the position now that the Government have implemented the policies that the Secretary of State has told us about—the golden hellos and the measures adopted in March last year, such as salaries for graduates entering teacher training? What is the position on recruitment to secondary teacher training, because the greatest problem is faced by secondary schools? In the academic year that commenced in September 2000, the number recruited for teacher training in secondary education was still well below the number recruited under the Conservative Government in the academic year beginning in 1996—there were 1,000 fewer recruits. More important than that, it was well below the Government's own target for secondary recruits—the figure that the Government say is needed for the future—and way below the number required in the shortage subjects of maths and foreign languages.

What is happening in the current year? Suspiciously— I agree with the suspicions expressed elsewhere—the Graduate Teacher Training Registry has rushed out a press release showing the number of applications for teacher training so far this year. Last week, the Secretary of State put an optimistic spin on those figures at Question Time. He said: The measures that we have taken over the past few weeks have led to a dramatic improvement in the number of people seeking information or registering … Our measures have led to a massive increase in those registering an interest.—[Official Report, 11 January 2001; Vol. 360, c. 1220.] He said that there had been a 100 per cent. increase in the number of people making general inquiries.

What is the picture? How many people have applied for teacher training courses this year compared with last year? The number of secondary recruits is slightly up by 4 per cent. from the low point it was at last year. The number of recruits in key shortage subjects, such as maths and foreign languages, is down on last year, which was a poor year when the Government were way below the target that they needed to meet, especially in maths.

A real crisis is building up in maths, because the Government are about 30 per cent. below their own target for the number of teachers required to teach that subject. As for the comments made about the numbers recruited under the Conservative Government to teach maths in secondary education, they were greater in every year of that Government than they are now. In some of those years, the figure was greater than the present Government's target, which they have manifestly failed to meet.

Ministers must realise that, if the current situation is a problem, a crisis, a serious problem, a meltdown, or whatever we want to call it, it will get that much worse in the future. We need new thinking, because the Government's own statistics show that the policies they have implemented are not working. We had good evidence of new thinking in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May). Ministers should listen to what she and many parents, teachers and heads are telling them about reducing bureaucratic burdens and restoring discipline in schools.

The Government's policies are not working. We are on course for a much more serious problem. The Government will fail to put teachers in front of classes to teach children. We need new thinking to avoid that, and we have not got it at the moment.

Photo of Dari Taylor Dari Taylor Labour, Stockton South 3:36 pm, 18th January 2001

I have great pleasure in contributing to this debate as I was a teacher in my early professional life and I have maintained a keen interest in education ever since. My pleasure is added to because I believe that the Government have got the policy right, and will continue to get it right. It is not just the policies on standards that are appropriate, but the funding has been superb and the teaching profession in my constituency has said so again and again.

I am keen to put a local perspective on the debate. Schools in my local authority are not on a four-day week, and they are not threatened with a four-day week. Children are not being sent home early, and there is no evidence that teachers are being replaced by unqualified staff.

I want to focus more particularly on my constituency. I was elected in 1997, and in each of the two previous years, 1995–97, the Conservative Administration had cut my local authority's education budget by £6 million. It had had to make 52 members of staff take early retirement or face redundancy. It is with great pleasure that I say to the House that, although it is a strain to fill all the posts, it is tremendous that there is demand in the system and we are seeking to supply it. Take it from me, that is a superb moment for the teaching profession. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) is shaking his head. Teaching staff in my constituency will see his party's proposition as a shabby misrepresentation, and I am more than pleased to rub that in.

I say to my Front-Bench colleagues with great care and passion—because that is my approach to life—that I have had robust meetings with head teachers in my constituency. They have been robust about the way in which they want the Government to respond to them, but there is serious pleasure at much of what we are doing. They are telling my right hon. Friend that, at times, the inspectorate undermines them and they want him to review its operation. They do not object to being inspected, but they want the process to be more proactive. They believe that that may happen now that there has been a change at the top. They like the fact that the standards debate is demanding and exacting, and they find that exciting. They are pleased at the way in which new maths at key stage 2 is being taught, and they say how much they have learned.

I have much of value to say about education in Stockton, South. There is a demand for primary school teachers and schools in less-advantaged areas are struggling to fill posts, but they are doing so. There is a demand for maths teachers, and we are finding that demand problematic, but we are filling the posts. Teachers tell me that the problems they face are those that the previous Administration left them.

The Government made a commitment to people in Stockton, South, and I reinforced it, that five to seven-year-olds would be in classes of under 30 pupils. I have pleasure in telling the House that by September, we shall have achieved that goal. I am extremely pleased to make that statement, and I know that this has been achieved as a result of the way in which the Government have pursued that course of action. I also take great pleasure in telling hon. Members that 25 per cent. more 11-year-olds in my constituency will achieve key stage 2. That is tremendous.

I would love to tell the House about the specialist schools in my constituency, and about the way in which we have received capital and standard spends that we did not have previously, but, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am aware that I do not have time to do so. However, I can say to my right hon. Friend that, in Stockton, South, there is serious pleasure and pride in all that the Government are doing. Of course, my constituents ask one thing: could we do more, and could we do it more speedily?

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 3:40 pm, 18th January 2001

It is a great pleasure to be able to respond to an excellent short debate, which has taken place only because of the Conservative Opposition, who have again highlighted an extremely important issue for parents, schools and children throughout the country.

The hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis)—who has had to leave early—spoke at length and blamed everybody, in characteristic fashion. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman)—who is no longer in his piace—rightly described the Secretary of State's speech as mercifully brief, before going on to make a courageous attack on the Barnett formula, thus starting the election campaign in Scotland a little early.

My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) made the point that Ministers have not yet replied to letters received from a school in his constituency, which were sent in September and October. [Interruption.] The Minister for School Standards seems to suggest that she wants to blame her officials for that, rather than take the rap herself. That is typical of Ministers in this Government, but she really ought to understand that it is the responsibility of Ministers to ensure that those things are done. The school in question is now out of special measures, but perhaps the Department for Education and Employment should be put into special measures to put right its failures.

The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Benn) made a thoughtful speech. Sadly, I do not have time to deal with the interesting and intelligent points that he made, but I particularly enjoyed his tour of Jim Callaghan's secret garden. My hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) reminded the House in a timely manner that there is a serious problem in education nationwide, and it was important that he did so, particularly as the hon. Member for Stockton South (Ms Taylor) then returned us to the shocking complacency that has been characteristic of the Government's response on this serious crisis. Labour Members can be complacent if they wish, but when David Hart of the National Association of Head Teachers says that teacher recruitment is "approaching meltdown", serious commentators and observers in the House and elsewhere know that there is a serious problem.

The Secretary of State claims that there are more teachers, but he does not say how many are part time, or supply teachers. He does not say how many come from overseas, or are not of qualified teacher status. The breathtaking complacency of his speech was backed up by the contributions from Labour Members, while my hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May), the shadow Secretary of State, was speaking. At that point, the only thing that Labour Members had to say was, "What would you do?" It became painfully obvious that hon. Members on the Government Benches were devoid of ideas. They have had four years in which they have generated this problem and made it worse. Now, all that they can do is ask us what we would do in their place.

The Secretary of State generously accepted a policy suggestion from my hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead, and it is welcome and right that he should do so. Why does he not let us put all our policy recommendations into practice? Let us cut out the middleman and solve all Labour's problems.

The Secretary of State unwisely used the metaphor of the highwayman. In fact, the highwayman is Labour's Chancellor of the Exchequer, who takes our tax but delivers no teachers. [Interruption.] I am grateful to the hon. Member for Halton (Mr. Twigg) for his applause. The Secretary of State spoke of reduced class sizes leading to rising demand for teachers. However, he did not explain that class sizes are going up in primary schools, secondary schools and reception classes. Even the 30-in-a-class limit that the Government pledged is, according to the January-February issue of The Teacher magazine, now under threat because of the Government's failures in teacher recruitment. The Government really ought to start taking this problem seriously, but the Secretary of State showed no signs of doing so.

The Secretary of State spoke of the weeks that it takes to process applications, but he has had four years in office, and he must now take responsibility for the crisis that is evident in the nation's schools. We have had nothing from the Government apart from gimmicks, new schemes and new initiatives. The hon. Member for Huddersfield talked about Lord Puttnam's staff room of the future, which he said had never emerged.

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

I think the record will demonstrate that he did.

Earlier in this Parliament, the Government pledged that people on the new deal were going to be brought into the classrooms to work as classroom assistants. In 1998, the Government trumpeted a trial that was to be run in two areas of Wales—Cardiff and, I think, Wrexham—to see how many unemployed people could be brought in through the new deal to work as classroom assistants in Wales. However, a few weeks ago, when I asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many classroom assistants had been brought into schools under the new deal, I was told that information on the destination of new deal participants was not collected at that level of detail. The proposal was just another gimmick, another initiative not followed up, that did not help our schools.

Education action zones were an experiment but, according to The Times Educational Supplement, the existing 73 are now being quietly halted.

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

The Minister says that I am wrong, but the Government did not bother to dispute that at the time.

The Secretary of State referred to the Teacher Training Agency hotline with glowing praise. That was one of the main fig-leaves that he clutched when trying to protect his failures in teacher recruitment. When I phoned the TTA hotline this morning, I received a response that might explain why there have been so many more calls to the line recently. When I dialed the number, I was told that all the consultants were engaged. The Secretary of State will say that that is positive, because the service is so popular. I was then asked whether I would like to be sent a brochure rather than wait to speak to somebody. I said, "No, I would like to speak to somebody." The person I was talking to asked whether I would like to enter the queueing system. I said, "Yes", whereupon I was told, "Good luck". [Interruption.] The Minister for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities is calling this a stunt. It was quite the reverse, because I went to the trouble of finding out what the Government are doing about teacher recruitment and I found the service to be an appalling failure. The hotline is the stunt. When I had waited for three minutes, I was cut off without any response. I can assure hon. Members that I was prepared to wait for longer.

The Secretary of State said that teachers should be left to teach, but he is on record as saying that teachers should become learning managers in charge of what are now being described as bodies being put in front of a class. The trouble with bringing unqualified teachers, or anyone who is able to fill the gap, into a classroom is that it does not deliver what parents or schools want, or what children need. Parents do not want learning managers; they want teachers. Teachers do not want to be learning managers. They want respect for their professionalism, and the space to be allowed to teach.

Nigel de Gruchy of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers—a body that the Secretary of State now appears to hold in low esteem—has commented that the Government seems to have thrown in the towel— on teacher recruitment. He goes on to say that substituting adults with unspecified qualifications for teachers is a policy of despair.[Interruption.] The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment, The hon. Member for Redditch (Jacqui Smith), can chunter as much as she likes from the Government Front Bench. When her former friends in the teaching unions are now describing the Government's education policy as a "policy of despair", the Government really ought to take it seriously and consider where the problem lies.

The problem exists across the country. Positions are being filled by overseas teachers. Schools are being forced to recruit new teachers from Australia over the telephone. The press in my area—the Manchester Evening News — reports, under the headline "G'day Manchester", that an army of Australian teachers is being flown in to stop the recruitment crisis. Overseas teachers consider this country a base while they do Europe. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State says that that is good. It is good if they stay in the long term. It is good if they are sufficiently educated and sufficiently qualified and if they know the ways of the British education system. It is not good, the Secretary of State should admit, if they have been brought here for a short period to fill a gap. It is not good—[Interruption.]

The Secretary of State can try to make a joke, but it is not good if Australian teachers or teachers from around the world come here in rapid succession and stay for just a term or a matter of weeks. Children will not have a teacher whom they can come to rely on. That is another part of the crisis, which is of his and Labour's making. We need free schools—schools with the freedom to run their own affairs and teachers who have the freedom to teach. All that the Government have to offer is bureaucracy, gimmicks and spin. It is time for a change.

Photo of Ms Estelle Morris Ms Estelle Morris Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment, Minister of State (Department for Education and Employment) (School Standards) 3:50 pm, 18th January 2001

I am not sure how to respond to the announcement that the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady), who spent the morning ringing the Teacher Training Agency hotline, is seeking an alternative career. Perhaps congratulations are in order from us, and commiserations from his colleagues. Helpful as ever, I shall make sure that his call is returned so that he can fill in an application form and add to the 10 per cent. increase in applications for initial teacher training that have already been received this year.

Seriously, I begin by thanking hon. Members who contributed to the debate. I readily accept that all Members, no matter which side they represent, consider teaching an important issue. All constituency MPs care about their schools; all parents care about their children. On that, at least, I can start with a measure of agreement. I also acknowledge the generous and correct way in which the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis) described the achievement of teachers and the way in which standards have been raised.

Support came from my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Benn), who represents a constituency of considerable challenge where generation after generation of children has lost out in the education service. I suspect not only that the school in Little London to which he referred has no history of sending children to university and higher education, but that its children come from families whose members have never attended university.

Although one may refer to the increase in literacy and numeracy standards, the figures for the standards agenda that please me most are those showing that, for the first time, standards of literacy and numeracy and for GCSE are increasing across the country, in all neighbourhoods. The fastest rate of improvement is in schools and local authorities that under-achieved in the past. Closing the gap between performance in poor and rich neighbourhoods, between those from different ethnic minorities and between boys and girls is the real mark of an education service that is being transformed so that it will never go back to being a lottery in which receiving a good standard of education depends on which school a person attends.

That improvement has been achieved only because of the increasing quality of teaching. No matter what anybody says about the difficulties and the challenges facing schools—I shall come to those—the truth is that the quality of teaching in our primary and secondary schools has shot up. It is better than last year, better than three years ago and certainly better than when I and many Members of the House were teaching nine or 10 years ago. That is a tribute to the teaching profession.

I am the first to acknowledge that more is asked of teachers than was ever asked of any previous generation of teachers. More is expected because the Government are asking teachers to end the cycle of under-achievement in some of our neighbourhoods and to become the first generation of teachers to work with the Government so that both can say, "We raised standards, not for a few, but for every child in every school, no matter which part of the country those children live in."

Yes, recruitment is difficult, and I want to acknowledge the challenges that many schools face. I thank teachers who take cover lessons. There is not a Member of the House who has been a teacher who does not know that that is the least favourite task of any teacher. It gives me no pride or satisfaction to say so, but I know that some of the teacher recruitment troubles that schools face are not new. I am afraid that the same problems existed when I was teaching. We lost cover lessons. I taught combined classes. Classes had a list of supply teachers over the terms. I know that that is not good, not right and not the way that we want it to be.

The hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough and my hon. Friends the Members for Leeds, Central and for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) gave a proper evaluation and analysis of what is happening, and that is what we should all do. The truth is that this nation's inability to recruit the brightest and the best to teaching at any time other than one of economic recession or depression is one of its saddest aspects. That has held back progress in our schools for too long, and it is what we inherited.

I shall not quote statistics back to the House or give masses of figures for 1992–94 or 1994–97. We can play games and score points, but, as was borne out by the report by Professor Alan Smithers, we were below target on secondary recruitment every single year in the 1990s, unless the economy was in recession. That was the Tories' one-club approach to solving the teacher crisis: hang on, wait for a recession and more people will want to go into teaching.

The challenge for the Government has been breaking that cycle, and we have broken it. It has always been difficult to recruit teachers in the British economy, so from the moment we, took office, we introduced a series of initiatives and measures that are having a real impact on the number and quality of people coming into schools. On retention, the Government have not introduced a staged pay increase. Indeed, we have given a fully-funded above-inflation pay Increase every single year. We have introduced performance-related pay as an incentive for teachers who teach well to stay in schools, get promotion and earn more money without taking on administrative responsibilities.

We are the Government who introduced the golden hellos and reversed the decline in recruitment to shortage subjects for the first time since the recession of the early and mid-1990s. We are the Government who introduced the training salaries. Under our Government, those who want to return to teaching in London can not only go on a course for no charge, but get paid £150 a week to do so. We are the Government who are bringing 12,000 returners back to our classrooms. In terms of retention and attracting the best, under our Government, a training salary of £15,000 can assist those who want to train to teach in a shortage subject to do so through the fast-track approach.

The real test of whether we are right and whether we have fulfilled our obligations to the teaching community and the children of this country is whether those initiatives are working. They have been costed and carefully implemented. They are based on evidence and targeted on the areas of greatest need and, yes, they are working. That is why last year, for the first time, the decline in the number of people training as teachers was reversed. That was not imagined, nor was it due to us counting the numbers. It was nothing to do with spin. Real bodies—men and women—went to train as teachers last year, and there has been a 9 per cent. increase. The hon. Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) was right: the increase is greater in primary than in secondary schools, but there has been an increase in secondary schools as well.

Photo of Ms Estelle Morris Ms Estelle Morris Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment, Minister of State (Department for Education and Employment) (School Standards)

No, I do not have time.

That increase should be added to the number of people taking graduate-based routes. This is the beginning of a turnaround. I am not saying that that is enough. I know that we are still not hitting our targets. I know that the maths figures are still 3 per cent. below last year's, even though the figures for chemistry, for example, are 33 per cent. up on those for this time last year. The figures for biology are up as well. [Interruption.] That is not complacency; it is a mark of a Government who have grasped the teacher recruitment problem. The figures represent not hanging around for a recession, but bucking the trend in times of economic strength in this nation. That is what we have done.

I put this challenge to the Opposition: their one policy, apart from waiting for a recession, is to take away the paperwork. Not only would they take away the paperwork, but they have failed to guarantee the education budget. They guarantee only the budget for a school. They would take away training salaries, golden hellos and recruitment strategy managers—all the initiatives that have not only helped recruitment, but supported teachers. They would take away learning support units, excellence in cities and education action zones. All are centrally funded through the standards fund.

Teachers are the most important professionals in our society. The jobs that they do on behalf of us all are immeasurably valuable, and we owe them our thanks. With us, teachers also have the support of the Government.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 128, Noes 309.

Division No. 66][4 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Amess, DavidLait, Mrs Jacqui
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon JamesLansley, Andrew
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)Leigh, Edward
Baldry, TonyLetwin, Oliver
Beggs, RoyLewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Bercow, JohnLilley, Rt Hon Peter
Beresford, Sir PaulLloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Body, Sir RichardLoughton, Tim
Boswell, TimLuff, Peter
Brady, GrahamLyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Brazier, JulianMcIntosh, Miss Anne
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterMacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Browning, Mrs AngelaMaclean, Rt Hon David
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)McLoughlin, Patrick
Burns, SimonMalins, Humfrey
Butterfill, JohnMaples, John
Chapman, Sir SydneyMates, Michael
(Chipping Barnet)Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Clappison, JamesMawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)May, Mrs Theresa
Clarke, Rt Hon KennethMoss, Malcolm
(Rushcliffe)Nicholls, Patrick
Clifton-Brown, GeoffreyNorman, Archie
Collins, TimO'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Cormack, Sir PatrickOttaway, Richard
Cran, JamesPage, Richard
Curry, Rt Hon DavidPaice, James
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)Pickles, Eric
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Day, StephenPrior, David
Duncan, AlanRedwood, Rt Hon John
Duncan Smith, IainRobathan, Andrew
Emery, Rt Hon Sir PeterRobertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Evans, NigelRoe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Faber, DavidRuffley, David
Fabricant, MichaelSt Aubyn, Nick
Fallon, MichaelSayeed, Jonathan
Forth, Rt Hon EricShephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir NormanSimpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Fraser, ChristopherSpelman, Mrs Caroline
Gale, RogerSpicer, Sir Michael
Garnier, EdwardSpring, Richard
Gibb, NickSteen, Anthony
Gill, ChristopherStreeter, Gary
Gillan, Mrs CherylSwayne, Desmond
Gorman, Mrs TeresaSyms, Robert
Gray, JamesTapsell, Sir Peter
Grieve, DominicTaylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Gummer, Rt Hon JohnTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir ArchieTaylor, Sir Teddy
Hammond, PhilipTredinnick, David
Hawkins, NickTrend, Michael
Hayes, JohnViggers, Peter
Heald, OliverWalter, Robert
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon DavidWaterson, Nigel
Hogg, Rt Hon DouglasWells, Bowen
Horam, JohnWhitney, Sir Raymond
Howard, Rt Hon MichaelWhittingdale, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Hunter, AndrewWilkinson, John
Jack, Rt Hon MichaelWilletts, David
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Jenkin, Bernard
Key, RobertTellers for the Ayes:
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Mr. John Randall and
Kirkbride, Miss JulieMr. Peter Atkinson.
Abbott, Ms DianeAlexander, Douglas
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)Allan, Richard
Ainger, NickArmstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Ashton, Joe
Atkins, CharlotteDobbin, Jim
Austin, JohnDobson, Rt Hon Frank
Bailey, AdrianDowd, Jim
Ballard, JackieDrown, Ms Julia
Banks, TonyDunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Barnes, HarryEagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Barron, KevinEagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Bayley, HughEdwards, Huw
Beard, NigelEfford, Clive
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs MargaretEllman, Mrs Louise
Beith, Rt Hon A JEtherington, Bill
Bell, Martin (Tatton)Feam, Ronnie
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)Field, Rt Hon Frank
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)Fisher, Mark
Bennett, Andrew FFitzpatrick, Jim
Benton, JoeFlint, Caroline
Berry, RogerFlynn, Paul
Best, HaroldFollett, Barbara
Blears, Ms HazelFoster, Rt Hon Derek
Blizzard, BobFoster, Don (Bath)
Blunkett, Rt Hon DavidFoster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Boateng, Rt Hon PaulFoster, Michael J (Worcester)
Bradley, Keith (Withington)Foulkes, George
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)Gapes, Mike
Bradshaw, BenGardiner, Barry
Brake, TomGeorge, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Brand, Dr PeterGerrard, Neil
Brinton, Mrs HelenGibson, Dr Ian
Browne, DesmondGidley, Sandra
Buck, Ms KarenGilroy, Mrs Linda
Burden, RichardGodsiff, Roger
Burgon, ColinGoggins, Paul
Burstow, PaulGolding, Mrs Llin
Byers, Rt Hon StephenGriffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Grocott, Bruce
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife)Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Caplin, IvorHall, Patrick (Bedford)
Caton, MartinHancock, Mike
Cawsey, IanHanson, David
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)Harris, Dr Evan
Chaytor, DavidHealey, John
Clapham, MichaelHeath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)Hinchliffe, David
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Hodge, Ms Margaret
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)Hoey, Kate
Clelland, DavidHood, Jimmy
Coffey, Ms AnnHoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Cohen, HarryHope, Phil
Coleman, IainHowells, Dr Kim
Colman, TonyHoyle, Lindsay
Corbett, RobinHughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Corbyn, JeremyHughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Corston, JeanHumble, Mrs Joan
Cotter, BrianHutton, John
Cousins, JimIddon, Dr Brian
Cox, TomJackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Crausby, DavidJackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)Jamieson, David
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)Jenkins, Brian
Darling, Rt Hon AlistairJohnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Davidson, IanJones, Helen (Warrington N)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Dean, Mrs JanetJones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Denham, JohnJowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Dismore, AndrewJoyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldPound, Stephen
Keeble, Ms SallyPrentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)Primarolo, Dawn
Kelly, Ms RuthQuin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)Rammell, Bill
Khabra, Piara SRaynsford, Nick
Kidney, DavidReed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Kilfoyle, PeterReid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)Rendel, David
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kumar, Dr AshokRobinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Ladyman, Dr StephenRogers, Allan
Lammy, DavidRooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Lawrence, Mrs JackieRoy, Frank
Laxton, BobRuane, Chris
Lepper, DavidRuddock, Joan
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Linton, MartinRussell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)Ryan, Ms Joan
Love, AndrewSarwar, Mohammad
McAvoy, ThomasSawford, Phil
McCabe, SteveSedgemore, Brian
McCafferty, Ms ChrisSheerman, Barry
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
McDonagh, SiobhainSkinner, Dennis
Macdonald, CalumSmith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
McDonnell, JohnSmith, Angela (Basildon)
McFall, JohnSmith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
McGuire, Mrs AnneSmith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, AndrewSmith, Jacqui (Redditch)
McNamara, KevinSmith, John (Glamorgan)
McNulty, TonySmith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Mactaggart, FionaSnape, Peter
McWalter, TonySouthworth, Ms Helen
McWilliam, JohnSpellar, John
Mahon, Mrs AliceSquire, Ms Rachel
Mallaber, JudySteinberg, Gerry
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Stevenson, George
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Marshall-Andrews, RobertStewart, Ian (Eccles)
Martlew, EricStinchcombe, Paul
Maxton, JohnStoate, Dr Howard
Meacher, Rt Hon MichaelStraw, Rt Hon Jack
Meale, AlanStringer, Graham
Merron, GillianStunell, Andrew
Michael, Rt Hon AlunSutcliffe, Gerry
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, AustinTaylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Moffatt, LauraTaylor, David (NW Leics)
Moonie, Dr LewisTemple-Morris, Peter
Morley, ElliotThomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Mountford, KaliTodd, Mark
Mudie, GeorgeTonge, Dr Jenny
Mullin, ChrisTruswell, Paul
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Naysmith, Dr DougTwigg, Derek (Halton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
O'Hara, EddieTyler, Paul
Öpik, LembitTynan, Bill
Organ, Mrs DianaVis, Dr Rudi
Osborne, Ms SandraWalley, Ms Joan
Pearson, IanWareing, Robert N
Pickthall, ColinWatts, David
Pike, Peter LWhite, Brian
Plaskitt, JamesWilliams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, ChrisWilliams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Pope, GregWilliams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wood, MikeWyatt, Derek
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, JamesTellers for the Noes:
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)Mr. Clive Betts and
Wright, Tony (Cannock)Mr. Don Touhig.

Question accordingly negatived.
Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):
The House divided: Ayes 278, Noes 151.

division No. 67][4.13 pm
Abbott, Ms DianeCox, Tom
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)Crausby, David
Ainger, NickCryer, John (Hornchurch)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Alexander, DouglasDarling, Rt Hon Alistair
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms HilaryDarvill, Keith
Ashton, JoeDavey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Atkins, CharlotteDavidson, Ian
Austin, JohnDavies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Bailey, AdrianDavis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Banks, Tony
Barnes, HarryDean, Mrs Janet
Barron, KevinDenham, John
Bayley, HughDismore, Andrew
Beard, NigelDobbin,, Jim
Begg, Miss AnneDobson, Rt Hon Frank
Bell, Martin (Tatton)Dowd, Jim
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)Drown, Ms Julia
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Bennett, Andrew FEagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Benton, JoeEdwards, Huw
Berry, RogerEfford, Clive
Best, HaroldEllman, Mrs Louise
Blears, Ms HazelEtherington, Bill
Blizzard, BobField, Rt Hon Frank
Boateng, Rt Hon PaulFisher, Mark
Bradley, Keith (Withington)Fitzpatrick, Jim
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)Flint, Caroline
Bradshaw, BenFlynn, Paul
Brinton, Mrs HelenFollett, Barbara
Browne, DesmondFoster, Rt Hon Derek
Buck, Ms KarenFoster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Burden, RichardFoster, Michael J (Worcester)
Burgon, ColinFoulkes, George
Byers, Rt Hon StephenGalloway George
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)Gapes, Mike
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Gardiner, Barry
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Caton, MartinGerard, Neil
Cawsey, IanGibson, Dr Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Chaytor, DavidGodsiff, Roger
Clapham, MichaelGoggins, Paul
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)Golding, Mrs Llin
Clark, Dr LyndaGriffiths, Jane (Reading E)
(Edinburgh Pentlands)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)Grocott, Bruce
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Grogan,, John
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)Hain, Peter
Clelland, DavidHall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Coffey, Ms AnnHall, Patrick (Bedford)
Cohen, HarryHanson, David
Coleman, IainHealey, John
Colman, TonyHenderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Corbett, RobinHepburn, Stephen
Corbyn, JeremyHeppell, John
Corston, JeanHinchliffe, David
Cousins, JimHodge, Ms Margaret
Hood, JimmyMorley, Elliot
Hoon, Rt Hon GeoffreyMorris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hope, Phil
Howells, Dr KimMountford, Kali
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)Mudie, George
Humble, Mrs JoanMurphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Hutton, JohnMurphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Iddon, Dr BrianNaysmith, Dr Doug
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)O'Hara, Eddie
Jamieson, DavidOrgan, Mrs Diana
Jenkins, BrianOsborne, Ms Sandra
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)Pike, Peter L
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)Plaskitt, James
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)Pollard, Kerry
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)Pound, Stephen
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms TessaPowell, Sir Raymond
Joyce, EricPrentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldPrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Keeble, Ms SallyPrimarolo, Dawn
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)Rammell, Bill
Kelly, Ms RuthRaynsford, Nick
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Khabra, Piara SReid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Kidney, DavidRobertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)Rogers, Allan
Kumar, Dr AshokRooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Ladyman, Dr StephenRoy, Frank
Lammy, DavidRuane, Chris
Lawrence, Mrs JackieRuddock, Joan
Laxton, BobRussell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Lepper, DavidRyan, Ms Joan
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)Sarwar, Mohammad
Linton, MartinSawford, Phil
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)Sedgemore, Brian
Love, AndrewSheerman, Barry
McAvoy, ThomasSimpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
McCabe, SteveSingh, Marsha
McCafferty, Ms ChrisSkinner, Dennis
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
McDonagh, SiobhainSmith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Macdonald, CalumSmith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
McDonnell, John
McFall, JohnSmith, Jacqui (Redditch)
McGuire, Mrs AnneSmith, John (Glamorgan)
McIsaac, ShonaSmith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Mackinlay, AndrewSnape, Peter
McNamara, KevinSouthworth, Ms Helen
McNulty, TonySpellar, John
Mactaggart, FionaSquire, Ms Rachel
McWalter, TonySteinberg, Gerry
McWilliam, JohnStevenson, George
Mahon, Mrs AliceStewart, David (Inverness E)
Mallaber, JudyStewart, Ian (Eccles)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Stinchcombe, Paul
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Stoate, Dr Howard
Marshall-Andrews, RobertStraw, Rt Hon Jack
Martlew, EricStringer, Graham
Maxton, JohnSutcliffe, Gerry
Meacher, Rt Hon MichaelTaylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Meale, Alan
Merron, GillianTaylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Michael, Rt Hon AlunTaylor, David (NW Leics)
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)Temple-Morris, Peter
Miller, AndrewThomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Mitchell, AustinTimms, Stephen
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Tipping, PaddyWilliams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Todd, Mark
Truswell, PaulWilliams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)Wood, Mike
Twigg, Derek (Halton)Worthington, Tony
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Tynan, BillWright, Tony (Cannock)
Vis, Dr RudiWyatt, Derek
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert NTellers for the Ayes:
Watts, DavidMr. Don Touhig and
White, BrianMr. Clive Betts.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)Faber, David
Allan, RichardFabricant, Michael
Amess, DavidFearn, Ronnie
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon JamesRight, Howard
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Ballard, JackieFoster, Don (Bath)
Beggs, RoyFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Beith, Rt Hon A JFraser, Christopher
Bercow, JohnGale, Roger
Body, Sir RichardGarnier, Edward
Boswell, TimGidley, Sandra
Brady, GrahamGill, Christopher
Brake, TomGillan, Mrs Cheryl
Brand, Dr PeterGorman, Mrs Teresa
Brazier, JulianGray, James
Breed, ColinGrieve, Dominic
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterGummer, Rt Hon John
Browning, Mrs AngelaHamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Hammond, Philip
Burns, SimonHancock, Mike
Burstow, PaulHarris, Dr Evan
Butterfill, JohnHawkins, Nick
Cable, Dr VincentHayes, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife)Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Chope, ChristopherHoram, John
Clappison, JamesHoward, Rt Hon Michael
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Clifton-Brown, GeoffreyJack, Rt Hon Michael
Collins, TimJackson, Robert (Wantage)
Cormack, Sir PatrickJenkin, Bernard
Cotter, BrianJohnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon DavidKey, Robert
Davey, Edward (Kingston)Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)Kirkwood, Archy
Day, StephenLaing, Mrs Eleanor
Duncan, AlanLait, Mrs Jacqui
Duncan Smith, IainLansley, Andrew
Emery, Rt Hon Sir PeterLeigh, Edward
Evans, NigelLetwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)St Aubyn, Nick
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterSayeed, Jonathan
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Loughton, TimSimpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Luff, PeterSmith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasSpelman, Mrs Caroline
McIntosh, Miss AnneSpicer, Sir Michael
MacKay, Rt Hon AndrewSpring, Richard
Maclean, Rt Hon DavidSteen, Anthony
McLoughlin, PatrickStunell, Andrew
Malins, HumfreySwayne, Desmond
Maples, JohnSyms, Robert
Mates, MichaelTapsell, Sir Peter
Maude, Rt Hon FrancisTaylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir BrianTaylor, John M (Solihull)
May, Mrs TheresaTaylor, Sir Teddy
Moss, MalcolmTonge, Dr Jenny
Nicholls, PatrickTownend, John
Norman, ArchieTredinnick, David
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)Trend, Michael
Öpik, LembitTyler, Paul
Viggers, Peter
Ottaway, RichardWalter, Robert
Page, RichardWaterson, Nigel
Paice, JamesWells, Bowen
Pickles, EricWhitney, Sir Raymond
Portillo, Rt Hon MichaelWhittingdale, John
Prior, DavidWiddecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Redwood, Rt Hon JohnWilkinson, John
Rendel, DavidWilletts, David
Robathan, AndrewYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)Tellers for the Noes:
Ruffley, DavidMr. John Randall and
Russell, Bob (Colchester)Mr. Peter Atkinson.

Question accordingly agreed to.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.
Resolved,That this House welcomes the enormous strides taken over the last three years to make teaching a more attractive profession; particularly welcomes the introduction of a new career structure and performance-related pay to assist retention, a greater emphasis on continuing professional development and the development of golden hellos in shortage subjects and teacher training salaries, which mean that there are more people training to be teachers now than at any time in the last eight years; further welcomes the practical steps taken by the Government to assist headteachers facing recruitment problems in some areas and the measures which have been taken to reduce needless bureaucracy in schools; applauds the improved achievement levels by both primary and secondary pupils, the big reduction in infant class sizes since 1997 and the substantial increase in teaching assistants and learning mentors to offer practical support to pupils and teachers; and notes that the number of teachers in post is higher than at any time in the last decade as a direct result of greater investment in education by the Government, and that the School Teachers' Review Body will report soon.