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Education Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 24th January 2005.

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Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Shadow Minister, Home Affairs 6:45 pm, 24th January 2005

In moving Amendment No. 152H, I shall also speak to Amendment No. 152J, which is in my name. The amendments would ensure that the Government established a target annually for the total number of teachers and support staff who should be employed, and for the target to be costed in the annual local government finance settlement. Each school and pupil referral unit could be required to employ a minimum number of teachers, defined by maximum class and group size limits; appropriate distinctions between the work of teachers and support staff; a statutory curriculum framework, which requires a balanced and broadly based curriculum; and the personal and social needs of children and young people.

We have falling pupil rolls, and I have argued before that that should be seen as an opportunity and not a threat, as they represent an opportunity to reduce class sizes and expand the curriculum, establish productive links with parents in other schools, and many other opportunities. In recognising such opportunities, the Government could establish an annual target for the total number of teachers and support staff in employment, as well as what teachers are qualified to teach in, in relation to the need. We all know about subject shortages; this is an opportunity to define what is needed.

I know that the Government are at long last about to do the staff survey, so that before long we should know exactly where the shortages are and how many teachers are in place, against the actual need. So it should not be too difficult to do something like that. The latest publicly available figures show that at least half of all teachers in 2002 were aged 45 or over. Natural wastage is going to come into play before long—so there is a need for the Government to initiate a major and thorough investigation into the future supply of teachers for the next 10 to 15 years, or we might land up with nowhere near enough. I beg to move.