Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1973 Jul 2 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

HC S [Teacher Supply (Opposition motion)]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [859/107-127]
Editorial comments: 1911-2007. MT spoke at cc117, 118-27.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 7212
Themes: Education, Higher & further education, Employment, Public spending & borrowing, Labour Party & socialism
[column 107]


7.11 p.m.

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

I beg to move,

That this House regrets the Government's intention to reduce the number of initial training places in colleges and polytechnic departments of education from 114,000 in 1971–72 to between 60,000 and 70,000 by 1981; deplores the instruction to area training organisations to cut back the intake of non-graduate students in 1974; and believes that a teaching force rigidly limited to the size stipulated by the Government cannot meet the full educational needs of the next decade and will result in severe and damaging shortages of trained teachers in many parts of England and Wales.

I begin with a point which I believe will unite the Secretary of State and myself and, indeed, the entire House. That is the conviction that the teacher remains incomparably the most important element in our education system. Were I to say simply “the most important” , that would be the most vacuous sort of platitude. Therefore, I say “incomparably the most important” element. We may have arguments and views about the importance of the quality and age of school buildings and arguments about the proper organisation of secondary education, but I am sure that we all agree that all our plans fail and all our hopes are dashed if we do not have teachers in the right quantity, of the right quality and with the right attitude.

About quality I think that most of us are satisfied. Many things that have happened over the last year and will happen during the next six years—I refer in particular to the third cycle of the James proposals—seem likely to improve quality.

About quantity we are in dispute this evening, but before I pass on to that I want to say one thing about the attitude of the teaching profession. Attitude is deeply dependent on and related to the morale of the teaching profession, and the morale is deeply related to and dependent on the teachers' view of the importance that the State attaches to their work and the importance that the country attaches to their work as reflected by the Government's attitude towards them.

I do not believe that anything that the Government have done in terms of [column 108]either salary or supply over the last three years has made the teacher feel that his crucial rôle in education is properly and fully appreciated. As a result, I am sure that teaching morale has suffered. That is especially so in London, but it is not a problem which is exclusive to London by any means.

Despite that, I say again that I am sure that the Secretary of State and I agree about the crucial rôle that the teacher plays in all our education equations. Nor shall we disagree about the targets that the Government have set for their future teaching force. The Government want to see by 1981 the equivalent of 510,000 full-time teachers in maintained schools. Of that number 465,000 will teach children above five years of age. That target—the plus-five target—is substantially smaller than targets set by previous Governments.

In 1965 we talked of 510,000 teachers in primary and secondary schools. In 1968 we aimed at 526,000 teachers in primary and secondary schools. I am sure that, in part, the right hon. Lady the Secretary of State will say that that change of emphasis, of direction and of estimate is a result of projected changes in the birth rate. I want to say two things about that.

First, it is in part the result of a calculated decision of the Government to aim for no better than classes of 40 and 30, rather than the class of 30 in primary and secondary schools for which the Labour Government aimed. But a more important point is that even if the reduction in birthrate was the crucial factor in the number of teachers that the Government want and hope to see in schools in 1981, that would be deeply indicative of the different attitudes of the two major parties. For one party, the Government party, a reduction in the birth rate can be looked upon as an ideal opportunity to save money. For the Labour Party a reduction in the birth rate would be looked upon as an ideal opportunity to improve standards. That is the crucial difference between us.

That reduced target of 465,000 teachers in primary and secondary schools is to be achieved by an enormous literal reduction in college of education places. There are now 114,000 places. By 1981 that number will have been cut by almost [column 109]50 per cent. to between 60,000 and 70,000 places.

In their White Paper the Government tried to explain what that figure meant in real terms. They described it as a 10 per cent. increase, even when account was taken of an increased school population—a 10 per cent. improvement in the present staffing figure. The Government said that it was a future pupil-teacher ratio of 18.5 to 1. That figure has been amended, if not by the right hon. Lady, by the professional Press. It is in reality 19.3 to 1. The lower figure is possible only if we pretend that teachers in “in-service” training are really in front of their classes. But I make no bones or fuss about that subterfuge. Indeed, I go on to talk as though the 18.5 figure quoted in the White Paper was accurate.

Mr. Norman Morris of the University of Manchester, by the application of those mystic tables that relate staff-pupil ratio to class sizes, has analysed what that figure—the best possible interpretation of the Government's intention—18.5 to 1, means in terms of class sizes. It means, averaging it out throughout the country classes of 30 in secondary schools and 40 in primary schools.

The Government may regard that as an adequate target. The Opposition do not believe those figures and that aspiration to be remotely acceptable for 1981.

Certainly the idea of 40 pupils in a primary class is unacceptable to us. It is particularly so because in the areas of greatest need, for children with the most desperate educational problem, the classes should be appreciably smaller than 40. When a national average of 40 is the going figure, the figures in the most deprived and depressed areas are often a great deal larger than that.

Indeed, the policy is very clear. Under the Government's intentions it is not simply that areas of greatest need and most desperation are not getting adequate teachers. They will never get adequate teachers. Certainly the figures specified by the Government will not produce a teaching force that is remotely adequate to meet the needs of the most deprived and depressed areas. The figures of 40 in primary schools and 30 in secondary schools obscure many regional difficulties. I am sure that the right hon. Lady appre[column 110]ciates that those are difficulties which often amount to near crisis and on occasions produce crisis. That is true particularly of secondary schools.

The White Paper records a gradual improvement in the overall figures of teachers to pupils over the 10 years from 1961 to 1971. In fact, it is the Secretary of State's only recorded compliment to the last Labour Government. The White Paper goes on to record that only 2.5 per cent. of primary classes have more than 40 pupils. But the White Paper is significantly silent about the size of classes in secondary education and about the number of classes which have more than 30 pupils.

That is because in city after city there is an increasing shortage of teachers and a particular shortage in secondary schools. That is a shortage which is obscured by the figures of overall improvement. That is dramatically true in London and applies to the ILEA and outer boroughs. It is also true of some remote counties, and some old industrial cities and towns. Within those old cities and towns there are areas of special need—namely, schools with shortages even more desperate than the overall shortages of the town and remote country areas.

The areas of special need or shortage come basically under two heads. There are those decaying central areas where the population has not shown a rapid decline. Second, there are new housing estates into which the old central area residents have gone. Such areas need extra educational resources but they often receive less than the national average. Under the Government's present policy, I believe that that imbalance will continue.

We must face the fact that already some of the special areas within deprived LEAs are facing near-crisis situations. Many of our old towns report a 10 per cent. shortage of teachers in terms of the staff available when their schools open in September. I know that the Under-Secretary of State always complains when I quote the evidence of LEAs. That is the evidence of real people talking about the real world and their real problems. I shall give the hon. Gentleman one example. I can give him more if he doubts that example. In the Kirby area of Liverpool—that is a specially difficult locality [column 111]for teachers within a difficult LEA—there is a general shortage of teachers. Out of 300 places which should be filled in September there is a net shortage of 50 teachers. Those figures do not represent the difference between adequate and inadequate education, but the difference between adequate education and educational crisis.

It is that grave shortage which we believe the Government's limited aspiration is certain to increase and to intensify. I suppose it is possible for the right hon. Lady to argue that there are enough teachers in the country as a whole but that for some reason they are not going to Kirby, to London, to Salford and to the other places which I have contacted during the last four days. If that is the case, I hope she will tell us. If she thinks that the quota system is wrong and should be changed, let her tell us why.

There is only one of two conclusions which we can draw. Either the quota system is wrong or the overall supply is inadequate. If the supply is inadequate, it will be made more inadequate as demand increases over the next eight or 10 years and if the teacher supply does not increase sufficiently to meet it.

Against that background we must consider and judge the Government's intention to cut initial training places. I see at once that there can be no lasting solution to the teacher shortage until there are substantial changes in teachers' pay. That is not a matter of the overall level of teachers' pay. The structure of pay as a whole has to be improved. There must be incentives to attract teachers into the areas with the severest difficulty. There must be a substantial change with the system of allowances shifting towards those teachers who work with the under-privileged rather than, as often is the case now, concentrating on those who work with the intellectually gifted. Those are alterations which I want to see in what I hope will become the free negotiating machinery between teachers and local authorities.

Of course, that is the supply side of the teacher equation. We must get the demand side right as well. If we are to get that side right for the maintained schools there is no better criterion than the independent schools. I know that [column 112]the right hon. Lady is the defender and protector of the independent schools. I know that she has made speeches in which she has said that one of the peculiar contributions to English education is the small classes which independent schools can provide for the boys and girls who go to them. She is right about that. There are about 13 pupils for every teacher in the independent sector.

I ask the right hon. Lady again the question which I asked her during the White Paper debate and which she did not answer. If 13.1:1 is right for the independent sector, why is that a figure which the maintained sector cannot even aim at? If it is good enough for the independent schools, why is not it good enough for the schools for which the right hon. Lady has responsibility? What does she believe to be the ideal size of class? We know from a fortnight ago that she thinks that some grammar schools should have smaller sixth form groups. That is an interesting view from a Secretary of State who, by the prevention of comprehensive reorganisation has perpetuated the small grammar school and the consequent small sixth form.

Perhaps today we may hear the right hon. Lady's views about the proper size of classes and, therefore, the need for extra teachers in areas of special difficulty such as areas representing the socially under-privileged. At least the Opposition's view about that are absolutely clear. The Opposition's view is that the Government's aim is too low, that its aspirations are too limited and that the problems of the cities and of the poor areas within the cities are ignored. The duty to encourage those authorities which employ too few teachers to employ more has been abdicated.

A great opportunity has been missed. It was an opportunity to meet the needs of the area of shortage. It was an opportunity to get smaller classes in the educational priority areas. It is an opportunity to mount a great drive to provide suitable small remedial classes for the children who need such education and very often do not receive it because of the present shortage of teachers. It is also a missed opportunity to expand the rôle of teachers in a way in which the Department of Education and Science, in a more philosophical [column 113]moment, believed it should be expanded. That is the real difference between the Government's policy and the one which the Opposition would have them adopt.

The present system is an opportunity for some cheese-paring or for real improvement and expansion. Our criticism is that that opportunity has not been taken. The number of college of education places now available could be used for a vast expansion of educational standards. The Government have, however, set a rigid limit on how many teachers they are prepared to provide. The colleges are required to cut their in-take to meet that rigid limit. Because of that—this is the second part of our charge—the country is facing a grave potential difficulty. As well as claiming that the Government's target is too low, we fear—fear is the appropriate word because it will give us no joy in four or five years' time if our fears turn out to be correct—that the Government's target will not be reached.

We fear that the achievement of 510,000 teachers, or the adequacy of that figure, depends on too many imponderables and that with so many imponderables in the equation it is irresponsible for the Government to have provided a minimum number of places to meet even their limited aspirations. I shall put some of the imponderables to the right hon. Lady in the hope that she will comment on them later.

This should be the most difficult time to judge how many students from colleges are going into teaching. If the Diploma of Higher Education has any real meaning, if it is a really flexible qualification which may result in someone taking a diploma or degree which does not take him automatically into teaching, it is almost impossible to predict how many college of education students, as I loosely call them, will eventually go into teaching.

Equally, the number of graduates who go into teaching is uncertain. The number of graduates who entered the teaching profession in the last five years is a direct result of high graduate unemployment. But that, fortunately, is tailing off. The right hon. Lady will recall that the letter which she sent out 10 days ago about the reduced numbers in colleges of education drew attention to the fact that the number of graduates applying for college [column 114]of education diplomas decreased compared with last year. I hope that graduate unemployment is decreasing, not only in terms of the interests of the graduates but also in terms of the interests of the schools. I do not want schools to be populated by graduates because, although they entered university intending to do something else, there was no other job for them when they left university. I do not believe that the reluctant teacher is in the interests of the education profession any more than it is in the interests of the teachers themselves.

Those graduates who go determined into teaching are clearly an essential part of the teaching profession, but those who go, as Mr. Martyn Berry described them in The Times Higher Educational Supplement, of March 2nd as “graduates driven into teaching by depression” are something which, if possible, we ought to avoid.

I offer the right hon. Lady a third imponderable. Is she sure of her assumption about wastage in the profession between now and 1981? I hope she is. I am told that she will advise her advisory committee on Wednesday that if there is a 1 per cent. error in the assumption of wastage there will be 5,000 teachers fewer every year going into the profession; 5,000 teachers fewer between now and 1981 is an enormous reduction on her own target. It is because of those extraordinarily imprecise qualities in the teacher supply ratio that many of us regret the Government's marked reluctance to answer any of the questions about how the teacher supply figures were arrived at.

For the first time, for instance, the appropriate unions were not asked to comment on the draft circular dealing with higher education in the public sector before it went out. Anyone who was here during the Adjournment debate of 4th April, or who has read the report of that debate, cannot escape the impression that the Government decided to take their decision first and to cobble the evidence between them about the decision afterwards. The Under-Secretary's performance on 4th April was typical. I do not mean it was typical of him; I mean it was typical of the Government's record. It was comparatively accurate. In columns 577 to 583 of the Official Report it is reported [column 115]how he set out the Government's intention in detail, explaining how the figures were arrived at. In column 584, with apparent seriousness—it is never easy to tell with the Under-Secretary—he is reported as saying:

“What is needed now is to establish … the basic facts” .—[Official Report, 4th April 1973; Vol. 854, c. 584.]

We all say “amen” to that.

Some of us might say that what was needed was to establish the basic facts before the basic decisions were taken. Perhaps the Advisory Committee on the Supply and Training of Teachers is supposed to provide them. The advisory committee is meeting for the first time on Wednesday. Yet, as the national advisory committee assembles, it must know that all the important decisions on teacher training and supply have been taken. Not only have the decisions been taken; the Secretary of State has instructed that they be implemented.

The cuts in college places for 1974 are now being worked out in detail—worked out on the instruction of the Secretary of State. We are left with the gloomy possibility that the Government are simply hoping that they can meet the targets and exceed them by a fraction in the hope that the birth rate will continue to decline and that the school population will not rise, as was expected when the White Paper was drawn up. A decline in the birth rate is not quite the same as a fall in the school population. That will certainly continue to rise. Indeed, I understand that the advisory committee will be told on Wednesday that if the 10 per cent. improvement figure is to be met it may not need 510,000 teachers by that year, but there will certainly be a need for something in excess of 509,000, which seems to me as good as anything that the Secretary of State will get.

The school population will rise, and may rise a good deal more quickly than the Secretary of State intends. I say “intends” for two reasons. First, the exclusion of the full-time rising fives from the primary schools is certain to reduce the numbers on the primary school registers. Also her Birmingham decision, and other decisions like it, will certainly reduce the number of working class boys and girls who stay at school after the [column 116]statutory minimum leaving age. Despite that, we remain uncertain about all the figures.

In the light of that uncertainty let me ask the right hon. Lady why she has been in such extraordinary haste not only to announce her policy in increasing detail but to implement it before the full picture is available. Her instruction to ATOs last week is the beginning of that implementation. Why, in the light of all the uncertainty, have the Government decided to cut the college of education places next year by the degree and to the point they have? Why have they decided to do that when, if everything goes right and according to plan, the target of 40 and 30 in classes will only just be met for the country as a whole and not met at all for the areas of special and desperate need?

The answer can only be this. The Government do not even aspire to an overall target of a better teacher supply than 40-sized classes in primary schools and 30 in secondary schools, which is the 1945 target at which the Government are still aiming. It is certainly not a target which a Labour Government will aim at, and it is a figure which we hoped would fade into the past by the end of the first Labour Government's lifetime.

Consider again the opportunity which the Government have lost here. The college of education places are there. A simple continuation of the present trend between now and 1981 will produce an extra 54,000 teachers in our schools. Those teachers could provide a national increase of 10 per cent. More important, there would be extra teachers to meet the needs of the deprived areas. There will be extra teachers for the essential small classes to be created for remedial children. There will be the opportunity to meet the needs of the children whose needs are greatest and which are often the last to be met. Once again we have to come to the gloomy conclusion that the Secretary of State, for whomsoever she speaks, does not speak for them.

What shall we hear from the Secretary of State? I think we shall hear two things. Before I suggest what they are, let me beg her not to repeat that tired old debating point which she produced at Blackpool 10 days ago about 400 teachers unemployed when she said she hoped she would not hear any more about [column 117]that. Those were her words— “I hope I will not hear anything more about teacher unemployment.”

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

I did not mention 400.

Mr. Hattersley

I have no doubt the right hon. Lady did not make any reference to 400. Had she done so, it would have demonstrated how fatuous her point is. The number of unemployed teachers, which the appropriate unions were able to give, was 400 out of 364,000, and the right hon. Lady makes my point as to why she should not go repeating that hoary old debating point.

Mrs. Thatcher

It did not prevent the unions from writing to me about it last year and expressing their fears about teacher unemployment.

Mr. Hattersley

Of course not. It is the duty of the unions to be concerned about 400 unemployed among their members. The idea that the right hon. Lady can turn up at a meeting of the Association of Education Committees and pretend that teacher unemployment—400 out of 364,000—is remotely related to the question of demand for teachers and supply of teachers I say again is fatuous.

However, I believe that the right hon. Lady will make two points. The first is inherent in the wording of the amendment, and it is the argument we have heard in debate after debate when we have discussed her policy. It is simply this: everything is all right with the right hon. Lady because her policy promises slightly more in 1981 than the Labour Government managed to do in the late 1960s. No one is enormously impressed by a policy whose principal virtue is that there will be slight improvements over a full decade. Certainly, the AEC was not impressed by that argument last week, and I think that all the debates in the various organisations and in the professional Press have demonstrated time after time that a simple arithmetical promise that things will be better in the early 1980s than they were in the late 1960s impresses no one.

I suspect that the right hon. Lady's second point will be a reference to the availability of money. I suppose that she and I have to agree to differ about [column 118]growth rates in the education service. I say that reinforced by the knowledge that not only do she and I agree to differ but The Times Educational Supplement, The Times Higher Educational Supplement, Education and virtually every other enlightened view on education matters disagree with her as well.

I reaffirm that the next Labour Government will expect to spend a good deal more of the national product on education than the right hon. Lady chooses to spend. But that is a point of fundamental disagreement between us, and I must put this question to the right hon. Lady. What sort of standard of values is embraced by a Government who are unable or unwilling to provide as many teachers as the nation needs but who are yet determined to press ahead with the Maplin development? What sort of standard of values do a Government have who are prepared to leave London with a crucial teacher shortage and yet would gladly have thrust the motorway box down London's throat?

I suppose that the only answer one can give—it is the answer one comes to over and over again—is that the right hon. Lady's standards and ours are different. We at least rejoice in that.

7.42 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

I beg to move to leave out from “House” to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof, “welcomes the policy of Her Majesty's Government to plan for an increase of over 140,000 teachers between 1971 and 1981, to improve staffing standards, and to extend in-service training” .

The motion criticises action which I am taking in 1974 which cannot possibly have any effect on staffing in the schools until the year 1977–78. Somehow or other, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hatterlsey) manages to support that criticism by criticism of the staffing position in the schools now and next year. In so far as the staffing position in the schools next year or this year is inadequate, the hon. Gentleman is delivering the most cogent attack on the teacher supply policy of his own Government, and the most cogent attack yet delivered on that Government's planning for teacher supply in deciding to raise the school leaving age. [column 119]

In addition, the hon. Gentleman criticised the operation of the quota and mentioned some of the problems which schools will face this year. This year, the output from teacher training colleges and teacher training graduates will be about 43,000 newly-trained teachers. The teacher quota distributes that fairly round the authorities. That is the output this year, in July 1973. In so far as they are three-year trained teachers, they went in in October 1970, and the size of that intake to the teacher training colleges would have been determined by what was done in July 1969 and must have been a decision of the Labour Government.

Before coming to the motion itself, I should say a word about the teacher quota. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be the first to agree that a large part of his speech was, to put it kindly, only obliquely related to the motion. The teacher quota is not the Department's quota. It is an employers' quota, the local education authorities' quota, which happens to be administered by the Department. It sets out to give a fair geographical distribution round the country of all the newly-trained teachers available.

On 31st January this year we sent out to each local education authority details of the quota. We pointed out that

“it is specially important that quotas for 1973–74, when the full force of the increased numbers produced by the raising of the school leaving age will be felt in the schools, should correspond closely with the total supply of quota teachers expected to be available. Authorities are therefore asked to ensure that individual quotas are not avoidably exceeded and that any substantial foreseeable shortfall in recruitment is notified promptly” .

It is early days yet for authorities to have reached their quotas. There followed a total list of quotas, and here are some of them. The hon. Gentleman mentioned Lancashire. Lancashire's quota for this year is 20,916 teachers. Birmingham's is 8,892. Manchester's is 4,682. Newcastle's is 1,639.

There will be many teachers coming out of the teacher training system this year who have not yet got jobs, and there will be a number of areas which are as yet nothing like up to quota because a number of those teachers will probably be applying for places which attract [column 120]them most and may subsequently be redistributed. Therefore, in so far as there will be a problem next year, it is early days to say that there will be shortages.

Mr. Hattersley

The right hon. Lady talks about teachers coming out of colleges this year. It is her Department's policy and that of the authorities to have all the vacancies filled by 1st May, and most of the colleges are now down.

Mrs. Thatcher

The hon. Gentleman should know that it is not possible to have all the vacancies filled by 1st May, for the simple reason, apart from other things, that some of the teachers will not know whether or not they are qualified until all the results have come out.

The teacher quota is operated in exactly the same way as it has been hitherto. The policy of my Department is to see that those who come out of the teacher training system—the numbers this year will have been determined by the policies of the hon. Gentleman's Government, of which he is so critical—are fairly distributed among the authorities.

The hon. Gentleman has a good deal to say about class sizes. He should know that the former regulation prescribing maximum class sizes of 40 for primary and 30 for secondary was withdrawn by Edward Shortthe previous Secretary of State in circular No. 16/69, and no new targets were set in terms of class sizes because it was thought better at that time—and I still think it is better—to have a judgment in terms of pupil teacher ratio.

I come now to the motion, which is about three things: the change in training college places between 1971 and 1981, the intake of students to training places in 1974, and the teaching force needed to meet the educational needs of the next decade. That is the order in which the points are put, but, of course, they are back to front. One begins with educational needs for the next decade, one moves on to the size of the teaching force and the training plant required to meet those needs, and one then makes plans accordingly.

I shall begin, therefore, with the educational needs of the country as they were set out in the framework for expansion in the White Paper last December. So far as they relate to the supply of teachers, they were threefold. First, we set out [column 121]to improve the school staffing standard. Second, we set out to provide the qualified teachers needed for a planned expansion of nursery education. Third, we set out to provide the extra teachers needed to allow for the proper induction of new teachers and to allow for improved in-service training.

For all the hon. Gentleman's talk and that of his predecessors, they were not able to achieve either of those last two aims. They are good talkers, but when it comes to performance they cut, as we know only too well.

I admit that this is an ambitious programme. It is ambitious in two quite different ways. It is ambitious, first, because no previous Government have committed themselves to school staffing objectives 10 years ahead. It is ambitious, secondly, because we were not content to specify better staffing in the schools: we went on to set ourselves two new policy targets, which Labour Members had often talked about but had failed to find the resources to provide. We thought it was time to stop talking about giving children an earlier start and giving their teachers a better professional preparation, and to get on and do these things.

The conclusion that we came to was that for these three purposes we should plan to bring about, in addition to the expansion already achieved, a further massive increase of over 140,000 teachers in service by 1981. This is something not to be regretted but to be firmly welcomed as an important new stage in school staffing policy. The hon. Member for Sparkbrook said that I had not given the full arithmetic of this policy. I shall now go into a very difficult part of my speech and give a good many statistics, which will not necessarily provide the best hearing material but will, I hope, make good reading.

I shall give the very simple arithmetic of the policy, expressing it in terms of full-time teachers. First, to preserve the school staffing standards of 1971 for the numbers and ages of pupils in the schools by 1981, we must make provision to increase the teaching force by about 60,000 to 422,000 teachers. Secondly, to add 10 per cent. more teachers to ensure an improvement in standards we need another 42,000 teachers. Thirdly, to provide two adults for every 13 nursery [column 122]children, of whom one would be a qualified teacher, we shall need another 27,000 teachers. Fourthly, to replace the teachers on induction or in-service training we shall need another 22,000. That gives a total of 513,000, which we rounded in the White Paper to 510,000. Later school population projections suggest a figure of 509,000—which the hon. Member for Sparkbrook mentioned, so I expect he has seen the paper which has gone out—for which the appropriate rounded figures continues to be 510,000.

A teaching force of this size will mean attaining standards and achieving reforms which would have seemed visionary only a few years ago when teacher supply was still at the mercy of sharply rising pupil numbers and a particularly heavy loss of young women teachers who left to start families of their own. We are therefore committed to providing over 140,000 additional teachers for the maintained schools by 1981. This increase in 10 years will be greater than the increase in the teaching force over the previous 20 years.

Let me spell out the implications in terms of pupil-teacher ratios. The movement of the ratios is a striking indicator of the progress already made and the greater progress now planned for the future. In 1950 the ratio was 27.1 pupils per teacher, falling by 0.3 to 26.8 in 1955; by 1.7 to 25.1 in 1960, a good period for improvement; by 1.6 to 23.5 in 1965, also a good period for improvement; and by 0.8 to 22.7 in 1970. On present projections, and subject to all the obvious uncertainties of forecasting, the subsequent landmarks on the way to the White Paper target for 1981 will be 20.7 in 1975, an improvement of 2.0, the best improvement yet, even though it covers the raising of the school leaving age, and a further 2.0 to 18.7 in 1980. Our plans therefore constitute the biggest improvement in teacher/pupil ratios yet.

Moreover, within this progression there has been qualitative as well as numerical improvement—through the increased recruitment of graduates, the introduction of three-year training in the colleges, and the phasing out of unqualified teachers. This qualitative improvement too will continue at what we hope will be an accelerating pace. These further improvements will be to the direct and immediate benefit of the pupils, in terms both [column 123]of smaller classes and a wider range of choices. I know the importance which teachers and parents alike attach to class sizes. There is at present little convincing evidence one way or the other about the effect on educational attainments of class size, but I agree with most informed educational opinion that a further reduction in average class sizes is desirable.

The House will appreciate that these improvements have been brought about despite an increase in the school population in the maintained schools from about 5½ million in 1950 to over 8 million in 1970. To improve the pupil/teacher ratio for such greatly increased school rolls has meant a massive investment of resources in the training system, in calls on the nation's highly educated man-power, and in the bill for teachers' salaries.

Of course, we could have named a higher figure. The hon. Member for Sparkbrook makes about a promise a day, and we have come to expect that. But I notice that, for all that is said in the Opposition motion, neither it nor the Labour Party policy statement has named a larger figure.

Teachers' pay amounts to 70 per cent. of the cost of running the schools. We cannot act as if there were no other demands on the local education service, as though the local authorities had unlimited funds from which to pay for a teaching force of unlimited size. The hon. Member is not slow to press for more improvements in school building, in school equipment and books and needs for special schools, let alone express the demand for higher education and now more adult education. The figures I have given for teacher supply are part of a balanced programme of expansion in almost every sphere and, unlike the hon. Gentleman's figures, they have been specifically defined and costed.

Our policy is to increase further the supply of teachers, and in that process to improve staffing standards, develop nursery education and enhance the professionalism and so the status and prestige of the teachers, which I agree matter tremendously. We have preferred the course of realism. The important thing for us now is to move steadily towards our declared target of 510,000 teachers by [column 124]1981, regulating our progress as necessary from year to year.

I turn therefore to consider how many teachers we need to recruit to reach the target of 510,000. There are two sides to the calculation: first, how many and of what kinds will be leaving—we have to provide for their replacement; and secondly, how many and of what kinds need to come in. Let me deal with those who will be leaving the profession—the wastage. This is a big factor in teacher supply, extremely complex and notoriously unpredictable. The rates of wastage vary between teachers of different kinds. They vary between trained and untrained graduates, between bachelors of education and non-graduates, and between men and women in each of these categories, and within each sub-category they vary again according to the age group of the teachers.

Total wastage therefore depends upon the mix and age structure of the teaching force, and it involves complex calculations. There is no reliable basis upon which to predict changes in the specific wastage rates for each age in each category. The White Paper therefore played safe by assuming that wastage rates would remain constant, although recent evidence all suggested a downward trend. We did not carry on that downward trend. We estimate that wastage will remain constant. Allowing for wastage and other factors, we estimate that we would need to work towards some 47,000 recruits from all sources in 1980–81 to achieve our target of a net increase of over 140,000 by 1981. This compares with a total recruitment of about 57,000 in 1973–74.

There are three main sources of recruitment to consider. The first group is the three-and four-year trained teachers from the colleges, the second is the one-year trained graduates, and the third is the re-entrants. I will deal with the last group first, the re-entrants.

There is a large and growing reserve of qualified teachers, mainly women, not at present teaching but who are potential re-entrants at any time. There are probably 250,000 already and there could be 500,000 by the end of the decade. If wastage rates are uncertain, we can look to the recruitment of teachers from this reserve to provide the necessary flexibility. In 1971, for example, local authorities recruited some 14,000 and there is no [column 125]doubt that the number could rise substantially.

It would be unreasonable to assume no further increase and it would be unwise to assume too much. For the present, we have taken a modest figure of 16,000 recruits from this source in 1980–81, compared with 14,000 now, an increase which takes into account the fact that the pool will double in size from 250,000 to 500,000. We have taken the figure of 2,000 believing that it could be increased if wastage turned once more against us.

I want to deal now with the new recruits who will constitute the remaining 31,000 or so, coming from post-graduates and three-and four-year training. Bearing in mind that recent surveys have shown that head teachers are calling for more graduate teachers in both primary and secondary schools, we have judged that we should plan for some 16,000 recruits from three-and four-year training and 14,000 from post-graduate training, with about 1,000 from various other sources. On this basis, the proportion of one-year trained graduates in the whole teaching force would increase from about 14 per cent. to about 21 per cent.—a substantial increase—between 1971 and 1981. This is part of the qualitative improvement in the teaching force.

To secure the 14,000 recruits from postgraduate training, after allowing for wastage during and at the end of training, would require the number entering postgraduate training—because there is some wastage—to rise to some 19,000 in 1980 compared with 11,000 in 1972. This is compatible with the general expansion of higher education which the White Paper promised.

To achieve the 16,000 entry to teaching from three-and four-year courses in the colleges of education, after allowing for wastage during and at the end of training and for the time lag between entry to training and entry to teaching, means admitting some 18,000 to such training at the end of the decade. This is a substantial drop from the 1973 figure of 36,000. It is for this reason that the number of initial training places in the colleges of education will need to fall to between 60,000 and 70,000 in 1981.

The route by which the policy target of 510,000 is to be attained is not yet firm [column 126]but depends on a number of factors. Some of these, like wastage, are very difficult to predict, and the development of the policy must be flexible enough to accommodate changing trends in either direction. Others, like the balance between different sources of recruitment—the number of graduates, three-year trained teachers and four-year trained teachers—are matters of judgment, and a great variety of judgments is possible.

The route mapped out as a planning basis in the White Paper is an attempt to strike a reasonable balance. The eventual choice will be made by the partners in the education service—the local education authorities and the various branches of the teaching profession.

To advise me on these matters I have established, as foreshadowed in the White Paper, the Advisory Committee on the Supply and Training of Teachers. Professor Armitage, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, is to be chairman. As the hon. Gentleman said, the committee will be meeting shortly. I have been asked why in this case I have not waited for the new committee's advice before giving guidance to the area training organisations on the intake of students to training places in 1974.

The reduction from 36,000 to 32,000 in the intake is, of course, a first step towards the figure of 18,000 at the end of the decade. Although the detailed inflows and outflows in 1981 are at this stage a matter of judgment, on any reckoning it is clear that a substantial adjustment in the teacher training rôle of the colleges will be needed, and in fact the colleges are to have new rôles as the teacher training rôle is reduced.

It is necessary to move without delay in the right direction, bearing in mind that the results of any action taken now will not show in teacher supply before the school year 1977–78. That is the length of time at which we have to operate. The reduction I have announced will be large enough to minimise the severity of the rundown in later years but not so large as to prejudice decisions about the future of individual colleges. The colleges needed to know the level of their 1974 recruitment quickly. They needed to get their brochures and their details ready to send out to the schools in readiness for next term. [column 127]

The subsequent scale and timing of the rundown will depend on further studies and later information and advice. As we move into this important new phase in school staffing standards, we can be much more concerned now about what kinds of teachers offering what subjects and what skills and specialities will best meet the needs of the schools.

An increase in the quantity of teachers and potential teachers available can shift the emphasis to quality. We can be much more selective at the point of entry to the profession and subsequently much more concerned with the questions of teacher deployment in the schools.

I sum up what our policy offers. It means greater advances in the staffing of schools in the next 10 years than in any previous 10 years. The colleges' reduced rôle in teacher training will be complemented by their widening rôle in the higher education programme. All these developments have been planned and costed. Moreover, they have been fitted into a balanced programme of advance on a number of fronts, from nursery provision to higher education. It is, therefore, with confidence that I ask the House to approve the programme and adopt the Government's amendment.