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Lord Whitty: My Lords, the Teacher Training Agency is engaged in a new process of recruitment. We hope that that will begin to bring dividends. We do indeed need to attract the best teachers into the teaching profession and to keep them there. That is a question both of recruitment and sustaining the morale of teachers throughout their careers.
Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, does my noble friend share the concern expressed in the report about the schools' understanding of their role in teacher training, particularly in secondary schools? Does he agree with the chief inspector's view that:
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I broadly agree with my noble friend that clearly in-school and in-service training in general are vitally important aspects of the quality of the teaching profession. Because we have moved more towards a mentor system, that raises a question of whether the quality of mentoring in schools is in all cases at the level that it should be. The Teacher Training Agency will certainly be concentrating on that particular aspect.
Lord Tope: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that Ofsted is charged with assessing the attainments of pupils? That being so, will he explain why its annual report contains no statistical data whatever on the attainment of pupils in schools which have been inspected?
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, is my noble friend the Minister aware that I, and many other noble Lords on this side of the Chamber, very much welcome some of the new systems which have been introduced into education? However, in relation to the teaching profession, does my noble friend agree, first, that professional salaries attract professional people? In that regard, are the Government looking very carefully at the salaries which are paid to teachers?
Secondly, does my noble friend the Minister also agree that it is completely unacceptable that, in primary schools in particular, only 18 per cent. of teachers are men? What are the Government doing to increase that proportion? I believe that that is essential if our children, especially boys, are to be taught and brought up in a way that will enable them to be better behaved than has been the experience in the past.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the question of teachers' pay has recently been a matter for the Pay Review Body and the Government have made their position clear in that respect, at least in the short term. In relation to the gender balance of teachers, clearly some concern has been expressed about the number of men going into primary teaching at present. However, that does not in any way undermine the quality and effectiveness of many women teachers in primary schools, upon whom the main burden of the initial years of education has tended to fall. Therefore, I am not sure that I would agree with my noble friend that discipline and attainment in schools necessarily depend on the gender balance.
Baroness Ludford: My Lords, in relation to the problem of the recruitment of teachers, especially in an inner-city area like Islington, does the Minister agree that, even if a local authority wished and was able to pay extra salaries, it is constrained by the fact that its education budget is not matching inflation; and, indeed, it is having to make cuts in its education budget? One of the difficulties in such an area is that teachers are expected to compete for housing with people earning £1 million bonuses in the City and perhaps paying the same top rate of tax. In the light of all those difficulties, can the Minister give us an assurance of greater real increases for education spending in the future?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, in recent months the Government have allocated a total of another £1 billion to education for the immediate period and another £1 billion over the next few years in relation to much-needed capital expenditure in education. So we have made a serious start on putting additional resources into education. In particular, the capital budget will be geared at those inner-city schools to which the noble Baroness referred.
Lord Whitty: Certainly, my Lords, the position on the primary curriculum is clear: we wish to ensure that basic time within the primary curriculum is allocated to literacy and numeracy. However, as my right honourable friend the Secretary of State announced on 13th January, more time will be devoted to those subjects, but there will also be plenty of time to cover the other subjects which are within the National Curriculum and covered by primary schools. Therefore, some of the alarmist reports--for example, that music will be squeezed out of primary schools--will not be the consequence of that emphasis.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, does the Minister agree that there is a simple equation that if more time is devoted to some subjects then, unless the school day is lengthened, less time will be devoted to others? There is a very real concern about art and music in particular in schools. If the national curriculum has been disapplied, the Government cannot ensure that those subjects will in fact be covered in every school.
I believe the whole House--and, indeed, anyone with an interest in education--should be grateful to Chris Woodhead for the clarity of his reports. Ever since he took office he has produced very open and honest reports on how he finds things in education. Does the Minister also agree that the introduction of regular assessment and testing of young people, the better record keeping of the progress of young people, the much improved and regular inspections which are carried out by Ofsted, and the better and increased information that is now available to parents and the wider public first, allow the Government, to know what is going on in the educational system; and, secondly, provide information which allows the Government to identify and address weaknesses and build on strengths within the system?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, in broad terms I am happy to agree with the noble Baroness in relation to the quality of the reports that we are receiving. However, in terms of measures of attainment, some of them need further refinement before schools can be realistically assessed on what are sometimes still relatively crude figures. Nevertheless, great improvements have been made in that field and I am happy to acknowledge that fact.
As regards the first part of the noble Baroness's question, clearly, mathematically, if more time is spent on core subjects then slightly less time is spent on other parts of the curriculum. However, it is the intention of the department and the Government to ensure that all those subjects are still covered effectively at primary level so that a broad-based and creative education is
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): My Lords, I am sure some of your Lordships are already aware that today is an unusual and special occasion. Indeed, it is the 100th birthday of the noble Lord, Lord Granville of Eye--
Lord Richard: --and not, if I may say so, as recorded in certain manuals, notably Dod's and Who's Who, where he is recorded as being a mere 99 years of age. I am delighted too, that the noble Lord is in his place in the Chamber today.
It is not often that your Lordships get the chance to celebrate the birthday of such a long-serving and distinguished Member of this House. I am sure that all noble Lords will be awed to learn not only that the noble Lord served in the First World War but also that he fought, among other fields of action, at Gallipoli. The noble Lord was a Member of the other place as long ago as 1929 and joined your Lordships' House-- I suppose for him comparatively recently--in 1967. I ask the whole House to join with me in wishing the noble Lord a very happy 100th birthday indeed.
Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, it is a very great pleasure to be able to follow the noble Lord the Leader of the House in associating this side of the Chamber with the elegant way in which he wished the noble Lord many happy returns of the day. We echo those sentiments. As the noble Lord the Leader of the House made clear, the noble Lord is both a distinguished Member of both Houses of Parliament and a gallant former soldier with particular connections with the Commonwealth, which I believe is an institution that all sides of the House are coming increasingly to value.
I could, perhaps, suspect that the vigour of the noble Lord is a tribute not only to the rich blood that politics encourages to flow in the veins of her practitioners, but also, if I may say so, to the preservative qualities of membership of your Lordships' House. In either case, whichever is true, we congratulate the noble Lord who embodies the great virtues of continuity in his person. We look forward to many more occasions upon which we may congratulate him in the years to come.
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