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Lord Quirk: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that response. But is it not alarming that in the 12 subject reports just issued by Ofsted there runs a dismal leitmotiv concerning teachers in all of the subjects who are deficient and regarded as incompetent by the inspectors? Is it not particularly alarming that in three of the subjects concerned, arguably the most fundamental for our futureEnglish, maths and scienceinspectors found and complained that one teacher in five is either bad at teaching, or bad at the subject that she or he is paid to teach, or both? Is it not the case that if it were one in five of our surgeons or our airline pilots we might be taking more urgent action?
Lord Lucas: My Lords, first, I should like to praise Ofsted for the production of these booklets. If noble Lords have not had a chance to consult them I recommend that they do so. They provide a very thorough and full picture of the state of teaching in our state schools and of what remains to be done to improve it. One thing that clearly remains to be done, as the noble Lord, Lord Quirk, pointed out, is to improve the quality of teaching. I should say that Ofsted reports on the quality of lessons, not the quality of teachers. It could just as well be a case of a good teacher on a bad day as a bad teacher in his or her permanent condition. There is clearly a lot to be done, and the Teacher Training Agency, as it has been set up and as it makes progress, will clearly be a major instrument in putting the matter right.
Baroness David: My Lords, does not the Minister think that it would be very helpful if the inspectors could follow up the inspections and the criticisms that they have made and give active advice and go back to the schools with help, as the LEA inspectors did. They had an advisory as well as an inspectorial role. That seems to me to be what is lacking at the moment.
Lord Quirk: My Lords, I may have misunderstood the Minister but is it not the case that in each of these admirable documents there is a section not on the quality of the pupils but on the quality of teaching?
Lord Lucas: My Lords, yes, I may not have expressed myself well. The reports address the quality of teaching. I agree with the figures that the noble Lord quoted. It is a matter which we are addressing with great seriousness.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, did my noble friend see an article in the Daily Mail a week ago which reported enormous differentials in the cost of similar teacher training courses at different institutions? For instance, is he aware that it was alleged that one course can cost as much as 18 times more than a similar course at another institution?
Lord Lucas: My Lords, yes, I saw that report; and, indeed, I believe that the facts are true. I understand that the Teacher Training Agency has appointed Coopers & Lybrand to look into the reasons which underlie that position. Into each young accountant's life a little joy must fall. Had I been a young accountant at Coopers & Lybrand now, I should have been pushing to get on to that investigation. Such extraordinary differences are rare. They may be common in university accounting, but in the world outside such extraordinary differences create excitement in the heart of every accountant. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, shares that excitement. It would be a wonderful investigation to be on.
Lord Morris of Castle Morris: My Lords, does Her Majesty's Government accept that, in order to improve the subject competence of those teachers in subjects where it is known to be difficult to recruit the most able students to the profession, it is necessary not simply to impose a curriculum but to increase the wages of all teachers?
Baroness Faithfull: My Lords, since the passing of the education legislation have special inspectors been taken on to deal with the section of the Act relating to special needs children? A number of teachers do not seem to know how to deal with children with special needs.
Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, is the Minister aware that it is most important for teacher training institutions to obtain the right balance between the academic study of education and the practical training of teachers? Both factors are important. However, perhaps I may suggest that the Government have got the balance wrong in their most recent legislation. Will the Minister give an assurance that what has been proposed and what is being undertaken is monitored continually to ensure that we achieve the best results?
Lord Lucas: My Lords, we monitor what is going on exceptionally closely because we believe that it is the principal area through which we can greatly affect in the near future the quality of what takes place in our schools. However, the initial reports from Ofsted and
Since the noble Lord raises that matterthe subject of quangos is much in the press at presentI ask him to agree that in particular Ofsted and the Teacher Training Agency, being independent from the Department for Education, do a job which could not be undertaken as well or as effectively were they merely a group within the department. Those bodies demonstrate what a valuable organ a quango is when properly set up.
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs estimates 1995 humanitarian needs for Rwanda and the sub-region at £500 million. United Nations agencies report that current humanitarian needs are being met. Since April 1994, the UK has provided nearly £91 million of emergency and rehabilitation aid, including our share of EU assistance.
Lord Judd: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply. Can she assure the House that there will be no question of refugees from the genocide and its consequences in Rwanda being forced to return to an uncertain and perhaps dangerous future by the denial of food, adequate security in the camps and other support? In that context, does she realise that she and the Government will have the full support of this side of the House in persuading the European Union to continue its support and to reverse its hasty decision to freeze aid?
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Lord's supplementary question. We conclude that the emergency phase is now over. We need to concentrate on rehabilitation and to continue efforts to create conditions for the safe voluntary return of the refugees.
Lord Allen of Abbeydale: My Lords, will the Minister say what contribution the UK Government are making to help to stop the spread of the Ebola virus? What precautions are taken about people coming to this country from Zaire?
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, we are providing £75,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross in response to its appeal. The European Union has provided around £200,000 of emergency aid. We remain in close touch with the World Health Organisation and are monitoring the situation carefully. The UK's assistance will help to strengthen disease control activities, boost existing support to hospitals and continue the Red Cross's public information campaign.
With regard to the noble Lord's second point, appropriate precautions are in place to monitor UK entry points for anyone exposed to the virus. The risks of travellers from Zaire carrying the virus are extremely low. It is not easily passed on to others.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, how are the humanitarian agencies attacking the problem with regard to those who committed genocide and who are located in some of the camps? Some of the aid given by the West is being used to sustain and improve the physical conditions of people who plan to return and restart the genocide.
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