§ 1. Mr. Wigley
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will introduce a scheme of mandatory training schemes for teachers after 15 years in service, whereby they have a year away from their posts in which they can have updating courses relevant to their subjects and techniques, and thereby free teaching posts for those teachers currently unemployed.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Gordon Oakes)
The Government's expenditure plans envisage that the number of teachers released for in-service education and induction programmes will rise from the full-time equivalent of 4,500 in 1977 to 18,500 in 1981. Replacement teachers will be needed, thus providing additional employment. I do not believe that mandatory training would be appropriate.
§ Mr. Wigley
I thank the Minister for that answer. May I press him further 188 and ask him to say whether teachers will be released on a voluntary basis so that all those who feel that they require further training will be given that opportunity? Does the Minister accept that, as a general principle, it is much better to give the opportunity for further training in this way and allow other teachers to be taken on in employment rather than have them unemployed or on job creation schemes that are totally irrelevant to their training?
§ Mr. Oakes
My right hon. Friend and I set the highest possible store on effective in-service training. I hope that local authorities will take advantage of the money that the Government have put into the rate support grant for this purpose. Some local authorities have done this very well: others leave some things to be desired.
§ Mr. Dalyell
On the subject of teachers away from their posts, may I ask what advice the Government will give to any young male teacher who wants to run a football team but does not want to have a girl in the team? Does not my hon. Friend think that the recent decision of the court at Newark is absolutely farcical and a misuse of public funds on the part of the Equal Opportunities Commission?
§ Mr. Flannery
Would my hon. Friend agree that, laudable though it may be to arrange for teachers to have a sabbatical year or something like that after 15 years, a much more practical way of easing the teachers' work would he to reduce the size of classes by devoting more funds to the educational budget?