HC Deb 27 May 2004 vol 421 cc1706-7
9. Helen Jones (Warrington, North) (Lab)

What assessment he has made of the additional teacher training requirements which would result from the implementation of the Tomlinson report. [175998]

The Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education (Alan Johnson)

The final report of the working group on 14 to 19 reform, expected in the autumn, will set out recommendations for the curriculum and qualifications for that phase of learning. The report will set out carefully phased implementation arrangements. When the Department considers the final report it will work closely with the Teacher Training Agency and other bodies on the implications of the proposals for teacher training.

Helen Jones

Does my right hon. Friend agree that all the indications are that there will be many more practical options in schools when Tomlinson is implemented, so many of our young people will be learning basic subjects such as maths and science through practical rather than theoretical work? That will necessitate major changes in the way we train our teachers, because they are not currently trained in that way. Will my right hon. Friend undertake to give serious consideration not only to future teacher training but to the in-service training that will be required, so that we can make sure that the proposals are properly implemented?

Alan Johnson

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I can assure her that the issue is a priority. A departmental group has been set up to look specifically at issues arising from the implementation of the working group's proposals and the need for more practical training. This is not new: although work arising from the Tomlinson report is at a very early stage, a great deal of work is being done now in workplaces and further education colleges to ensure that teachers are properly trained.

Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD)

If the Government are to progress the integrated 14 to 19 agenda, will that primarily be done by adding sixth forms to schools that do not have them, or by strengthening the age range of post-16 colleges; if the latter, what steps are the Government taking to remove the discrimination against post-16 colleges in determining staff salaries and funding?

Alan Johnson

We need to look at both options. Central Government have not set out in tablets of stone whether sixth forms in schools, sixth form colleges or, indeed, sixth form centres in FE colleges are the best route forward. In the strategic area reviews currently under way in all 47 learning and skills council areas we are asking providers to put the learner at the centre and decide on post-16 provision accordingly. Funding has been an issue for some time, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the latest pay deal agreed for FE colleges will, by the end of its two-year duration, narrow that gap considerably, although it will not close it.

Mr. Tony McWalter (Hemel Hempstead) (Lab/Co-op)

Further to the excellent supplementary question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, North (Helen Jones) about the centrality of science and maths in the Tomlinson review, can my right hon. Friend give me an assurance that the Smith report on mathematics teaching is being implemented post-haste to address the concerns rightly expressed by my hon. Friend?

Alan Johnson

I am advised by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that the Smith report on mathematics is being looked at energetically—[Laughter.] You can look at something energetically, Mr. Speaker, whether or not you do anything about it. The Smith report, however, makes an important contribution to the debate, and we will publish our response in the near future.