asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many post-to-post teacher exchanges, expressed in terms, have taken place with France and Germany in the academic years 1972–73 and 1973–74; and what his forecasts are for the future.
In 1972–73 exchanges between French and British teachers totalled 118 terms, those between German and British teachers 38. The corresponding figures for 1973–74 were 105 and 27. In the current year they total 95 and three, and I expect 115 and 21 in 1975–76.
Does the Minister accept that these are disappointing figures when set against the high hopes of a few years ago? I seem to remember that there were hopes that about 1,000 teachers a year would be involved in these exchanges. At a time when the House is actively considering the whole question of Europe, is it not of importance that the education service should play its part? Does the Minister see any way of improving these figures?
I share the hon. Gentleman's disappointment. The scheme started with high hopes, as it was thought that it would be of mutual benefit to teachers and pupils. At the end of this month we shall be discussing with the French authorities how we may stimulate interest in the scheme. I assure the hon. Gentleman of our continuing determination to make the scheme succeed.
Does my hon. Friend recognise the enormous importance of the exchange of teachers between countries in terms of developing world understanding? Does he also recognise the importance of the work of organisations such as the League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers?
Yes. I am glad that my hon. Friend has reminded the House of the important work that is done in that area. We are arranging short-term visits in the hope that they will stimulate teachers to apply for much longer exchanges. We think that they will be of great benefit to all concerned.