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Unemployed Teachers (Retraining Grants)

Volume 934: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will issue guidance to local education authorities to make grants available to qualified teachers who cannot find teaching posts and who are compelled to seek alternative means of livelihood by undertaking further training.

Discretionary awards of this kind are entirely a matter for local education authorities, but unemployed teachers may be eligible for grants from the Manpower Services Commission or the Training Services Agency in the same way as other unemployed persons.

Is the Minister aware of a case involving one of my constituents who is a teacher and who cannot find work but has been accepted for a course of training at a university, yet he cannot receive a grant and instead draws weekly in unemployment benefit more than the amount he could receive if he were a full-time student? Is the Minister content with that situation?

It is a difficult situation. I think that the hon. Gentleman is refer- ring to a matter on which he has recently written to me and to which I replied on 28th June. There is a discrepancy at present on the subject of grant. This is even more forcefully felt not at university level but at school and further education level. We expect a statement on the Holland proposals to be made shortly.

My hon. Friend will recognise that there is concern about the problem of teachers who face possible unemployment, but is it not true to say that the allocation of resources to the whole of the 16 to 19 age group represents a considerable priority?

It does indeed, and as well as there being an undesirably high number of unemployed teachers my hon. Friend will agree that unemployment is high across the board generally.