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Teacher Training (Yorkshire)

Volume 934: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1977

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Wainwright asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will ensure that, in the Government's strategy in the review of the teacher training system, sufficient teacher training places are available in the Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham areas so as to make certain that these education districts receive their fair share in comparison with the rest of the country.

Under the arrangements announced by my right hon. Friend yesterday, there will be 5,340 teacher training places in the Yorkshire and Humberside region by 1981, of which 1,000 will be in South Yorkshire.

In considering the South Yorkshire area, did my hon. Friend include Sheffield? My original Question related to the Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley areas. Will he ask his right hon. Friend to look at the Doncaster School of Higher Education to see whether he can keep that college open?

I saw a delegation, of which I believe my hon. Friend was a part, from that area. It was with considerable regret that Doncaster had to remain in the proposals for closure. But when one looks at the region as a whole within South Yorkshire county, it is true to say that teacher training provision will be at Sheffield Polytechnic, although I would point out that there are many whole counties which have no maintained colleges in them at all.

Will the Minister bear in mind that in talking of overall figures in Yorkshire he is not meeting the point of the original Question? This is an area which has much responsibility for modern technology and science and is one of the most important industrial regions of the United Kingdom. Will the Government bear in mind the fact that the need for greater provision in higher education for South Yorkshire remains imperative, whatever happens in the whole area of Humberside and Yorkshire?

We tried in proposing closures to examine the matter from a regional and county point of view as well as from many other points of view. I am aware of the nature of this area, but, regrettably, the announcement was made only yesterday and there is no possibility of reopening the subject of teacher training in England.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I and his hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser), the Minister of State, Department of Prices and Consumer Protection, were grateful to him for listening to us so sympathetically about the Philippa Fawcett College and that we were surprised and dismayed yesterday—at least, I was surprised and dismayed—to find that it was being closed? Is he aware that he is missing the opportunity for a reorganisation of teacher training in London based on the excellent performance of the Philippa Fawcett College—

Order. It would not be fair if I allowed the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. If I did so, we could go round the United Kingdom today.

Although I am grateful for my hon. Friend's consideration of the position of the Lady Mabel College in my constituency in the Rotherham metropolitan area, may I ask him to reassure us that the 1,000 places that will remain in South Yorkshire will include continuingly a proportion at the Lady Mabel establishment?

As my hon. Friend knows, negotiations are now taking place between the polytechnic and the Rotherham and Sheffield authorities. I would hope that that would be the position.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that facilities for bright children and the development of their abilities are not all that great in the London area? Is he aware that there is a school in my constituency—

Order. When I was a schoolmaster I used to write "Trying— very" in reports.