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School Teachers (Shortage Subjects)

Volume 977: debated on Thursday 31 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether school teachers in subjects where there is a shortage of teachers, such as mathematics, are paid at premium rates; and, if not, if he will take steps to ensure such payments are made.

Under the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965 rates of teachers' pay in England and Wales are determined not by my right hon. and learned Friend but by the Burnham committee. The current scales do not differentiate by reference either to the subjects in which teachers hold formal qualifications or to the subjects which they are teaching. There is, however, scope for local authority discretion in some aspects of the application of the scales, and there is evidence that the use of this discretion tends in practice to favour teachers in the shortage subjects. My right hon. and learned Friend does not rule out that the Burnham committee might consider some form of differential financial incentive, though there are serious difficulties both of principle and of practice to be taken into account. Meanwhile, the Department is in consultation with the local authority and providing institution interests on the problem of shortage subjects and is directing its efforts to securing as many new teachers as possible in those subjects from initial training and from the training and retraining of suitable mature people.