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General Teaching Council

Volume 982: debated on Wednesday 2 April 1980

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4.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next expects to meet the chairman of the General Teaching Council.

My right hon. Friend and I have at present no plans for a meeting with the chairman of the General Teaching Council.

I wonder if the Secretary of State, or the Under-Secretary, would consider having a meeting with the chairman of the General Teaching Council to explain to him that the future of the colleges of education is not just a matter of the numbers of teachers in training but also of the other courses the colleges now offer and the valuable service that they give to the communities in which they are situated? May I have a categorical assurance from the Secretary of State that because Craigie college is fulfilling these criteria there is no intention to close it?

My right hon. Friend and I do not require to meet the chairman of the GTC to learn of the services that are provided by the colleges in Scotland. Craigie college, in line with other colleges, has been serving Scotland well over the years. However, we must bear in mind that the drastic reduction in the number of pupils will have some effect on the future of the colleges.

Does my hon. Friend agree that his right hon. Friend's record in saving educational colleges in Scotland is second to none and that he does not require a lesson from the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) on this matter?

If the record of the Secretary of State has been so good in the past, may we have an assurance that he will do everything possible to maintain that record and that none of the 10 colleges of education will be closed? Can we also have an assurance that the Under-Secretary will keep his word that if there are proposals for changes in the colleges of education he will publish a discussion document in advance of those changes?

There were half a dozen points in that question. In response I can only say that the Government Front Bench will be united on the future of the colleges unlike the Labour Party.

When the right hon. Gentleman does meet the chairman of the General Teaching Council will he remind him that the GTC has no right under statute to recommend closure of any college of education in Scotland? Will the right hon. Gentleman also remember that, in addition to the number of children entering schools, he should consider geographical and community needs before deciding to close any college in Scotland?

We will certainly consider the geographical location of the colleges as the hon. Gentleman would expect us to do. The GTC has every right to give advice when one considers that advice has been accepted on this matter by both parties, when in government, during the past few years.