asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is satisfied with the present number of qualified schoolteachers not in full-time employment.
Unemployment, whether among teachers or anyone else, is no cause for satisfaction. However, the hon. Gentleman will be pleased to learn that the March figure for schoolteacher unemployment in England—namely 7,818—was lower than the figure for that month in the previous two years.
Will the Minister agree that that figure is still far too high? What is he able to say to the unemployed school teachers in Derbyshire who are having to exist on a little supply teaching or on the dole, when the policy of cutting back on specialist teaching is forcing some schools to offer fewer subjects? How is that helping to raise standards in education?
My answer to the hon. Gentleman is that the figure that I gave represents less than 2 per cent. of the whole of the teaching force. I say to the teachers in Derbyshire, or anywhere else, that I believe our proposals for education over the next few years, allowing for the numbers likely to leave the teacher training colleges, will mean that there will be opportunities in education for those people.