asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the current availability of suitably qualified infant teachers in (a) England and Wales and (b) Inner London; what representations he has received on the issue; and if he will take steps to increase the number of teacher training places for infant teachers.
No representations have been made to my right hon. Friend on the current availability of suitably qualified infant teachers nationally, or in inner London in particular, and he has no evidence that authorities are experiencing difficulties in recruiting such teachers. Visits by HM inspectors have shown that many teacher training institutions have responded positively to a Departmental letter, issued in March 1983, inviting those with experience in the primary phase to increase their provision for the training of teachers of the 3 to 8-year-old age range. The criteria for the assessment of courses of initial teacher training, issued in April 1984 by my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for Wales, require that the approach to teaching method in courses should differentiate according to the age group the student intends to teach (whether primary or secondary), and that, within primary, special emphasis should be given to particular age ranges, such as 3–8. In March this year, my right hon. Friends announced that intakes to courses of initial teacher training for the primary phase should increase from 8,620 in 1985 to 10,950 in 1989. The UGC and the national advisory body for public sector higher education are currently considering the allocation of those intakes to institutions.