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Volume 87: debated on Monday 18 November 1985

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asked the Prime Minister how many Royal Commissions and major departmental committees have been chaired by judges since 1969; and in each case who was the judge and what was the subject of inquiry.

Since 1969, four Royal Commissions, set up by Royal Warrants signed by the Home Secretary, have been chaired in whole or in part by serving judges. They are as follows:for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) on 17 July 1985. In particular comments have been received on the consultation paper inviting views on the possible reasons for the apparent under-representation of ethnic minorities in the teaching force and on ways of countering this. These comments are being considered, as are also comments on the consultation paper concerning the collection of statistics on the ethnic origins of school teachers and students in teacher training.A working group is being established, to consider the collection of statistics on teachers in the first instance. The working group on the collection of ethnically-based statistics on school pupils is continuing its work, with the aim of submitting a report by the end of the year.In August local education authorities were invited to submit proposals for projects to be supported through education support grants in 1986–87 (in addition to those so supported which are due to begin in 1985–86) on the response of the education system to ethnic diversity. More than 150 proposals from 67 local education authorities were received and are now being considered with a view to supporting in 1986–87 the start of a second tranche of projects costing around £1 million a year.My right hon. Friend has decided, after discussion with the local authority associations, that the in-service teacher training grants scheme should be extended from 1986–87 to include training dealing with the need to respond to ethnic diversity. Amendments to the regulations will be brought before the House shortly. My right hon. Friend has also written to the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education drawing attention to those of the criteria for the approval of initial teacher training courses which bear on the response to ethnic diversity and to the Swann committee's recommendations that all teacher training students should have an opportunity to gain teaching experience in a multi-racial school.Her Majesty's Inspectorate is continuing to encourage good practice in teaching English as a second language and mother tongue teaching. An HMI conference on the teaching of mother tongues in September was attended by chief education officers and others. As regards examinations, syllabuses for the new GCSE examinations are being prepared. They will conform to the requirements of the national criteria that examining groups should ensure that syllabuses and examinations are free of ethnic bias, and should bear in mind the linguistic and cultural diversity of our society.