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Education And Science

Volume 181: debated on Tuesday 27 November 1990

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Education Expenditure


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what has been the increase in absolute spending on education, in total and per pupil, since 1979.

Direct spending on nursery, primary and secondary schools in England rose from some £4·2 billion in 1979–80 to some £9·2 billion in the latest outturn year, 1988–89. This represents an increase in spending per pupil from some £515 in 1979–80 to £1,360 in 1988–89. That is a real-terms increase over and above inflation of more than 40 per cent.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the figures given in his answer, even when adjusted for inflation, help to explain why most schools are far better equipped for a modern education than they were 10 years ago and have a much better pupil-teacher relationship than they had 10 years ago? Does he also agree that high-quality education does not depend solely on a massive increase in resources, as some Opposition Members sometimes seem to believe?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I agree with him. The figures that I gave refer to the latest outturn year. The settlement for next year takes standard spending assessments up by 16 per cent., which is a further 10 per cent. ahead of inflation. I strongly agreee with my hon. Friend that with this growth of resources must come ever-better targeting and ever-better measurement of the standards being achieved in our schools through the use of those resources.

The Government's policy of expenditure on city technology colleges means that they are treating pupils unfairly. How can the Secretary of State possibly justify spending £8·5 million of taxpayers' money on one school—the city technology college in Telford—when less than £8 million is being spent on all the other schools in the county? Is not it time the right hon. and learned Gentleman listened to the overwhelming representations that he has had from all sections of the community and scrapped this unfair concept?

I think that the hon. Gentleman's perception is mistaken. The money spent on city technology colleges is not spent at the expense of other schools—it is money which would not otherwise have been spent on education. It is a policy of envy to say that Telford should not have a city technology college unless all pupils can go to it. The CTC is an attractive addition to education facilities in Telford and as the Member representing that town the hon. Gentleman should support it.

I welcome and applaud the increase in absolute spending. Will my right hon. and learned Friend take note that in Hampshire too much money is being held back by the education authority? Will he intensify his approaches to Hampshire education authority to ensure that money is passed on to the schools?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. We are looking at that very important point and will shortly issue a circular indicating the minimum amount of the total available that should be distributed to schools and the minimum amount within that total which should be based on the number of pupils in each school. That should bring each county and each education authority into line with best practice, which is exactly what my hon. Friend would wish.



To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has to reform qualifications for 16 to 19-year-olds; and if he will make a statement.

We are considering proposals for the reform both of academic and of vocational qualifications for 16 to 19-year-olds.

I thank the Minister for that answer. I think that he will agree that education provision for 16 to 19-year-olds is rather a shambles. The Minister's answer does not reflect the views about A-levels expressed by his party in the last three to four weeks. When do the Government intend to put forward firm proposals for reforming A-levels and bringing this country into the 1990s?

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman. He should know perfectly well that we are awaiting proposals from the School Examinations and Assessment Council. Having considered the council's views, we shall then take into account the views of other organisations. I am also surprised at the hon. Gentleman because I should have thought that he would concentrate on the 70 per cent. of 16 to 19-year-olds for whom A-levels are not important, and especially on the need for the reform of vocational qualifications and the need to raise the esteem in which they are held compared with A-levels.

As my hon. Friend knows, more than 25 per cent. of A-level pupils come from Headmasters Conference and Headmistresses Conference schools. Will he ensure that there is full consultation with such schools before any decisions are made about a replacement for A-levels?

Yes, the HMC has made known its views on the SEAC principles document. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has already met it to discuss its views.

Given what the Minister has said about the need to raise the standing of vocational qualifications, with which I agree, does he accept that the best way to do that would be to bring together vocational and academic qualifications in one broader modular system so that the subjects that pupils choose have equal standing and pupils can study a mixture of the two?

If the hon. Gentleman is saying that there is a case for some form of credit transfer between vocational and academic qualifications, we shall certainly consider that. It will be important to ensure that appropriate standards are maintained for both academic and vocational streams.

Local Management Of Schools


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what measures he is considering to encourage local authorities to delegate more control of money to schools.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science
(Mr. Michael Fallon)

My right hon. and learned Friend and I intend to ensure that as much as is reasonably possible of the schools budget of local authorities should be delegated to schools to manage themselves. We shall be publishing a draft circular next month, which will consult on proposals to that end.

In illustrating the benefits of local management of schools, is my hon. Friend aware that the school of which I am chairman of governors is two teachers better off and plans next year to raise its resources by 50 per cent. as a result of LMS? Given that the proportion of non-teaching staff to total teaching staff is 35 per cent. in some authorities, such as my own, while in some Labour-controlled authorities, such as Coventry, the proportion is as high as 53 per cent., what action is my hon. Friend planning to take to ensure that resources are spent where they should be spent—in the classroom?

Councils are holding back between 17 and 29 per cent. of their schools budget, or between £65,000 and £228,000 per school. Those variations are huge and unacceptable. We shall be proposing a tougher limit to get more money through to the schools.

Does the Minister accept that in certain local authorities, such as Leicestershire, there is insufficient money in the proposed budget to pay for items such as outstanding repairs? Will he give the House the assurance that where there is a strong case for repairs to be carried out before delegation, the Government will come up with the necessary resources before the budgets are delegated?

Councils have substantial resources, which they are holding back at the centre. In many cases, they are spending on unnecessary bureaucracy and on central administration resources which have been siphoned off from the schools and could have been spent years ago on repairs and maintenance.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the best method of delegating greater financial control from local education authorities to schools would be to persuade local education authorities to go down the grant-maintained schools route because that would ensure that schools have a better opportunity of deciding for themselves exactly where their money should be spent?

Yes, a grant-maintained school receives about 95 per cent. of its schools budget direct, which it can then allocate according to its own priorities. While local councils continue to hold back so much money, a vote for grant-maintained status means a vote for substantially more resources.

Will the Minister confirm that every local authority budget was individually approved by his Department and that what he is actually doing is attacking those local authorities that have substantial responsibilities for spending on school transport and school meals and have held special needs provision centrally?

All the schemes were approved in principle by my Department, but it was only this autumn that we saw the precise figures for each of the individual items within the budgets. The problem applies even to metropolitan authorities. For example, Newcastle is holding back £199,000 per school, and the Labour-controlled metropolitan authority of Leeds is holding back more than £100,000. Unlike the Opposition, we care about those differences and we intend to do something about them.

My hon. Friend is aware of the appalling record of Cumbria local education authority in the delegation of funds. Will he make the strongest representations to that authority? Is he aware that I welcome our right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State's statement earlier that he intends to set a minimum level of delegation?

Sadly, I have to tell my hon. Friend that Cumbria is by far the worst performer in the country in that respect, holding back some 28 per cent. of the money allocated, which therefore does not get through to the schools. We shall certainly ensure that the tougher limit that we propose will apply to Cumbria so that more money goes to the classrooms.

Distance Learning


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has any proposals further to promote distance learning in rural areas.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science
(Mr. Alan Howarth)

The Government recognise that distance learning methods are an efficient and effective means of expanding the education opportunities available to students living in rural areas. The Government support the Open university, and are also providing special support for the further development of open and distance learning by local authorities.

I welcome the Minister's positive reply. Is he aware of the whiteboard techniques adopted in Orkney in my constituency, which allow teaching from central point to be disseminated to a number of points? Does he agree that that offers opportunities to keep open schools that might otherwise be closed as well as opportunities for adult education and training? Will the Department carry out a study of what is happening in Orkney and its possible application to other rural and dispersed parts of the country?

I understand that not only the hon. Gentleman, but his right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), recently had the benefit of an electronic whiteboard tutorial in Orkney. I share the hon. Gentleman's view that that technology may well open up useful possibilities for students in remote areas, which could be of great benefit. The Training Agency has sponsored two pilot projects in the highlands and islands, and I look forward with interest to its evaluation of them.

The Minister has already mentioned the Open university. Can he confirm that the Government intend to maintain and, indeed, enhance its level of funding relative to the rest of higher education so that it can maintain its initiative in distance learning throughout the United Kingdom?

The capital and recurrent grants for the Open university total £79·5 million in the current year, and its block recurrent grant will rise by 8·3 per cent. in 1991. That is clear evidence of the Department's firm support for the Open university. As the hon. Gentleman knows, a review is taking place, and the Open university is playing its full part in that. The review is continuing, and conclusions will be reached in due course. Our expectation is that the Open university will find ways to develop its mission, rather than to curtail it.

Does the Minister accept that increasing fees for courses are a deterrent for many people who would like to take the opportunity of studying with the Open university? What is the Government's specific policy on the future level of fees and on support for part-time and distance learning students? Does the Minister accept that they need better support, and what does he intend to do about it?

From the impressive history of the Open university in recent years, it is clear that a large number of people want to study with it and that they have not been deterred by the fees regime. The review is under way, and the issues that the hon. Gentleman raised form part of it.

School Administration (Lancashire)


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has any plans to meet the chief education officer of Lancashire county council to discuss the contraction of central administration and transfer of resources to schools for local management; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. and learned Friend has no plans at present to meet the chief education officer of Lancashire county council. However, we have made clear our general view that local education authorities should streamline their central administration so that more resources can get down to schools.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the county council is holding back £130 million—one third of its revenue budget—for a number of items, particularly central administration? Will he join me in urging the county to spread down much of its central administration costs to schools administered by local management, where funds are much needed and would benefit the children in the classroom?

Yes. Lancashire's central administration alone amounts to £11·5 million. In total, Lancashire holds back 23 per cent. of its school budget—an average of £110,000 per school. Lancashire county council has much to do in releasing funds to its schools.

Why does the Minister not meet the head teachers of Lancashire schools, when he would find out that their real complaint is not about the county council's actions but about those of the Government in not providing sufficient funds to make local management schools work, in encouraging bureaucracy, and in making it difficult for head teachers to remain educationists? Is it not time the Government did more to ensure that teachers can get on with their real job of teaching?

The teachers, governors and parents whom I meet are increasingly angry at the amount of money allocated to their schools being siphoned off by county hall. We are determined to do something about that.

Should not central administration in Lancashire and in nearby Stockport be largely contracted out?

We believe that the schools themselves should decide on the support services that they need and the scale on which those services should be provided. Only by delegating budgets to schools can those decisions rest in the hands of head teachers and governors.

City Technology Colleges


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he next plans to visit the city technology college in Nottingham to discuss the funding of city technology colleges

I hope to arrange a visit to the city technology college in Nottingham early in the new year, as soon as my diary commitments permit.

Is the Secretary of State aware that the amount of money spent on one city technology college in Nottingham is greater than the amount needed to repair all the other schools in Nottingham? Had that money been reallocated, it could have met the cost of building eight new schools in the Nottinghamshire area. As it is the right hon. and learned Gentleman's own education authority, will he do something about that problem and end the ridiculous and elitist CTC system?

That money has provided an extremely well-equipped, brand new school in a depressed part of Nottingham inner city. The college is popular with parents and with those who teach there and it makes a valuable addition to the city's education facilities. The money for it was not provided at the expense of other Nottinghamshire schools and the whole project will bring in £2 million of private sector investment in education which would not otherwise have been available to pupils in that city. Given the range of issues confronting Nottinghamshire's education authority, it is absurd for the hon. Gentleman to raise only the question of trying to close down or get rid of one of the city's finest new features.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that before Nottingham city technology college was opened, the county council was asked whether there was scope for any closures and replied that there was not, yet immediately the college was opened the authority announced the closure of three schools when it could have sold one to the CTC and received £3 million to spend on other education provision?

My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) both know as well as I do that Nottinghamshire county council has a long history of such actions, refusing to sell derelict flats for rebuilding, to sell old people's homes to private companies which would refurbish them, or to make premises available for the city technology college, preferring to lose money, incur expenditure, and make cuts in services—cuts which would otherwise be unnecessary. The county council's attitude to the CTC has been churlish from the beginning and flies totally in the face of the opinions of very many people in Nottingham.

Is the Secretary of State aware that when commenting on the withdrawal of support for a proposed city technology college in the Prime Minister's borough of Barnet—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not in Nottingham".]—Sir Cyril Taylor, the chairman of the CTC trust, said:

"It is madness to go on spending money on the original type of college"—
the original concept of the CTC—[Interruption.]——

When the Secretary of State goes to Nottingham—notwithstanding that the Minister described that as a misplaced leak, Sir Cyril Taylor has not denied the veracity of those words—will he agree that if it is madness as far as the chairman of the CTC trust is concerned, it ought to be madness as far as he is concerned?

I am glad to say that nowadays the Labour party is totally outgunned in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and the hon. Gentleman's intervention in our local controversies is not too welcome. We are on course for 15 city technology colleges, of which seven are already under way. If there is doubt about the future, it is caused in part by the Labour party's threat not to continue with the programme, a threat which has an obvious deterrent effect on sponsors. I invite the hon. Gentleman to come to Nottingham to visit the city technology college and to see for himself what a valuable addition it is to education facilities for children in Nottinghamshire.

Lea Capital Expenditure


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to announce his response to the bids from local education authorities for capital expenditure; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. and learned Friend expects to be able to announce the annual capital guidelines for capital expenditure on education in 1991–92 to local education authorities shortly before the Christmas recess.

Does the announcement in October that there would be extra money for education mean that there really will be extra money to spend on the repair of buildings? Will the Minister give all parents throughout the country, and especially those in Staffordshire, an assurance that the quality of children's work will no longer be affected by outside toilets, leaking roofs and mobile homes which have long outlived their useful life?

The annual capital guidelines for local authority schools next year will be increased by 15 per cent. above the guidelines for this year. A total of some £472 million will be available. The criteria for applications under the guidelines are well known to local authorities. It is up to the authorities to rank their projects in order of need.

Does my hon. Friend agree that many local authorities suffer from poor physical stock, largely due to the political motivations and actions of the Opposition, who starved local authorities that refused to go comprehensive at the time of the last Labour Government? Should not the Labour party take a large share of the blame in the light of its responsibilities at that time?

My hon. Friend, who knows a lot about these matters, is certainly right in that respect. Annual capital guidelines have been increased substantially for next year over this year and it is open to local councils to top up the guidelines from receipts, from income and by greater flexibility in the disposal of land.

Is the Secretary of State aware that Her Majesty's inspectors reported that a third of children were learning in accommodation so substandard that it was badly affecting the quality of their education, that at least a £4 billion backlog of repairs has built up in the past 11 years and that it is a sign of the Government's complacency and neglect that in every year of their Administration, including next year, less will be spent in real terms on improving schools than in the last year of the Labour Government?

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman was able to do his homework for this question. The increase in gross capital expenditure per pupil in maintained schools was about 16 per cent. in real terms between 1978–79 and 1988–89, and I have announced a substantial increase for next year.

A-Level Examinations


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent representations he has received on the future of GCE A-level examinations.

Some respondents to the School Examinations and Assessment Council's consultation exercise on draft principles to govern A and AS examinations have copied their views to me. I have also received some views directly.

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his reply. We believe in high academic standards. Will he confirm that his aim is to maintain the high academic standard of the GCE A-level examinations that employers, universities and the professions require?

I can certainly confirm that. Also, employers are looking to us to do something about those who ought to stay on after 16 but for whom A-levels are not suitable. The answer lies not in making A-levels easier for more people to pass, but in the arguments put by my hon. Friend the Minister of State. We must have other qualifications, including vocational qualifications, that are of high status and of a good standard and can exist as an alternative alongside A-levels.

Will the Secretary of State ensure that the young men and women who are at present subjected to the narrow, stuffy and repetitive routines of A-level can feel the benefit of the much more open and lively courses that are going on, such as on the certificate of pre-vocational education? That has many young men and women in the west end of Newcastle in my constituency buzzing with commitment and enthusiasm. Will he please ensure that A-level students benefit from such activity?

I share the hon. Gentleman's enthusiasm for the development of a better system of vocational qualifications. However, it is unnecessary to attack A-levels as he did because they are two separate things. People can take a mixture of both if they wish. It is getting hold of the wrong end of the stick to attack A-levels before going on to commend, sensibly, the development of better and more attractive vocational qualifications.

In considering the future of A-levels, will my right hon. and learned Friend ensure that science subjects continue to be taught as individual subjects and examined individually? Does he agree that that is necessary if we are to continue the high academic standards in Britain?

We have to ensure that science subjects can be taught separately to their present standards where the school and pupils want that and where it is suitable. If we are to have broader science teaching, it must be of the same quality as individual science subjects. Room must be kept in the curriculum and scope must be given to pupils to have separate science subjects if that is what they prefer.

At a time when university vice-chancellors, polytechnic directors, the Confederation of British Industry, all the teachers' organisations and the Government's Higginson report demand reform of A-levels, why do the Government still resist? Now that the Prime Minister has gone and the fear of her ideological commitment to A-levels is out of the way, why does not the Secretary of State announce that A-level reform is necessary and that we need an integrated modern system of post-16 education and training qualifications?

I am all in favour of broadening the range of the curriculum and the education and training provided for people after the age of 16. The A-level part of that is not the problem. It serves its purpose extremely well for the moment in providing a route to our excellent three-year degree courses. The other part of the picture needs to be addressed first. It is no good putting attacks on A-levels at the top of the agenda when considering how best to improve opportunities for post-16 education.

School Buildings, Devon


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what capital allowances were made available to Devon county council in each of the last three years for replacing old school buildings with new ones.

Devon received capital allocations of £8·434 million in 1988–89, £14·177 million in 1989–90 and an annual capital guideline of £12·984 million in 1990–91. It is up to Devon to decide how much to spend on replacing old school buildings out of all the capital resources available to it, of which the education annual capital guideline is only a part.

Does my hon. Friend the Minister agree that there is little point in funding half a dozen or so new buildings a year when 536 existing schools are not properly maintained under the Government's guidelines for the community charge? Would not it be better to allow Devon the discretion to decide whether to build half a dozen new buildings or to maintain some of the 536 buildings that are deteriorating rapidly?

Devon has done relatively well, not just in the current year's allocation but in the allocation for the previous two years. The annual capital guideline for this year amounts to 45 per cent. of Devon's submitted plans, whereas the national average is only 35 per cent. It is for Devon to rank its priorities under our criteria and for my right hon. and learned Friend and me then to allocate the available sums. However, I shall reflect on my hon. Friend's point.

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the large number of Victorian and other primary schools that were built in the last century in Devon? When the bids come in from Devon county council, will he bear in mind that very large number and give the bids his sympathetic consideration?

My hon. Friend puts his case well at almost exactly the right time of year.

Nursery Education, Normanton


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what assistance he intends to offer to help nursery education in the Normanton constituency; and if he will make a statement.

It is up to Leeds and Wakefield local education authorities to decide the resources that they wish to devote to nursery education within the hon. Gentleman's constituency.

Is the Minister aware of the effect of the standard spending assessment on nursery education in Wakefield, which forms part of my constituency? Is he further aware that the rate support grant cuts of the past 10 years, the dreaded poll tax and the lack of teacher training and of a proper wages structure are having an effect on nursery provision in the Normanton constituency? When will the Minister stand up for nursery education and give children in families who are suffering from stress, because of unemployment and high mortgage and interest rates, the chance of early entry to the education system?

Now, Sir. Seventy per cent. of three and four-year-olds attend nursery education in the Wakefield local education authority area. Indeed, 150,000 more children throughout the country now receive nursery education, compared with 1979. [Interruption.]

Order. I ask the House to listen, please, to Education questions in silence.

Education Vouchers


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consideration he is giving to the use of education vouchers as a means of extending choice to parents.

We have no plans to introduce a voucher scheme for schools. We have already extended parental choice through our policies of ensuring that schools admit pupils up to the limit of the schools' physical capacity.

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his reply. I presume that he remains loyal to his beliefs when it comes to choice. Does he agree that had he remained loyal last Wednesday, Back Benchers would have had the freedom to choose the leader whom they wanted—the Prime Minister?

First, the Prime Minister and I and my hon. Friend are all agreed that the purpose of education policy is to extend parental choice and then to make sure that taxpayers' money follows that choice into the schools. We have achieved that aim in the policy of education reform on which we have embarked. It makes the need to introduce vouchers—once considered—redundant. I certainly voted for the Prime Minister last Tuesday when a large number of my colleagues did not. I have absolutely no doubt that whoever succeeds the Prime Minister will adhere to the policy of improving choice in schools, putting better resources into our schools, following parental choice and raising education standards.

Of what benefit would education vouchers be to parents who face teacher shortages, particularly in London? Did the Secretary of State see last night's television report or read in this lunchtime's Evening Standard that 1,600 teachers in London have left schools in the past two months, which has affected the education of tens of thousands of pupils? Is not it a fact that it is not education vouchers but poor pay and low morale that are the real reason why parents, pupils and teachers get a rotten deal from the Government?

There are particular problems in London, but we shall shortly be discussing teachers' pay when we debate the Bill that is on the Order Paper for today. During the debate I shall reveal that not so many people have entered initial teacher training for the first time since the late 1970s. The vacancy level in our schools has come down sharply this autumn and the teacher wastage rate is very low. Therefore, we are introducing the Bill to enhance still further the attractiveness of teaching as a career and to get teachers of the quality that we require. I agree with the hon. Gentleman about one thing only: that vouchers have no relevance whatever to the important task of raising the morale of our teachers and getting teachers of the quality that we need.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend consider vouchers for nursery education? Low-income and one-parent families experience difficulty in finding kindergarten and nursery schools, but expansion of choice could be achieved by a voucher scheme.

I shall consider my hon. Friend's suggestion, with others made about nursery education provision for the under-fives. We have ruled out vouchers for statutory schooling between the ages of five and 16 because of our excellent system of reform, which achieves all the purposes for which vouchers were originally devised by the inventor of that notion.

Teacher Vacancies


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his most recent estimate of teacher vacancies; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State published on 5 October the results of the Department's survey of teacher vacancies conducted at the beginning of September, a copy of which is in the Library. On 3 September, local education authorities reported just over 1,400 unfilled posts—very many fewer than the vacancies reported in January. Those results are encouraging and show that our measures to improve teacher recruitment and retention are being effective.

That is a terrible record for this Government. I want to know whether every child will have a fully trained teacher. Come on, let us have an answer.

Order. There are four minutes to go before Prime Minister's Question Time.

The hon. Gentleman's education authority of Nottinghamshire had 138 vacancies last January. In September, it had only five.

Will my hon. Friend reject the constant attacks of the Labour party and its allies on the teaching profession and accept that teachers in post are as good as they have ever been and that they give wonderful service to our children, despite the Labour party's attacks?

It is important that the Labour party should cease to denigrate the profession. The vacancy rate is 1·8 per cent., which is one of the lowest of any profession.

University Teachers (Morale)


To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has had from university teachers about their current state of morale.

My right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State received from the Association of University Teachers a copy of its autumn 1990 publication, "Goodwill Under Stress". I met a delegation from the AUT on 20 November. We had a friendly and useful discussions about a range of issues. I pay tribute to the staff of the universities for the quality of tutorial and pastoral care that they give students in the United Kingdom.

Does the Minister accept that the AUT document clearly shows that in the past 10 years university teachers have been overworked, undervalued and underpaid? Is not it highly significant that when Sir Edward Parkes, the chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, was asked to comment on the resignation of the Prime Minister, he said that in the past 10 years too much of the energy of academic staff had been devoted to damage limitation? He further said that universities would regard the demise of the Thatcher years without regret.

I know of no one who denigrates university teachers or who holds them in less than full respect. I very much hope that the hon. Gentleman does not disregard them. In the period during which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has held office, there has been an increase of no less than 40 per cent. in the number of young people who have had the opportunity to participate in higher education. That is only one of the remarkable achievements under the inspired leadership of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Would not morale in the teaching profession be greatly improved if we identified weaknesses in teachers so that they could be given more training in that direction? Would not a good appraisal system produce those goods? We need to appraise teachers, weed out bad ones and help the good teachers more.

As my hon. Friend knows, appraisal schemes are under active consideration by local education authorities all over the country and our policy is moving forward in that regard. Equally, higher education institutions are introducing their own appraisal systems. Of course, it is right that those who are performing outstanding work should have their performance recognised and that should be reflected in pay scales.