14. What steps he is taking to ensure availability of continuing professional development for teachers. (6969)
I am sorry, Mr Speaker—[Interruption.]
Order. I do not need to be advised by the Government Whip on the Front Bench. The hon. Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge) should remain quiet. We are on Question 14 and we have a Minister at the Box; I require no advice from the hon. Gentleman whatever.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was expecting some interest in Hexham from the Opposition, but clearly there is none.
I agree with the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) that the quality of teachers and professional development is important. International evidence shows that teachers learn from observing good teachers, and this happens best in schools. That is why the Government are committed to encouraging schools to demonstrate a strong culture of continuing professional development, with teachers leading their own development and that of others, and sharing effective practice within and between schools. That is why we are currently reviewing our policies and existing activities to ensure that they focus on that vision.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that teachers are finding it much more difficult to get out of the classroom to go to good CPD sessions, particularly in places such as the science learning centres in York and elsewhere, because of the way in which the “rarely cover” provision is being interpreted as part of the work force agreement? Not only is CPD suffering; so are kids’ visits to out-of-school facilities.
The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. I am aware of the limiting factors of “rarely cover”, which is an area that we will look at in our assessment of the problems facing teachers in getting continuing professional development. Having to pay supply teachers can be an obstacle to getting CPD, which is why this Government want to free up school pay and conditions and give greater powers back to heads to ensure that they can devise the best methods for ensuring that their teachers get the best continuous professional development and training.