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Teaching Standards

Volume 523: debated on Monday 7 February 2011

3. What plans he has to raise standards of the teaching profession; and if he will make a statement. (38220)

There is nothing more important to a child’s education than the quality of their teachers, which is why I set out plans to raise the status and standards of the teaching profession in the White Paper “The Importance of Teaching”. We will focus on recruiting the best candidates to become teachers, we will improve their training and we will create more opportunities for all teachers to learn from the best.

Will the Secretary of State reassure pupils and parents in my constituency of Carlisle that the quality of science and maths-based teaching will not suffer as the academies programme continues successfully to expand?

I am delighted to be able to reassure my fellow Aberdonian that the quality of education that children in Carlisle enjoy will continue to improve. I have had the opportunity to visit some of the superb academy provision in his constituency. I know, and I am sure that every right hon. and hon. Member will be pleased to know, that we will guarantee an enhanced level of support for graduates who are scientists or mathematicians who wish to enter teaching in order to ensure that the subjects that will help to equip our children for the 21st century are given the boost they need.

I know the Secretary of State will want to acknowledge that, thanks to Labour’s reforms, we already have the best generation ever of teachers—that is according to Ofsted. He says in his White Paper that quality teacher training is vital, but he is allowing taxpayers’ money to be used to employ unqualified individuals to teach children in his so-called free schools. If having well-qualified teachers is vital for some schoolchildren, why is it not essential for all?

We are making sure that all children have access to improved quality of teaching by ensuring that we reform initial teacher training in a way that builds—yes—on some of the successes that we have seen in the past. We are also ensuring that new teaching schools are established. Many of these will be free schools and many higher education institutions, including the university of Cumbria, which is represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (John Stevenson), are playing a role in helping to improve teacher training. Thanks to the expansion of Teach First, which the previous Government—yes—supported, but not as generously as we are doing, there are more talented teachers everywhere. I was delighted to be able to share a platform and a room with the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr Wright) on Friday, when we signalled that Teach First was expanding into the north-east of England, something that was never accomplished under the previous Government, but which, under this reforming and progressive Government—