27/04/2005

Lib Dems train sights on teacher qualifications

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to guarantee that all secondary school children will be taught the core subjects by suitably qualified teachers.

The party has pledged to allocate £230 million over the next parliament to provide additional training to 44,000 teachers in English, maths, science, modern languages and information and communications technology.

The Liberal Democrats claim that almost half a million lessons in core subjects are taught by non-specialist teachers and that 44,000 teachers taking classes are not specialists in that core subject. The party also claims that 1 in 4 maths teachers have no maths qualification beyond A-level.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy pledged to provide “high-level in-service training” to teachers who would like to teach a new subject. He said: “There is no substitute for expert, enthusiastic teaching when it comes to bringing out the best in our children. Enthusiasm. Dedication. Optimism. Expertise. These are the qualities of our best teachers and I want the whole profession to be equipped with the skills and support they need to do the job.”

Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Phil Willis said: “Eight years after the pledge to concentrate on ‘education, education, education’, why are there still 40,000 teachers walking into classrooms in this country expected to lead a class in a subject where they have no more than an A-level qualification themselves. Teachers are professional – they want and deserve proper training professional training.”

Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday that “education must be the number one priority for any modern government”. The party pledged further investment into education in order to raise the amount of funding per pupil to £5,500.

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly also elaborated on plans to carry out a massive rebuilding and refurbishment programme for Britain’s schools, if Labour are elected for a third term. The plans include proposals to invest £500 million in 2009-10 and over a fifteen-year period in order to completely rebuild or radically refurbish more than 50% of all primary schools, as well as plans to rebuild or refurbish all secondary schools over the next ten to fifteen years under the ‘Building Schools For The Future’ programme.

Mrs Kelly also announced plans to invest an extra £66 million to improve the standards of buildings in special schools.

The Education Secretary said: “These are our investment plans. They will transform the feel of our schools and help us boost standards even further. They will make parents proud to send their children to school.”

(KMcA/SP)

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