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EDITIONS
Saturday, 24 March, 2001, 10:13 GMT
Kennedy calls for end to teacher crisis
charles kennedy at SHA
Charles Kennedy: "Committed to education"
by BBC News Online's Katherine Sellgren at the SHA conference in Newport

Addressing the shortgage of teachers in schools should be the goverment's top priority for education, the Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, has told head teachers.

Click here to watch the full speech

Tougher targets must be set for the training and recruitment of teachers, Mr Kennedy told delegates at the Secondary Heads Association's (SHA) annual conference in Newport, Gwent.


I have a belief in the importance of the work your staff do and a determination to let them get on with that work

Charles Kennedy
"I challenge the government to increase targets for trainee teachers to ensure that the next generation of secondary children aren't taught in larger classes," he said.

He reasserted the Liberal Democrats' policy of adding 1p to the basic rate of tax, raising an extra 3bn to spend on education.

And students training to go into the profession would be offered a training salary equivalent to the first point on the teacher's scale.

Mr Kennedy criticised the Labour government and the Conservatives for "bashing" public services, when they should be backing them.

He said: "The recent assault on 'bog-standard' comprehensives did nothing to show head teachers that every school matters.

"Our commitment to education is simple - we will increase funding through honest taxation to ensure that every school, every teachers and every child matters.

"I have a belief in the importance of the work your staff do and a determination to let them get on with that work," said Mr Kennedy.

Red tape

He talked of the burden of red tape on heads and teachers.

"It is the most recurrent theme that comes my way from each and every teacher," he said.

He recalled speaking to a head teacher in Scotland who had his office wall plastered with initiatives, questionnaires, circulars and guidelines.

When asked how he coped with it all, the head teacher had told Mr Kennedy that he could not do his job if he even tried to keep abreast of it all.

It was, said Mr Kennedy, a "crazy state of affairs".

'Logistic nightmare'

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, pre-empted Mr Kennedy's words when he spoke to the SHA conference on Friday.

He said it was not unreasonable to ask the children of richer parents to pay a little towards the cost of their tuition fees and living expenses - an attack on the Liberal Democrats' plan to abolish tuition fees and bring back student grants.

Mr Kennedy's plan to impose a limit on primary school classes of 25 would be a "logistical nightmare", said Mr Blunkett.

See also:

24 Mar 01 | UK Education
23 Mar 01 | UK Education
22 Mar 01 | UK Education
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