§ 55. Sir Ernest Graham-Little
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether, in view of the fact that two of the most important examining bodies conducting secondary school examinations, namely, London University and the Oxford and Cambridge Universities Joint Board, have demurred to accepting for adoption in 1939 the proposals contained in Circular 1463 for the alteration of the school certificate examination; 587 and, in view of the fact that the circular, dated 18th July, 1938, could not receive consideration by the universities until the present term, commencing in October, he will postpone the operation of the new regulations for a year, to allow of a proper investigation by the examining bodies of the probable results of the proposed changes?
The official letter to examining bodies, which was afterwards reproduced as Circular 1463, was issued on 2nd July last. No reference was made in that letter to any date by which the revised conditions for the School Certificate were to be adopted. In accordance with a recommendation from the Secondary School Examinations Council the Board will not require the new conditions to be adopted before 1940, but examining bodies are, of course, at liberty to adopt them before that year.
§ Sir E. Graham-Little
Is my hon. Friend aware that arrangements are being made to conduct some of these examinations in 1939?
§ 56 Mr. Roland Robinson
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (1) whether he will state precisely the grounds upon which the university examining bodies opposed his request for an alteration of the dates of school examinations to assist the spread-over of holidays;
(2) whether he is prepared to recommend the partial withholding of grants from those educational authorities who refuse to co-operate with the Government in its policy of spread-over of annual holidays with pay by making the appropriate adjustments in the dates of their examinations;
(3) whether, in view of the attitude taken up by the university examining bodies on the question of altering the dates of their certificate examinations to suit the requirements of the spread-over of holidays with pay, he will consider the setting up of a special examining body to deal with school certificate examinations throughout the country?
My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. Except in the case 588 of one examining body, there has been no refusal to alter the date of the certificate examinations in 1940, though in some cases it was represented that the change would lead to financial and administrative difficulties. There is, however, evidence that a large majority of the schools were opposed to the date suggested; out of 530 schools in different parts of the country who were questioned, no fewer than 463 were against the proposal. My Noble Friend decided, for the reasons already given, not to press for any change in 1940, and in these circumstances no special measures of the kind suggested by my hon. Friend are called for. As already stated in the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 17th November last, the question of possible changes in the date of the examinations subsequent to 1940 will need to be considered later in the light of experience.
§ Mr. Robinson
Will my hon. Friend tell the university authorities that the change over involved in every important reform causes temporary difficulties, and will he ask them to reconsider the matter in the light of public need?
The only real change will be if these examinations are put off until the autumn. I would call the attention of my hon. Friend to the fact that this would be a very considerable change affecting not only the universities, secondary schools, and so on, in this country, but all over the world.
§ Mr. Robinson
Can my hon. Friend suggest any plan to prevent the universities sabotaging important plans which he himself has announced in this House?
I cannot accept the assumption that they are sabotaging the arrangement. An advance has been made in allowing children at any time during the term to go away for one week and for it to be counted as attendance.