HC Deb 17 March 1959 vol 602 cc201-2
37. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the anxiety about the future status of history and geography in Scottish secondary schools caused by the proposed new regulations of the Scottish Universities Entrance Board, he will now accept the recommendations contained in paragraphs 125–127 of the Report of the Working Party on the Curriculum of the Senior Secondary School and initiate discussions with the Universities Entrance Board on this subject.

Mr. N. Macpherson

The recommendation referred to appears to mean that where institutions do not give adequate recognition to leaving certificate passes in terms of their own entrance examina- tions my right hon. Friend's Department should convene meetings with them in order to work out an acceptable syllabus. Since passes in corresponding subjects in the leaving certificate and the university preliminary examination are already treated exactly alike a meeting with the Universities Entrance Board for this purpose seems unnecessary.

Mr. Thomson

Is the Joint Under-Secretary completely unaware that there is very great anxiety in Scottish educational circles now about the position of history and geography and that, if the position as between the Scottish Education Department and the Scottish universities is allowed to continue, students will be able to graduate from Scottish universities after having had only two years of history tuition in their whole life? Is not this a thoroughly illiberal move? Will the hon. Gentleman do something to bring about discussions to stop this?

Mr. Macpherson

Representations have been made from both sides of the House and strong views have been expressed in many parts of the country. I understand that the four universities are not in full agreement on the new proposals. Presumably they will have to be considered further.

Miss Herbison

Is not the Joint Under-Secretary aware that there is only one matter on which the four universities are not agreed, and that is higher English? Glasgow University is insisting on English in the higher standard. That will be the only thing to be considered by the Privy Council. The Secretary of State must take some responsibility on the question of history and geography teaching.

Mr. Macpherson

I should not like to confirm what the hon. Lady has said—that that will be the only question to be considered by the Privy Council. If the matter has to be considered there, it will be considered as a whole.

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