HC Deb 08 March 1960 vol 619 cc221-2
18. Mrs. Hart

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations have been made to him on the unsuitability for its purpose of his suggested course in modern studies for secondary schools; and what reply he has made.

Mr. N. Macpherson

None, Sir, since the syllabus and specimen question papers were published.

Mrs. Hart

If the hon. Gentleman has not received representations, is he aware of the very strong views which have been expressed by professors and lecturers of Glasgow University who indicated as recently as yesterday in the Glasgow Herald that only the Encyclopædia Britannica could cover the range of knowledge demanded in the suggested curriculum? While we on this side of the House very warmly welcome the idea of this course, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he does not think it desirable that he should initiate discussions with the universities and the training colleges on the matter of the curriculum and on the question of training teachers who will be able to carry out the curriculum in the schools?

Mr. Macpherson

With regard to the first part of the supplementary question, the Working Party on the Curriculum of the Senior Secondary School recommended that there should be some course in which the emphasis would be placed on what would be useful for men and women to know as a background to present-day affairs. That suggestion was passed to the various educational bodies, and by and large they approved of the suggestion, and it was in the light of their comments that the syllabus and the specimen questions were sent out.

Mr. Rankin

Surely when the Department agrees to a new course it is also its business to see that there is available staff qualified to deal with it?

Mr. Macpherson

It is the history and geography staff which will be dealing with the new course. I should perhaps explain that the course leads to the ordinary grade examination in modern studies.