HC Deb 09 April 1970 vol 799 cc730-1
14. Mr. Brooks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy regarding the future of school examinations, with particular reference to the Advanced Level and its rôle in the selection of university entrants.

Mr. Edward Short

I shall consider this in the light of any recommendations which may be made to me by the Schools Council, which is at present considering proposals made by the two working parties on sixth form curricula and examinations.

Mr. Brooks

Nevertheless, does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be most inadvisable for pupils to face the prospect of three major examinations in consecutive years: O-level C.S.E. and the Q and F level papers? In view of the implications of failing only one out of five at Q level, is there not a severe risk that this new proposal could limit the entry of pupils into further education?

Mr. Short

I should not like to comment on the new proposals at the moment. They have not yet come to me. They are with the Schools Council, which no doubt will be making recommendations in due course. Recently I made a speech in Durham in which I set forth my views on examinations.

Mr. Hooley

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that he will oppose the proliferation of school examinations? Is he aware that even now the existence of the C.S.E. and G.C.E. examinations is putting an absurd strain on pupils, who are expected to do not merely the C.S.E. and G.C.E. examinations, but also mock G.C.E. and mock C.S.E. examinations and even mock G.C.E. and mock C.S.E. examinations on the same subject in the same year? Will my right hon. Friend firmly squash this proliferation of school examinations?

Mr. Short

I have a great deal of sympathy with my hon. Friend's view. I will certainly watch this development carefully.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there has been a great deal of discussion about these new proposals and that there is a serious risk of people being unsettled unless the implementation of any change is put well into the future so that those who are at present reading the discussions may know that their own future course is certain?

Mr. Short

I agree that this should be put well into the future. But at the moment it has not reached me officially. I have simply read about it.