HC Deb 05 February 1970 vol 795 cc604-5
5. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will carry out a detailed study of all possible uses of teaching machines in the field of primary, secondary, and further education and as an aid to industrial training; and if he will set up a National Teaching Machine Centre to further research into the manufacture of suitable machines and to produce the necessary teaching programmes.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Miss Joan Lestor)

No, Sir. There are already a number of organisations, including the National Council for Educational Technology and the Educational Foundation for Visual Aids, which are concerned with the use of teaching machines and with the production of curricular material. Indeed, the need is now to rationalise in this field. Matters relating to the manufacture of these machines fall within the sponsorship responsibility of my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Technology.

Mr. Roberts

Would not my hon. Friend accept that this development is still in its infancy? Does not she agree that my suggestion for a National Teaching Machine Centre would rationalise procedure and the ramifications taking place? Does not she also accept that there will be an enormous increase in demand for industrial training, in particular, in the next few years due to technological change and that machines of this type could play a vital part in that?

Miss Lestor

I have already agreed with my hon. Friend that there is need to rationalise. All I can add is that Ministers are considering constantly but particularly proposals by the National Council for Educational Technology for certain large-scale research and development for the progress of this and other things connected with industry generally.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Since this technique is in its infancy, is it not premature to start rationalising— by which one usually means "standardising"? Is it not very important that there should be still considerable variety in the development of these machines?

Miss Lestor

It was not I who said that the technique was in its infancy but my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts). I do not think that rationalising necessarily means standardising, and if some forms of rationalising result in economies and the channelling of research, that is all to the good.