HC Deb 04 February 1971 vol 810 cc1884-5
2. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science to what extent syllabi have been prepared, books purchased, and at what annual cost, for the teaching of the metric system in schools and the setting of examination standards at primary, middle, and secondary stages; and to what extent the teaching of and examination in imperial units will be retained, for how long, and at what stages of education.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

Preparation of the syllabus and purchase of books are matters for the school authorities. Guidance was given by the Department in 1969 that for some time pupils would need to be taught imperial as well as metric measures.

Mr. Osborn

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. While I accept that the first units to be taught in primary schools should now be metric, is it not a fact that too many educationists believe that there is no longer any need to teach imperial units? Will my right hon. Friend take positive steps to ensure that educationists, teachers and others are aware that we shall be using imperial units not only for the next five years but for perhaps the next 25 years'?

Mrs. Thatcher

I agree that it will be necessary for a number of years to teach imperial as well as metric units.

Mr. Alan Williams

The right hon. Lady will be aware that teachers are particularly concerned that the transition to the metric system should be as short as possible because of its educational impact. Will she confirm that the Government intend to put no brake upon the conversion to the metric system? Second, in view of the rather poor rate support grant determination this year, will she reconsider her decision on the provision of finance for metric education books for schools?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am not responsible for answering questions on metrication as such. As the hon. Gentleman knows, only a target date has been set, and that is the end of 1975. I am surprised that he should call the rate support grant rather poor. It gave a bigger percentage for improvements than in previous years.