HC Deb 15 May 1973 vol 856 cc1225-6
10. Mr. Duffy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps she is taking to assist prospective school leavers to adjust themselves to future employment.

Mrs. Thatcher

I expect to receive shortly the results of a survey by Her Majesty's inspectors of careers education and guidance in secondary schools, on the basis of which I can consider what future help and advice may be needed. Also, when the Education (Work Experience) Bill has completed its remaining stages, I shall be offering advice to local education authorities about suitable arrangements.

Mr. Duffy

I am grateful to the Secretary of State. Does she agree that it is not merely information that school leavers require but conditioning for a totally alien world, not only of custom and practice, but also of freedom and responsibility? Will she invite local authorities to look at Sheffield's work experience unit, which enables school leavers to exchange three months of their final year at school for three months in a local factory?

Mrs. Thatcher

I doubt very much whether that would come within the terms of the Education (Work Experience) Bill. A straight exchange does not sound like the kind of thing which the Bill was designed to meet. Otherwise, I agree with a good deal of what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Jeffrey Archer

Although the small Bill at present in Committee is very good for those who want work experience, is it not vital to let parents know exactly what is going on, because often in the past parents have not been well informed?

Mrs. Thatcher

I agree that that is an important factor, and that very careful arrangements must be made to implement the provisions of the Bill.

Mr. Spearing

Does the right hon. Lady agree that adjustment to employment demands certain standards of numeracy and literacy? Does she recall that when I asked her some time ago whether she would make a survey of the standards of numeracy and literacy of all school leavers, she did not think that she should do so? Will she reconsider this matter?

Mrs. Thatcher

In both of those spheres, what we have done is to see that we get better standardised tests of attainment, both in literacy, which is being dealt with by the Bullock Committee, and for numeracy. The standardised tests do not exist at present.