HC Deb 24 June 1974 vol 875 cc973-4
14. Mr. Grist

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what studies his Department is making of methods for teaching reading and writing in primary schools.

Mr. Barry Jones

Her Majesty's inspectors continually study the teaching of reading and writing, and advise schools and local education authorities. In addition the Schools Council sponsors several research and development projects in these fields.

Mr. Grist

Is the hon. Gentleman himself satisfied with his reply? Is he not aware that there is great dissatisfaction among many secondary school teachers about the standards of literacy of pupils reaching their schools? Is not the rate of illiteracy and near-illiteracy among school leavers an indictment of our whole education system?

Mr. Jones

I should like to reassure the hon. Gentleman on this matter. The range of educational activities engaged in by schoolchildren has increased substantially. The evidence available does not justify the conclusion that this widening of experience jeopardises standards of reading or writing.

Mr. Kinnock

Does my hon. Friend accept that there is grave danger in the present level of illiteracy among adult pupils of Britain, which is mirrored in the illiteracy of school leavers? Will he also accept that to reimpose examination standards on schoolchildren, as the Conservative Party wishes to do, would be no way to improve the situation?

Mr. Jones

I recognise the expertise in this matter of my hon. Friend, and I should like further to hear his views.