HC Deb 15 July 1975 vol 895 cc1255-6
12. Mrs. Chalker

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps have been taken to establish the Assessment of Performance Unit announced by his predecessor.

Miss Joan Lestor

I am pleased to be able to tell the hon. Lady that Professor Barry Supple of the University of Sussex has agreed to be the chairman of the consultative committee for this unit. My right hon. Friend will announce the membership of the committee when he has completed his discussions with the interested educational bodies.

Mrs. Chalker

I thank the hon. Lady for that reply. Will she give an estimate of the time when the Assessment of Performance Unit will make its first report? The unit is vital if the standards of children are not to fall behind. We earnestly await her answer.

Miss Lestor

It is impossible for me to say when the unit will make any report because we have not yet completed discussions, but the unit will be set up. It is about to be set up and it is expected that as soon as the membership has been completed it will start work, possibly in the autumn.

Mr. Spearing

Does my hon. Friend agree that certain suggestions concerning annual examinations in regard to basic skills would not be helpful in the present educational system? Will there be encouragement for teachers in certain schools to attempt some assessment of attainment of basic skills whatever the learning methods used in the schools?

Miss Lestor

Any attempts at assessment can be valuable, as long as they are not undertaken on the basis of set examinations.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Is the hon. Lady aware that nearly six months have passed since her predecessor announced the setting up of this important unit at the suggestion of the Opposition? Will she guarantee that the unit will start work while she is still in her present office?

Miss Lestor

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that the proposal got off the ground very quickly after I arrived on the scene. I have every reason to suppose that the unit will have started its work before I leave.

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