HC Deb 06 July 1976 vol 914 cc1147-8
4. Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now answer questions on school curricula.

Mr. Mulley

I cannot answer detailed questions on school curricula matters as responsibility for them is placed by statute on LEA's and school governors and managers. I have, however, a general concern and responsibility.

Mr. Madel

Will the Secretary of State talk to local education authorities to find out whether the courses provided for pupils in their last years at school are satisfactory, bearing in mind the shortage of skilled labour that is developing? Will he not reconsider his answer, because there is anxiety that the courses provided by schools are not sufficiently matched to what industry will need?

Mr. Mulley

I am very concerned about these matters in general terms, but I cannot look at more detailed questions, because responsibility is laid by statute on LEAs and governors and managers. If Parliament decided to change the existing position, we could give further thought to the matter. On the attitude of industry to which the hon. Member referred, I am glad that the TUC and CBI are concerned about this problem and are working out with the Schools Council courses that I hope will assist in curricula matters.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Since the Secretary of State's Permanent Secretary, Mr. Hamilton, has declared that curricula should no longer be a secret garden, what plans has the right hon. Gentleman had to open the hidden doors? What plans does he have to turn the secret garden of Mr. Willmott's report on the GCE examination results into a public park, by publication? Would that not be the best way of ending the present controversy?

Mr. Mulley

I have not yet had a chance to read that Schools Council report. I should naturally wish it to be published if the basis for it is right. What perturbs me is the enthusiasm and length to which the hon. Members for Ripon (Dr. Hampson) and Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) go to denigrate the Leader of the Opposition, who was Secretary of State during the period in which the report alleges that standards fell so much in our schools. The way they have stolen and leaked documents is quite disgraceful.


Mr. Mulley

Perhaps I may correct something that I said earlier.

I alleged that a document which had been unofficially published at the weekend had been stolen. I understand that that is not so. I unreservedly withdraw that allegation. I ask the hon. Member for Ripon, and the House, to accept my apology.