HC Deb 14 February 1978 vol 944 cc229-30
13. Mr. Haselhurst

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she is satisfied with the teaching of technical skills in secondary schools.

Mr. Oakes

Considerable attention is given by secondary schools to the teaching of technical skills, but there is still room for improvement. Twelve new courses for retraining existing teachers as specialists in craft, design and technology were started during 1977.

Mr. Haselhurst

Is it not alarming that employers have to say to new entrants that they should forget all that they have learnt in school? Is there not some merit in considering the teaching of technical subjects from a more centralised basis within a given area and in conditions more akin to the conditions of the workplace?

Mr. Oakes

That is indeed alarming. I do not know whether I would agree with the school or the employer when a statement like that is made. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that technical skills are as important as academic skills. I also agree that sometimes sufficient emphasis is not given to the youngsters who may make and repair things with their hands as distinct from the person who uses his mind.

Mr. Spearing

Apart from the unsatisfactory situation of skills for teaching technical subjects, does my hon. Friend agree that the building regulations specifying sizes of workshops in schools are not realistic? Will he look at this so that the advice which he receives can be assessed?

Mr. Oakes

I was not aware of that, but I shall have a look at it.

Dr. Boyson

Since the great debate referred to industrial experience among teachers, will the Minister particularly bear in mind that, as well as technical teaching in schools, some outside employment is particularly important if the boys are to have confidence in the teachers?

Mr. Oakes

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that that is important. As I have pointed out to the House, it is a shortage subject and new courses are being provided for an additional 280 teachers, particularly those who have industrial skills.

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