HC Deb 20 February 1978 vol 944 cc986-7
7. Mr. Grist

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he proposes to introduce measures designed to bring the numbers of pupils in Wales leaving school with O-level GCE and CSE awards to at least the same level as that attained in England.

Mr. Barry Jones

The improvement of educational standards is a major concern. I have invited our partners in the education service to consider this particular issue at a conference in Mold on 10th March. We have prepared and published a document as a basis for discussion both at the conference and more widely. I have sent a copy to the hon. Member.

Mr. Grist

Will the Minister agree that, although the question of continuous assessment and the timing of the GCE and CSE examinations should be considered, so possibly should the unconscious motivation of teachers in Wales, whereby perhaps those pupils who are bright, or brighter than average, get special treatment, and those who are not seen in those categories do not get such good treatment? Will he bear this in mind?

Mr. Jones

All possibilities will be borne in mind, but I do not want in any way to prejudge the conference. The Department is not complacent in this matter but does not want to anticipate what, for example, representatives of the teachers who are present at Mold will say.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Will the Minister note that the people of Wales want positive action to be taken on this matter? There is the question of the timing of the CSE examination, which is, I understand, currently held after the Spring Bank Holiday. There is also the question of the curriculum. Will the hon. Gentleman note that the people of Wales want action rather than talk?

Mr. Jones

Yes. Every notice is taken of what the hon. Member and other hon. Members say. Of course, we want action, and I think that the people of Wales will get it, but there is no point whatsoever in anticipating the conference of 10th March. I hope that after what will be a unique conference for Wales we may have measures proposed or the debate may indicate the way in which we may tackle a subject about which we are not complacent.