HC Deb 15 May 1978 vol 950 cc8-9
7. Mr. Michael Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what proposals he has to improve standards of literacy and numeracy in Wales.

Mr. Barry Jones

An improvement in standards of literacy and numeracy in the schools of Wales demands concerted action by all the partners in the education service.

I sought to give a lead at the Mold conference and elsewhere, and now intend following this up vigorously in a series of further meetings with local education authorities, teachers and others.

Mr. Roberts

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a National Coal Board spokesman said recently that between 10 per cent. and 15 per cent. of young applicants for jobs in the NCB were rejected as being virtually unemployable in terms of literacy and numeracy? Will he take vigorous steps to ensure that the youth of Wales have the advantage of improved standards and, consequently, the opportunity of getting jobs?

Mr. Barry Jones

I should like to see details of the NCB report and perhaps to have the observations of the hon. Member for Cardiff, North-West (Mr. Roberts), who has a distinguished record in the education sevice. However, employers are seeking all the time higher standards from the young people of Wales. At the same time, I would not wish it to be thought that my Department was in any way complacent. We are already taking very positive action. There is to be an inquiry into the teaching of mathematics, and the Assessment of Performance Unit is urgently developing better instruments for assessing pupils' attainment. The tests for mathematics and reading are already being mounted in Wales.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Can the Minister say whether there is any evidence of deficiency in either literacy or numeracy in Welsh language schools?

Mr. Barry Jones

I should like to have notice of such a detailed question. However, I say immediately that I am not aware of a decline in standards.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Now that the Secretary of State has, from 1st April, taken over responsibility for teacher training and supply, does he have plans to improve teacher training in Wales?

Mr. Barry Jones

There is no doubt that I shall be having discussions throughout Wales on the assessment of how the teacher training establishments in Wales might contribute towards the attainment of better standards of literacy and numeracy.

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