HC Deb 10 March 1981 vol 1000 cc739-40
1. Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of pupils in secondary schools in England took O-level mathematics in 1980; and what percentage achieved a pass.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Dr. Rhodes Boyson)

From the latest available information it is estimated that 31 per cent. of all English school leavers in 1978–79 had attempted O-level in mathematics, and 21 per cent. were awarded grades A to C.

Mr. Madel

Do those figures indicate the percentage increase in the number of pupils who passed O-level mathematics in the past 10 years? Is it the Government's view that in-service training must be improved so that the quality of teachers improves, which will lead to more pupils passing examinations?

Dr. Boyson

The figures for O-level passes last year were only half a percentage point higher than they were 10 years ago—[HON. MEMBERS:"NO".] I am sure that hon. Members are interested, so I repeat that the figure is only half a percentage point higher than 10 years ago for the number of pupils gaining O-level mathematics, grades A to C. I agree with my hon. Friend that there is a requirement for more good maths teachers, and also for the retraining of existing teachers so that they become better maths teachers.

Mr. Dixon

Will the Minister give an estimate of how many youngsters will not be taking CSEs after the Easter term because of the Social Security Act 1980? What advice will he give to head teachers about advising youngsters to return to school after Easter to take examinations? Is he aware that if they do they will be denied social security benefit until the first week in September?

Dr. Boyson

Any headmaster who has a pupil in his school likely to pass GCE O-level mathematics should suggest that the pupil stays at school and passes his examination. That is the beginning of a good future education.