§ 15. Mr. D. E. Thomas
asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he is satisfied with the performance of secondary school pupils aged 15 years in science and mathematics; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Michael Roberts
Clearly there is cause for concern, and I fully recognise this, although we must be careful to keep matters in perspective. A great deal of work is going on at both local and national level to encourage improvements in levels of performance.
§ Mr. Thomas
As the recently published report of the assessment of performance unit confirms that school pupils in Wales are doing worse in science and mathematics at 15 than they were at 11, is it not time for an independent inquiry into the way in which Welsh secondary schools teach mathematics and science?
§ Mr. Roberts
It is always an attractive proposition to hold an inquiry. However, we have considerable evidence about the teaching of mathematics and science and we do not want to have to wait for a further inquiry. Meanwhile, Her Majesty's Inspectorate is promoting the message of the Cockcroft report. This year we published a consultative document on science education in schools, and we are analysing the response. We must not be complacent, but we must remember that in the past two years there has been an improvement in the achievements of Welsh pupils taking GCE mathematics at O-level.
Mr. Tom Ellis
What proportion of the teachers who entered the profession between 1965 and 1975 had O-level mathematics?
§ Mr. Roberts
I cannot give the figures for that. Unfortunately, a number of teachers joined the profession without O-level mathematics when there was a shortage of teachers' and they subsequently taught mathematics. We have put that right and made a mathematics qualification essential for entrance to the teaching profession.