HC Deb 18 January 1982 vol 16 cc4-5
3. Mr. D. E. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what proportion of young persons left secondary schools in Wales in 1980 with no formal certification; and whether he is satisfied with the level of achievement.

Mr. Michael Roberts

The proportion is 25.1 per cent., based on provisional analysis of the sample survey of 1980 leavers. We are concerned that schools should improve their performance, especially in the education of children of less than average academic ability.

Mr. Thomas

Will the Minister confirm that the comparable figure for England is 12 per cent. and that that invidious comparison should cause the Welsh Office immediately to institute a full inquiry into the discrepancy, taking into account the views of the teaching profession and all those who are concerned about the education of their children in Wales?

Mr. Roberts

I confirm that the comparable figure for England is about 12 per cent. However, the hon. Gentleman will know that CSE and O-level examinations were designed for the 60 per cent. of pupils considered to be of higher academic ability. He will also know that for a long time many hon. Members, including myself, have expressed grave concern about the matter. We have had many developments in the past few years, including the Mold conference. I am confident that local education authorities and schools are giving careful consideration to the advice, guidance and information offered by recent Government publications or by Her Majesty's inspector and in APU survey reports. I am sure that they will also do so in the forthcoming Cockcroft report.

Mr. Coleman

Is the Minister aware that between September 1980 and September 1981 over 900 fewer lecturers and teachers were engaged in Wales? Would it not have been better to retain their services to improve educational standards?

Mr. Roberts

The hon. Gentleman has completely ignored the significance and importance of falling rolls. He will know that, whatever Government were in power, the number of teachers employed would have decreased. If the hon. Gentleman had listened carefully to the answer to question No. 1, he would have known that the pupil-teacher ratio is at a record level.