HC Deb 22 June 1982 vol 26 cc141-2
Mr. Iain Mills

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress has been made in implementing those recommendations of the Cockcroft report for which he is responsible.

Sir Keith Joseph

The Department will be taking early action on the recommendation that a study should be commissioned into ways of providing evidence of achievement for lower-attaining pupils, perhaps by means of graduated tests. We are considering the other recommendations directed to us.

Mr. Mills

I thank my right hon. Friend for the reply, which is overdue as it was the subject of a question for written answer in March. Will my right hon. Friend further consider the need to implement the proposals for better arithemitical standards for younger people in the primary schools? I am sure that he is aware that higher standards have been called for by engineering employers in Coventry, Birmingham and, indeed, throughout the nation.

Sir Keith Joseph

Yes, Sir. The recommendations of the Cockcroft committee are all of great value and we consider the report to be singularly constructive. I am hoping to consider what can be done in the near future about the other recommendations directed to us. Rather to the surprise of many people, the Cockcroft committee found, after unprecedented research, that on the whole employers are not too disatisfied with mathematical skills.

Mr. McNally

Is it not a fact that Cockcroft said that in service training was the key to the success of his recommendations? Is the Secretary of State willing to put his weight behind an expansion of in-service training in mathematics?

Sir Keith Joseph

The Cockcroft report did emphasise in-service training. The decision on the amount of resources to devote to in-service training is for local education authorities; my weight is behind an increase in such training.

Mr. Madel

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is up to the local education authorities to remind mathematics teachers of the need to attend these excellent in-service training courses so that standards are constantly improved?

Sir Keith Joseph

Yes. I commend the action of the members of the Cockcroft committee in taking their recommendations and their analysis widely round the country.