HC Deb 15 March 1982 vol 20 cc4-5
4. Mr. Garel-Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will take further steps to encourage pupils at secondary schools in Wales to leave school with adequate qualifications.

Mr. Michael Roberts

We shall continue to encourage all those concerned with education to seek to improve the attainments of pupils, whether in public examinations or otherwise. As I said in the Welsh day debate, next week I intend to issue a discussion paper about the problems of under-achievement and related issues.

Mr. Garel-Jones

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that helpful reply. When he considers all these matters, will he have uppermost in his mind the best deployment of resources and ensure that resources are deployed fairly between the rural and poorer parts of Wales and the urban areas?

Mr. Roberts

Expenditure per pupil in secondary schools is increasing in real terms. The planned figure for 1982–83 is £808 at 1980 survey prices, compared with £773 in 1978–79 on the same price basis. The very considerable resources available for education in Wales should be used to the best possible advantage. The publication of "Planning for Progress" is designed as a new start in the battle against under-achievement.

Mr. Geraint Howells

Can the hon. Gentleman assure this year's school leavers in Wales that he will find jobs for them within the next three years?

Mr. Roberts

No Minister concerned with education in Wales has ever been able to give that assurance, however desirable it might be.

Mr. Coleman

As a means of encouraging teenagers to stay on at school and take up courses in excess of 21 hours a week at colleges of further education in order to gain adequate and further qualifications, will the Minister seek to persuade the Government to change the rules for the payment of supplementary benefit so that these young people become eligible for such payments?

Mr. Roberts

I can make no statement on that matter today.

Mr. Hooson

As one factor in the lower number of Welsh children taking examinations appears to be the unwillingness of some of the teachers unions to have the same dates of examinations as those in England, will my hon. Friend look into the possibility of having talks with all the teachers unions to review this problem?

Mr. Roberts

The system of having separate dates for examinations in England is not, in my judgment, of any significant benefit to the children of England.