HC Deb 06 May 1986 vol 97 cc12-3
15. Mr. Colvin

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a further statement about progress with his plans for the introduction of the general certificate of secondary education examination.

Mr. Chris Patten

The programme of preparation for the GCSE is thorough and of high quality. Never before has so much been done to prepare all teachers for an examination reform. The measures announced by my right hon. Friend on 13 March are designed to ensure the successful completion of the training programme and to allow authorities to fund a real increase in spending on books and equipment for the GCSE. I hope that all teachers will seize the opportunities now available to make the GCSE the success which they, as much as we, know it can be and should be.

Mr. Colvin

I thank my hon. Friend for that comprehensive reply. If it is true, as some teachers are suggesting, that there is a shortage of time for training them in the new syllabuses for the GCSE, could they not come back from their summer holidays a couple of weeks earlier?

Mr. Patten

We have provided for a couple of days of training during the summer term, which should help a great deal. Phase four training will be particularly important, and I hope that teachers will play a full part in that as well as in phase three.

Mr. Dormand

Does the Minister recall that, when he opened a recent debate on this subject, he said that it was probably the greatest innovation in the history of education, or words to that effect? In those circumstances, is he not taking the greatest possible risk in setting in train these matters when he knows, and his knowledge has been reflected in his answers so far today, that he does not yet have the full co-operation of teachers? Will he listen to what they are saying?

Mr. Patten

This is a considerable innovation, which is why we are putting considerable resources into it. I hope that we shall be able to introduce it with the full consent of the overwhelming majority of teachers, but it is possible to make too much of the difference between what is going on in schools where there are good curricular practices, and what will happen when the GCSE is introduced.

Students in Higher and Further Education
1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 *1985
Higher education* (Great Britain)
Full-time and sandwich 510 521 542 553 566 573 579
Part-time 268 288 297 303 312 312 328
Non-advanced further education (England)
Full-time and sandwich 288 296 328 355 344 337 338
Part-time 1,151 1,125 1,057 1,064 1,151 1,191 1,316
* Universities and public sector higher education. Provisional.
Including the Open University.
Home and overseas students.
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