§ Mr. Pike
Does the Minister accept that many primary school teachers, while recognising the basic objective of the national curriculum, believe that they do not have sufficient time to listen to young children read or to encourage them to read purely for pleasure? Will he ensure that the national curriculum is less rigid and allows for a slightly more flexible approach to reading?
§ Mr. Forth
The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. That is one reason why the National Curriculum Council is conducting its current review. In my experience, some teachers share the view expressed by the hon. Gentleman, while others seem to have been better able to accommodate the demands of the national curriculum—we must balance the one against the other. I do not want us to rush into changes, and we are keeping an open mind as to how much things may have to be changed to accommodate the difficulties mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir Anthony Durant
Does my hon. Friend the Minister agree that it is grossly unfair to children that they are not able to obtain good results in the three Rs, which are so important for secondary education and future jobs? Surely that is the purpose of the national curriculum.
§ Mr. Forth
That is, indeed, one of the important purposes of the national curriculum. I am sure that my hon. Friend will be reassured by the great emphasis that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my noble Friend the Minister of State have placed on setting the highest possible standards for mastering the basics of education so that young people may be better suited to maximise their educational potential. All education Ministers are, and will continue to be, concerned about that.