HC Deb 14 December 1993 vol 234 c823
9. Mr. Milligan

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what steps are being taken to remove unnecessary bureaucracy in the testing arrangements under the national curriculum following the publication of the Dearing report.

Mr. Patten

We have accepted the Dearing report in full. Testing and marking time for the tests has been halved and there will far less form filling for teachers. The 1994 tests will be much slimmer, but they will remain as fair and as demanding as possible.

Mr. Milligan

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. He will be aware that in my constituency, as elsewhere in the country, there was genuine concern among responsible teachers about the complexity of the original tests, but is he also aware that those same teachers are now delighted that the tests are being slimmed down and will be properly piloted? Will he ensure that teachers continue to be properly consulted and that he brooks no opposition from trade unions, some of which were opposed to any testing at all?

Mr. Patten

I thank my hon. Friend for what he said. He is right about the useful consultations on testing that have gone on and will continue. He will be aware, as I am, that in some counties, including, I believe, Hampshire, it was the local education authority that decided to put complicated tick lists, as they are known in the trade, into schools, which made tasks unnecessarily complicated. They were never laid down by the Government. The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, in its handling of its responsibilities since 1 October, has been a model of efficiency. No teacher, deputy head teacher, head teacher or governor could possibly complain that they have not had promptly all the material that they need.