HC Deb 03 May 1994 vol 242 cc579-80
7. Mrs. Anne Campbell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will make a statement on the standard of chemistry teaching in state schools.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Mr. Robin Squire)

Her Majesty's inspectors report that the quality of science teaching generally for pupils up to age 16 is satisfactory or better in 80 per cent. of lessons. Standards of chemistry teaching post-16 are satisfactory or better in 90 per cent. of lessons. Those are good standards, and science teachers are to be congratulated.

Mrs. Campbell

Will the Minister join me in congratulating Parkside community college in Cambridge on winning the Royal Society of Chemistry's national award despite fierce competition from many public schools? Is he further aware that Parkside community college is a local education authority-maintained school which has positively chosen to stay with the LEA?

Mr. Squire

On the first part of the hon. Lady's question, I have no reluctance at all in joining her, and I extend full congratulations to all schools that are doing so much to raise standards in this sphere. On the latter part, I hesitate to join her. I should be happier if at this stage the majority of schools had given parents the opportunity to vote.

Mr. Whittingdale

On behalf of the Philip Morant school in Colchester, I thank my hon. Friend for the grant that his Department has given to finance the construction of the brand new chemistry laboratories which I opened on Friday. Does he agree that his announcement last week that the Philip Morant school is to become a technology college will allow that school to improve still further its already excellent reputation for chemistry and science?

Mr. Squire

I am delighted to echo my hon. Friend's congratulations to that school. He is right also to highlight the fact that across, the country, the technology college initiative will transform the way in which science, maths and technology are taught. It will improve the quality of education for so many of our pupils and it would be nice to see support for it coming from Opposition Members.