HL Deb 18 October 1961 vol 234 cc439-40

2.7 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have been able to give consideration to paragraph 46 in the Annual Report for 1960 of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy (Cmd. 1167, 1960), which states: We have no doubt that school science curricula are in need of a thorough re-examination. They tend at present to be unimaginative and to be overloaded with factual material … It has been suggested to us that up to twenty to twenty-five per cent. of the content of the curricula in physics, chemistry and biology could be removed without any harm—and indeed with benefit. Mathematics curricula are equally in need of revision. and what steps the educational authorities are taking to give effect to that recommendation of this representative committee of eminent scientists.]


My Lords, careful consideration has been given to this by my right honourable friend the Minister of Education and myself. In England and Wales the initiative for the framing of curricula and syllabuses rests with the teaching profession. The secondary school science syllabuses have recently been the subject of a very thorough review by the Science Masters' Association and the Association of Women Science Teachers, who have proposed substantial revisions and modernisation of existing syllabuses. My right honourable friend the Minister of Education is encouraging these and other similar efforts to revise the syllabuses. The proposals of the Science Masters' Association are being used by the General Certificate of Education Examining Bodies as the basis for the revision of their examination syllabuses, which they are undertaking at the request of the Secondary School Examinations Council. The function of this Council is to advise the Minister on the general direction of the G.C.E. examination. Schools, universities, local education authorities and other bodies concerned are represented on it.

Corresponding action has been taken independently in Scotland through the Scottish Education Department.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for the very comprehensive and encouraging reply.