§ Q14. Mr. Michael Morris
asked the Prime Minister what is his assessment of the success of the great education debate he initiated.
§ Mr. Foot
I have been asked to reply.
The Government believe that the debate has been highly successful in focusing attention on those aspects of education in our schools which need further examination; at the same time it has shown that some of the more extreme criticisms of the schools were unfounded. The consultative document "Education in Schools" (Cmnd. 6869) was well received, and my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for Wales have followed this by a joint circular inviting local education authorities to report on their arrangements for the school curriculum. These events have been accompanied by: a developing programme of monitoring performance in schools by the assessment of performance unit; the publication of a circular setting out the information which schools and local education authorities should make available to parents; the adoption of a new constitution by the Schools Council; the Government's expenditure plans for a fourfold increase in the number of teachers released for in-service and induction training between 1977 and 1981; the announcement of the move to an all-graduate entry to the teaching profession and the intention to introduce for undergraduate entrants from 1980 an additional requirement in GCE 0 level or its equivalent in mathematics and English language; the training of additional teachers in shortage subjects; critical scrutiny of proposals for changing the pattern of school examinations taken at 16, 17 and 18; and the activities of Her Majesty's inspectors in many fields. The overall effect has been increased public awareness coupled with a series of significant steps to improve the education service.