HC Deb 14 March 1978 vol 946 cc132-3W
53. Mr. Raison

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action has derived to date from the "great debate" on education initiated by the Prime Minister.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

In July 1977 my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I published a consultative document "Education in Schools" (Cmnd. 6869), and in November issued a joint circular inviting local education authorities to undertake a review of their curricular arrangements. There have been many other developments related to aspects of the debate. For example I established a steering committee in March 1977 to study the implications of a common system of examining at 16-plus, and I shall shortly make an announcement about the membership of a working group on the proposed Certificate of Extended Education. The phasing out of the Certificate in Education course after 1979 was announced last year. A draft circular on introducing a minimum of two A-levels together with O-level passes in English and mathematics for those wishing to train as teachers is now under discussions. A circular on information about schools for parents has been issued and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services and I have issued a circular letter to local authorities about the co-ordination of provision for under-fives. The Government's expenditure plans make provision for a fourfold increase between 1977 and 1981 in the number of teachers released for in-service and induction training. One-year crash courses for qualified teachers in the shortage subjects of mathematics, science and technology have been established, and some 900 additional teachers of these subjects are now being trained. In addition, there have been developments in the work of the assessment of performance unit and the Inspectorate's work programme takes account of the major concerns arising from the "great debate."