HC Deb 08 February 1985 vol 72 cc719-20W
Mr. Soames

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the principal objectives of his Department for 1985.

Sir Keith Joseph

The Department's principal objectives for education are to raise standards and to achieve better value for money throughout the education system. In pursuance of these aims for schools I intend to make progress, in consultation with those concerned in the education service and outside it, in the formulation of broadly agreed curricular objectives; to publish the national criteria for the GCSE examinations and to make progress with the development of grade criteria for incorporation in the national criteria; to prepare for the introduction of records of achievement; to set a target for the removal of surplus places for March 1987 and beyond; and to make further progress in the field of teacher training.

In non-advanced further education the aim is to increase the responsiveness of the service to the needs of the employers while providing a sound education for young people and encouraging improved use of resources. In the short term, a key objective is to implement the decisions set out in the White Paper "Training for Jobs" (Cmnd. 9135).

In higher education the aims are to maintain access for those who want it and are suitably qualified, to promote the necessary improvements in the use of available resources and to encourage the system to be more responsive to the needs of employers. During 1985 it is intended to publish a Green Paper on higher education policy (and a consultative document on student support) setting out the Government's thinking on these matters in more detail.

In science, the Department's aim is to maintain and enhance the strength and quality of the science base in higher education and the research councils. Consonant with this, the objectives in 1985 are to encourage: greater concentration and selectivity of research activities; closer and better working with industry and commerce; more funding from private sector sources; better management yielding greater value for money; and increased flexibility, enabling faster response to new scientific opportunities.