HC Deb 15 February 1989 vol 147 cc204-5W
Mr. Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will describe his Department's principal achievements in respect of race relations and equal opportunity since May 1979.

Mrs. Rumbold

To enable women to maintain their careers the Department has developed arrangements for part-time working, job sharing, and working from home, and has a well-established scheme for the reinstatement of staff in all grades who resign for domestic or associated health reasons and wish to return to work within five years. The Department monitors the recruitment of ethnic minority staff.

To increase the awareness of staff, a majority of the training courses run by the Department now include sessions on equal opportunities. There are also a number of courses aimed specifically at women, including management training for women.

The Government have pursued a range of measures to improve the response of the education service to ethnic diversity. These include action on initial and in-service training to prepare teachers for teaching in a multi-ethnic society; measures to increase the supply of ethnic minority teachers; an Education support grant activity which has supported some 120 projects, many designed specifically to promote good race relations; measures to promote good practice in teaching English to pupils for whom it is not the mother tongue; GCSE criteria which require that syllabuses should be free of bias and should take account of ethnic and cultural diversity; and remits to the National Curriculum Council and the Schools Examination and Assessment Council which require them to take account of the ethnic and cultural diversity of British society and of the importance of promoting equal opportunities for all pupils regardless of ethnic origin and gender.

The Department is committed to equal opportunities for boys and girls in education and its policies for education are designed to reinforce them. Our White Paper "Better Schools" issued in 1985 made it clear that there is no place for discrimination in the curriculum on the ground of sex. Our policy statement "Science 5–16," also issued in 1985, emphasised that career opportunities should be kept open for both boys and girls. The national curriculum will ensure that all pupils experience a coherent education, and prevent premature specialisation by either girls or boys.

Forward to