Initial Teaching Alphabet System

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th July 1963.

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Photo of Mr Alan Fitch Mr Alan Fitch , Wigan 12:00 am, 11th July 1963

asked the Minister of Education if he will make further funds available for the experiment of the teaching of reading by the Initial Teaching Alphabet System, in view of the success of the experiments in Lancashire and other areas.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

Last year I made a grant of £4,300 to the London University Institute of Education for this research, and I have recently agreed to make a similar grant in the current year to enable it to continue. Further assistance must depend on a full assessment of the results so far.

Photo of Mr Alan Fitch Mr Alan Fitch , Wigan

Is the Minister aware that, while this grant may appear generous, in fact it amounts to about £80 per local education authority? Will he reconsider this and advance more money for this very important and successful experiment?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I think that one must look carefully at the results before going any further. I have arranged with my Department's curriculum study group and with members of the Inspectorate specialising in primary education to keep a close watch on these exciting and important experiments, and there is no shortage of interest in this at the Ministry.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Has the Minister himself studied the results which reveal the possibility of a strong break-through in the teaching of reading comparable to the revolution that has taken place in the teaching of mathematics? Will he give careful study to this and consider whether he can take the whole project from the university under his wing?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I should not like to commit myself on that, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that I am in close touch with my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) and Dr. Lionel Elvin, and I agree that the matter is important. It is a subject on which there is the possibility of a really dramatic break through.

Photo of Sir Isaac Pitman Sir Isaac Pitman , Bath

On the general question of educational research and not necessarily on one limited to this initial teaching alphabet, will the Minister consider getting what one might call private enterprise munificence for educational research and in particular consider the organisation of regional research councils on the lines of the Cleveland, Ohio, Research Council on which a number of local authorities, in association with a number of the richer employers and general employers of the district, are organising and conducting very effective educational research into how local education may be improved and enabled better to serve their locality?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I assure my hon. Friend that I shall bear that point in mind.