Reading Research (National Centre)

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th December 1968.

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Photo of Mr Michael Barnes Mr Michael Barnes , Brentford and Chiswick 12:00 am, 5th December 1968

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to set up a national centre for reading research.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

No, Sir. I do not think this is necessary.

Photo of Mr Michael Barnes Mr Michael Barnes , Brentford and Chiswick

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the recent publication, "Crisis in the Classroom", underlines the need for improving standards of literacy in primary schools? Is it not the case that at the moment many technical advances in the teaching of reading are not passed on because there is no body to do this job?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I do not think the publication to which my hon. Friend has referred gives a balanced picture. There have been four-yearly surveys of reading ability since 1948. These show steadily rising standards. In addition, a great deal of research is being done on the I.T.A. Some of it was instituted by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) and, since then, the Schools Council has instituted more.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Longden Mr Gilbert Longden , South West Hertfordshire

Does not all this recent research reveal that because trainee teachers in colleges of education are not being taught how to teach a child to read, the standard of literacy in our schools is abysmally low and getting lower?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

The hon. Gentleman could not be more wrong about anything than he is about that. The quality of teaching in the primary and infant schools has improved out of all recognition over the last two decades.