General Certificate of Secondary Education

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27 April 1987.

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Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Clwyd North West 12:00, 27 April 1987

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received on the adequacy of resources for the general certificate of secondary education examinations.

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

I have had representations from about 35 individuals and organisations.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Clwyd North West

Are not the resources available for the examination, whose introduction was very warmly supported by the main teachers' unions, perfectly adequate provided that the teachers' unions, which have now received a very large pay award, are prepared to show the very minimum of co-operation to make the new scheme work, rather than seeking to wreck the whole education system in pursuit of wage claims?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The teachers' unions were foremost in calling for a single examination at 16. Massive preparations followed the decision taken by the Government in 1984. Alas, the training that we provided was disrupted and boycotted during the industrial action last year. I note that the NAS/UWT is still highly critical of the GCSE, for which it called. Additional resources have been made available. Current education spending has been increased by 11 per cent. for Wales this year under the rate support grant settlement. We have given special assistance over three years of £2·4 million, and of £1 million additionally for INSET training over a period of two years. I am glad to say that local education authorities in Wales have increased their capitation allowances to provide additional funds for the GCSE.

Photo of Mr Barry Jones Mr Barry Jones Shadow Secretary of State

For the examination to go well the teachers' morale must be restored, because the Government have destroyed that morale. Is it not the case that the Government have destroyed the teachers' free negotiating machinery? Has not the Secretary of State for Education and Science chosen to take greater powers over teachers than any Minister in peacetime, with the Secretary of State for Wales embarrassingly on his coat-tails?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

Is it not the fact that the Government had to take that action and Parliament had to pass the relevant Act because of the inability of the unions to come to an agreement? With regard to the hon. Gentleman's point about destroying morale, I am sure that many workers in the country would like to have a 16·4 per cent. increase imposed upon them, over 18 months.