Curriculum Reviews

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1995.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms , Newham North East 12:00 am, 27th June 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment she has made of the experience in other countries of permanent standing bodies to review the school curriculum in key subject areas. [29119]

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority is charged with keeping all aspects of the school curriculum under review. In so doing, it takes account of experience in other countries.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms , Newham North East

I thank the Minister for that response. Is he aware of the growing concern about the effectiveness of the current ad hoc arrangements for curriculum review, not least because those who are undertaking the review are thrown together for a short while and barely have time to get on top of the subject, let alone come up with effective review proposals? Will the Minister comment on the possibility—it is a proposal that is attracting wide support—of introducing standing review committees on the model that has been adopted in other countries?

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

As for experience in other countries, the SCAA has asked for, and circulated, information from 11 other countries. As for our own arrangements, the hon. Gentleman will know that we have only recently, on the back of an almost unprecedented consultation exercise, revised the national curriculum. He will know also from correspondence from its chief executive that the authority is most anxious to continue dialogue with practitioners and to continue to take their advice.

Photo of Mr Michael Stephen Mr Michael Stephen , Shoreham

Even though spending per pupil on education has risen enormously during this Government's life, is my hon. Friend not concerned that far too many children are leaving school with little or no understanding of the basic events of our nation's history? Is it that children arc specialising too early'? Will he keep the matter under review?

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

My hon. Friend will realise that we have recently had a massive revision of the national curriculum to make it slimmed down and more manageable. The teaching of history, especially English history, has featured largely in that review. I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that, while we believe that the proper basis for teaching has now been secured, we shall continue to monitor its effects. We share my hon. Friend's determination to ensure higher and more demanding standards of performance.

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien , North Warwickshire

The Minister can review the curriculum all he wants, but Warwickshire is facing larger class sizes and 172 teachers losing their jobs this year, lowering education standards. Does he understand that we shall not see the standards that children deserve in the county that I represent in part?

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will want to remind his constituents that the teacher count in January was 2,500 greater than the year before. I am sure also that he will want to join me in welcoming the reduction in the work load of teachers that has been brought about by the slimming down of the national curriculum.