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"A Framework For The School Curriculum"

Volume 982: debated on Tuesday 1 April 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations or comment he has received so far on his paper "A Framework for the School Curriculum", and if he will make a statement on the progress of discussions.

My noble Friend the Minister of State met the local authority associations in mid-March in the first of a series of consultative meetings with national bodies in the education service and outside. Written comments on the curriculum framework proposals have been received from a wide range of bodies and individuals, and more are expected.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend say whether his proposals are being welcomed generally? Will he state how he proposes to implement the outcome of the discussions in practice in schools?

I am glad to say that our proposals have been generally welcomed. As to their implementation, I hope that as a result of the consultations that have begun agreement will be reached between the various bodies on what should form the basic curriculum in any school. On the strength of that, we propose to issue another document later in the year setting out guidance.

In view of the great damage being done to the school curriculum by the cuts in education funds, will the Secretary of State say whether he is prepared to drop the £30 million assisted places scheme for public schools and use that money for State sector education?

First, I do not accept the promise of the hon. Gentleman, who speaks for the Liberal Party. Secondly, £30 million is a figure that he has plucked out of the air. Thirdly, I believe that the fact that we are seeking a 6½ per cent. reduction in expenditure over the next five years on secondary and primary education at a time when the school population is dropping by 13 per cent. is totally compatible with maintaining standards.