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National Curriculum

Volume 172: debated on Thursday 17 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he plans to accept the advice given to him by the National Curriculum Council on core skills for 16 to 19-year-olds.

I have today written to the National Curriculum Council (NCC), endorsing in principle the list of core skills it proposes, namely:

  • communication
  • problem solving
  • personal skills
  • numeracy
  • information technology
  • modern language competence.
I have also written to the School Examinations and Assessment Council (SEAC), asking it to use the list as the basis of further work. The NCC advised that the first three core skills should be built into all AS and A-levels, and that the remaining three should be built into syllabuses where this does not distort the nature of the subject. I have asked SEAC to advise me by the end of July on the practicability of building in the various core skills in this way. There must of course be no question of compromising the academic standards of AS and A-levels.I have also commended to SEAC the idea, put forward by the NCC, that the themes of social and economic understanding, scientific and technological understanding and aesthetic and creative understanding should be included as guiding principles for those who design syllabuses at AS and A-level.The NCC's report comments on how attainment in the core skills might be described; how it might be assessed and reported; and how credit transfer might be developed. These are all issues on which I have already invited advice from SEAC. I have therefore asked SEAC to comment on those sections of the NCC report when it gives its advice in July.Finally, NCC stresses in its report that the core skills it has identified are suitable not only for those taking AS and A-levels but for all young people aged 16 to 19. I have accordingly, with the agreement of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, asked the National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ), in consultation with the further education unit (FEU) and SEAC, to consider the applicability of the NCC list of core skills to vocational qualifications and report on this before the end of July.