Significant improvements have been made in primary school standards over the past 12 years, and this year’s results are 17 per cent. higher than those of 1997. However, we recognise that there is still more to do to ensure that all children receive a world-class education. Our recent White Paper signalled a new approach to primary school improvement, which will include a comprehensive package of support for schools. We will be announcing detailed plans on that later in the week.
In seeking to raise primary school standards further, will the Minister look specifically at the teaching of British history, beginning right at the beginning of the curriculum and going through to secondary education, because nothing dismays me more than discovering while taking school parties around the Palace of Westminster that great chunks of British life and history are not known by them. Will the Minister take a serious look at this matter?
The hon. Lady will be reassured to know that British history is in the primary curriculum. We have just gone through a major consultation on the Rose proposals in respect of changes to the primary curriculum and we will bring forward legislation on that shortly.
While improvements in academic standards are, of course, always welcome, like the rest of us my hon. Friend realises that catchment area plays a crucial role in respect of what young people can achieve. When are we going to start putting more emphasis on the added value that schools bring to young people?
Of course we must recognise that added value is very important, but we should celebrate the fact that our young people are leaving primary school better able to read, write and do their sums. Whereas in 1997 only 43 per cent. of our children could read, write and do their maths, the figure is now 61 per cent., and that is very good. Obviously, we need to improve further, but we have made vast improvements in the past 12 years.