HC Deb 29 April 1988 vol 132 cc277-8W
Mr. Robert G. Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has received the report of the committee established to advise on what children should know about language; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

I am publishing today the report of the committee chaired by Sir John Kingman. I asked the committee to advise what, in general terms, children need to know about the English language, and in consequence what they should have been taught and be expected to understand on this score at ages 7, 11 and 16. I am grateful to the committee for its hard work. It has produced an interesting report which will contribute to discussion about the teaching of the English language and about the importance of the grammatical structure of the language and of the correct use of the spoken word.

English is one of the core subjects in the national curriculum as proposed in the Education Reform Bill now before Parliament. I am now appointing a working group on English to make recommendations for attainment targets and programmes of study for English as a whole. The working group's terms of reference are set out in the table. I am specifically asking the English working group to take account of the relevant recommendations of the Kingman committee in its work on attainment targets and programmes of study.

The working group will be chaired by Professor Brian Cox, Pro-Vice Chancellor and John Edward Taylor Professor of English Literature at Manchester University. Its membership will be:

  • Mrs. Diane Billups, Head of Broughton Junior School, South Humberside.
  • Ms. Linda Cookson, Senior Tutor, Cental School of Speech and Drama.
  • Mr. Roald Dahl, Writer.
  • Mr. Roger Samways, Adviser for English and drama, Dorest LEA.
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  • Professor David Skilton, Head of Department of English, UWIST; designated Head of the School of English Studies. Journalism and Philosophy at the new University of Wales College of Cardiff.
  • Mr. Brian Slough, Deputy Head, Kettering Boys' School, Northamptonshire.
  • Professor Michael Stubbs, Professor of Education with special reference to the teaching of English in Education, Department of English and Media Studies, University of London Institute of Education.
  • Dr. Charles Suckling, Chairman, Bradbury, Suckling & Partners Ltd, Scientific Consultants, member of Kingman Committee.

I expect the group to begin work in early May.

I shall be considering the Kingman committee's other detailed recommendations in due course in the light of public comment on its report and of the English working group's recommendations.