§ Sir Hector Monro
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has received the report of the committee established under the chairmanship of Professor John Howie to review curriculum and examinations in the fifth and sixth years of Scottish secondary schools.
§ Mr. Lang
I am glad to announce the publication today of the report of the committee which we appointed to review the curriculum and examinations in the fifth and sixth years of secondary education. As education Minister I initiated this study in 1990 and I am most grateful to Professor Howie and to his colleagues for a thorough and 261W comprehensive review of this important area of school education and for their thoughtful and challenging recommendations.
There is no doubt that we must aim to have in Scotland a system of secondary education which draws the best from our traditions, and which compares well with the best that is available in Europe and beyond. We must ensure that there are appropriate qualifications in place to match the needs of the increasing number of pupils who are staying on after the fourth year—already 70 per cent.—to find a rewarding and relevant education.
At the same time, changes of the dimension now recommended by the Howie committee need careful deliberation and wide consultation within the education system before they are introduced.
I have decided therefore to publish this major report now and to invite all interested parties to comment on it in the period running to the end of this year. To assist this process we are arranging for the report summary to be printed separately and to be made available free of charge from the Scottish Office Education Department.
Professor Howie and his committee have produced a report of quality and authority. It deserves to be considered with care and without undue haste. I hope no one will rush to judgment, but rather that we will all study his proposals thoroughly and reflect on the way forward.