EDUCATION – STANDARDS – 12 July 2001

Dr Julian Lewis: I cannot enlighten my hon. Friend [Theresa May] on the difficulties either of the alphabet soup of examinations or of the quagmire of regulations that the Government are laying before the country.

I am slightly troubled by a remark that my hon. Friend made earlier, and perhaps she will expand on it for my benefit and that of the House. If we are saying that we have something as a gold standard for excellence, and if we are saying also that we nevertheless want other examinations at a different standard for breadth, what was wrong with the system that we had before any of the new examinations were introduced? Those who were not particularly likely to shine academically were trained up vocationally in apprenticeships, rather than gaining paper academic qualifications at a lower level than the gold standard, and were more qualified.