Orders of the Day — Educational Expenditure (Priorities)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th April 1951.

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Photo of Mr George Tomlinson Mr George Tomlinson , Farnworth 12:00 am, 17th April 1951

All I was doing was answering the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam, who, when invited to mention a single place where there was a child of six out of school, pointed to the general fact that they were going to private schools because no county school was available for them.

I was told that there is still the problem of the all-age school. I realise that there are such problems and I am sorry for it. There ought not to be. As Minister of Education, I ought never to have had to deal with a problem of all-age schools, and the fact that I have that problem and that we cannot deal with it as quickly as we ought to do, is one of the things that worries me. It means that some of the new housing authorities, who, because of their situation, are receiving sanction to build a new school, are taking places which would have been provided for those in all-age schools if the programme had not had to be cut to meet the requirements of the present situation. I visualise that some day the all-age schools will be swept away, but that will not be just yet.

The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Brook) spoke of the bigger proportion of children of five years of age who were in school. It is a fact that today there is a large number—about 91 per cent. at the end of 1950—of children aged five in public primary schools. There has never before at any period in our history been more than 91 per cent.

Now may I deal briefly with this Amendment and what we are doing in regard to it. As I do so, I will pick up the questions that were asked. It is quite clear that there are still many pupils in maintained primary schools in classes with more than 40 on the register. Nobody has attempted to deny that. It is a fact, and it will remain a fact until we can produce the buildings and the teachers who will enable us to overcome it.