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Secondary Education (Selection of Children)

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th May 1957.

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Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham 12:00 am, 9th May 1957

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education how far his Department's Regulations require local education authorities to hold an examination of pupils approaching the end of the primary stage of education and to allocate them to different types of secondary school in accordance with the results of that examination.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

There is no such requirement in my noble Friend's Regulations.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

May we take it that it is quite clear that if a local education authority decides not to use this examination, it is still keeping within the law?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I think we might put the matter in this way. Under the law laid down in the Education Act, a local education authority must secure that sufficient schools are available in its area. "Sufficient" is defined to include a variety of instruction and training for different ages, abilities and aptitudes. Where my noble Friend's approval is required for proposals involving any organisation or reorganisation of schools, he considers the proposals on their educational merits.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

While I would express my appreciation of the objections to the present examination system, will my hon. Friend bear in mind that some parents are very apprehensive lest an alternative system should be one which might expose children to favouritism by masters?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

What a silly question.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

We debated the subject fairly thoroughly on 5th April and I do not think we can debate it again now. The Question related specifically to Regulations.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

May we take it from the answer to the supplementary question of my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) that there is no requirement, either in law or in Regulations, compelling local authorities to hold any specific type of test when they allocate children between different schools?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

All I would say is that I think it is more helpful to state as clearly as possible what the duties of local education authorities are—which is what I was trying to do in my answer.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East

Further to the supplementary question asked by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that those of us who are parents and are at this moment awaiting the result of the 11-plus examination are as apprehensive about that as we should be about any alternative form of examination?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I always try, when I can, to keep out of disagreements between Welsh hon. Members in this House.

Mr. Jennings:

Will my hon. Friend remember that whatever system is adopted for the selection of children, selection will always be inevitable whatever may be the age at which we may decide children have to go into different secondary school streams?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

That is a fascinating subject, but it is going a little wide of the Question.