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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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?