Parents (Choice of School)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd February 1961.

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Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West 12:00 am, 23rd February 1961

asked the Minister of Education to what extent he allows parents a choice of school in accordance with the terms of the Education Act. 1944.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

Local education authorities, who control admissions to county schools, must have regard to the wishes of the parents so far as they are compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure. If parents appeal to me against an authority's decision I also must have regard to the same principle. I have given authorities some general guidance in a "Manual on Choice of Schools", a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member.

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

Is the Minister aware that in a recent case, details of which I sent to him, involving the Gloucestershire County Education Authority and Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Sayell, the county authority's unreasonable refusal to grant permission of choice of school to those parents has caused great concern in the locality? Is he also aware that the rural district council has passed a resolution on the matter condemning the county authority, and will he reconsider his decision not to uphold the two parents concerned?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I have great sympathy with the parents, but the fact remains that the school to which they wished their children to go was the same size as the other school and had seventy-four more pupils. I think that we must allow the local education authority to prevent some schools from being overcrowded at the expense of others.