Primary and Secondary Reorganisation Schemes

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th May 1971.

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Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Walthamstow West 12:00 am, 6th May 1971

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will list, at the latest available date, those local education authorities which have not submitted to her any scheme for reorganisation of their secondary education on comprehensive lines.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science

The majority of authorities had submitted plans before June, 1970. Plans have no statutory significance, and there is now no obligation to submit them. With permission, I will circulate more detailed information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Walthamstow West

Is it not time that local education authorities were asked to end the selection and segregation of children at 11-plus, since it is a policy which is generally agreed now to be both socially divisive and educationally unsound?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science

No, Sir. I think it important that local authorities should carry out the duty laid upon them to provide schools for the varying aptitudes and abilities of the children—but so far no Government have told them precisely how they should discharge those duties.

Following is the information:

Authorities which have never submitted plans:

  • Bournemouth.
  • Bucks.
  • Bury.
  • Norfolk.
  • Salford.
  • Torbay.
  • Warley.
  • Westmorland.
  • Worcester.

Authorities whose plans were rejected before June, 1970, and which have not submitted revised plans:

  • Bolton.
  • Birmingham.
  • Gloucester.
  • Hillingdon.
  • Harrow.
  • Nottingham.
  • Plymouth.
  • Reading.
  • Sutton.

Photo of Mr Christopher Woodhouse Mr Christopher Woodhouse , Oxford

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will take steps to ensure that the schemes of reorganisation of primary and secondary schools in county boroughs once approved by her Department are not withdrawn as a consequence of local government reform.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science

Reorganisation plans have no statutory significance, and they can be altered at any time. Changes in character of a school can only be effected under the procedure laid down under Section 13 of the Education Act, 1944.

Photo of Mr Christopher Woodhouse Mr Christopher Woodhouse , Oxford

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some county councils are already beginning to assume that they will take control of the county boroughs which are to be amalgamated with them and are threatening to upset schemes of educational reorganisation which have already been passed by the local authority concerned and approved by her predecessor in office? Is it not desirable that there should be safeguards to prevent this from happening, and are there sufficient safeguards in the terms of her answer?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science

These are administrative procedures in regard to reorganisation plans. The actual changes are safeguarded by the statutory procedure.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Bristol North East

Will my right hon. Friend take particular note of the creation of Area 26 comprising parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset, where there is a fear, at both ends of the new authority, that the situation outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) may happen? Will she do everything in her power further to allay the fears that have been expressed by parents of children attending the Downend Church of England School, to which I have drawn her attention previously?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science

The procedure does not vary with the area, but I hope that parents and electors who feel strongly about any proposed change will write to the Department after a Section 13 notice has been issued. That is the only way by which we can at the moment effectively consider their views.