School Admissions

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th July 1983.

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Photo of Mrs Angela Rumbold Mrs Angela Rumbold , Mitcham and Morden 12:00 am, 5th July 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is satisfied with the manner in which local education authorities are operating sections 6 and 7 of the Education Act 1980.

Photo of Mrs Angela Rumbold Mrs Angela Rumbold , Mitcham and Morden

I thank my hon. Friend for that interesting answer. Will he consider taking a sample of about 20 local education authorities and inquiring into the operation of sections 6 and 7 of the Education Act 1980, in order to satisfy the misgivings of some parents? Under section 6(5), I am talking about local authorities allowing parents to select out-of-borough schools, and under section 7 I am asking my right hon. Friend and the local authorities to consider whether the appeals committees are operating as fairly as they are supposed to.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

A parent who is dissatisfied with the school to which his child is allocated may now take his case to one of the independent local appeal committes set up to resolve such cases. Last year about 9,000 parents appealed in that way and about 3,000 were successful. However, I note my hon. Friend's point.

Photo of Mr Fred Silvester Mr Fred Silvester , Manchester, Withington

Is my hon. Friend aware that when those appeals are heard it is not uncommon for them to be turned down on the ground that too much strain would be put on the school's resources? Does it not follow that local authorities must be encouraged to match the necessary resources to meet the wishes of the parents, rather than the other way round?

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

It is for local education authorities to decide on the criteria to use when deciding whether to allocate pupils to oversubscribed schools. They have to be published, together with their determined admission limits for each school. In those matters we would expect local education authorities to have regard to the general educational interests of all the pupils in their area as well as the need to make efficient use of public expenditure.

Several Hon. Members:


Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I make a plea for shorter questions and shorter replies from the Front Bench. That is no criticism of the new Minister, whose answers have been a model.