Assisted Places Scheme

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th March 1988.

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Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke 12:00 am, 15th March 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total number of assisted places in (a) 1980–81 and (b) 1987–88.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

In the academic year 1981–82, when the assisted places scheme was first introduced, a total of 5,596 places were available in England and Wales for pupils entering the scheme at the various ages of entry. In 1987–88 there is a total of 34,005 places available for take-up in the scheme throughout the secondary age range.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

Does my hon. Friend agree that those figures show just how much the Government have done for parental choice in allowing children to go to schools where they will be able to have the education that they need? Will he say how many children have been given the opportunity to go to schools where they can be given special opportunities to study ballet and music?

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I welcome my hon. Friend's endorsement of the excellent scheme. Since September 1987 some 499 pupils have gained places under the aided pupils scheme. This scheme deals with music and ballet, in which my hon. Friend is interested.

Photo of Mr Derek Fatchett Mr Derek Fatchett , Leeds Central

How, when the Government are prepared to spend £4,000 per year on some children for some assisted places, can they regard the expenditure of 60 per cent. of that sum in ILEA schools to be overspending?

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

That comment is entirely worthy of the hon. Gentleman. It is because of the ideological hatred of the scheme that we are determined to make it work and see it extended over a period of time.