Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 9:37 am on 19th July 1991.

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Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science) 9:37 am, 19th July 1991

Yes. That is exactly right.

As with city technology colleges, we have been seeing the same hostility to grant-maintained schools. On the other hand, some education authorities have been co-operative with grant-maintained schools. Indeed, some enlightened local education authorities have encouraged their schools to become grant maintained. They see it as a sign of maturity that their schools are ready to run their own affairs and control their own budgets. Other LEAs have been openly obstructive.

We find that, quite often, parents that are looking to choose a secondary school for their children have not been told about the grant-maintained school in their area. In Tameside, the grant-maintained school has been expelled from the technical and vocational education consortium working group. In Kirklees, grant-maintained teachers are excluded from national curriculum meetings. In Newham, the director of education wrote three days ago to parents selecting schools—his letter is dated 16 July—in these terms: Newham does not believe that the existence of this independent secondary school"— that is the Stratford grant-maintained school— is in the interests of the children of this borough. Newham has no responsibility at all for the education provided in this school and I am concerned about the ability of the school to provide a good education for your child since the numbers there are now so low. It is also the declared intention of Newham to begin procedures to close Stratford grant-maintained school at the earliest opportunity. This could be soon. You will obviously wish to be aware of this since it could have an effect on your child's education. That is the position at local level. At national level, the Labour party plans to reintegrate grant-maintained schools into the very LEAs from which they sought independence. It plans a sort of systematisation of grant-maintained schools. If the House thinks that that is too strong a word, I refer it to the words of Lord Peston, who is an Opposition Front-Bench spokesman in another place: These schools are a blot on the educational landscape and we shall do our best to remove them."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 12 July 1991; Vol. 530, c. 1594.]