City Technololgy Colleges

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th January 1992.

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Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South 12:00 am, 28th January 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the current number of established city technology colleges.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Secretary of State for Education and Science

Thirteen city technology colleges are already established, and two more will be open by autumn next year. The extension of CTC principles and practice into the rest of state education is also under way. I announced on 15 January the establishment, with the joint support of British Aerospace, of Hutton grammar school in Lancashire as the first voluntary-aided technology school. We are receiving many worthwhile bids from schools wishing to become technology schools in response to the announcement we made of the availability of capital funds for this purpose.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

Is not it the truth that CTCs have emerged only as a result of the lavish use of taxpayers' money to prop them up? Will the Secretary of State accept that in Bradford, the capital expenditure on one CTC is roughly the equivalent of the whole of the capital expenditure for one year awarded by the Government, but Bradford public schools are in dire need of expenditure? Is not it true that the Government's attitude towards CTCs is private affluence and, towards the rest of the education system, public squalor?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Secretary of State for Education and Science

The Mickey Mouse figures on CTC expenditure that critics in Bradford tend to use compare capital expenditure on schools starting from scratch with that for existing schools that do not have to be built. The funding of CTCs is on a par with that of other local education authority schools, and their recurrent funding will not be different from that of other schools in their areas. CTCs offer education opportunities to children of all abilities—particularly those drawn from the most deprived parts of the cities that they serve. It is unbelievably churlish if, for ideological reasons, the hon. Gentleman remains hostile to the best innovation in Bradford for years, while defending a local authority that had the worst results in the country in the recent tests for seven-year-olds.

Photo of Mr William Powell Mr William Powell , Corby

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the establishment of city technology colleges—not least among them, Brooke CTC in Corby —provides a model for the future normal state schooling system? Will he take urgent steps to ensure that the spread of city technology colleges is accelerated as quickly as possible? I welcome my right hon. and learned Friend's school technology initiative, and hope that he will favour Our Lady and Pope John school in Corby for funding under that scheme.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Secretary of State for Education and Science

I am closely following the progress of Brooke CTC, the site of which I visited only recently. I know how popular and successful it has become. I agree with my hon. Friend that the next important consequence to flow from the CTC programme is that the benefits of all the curriculum development work undertaken by CTCs will spread to the rest of the education system. The technology initiative is an important element in that.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

Whatever the difference of view held across the House, given that CTCs are funded by public money, will the Secretary of State take urgent steps to give parents whose children are refused admission to them the same right of appeal that is available in respect of all other publicly-funded schools?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Secretary of State for Education and Science

I view CTCs as exemplifying the principle of parental choice that operates in many other parts of the education system. I will certainly consider the hon. Gentleman's point, because it is our aim to put CTC's on a level with others in regard to funding and other aspects. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising such a point, rather than displaying the ridiculous opposition that we have seen from Labour, which still seems pledged to getting rid of some of the finest schools in the state education system.