HC Deb 26 June 1924 vol 175 cc573-4
37. Colonel Sir CHARLES YATE

asked the President of the Board of Education what is the certain proportion of scholars that school authorities are required by Regulation to admit free to secondary schools; whether these scholars are admitted free at the cost of the local ratepayers, whether their educational abilities are certified to be fit for it or not; and what proportion of these scholars complete their full time at the secondary schools?


The minimum percentage of free places required to be offered annually is ordinarily 25 per cent. of the total number of pupils admitted to the school during the previous year, but a lower percentage is allowed in particular cases. The primary responsibility for offering free places rests upon the local education authority or governing body providing the school. Whether the cost of a free place at a school not provided by an authority falls upon the rates depends upon the nature and extent of the rate aid, if any, given to the particular school. No candidates, whether free-place or fee-paying, may be admitted unless they pass the necessary entrance test. All pupils are expected to stay at least until the age of 16. Of the 25,000 free-place pupils who left in the school year 1921–22, 61.5 per cent. were over 36, the average age of leaving being 16 years 5 months. These figures represent an improvement on previous years, and the improvement is still continuing.


Has the right hon. Gentleman any power to compel some local authorities who charge extraordinary fees for secondary education to reduce them?


That is a different question, but I am considering it.


Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the feepaying pupils in secondary schools are inferior in calibre to those given free places?


I think that that is too bold a generalisation.


Is the test imposed on entrants to these schools one that is really commensurate with their benefiting by their studies?


Yes, Sir, the test is quite an effective one, taking the country all round.