§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Kenneth Lindsay)
My information as regards the first part of the question is very incomplete, but I have no reason to dissent from the estimate of the Departmental Committee on Private Schools that the number of such schools in England and Wales is in the neighbourhood of 10,000, and that they contain some 400,000 pupils of all ages. With regard to the second part of the question, 743 private schools, containing rather more than 90,000 pupils, are recognised by the Board as efficient. Among other conditions for such recognition, a school has to satisfy the Board that it is kept on a level of efficiency which is satisfactory and the premises must be healthy. I have no information as to the standard of health and education in the other private schools.
§ 63. Mrs. Tate
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether any action has been taken as a result of the recommendations of the Departmental Committee on Private Schools in 1932; and, if not, whether the Board proposes to take any steps to secure the registration and inspection of such schools.
§ Mr. Lindsay
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. As regards the second part of the question, I can hold out no hope of Parliamentary time being at present available for what will be a complicated and probably contentious measure. In addition, the local education authorities will be fully occupied, during the next few years, in exercising the duties and powers conferred on them by the Education Act, 1936, and in giving effect to the other parts of the Government's policy of educational reform; I should, therefore, be reluctant to add to their burdens at the present time by legislation in the direction which the hon. Member has in mind.
§ Mrs. Tate
In view of the very great discrepancy between the number of private schools and the number which satisfy no known standard, and in view of the unsatisfactory education given in some of the expensive schools in the country, is it not high time that the recommendations of the Committee were carried out?
§ Mr. Lindsay
I think it is high time, but it is just a question of which comes first. We must not overburden the local education authorities.
§ Mr. H. G. Williams
Is it riot the case that a large number of parents prefer to send their children to these schools instead of to the inspected fee-free State schools?