HC Deb 23 February 1939 vol 344 cc560-1
58. Mr. T. Smith

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education how many nursery classes there were in England and Wales on 31st March, 1937; the numbers of children on the registers; and what percentage they represented of the total number of children aged three to five years in attendance at public elementary schools?

Mr. Lindsay

Local education authorities are not required to notify the Board of the establishment of nursery classes in public elementary schools and the Board's records with regard to such classes are not complete. I am unable therefore to give the hon. Member all the information he desires. Since the issue of Circular 1444 in January, 1936, up to the end of March, 1937, the Board approved capital expenditure by local education authorities for the provision of 77 nursery classes in public elementary schools with accommodation for 3,732 children. Up to the present time they have approved provision for 419 such classes with accommodation for 18,503 children.

Mr. Smith

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether nursery schools are justifying their existence where they have been established, and are the Board of Education satisfied with the progress that is being made in this direction?

Mr. Lindsay

I should say that they are completely justifying their existence and we are encouraging them.

Viscountess Astor

Is it not true that the children in nursery classes have very few of the advantages of children in open-air nursery schools, and is not this a cheap way of keeping from the children the advantages of those schools?

Mr. Lindsay

There are something like 20,000 children in nursery classes, and I do not think that anyone will complain of them.