HC Deb 31 March 1949 vol 463 cc1451-2
65. Commander Maitland

asked the Minister of Education whether he will issue an instruction to local educational authorities who have established comprehensive schools that children in those areas are not to be debarred from taking the county examination for grammar school education.

Mr. Tomilnson

No, Sir. Comprehensive schools are intended to provide all forms of secondary education.

Commander Maitland

in view of the fact that the 1944 Act places very great importance on the right of parents to choose the sort of free education that they want for their children, will be reconsider this matter and ask the local authority to give more consideration to the desires of parents as to how their children shall be educated?

Mr. Tomlinson

I would point out that if a parent considers himself aggrieved as a consequence of the setting up of a comprehensive school, he can appeal to the Minister; but I do not think the hon. Member should ask me to prejudge a case which has not arisen.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

Does not the Minister realise that this means that children in areas where there are some comprehensive schools, are debarred from going to a grammar school; that this is not equality of opportunity, but prevents the child of poor parents from having the chance to get to a university? They cannot get to the university.

Mr. Tomlinson

The original answer intimated that a comprehensive school is expected to provide all forms of secondary education.

Mr. Lindsay

But it does not. That is the point.

Mrs. Leah Manning

It does.

Mr. Tomlinson

Only three of these schools have been organised within the last 12 months, and even the hon. Gentleman cannot decide upon the experiment in that time. It has to run for at least five years before anyone can say with confidence what can and what cannot be done. Many children have gone from similar types of schools to universities.

Mr. Lindsay

I must press this point. It is perfectly well known that these schools are of such a size that it is impossible to have a proper sixth form, and that these children are deprived of the opportunity of reaching the university, and that is unfair.

Mr. Tomlinson

It is exactly for the reason given by the hon. Gentleman that I have asked the committee to look again to see that the opportunity is given. A school can remain a comprehensive school and give all the opportunities for which the hon. Gentleman is asking.