HC Deb 05 July 1951 vol 489 cc2476-7
18. Mr. Morley

asked the Minister of Education, for the last scholastic year, what proportion of boys and girls, respectively, left the grammar schools before completing the full course up to the age of 17 or 18.

Mr. Hardman

In the educational year 1949–50 64.5 per cent. of the boys and 66.7 per cent. of the girls leaving grant-aided grammar schools were under 17. The comparable percentages of those leaving before 18 were 79.3 and 83.1 respectively.

Mr. Morley

In view of the great need for administrators, technologists and scientists what is my hon. Friend's Department doing to persuade a greater proportion of boys and girls to stay on to the age of 17 or 18 in the grammar schools?

Mr. Hardman

My right hon. Friend and I are very anxious that everything should be done to increase the length of the school life in the grammar schools. We are not in favour of legislation in regard to this, but we are in favour of attempting to persuade the local authorities, governing bodies and headmasters, to do everything they can to persuade parents that it is invaluable for those having a grammar school education to complete the full course up to 18 years of age.

Miss Bacon

Does my right hon. Friend think that the adoption of more comprehensive schools would lead to more children staying at school beyond the age of 15?

Mr. Hardman

That is an experiment which will have to be tried over a number of years before I can answer that question. The picture is perhaps not as black as I have suggested, because the total number of pupils at maintained grammar schools in 1950 at the age of 18 was 14,000 boys and 13,000 girls, compared with 7,000 boys and 6,000 girls in 1938.

Mr. Sidney Marshall

Will the Minister consider the question in regard to the answer he gave whereby boys and girls in grammar schools are now leaving before they are 17. because local authorities find that persuasion is now insufficient and are losing pupils even before they are 16?

Mr. Hardman

If my hon. Friend has any suggestions to make to us, we shall gladly listen to them.