HC Deb 10 May 1951 vol 487 cc2133-4
15. Dr. King

asked the Minister of Education if he is aware of the increasing number of children who leave grammar schools on reaching the age of 15 years; and if he will introduce legislation whereby parents accepting grammar school places for their children will under take to keep them at school until the age of 16 years.

Mr. Tomlinson

I am well aware of this problem. I do not think, however, that it is one which can profitably be dealt with by legislation. The latest figures do not show any increase in the percentages of pupils leaving grant-aided grammar schools before the age of 16.

Dr. King

Is my right hon. Friend aware that when a child takes up a place in a grammar school and does not complete the course, some other child is deprived of grammar school education, and that the child suffers and education suffers? Is my right hon. Friend further aware that in various parts of the country these numbers are increasing, and will he give some attention to this serious matter?

Mr. Tomlinson

I have been giving attention to it. The situation which my hon. Friend describes has always been with us. A change is taking place because of the freeing of secondary education all round.

Mr. Chetwynd

Can my right hon. Friend give the figures or percentages involved?

Mr. Tomlinson

The percentage of pupils leaving grant-aided grammar schools before the age of 16 are as follow: 1948–49: boys, 23.4; girls, 26.0; 1949–50: boys, 22.4; girls, 25.0. That leaves out of account, however, all those who were in the secondary modern schools.

Mr. Awbery

Can my right hon. Friend make it an offence for an employer to offer a job to a boy or girl who has not completed his or her term in a grammar school?

Mr. Slater

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is sufficient autonomy for the education authorities to deal with this matter, and would he not agree that it would be wrong to interfere with such powers?