HC Deb 20 May 1954 vol 527 cc2280-1
32. Sir H. Williams

asked the Minister of Education the cost of maintaining a child at the London County Council residential school at Wolverstone, Surrey.

Miss Horsbrugh

This school is not in Surrey but in Suffolk. I am informed that for 1952–53, the latest for which detailed figures are available, the annual cost per head, after deducting parental contributions and other income, is estimated to have been about £370. This includes some £35 for loan charges and about £56 for tuition.

Sir H. Williams

Since the maintenance cost in this school is higher than at Eton, Borstal or Haileybury, will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of closing it down and transferring the children to one or other of those three eminent educational institutions?

Miss Horsbrugh

The future of the school has been under consideration for some time, and I recently invited the London County Council to discuss the problem with me.

Mr. M. Stewart

May I ask the right hon. Lady whether the school has, at present, a full complement of pupils, and whether the cost of running it would not be favourably affected if certain alterations which it was hoped to carry out on the premises were carried out? Would the right hon. Lady not also agree that very little help is to be expected from people who have only just found out in which county the school is situated?

Miss Horsbrugh

It does not very much matter whether the school is in Surrey or Suffolk. The point is that it is administered by the London County Council, and the London County Council fully realises that the present position cannot continue. Even if the roll was increased to 245 the cost per head would be expected to be £300. London County Council attributes the high cost to the nature of the buildings, which are largely huts scattered over 53 acres, and various other factors, but I think the best thing is for me to discuss the problem fully with the London County Council first and see what arrangements we can make.

Mr. Ian Harvey

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is an important educational development which ought to be encouraged?

Miss Horsbrugh

I agree that we should encourage the idea of boarding school education. Many people want it, but we have to look into the question of how it can be provided more economically than at present it seems possible to provide it at this school.

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