HC Deb 19 April 1955 vol 540 cc17-9
30. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will request the Advisory Council on Secondary Education to investigate the reasons why children leave secondary schools which provide courses beyond the minimum school-leaving age, and to recommend steps to increase the proportion completing a full senior secondary course.

Mr. J. Stuart

The reasons why children leave senior secondary schools prematurely are well known, and I do not think that it would serve any useful purpose to reconstitute the Advisory Council with a view to its undertaking a further investigation into this matter. Steps are already being taken to try to increase the number of pupils who complete senior secondary courses.

Mr. Thomson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the wastage of ability in Scottish secondary schools is one of our major social problems, and that the English Advisory Committee recently furnished a most excellent Report, in which there was a great deal of fresh material? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think this matter requires the kind of expert investigation to which we have been accustomed from our own Advisory Committee in the past?

Mr. Stuart

I think that the English Report was very illuminating, but we received precisely similar information about a year before the English Report after asking the headmasters of secondary schools to give us their personal advice from knowledge of the subject.

Mr. Woodburn

Are we to take it from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that, because the reasons are well-known, he is quite satisfied that nothing more can be done? Is he aware that certain headmasters have attempted to find other methods of inducing these children to carry on with their studies, and have been successful? Is he prepared to investigate whether scientific and technical ability cannot be drawn upon to a greater extent by the adoption of some new methods of persuading these children to stay at school?

Mr. Stuart

I am not dealing only with scientific advancement at present. On the general question of non-completion of school terms, the reasons are perfectly clear, and we are doing what we can to take steps to counteract that. A pamphlet is being issued to parents to advise them on this subject. We are also considering circularising education authorities further on this subject, and will do our best to achieve the desired result.

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