HC Deb 26 April 1956 vol 551 cc1959-60
29. Mr. Moss

asked the Minister of Education the number of the secondary school population at the latest available date; and how they are divided among secondary grammar, secondary modern and secondary technical schools, comprehensive schools, and any combination within the tripartite system.

Sir D. Eccles

In January, 1955, there were about 1,915,000 pupils in the maintained and assisted secondary schools of England and Wales. As the answer to the second part of the Question contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Moss

May we assume that the figures show that the overwhelming majority of the secondary school population is in secondary modern schools or secondary modern departments? In view of paragraph 21 of the White Paper on Secondary Education, will the right hon. Gentleman say what steps he is going to take to give secondary modern schools a status so that they can provide the basic requirements of education without which further education in technical colleges will be a failure?

Sir D. Eccles

The hon. Member will see that there are about 1¼ million children in secondary modern schools, against 528,000 in grammar schools and 87,000 in technical secondary schools. I agree that we need to raise the status of the secondary modern school, but that is happening all the time and the experiments that are going on are very successful.

Miss Lee

Does the Minister realise that there is the utmost sympathy on this side of the House with the desire to improve technical and scientific education? Does he further realise that that involves a great deal of expensive equipment and that the only rational way to tackle it is to abandon this foolish division at 11-plus into secondary modern and secondary grammar schools and give children an opportunity to be educated in democratic fashion in comprehensive schools?

Sir D. Eccles

That does not follow at all. The new secondary modern schools have very good laboratories. The difficulty is going to be in obtaining specialist teachers.

Following are the figure:

Numbers of pupils in maintained and assisted secondary schools in England and Wales in January, 1955
Modern 1,234,174
Grammar 528,455
Technical 87,366
Bilateral 46,540
Multilateral 2,388
Comprehensive 15,891
Total 1,914,814

In addition, 198,752 senior pupils were attending primary all-age schools on that date.