HC Deb 27 April 1961 vol 639 cc605-6
14. Mr. P. Browne

asked the Minister of Education if he is satisfied that the increasing rate at which village schools are being closed is in the best interests both of the children and the rural community as a whole; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Kenneth Thompson)

Proposals to close village schools require my right hon. Friend's approval, and objections can be taken. The facts of each case are very carefully considered before a decision is made. Approval is not given to any proposal against the interests of the children. My right hon. Friend believes that local education authorities have the same considerations in mind.

Mr. P. Browne

I agree that the interests of the children come first, but is my hon. Friend aware that it would appear that many local education authorities plan the concentration of children by the map without paying special attention to the human element in the interests of the children themselves? Is he further aware that many teachers say that, because of this concentration of schools, children having to travel long distances are much more difficult to teach when they get to the other end?

Mr. Thompson

Those are the considerations which my right hon. Friend has to balance very carefully when he is reaching a decision on these proposals. I assure the House that they are taken very carefully into account.