HC Deb 27 April 1961 vol 639 cc606-7
16. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Education what was the form of the investigation by his Department into the treatment of handicapped children at the Widdicombe House School, Stokenham; what did the investigation reveal; what action was taken to inform those concerned about the results; and what information he has on the effect on the school population, and particularly on the number of children now attending the school.

Mr. K. Thompson

Her Majesty's inspector and two of the Ministry's medical officers inspected Widdicombe House School and reported serious doubts as to the suitability of the school for pupils requiring special educational treatment. After the report and the proprietor's comments on it had been considered, all local education authorities were told that the school was unsuitable for the education of handicapped pupils for whom they are responsible and were asked to remove such children.

The school has re-started with privately-financed pupils. It will therefore be my right hon. Friend's duty to watch its progress carefully in pursuance of his obligations under Part III of the Education Act.

Mr. Dodds

I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his interest and for the statement he has made. Will he bear in mind that I am still receiving reports from local people in the district which refer to scandalous goings-on among children and the staff? Will he bear in mind that, whether the child is handicapped or is sent by the local authority, if the details are correct it is most unsuitable for any child to be in a school of this sort?

Mr. Thompson

I assure the House that my right hon. Friend's duty under Part III of the Act will be very seriously observed.