HC Deb 13 July 1961 vol 644 c552
1. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Minister of Education if he will promote an official inquiry into the values or defects of the co-education system in England and Wales.

The Minister of Education (Sir David Eccles)

The general arguments for and against co-education are well known. I have on more than one occasion considered whether to set up an inquiry to investigate this controversial issue, but I found it impossible to establish criteria on which to compare the merits of the two types of school.

Mr. Smith

Would my right hon. Friend agree that many parents in certain districts resent very much the fact that they have no choice of a single-sex school for their children? Does not he think that such an inquiry would, in effect, give them very good official and expert guidance on the advantages or disadvantages of teaching boys and girls together?

Sir D. Eccles

I quite agree that parents differ. Some want one and some the other. But I cannot see how I could give them really useful guidance, because the criteria are so difficult to establish.

Mr. Wilkins

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the question of the values or defects in the co-education system is almost entirely dependent upon the location of the schools? For example, one in my constituency would be very welcome.

Sir D. Eccles

No doubt the location is an important point.