HC Deb 13 July 1961 vol 644 cc559-60
12. Mr. Peyton

asked the Minister of Education if, in view of the fact that in most European countries education is not compulsory, until a child reaches the age of 6 years, he will consider making attendance at school optional until a child is 6 years old.

Sir D. Eccles

No, Sir. I do not think this proposal would be in the interests of the children or welcomed by their parents.

Mr. Peyton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are some parents who are genuinely concerned about their children's individual needs and that this might be worth looking at again, instead of brushing it off quite as lightly as he appears to have done?

Sir D. Eccles

I can assure my hon. Friend that the age at which children go to school is not a light matter at all but is one about which we often think with great care.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will the Minister consider whether it is not desirable that parents who feel strongly about this matter should have discretion to keep a child under 6, but over 5, at home in the afternoons so that the start to school is not quite as sharp and absolute as it is at present? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that this is the practice at a large number of private schools to which children aged 5 are sent?

Sir D. Eccles

My hon. Friend is quite right in saying that the organisation of the school day is something that is always worth looking at, and I will bear the point in mind.