HC Deb 21 February 1963 vol 672 cc626-7
24. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the Minister of Education if he will state the percentage proportion of places available in grammar schools in Cardiff; and the comparable percentages for 1935 and 1945.

Sir E. Boyle

In January, 1962, 23.6 per cent. of all pupils aged 13 in maintained schools in the City of Cardiff attended grammar schools. If direct grant schools are included, the percentage is 25.2. Similar figures for 1935 and 1945 are not available.

Mr. Thomas

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he is fortunate in those figures not being available, because they would reveal to him that it is much more difficult for a child in 1963 to get a grammar school place in Cardiff than it was in 1945 or 1935, on both of which dates I happened to be teaching in the city? Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me what steps he is taking to give the youngsters of 1963 an opportunity equal to that given to those of the last generation?

Sir E. Boyle

I can tell the hon. Member that the figures for 1962 were better than those for 1961. The figure I quoted, of 23.6 per cent. for 1962, compares with 21.8 per cent. for 1961. Of course, I know the very splendid concern felt in Wales for grammar school education, but I think that 23 to 25 per cent. is not an unreasonable figure of places, although I am ready to receive representations by letter from the hon. Member if he cares to make them.

Mrs. White

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Wales is dissatisfied with the proportion of 23 to 25 per cent.? We believe that a larger portion of children are capable of benefiting from this type of education and that the Cardiff average is one of the lowest in Wales.

Sir E. Boyle

I deliberately phrased my answer as moderately as I could because I have always admired the Welsh concern for selective education—[Hors. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—grammar school education; I should not use tendentious words. Since I have been back at the Ministry I have on more than one occasion expressed the view that over the years it is a good thing if the percentage of those receiving the grammar school type of education rises. The point I was making is that the trend in Cardiff has been upwards in recent years. As I said, I will be ready to hear what the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) has to say about this.