HC Deb 12 November 1964 vol 701 cc1179-81
17. Mr. Hornby

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received from the National Union of Teachers concerning the reorganisation of secondary education in Bristol and other areas; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. M. Stewart

I have received no representations from the National Union of Teachers on secondary reorganisation proposals in Bristol or any other specific areas. I have been sent a copy of a memorandum prepared jointly by the National Union of Teachers and the Joint Four secondary teachers associations on reorganisation of secondary education generally. I have asked my Department to arrange an early discussion of the memorandum with the associations concerned.

Mr. Hornby

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that some of the best teaching in schools all over the country is done in the sixth forms of grammar schools—perhaps one day by himself, in view of his reply to a previous supplementary question? Would it not be damaging to give discouragement, through his policy, to some of those doing this teaching? Will he ensure that their views are given every possible consideration?

Mr. Stewart

It would be invidious of me to say in what schools or forms the best teaching is given. Excellent teaching is to be found in schools of all kinds. If a genuine effort is made all round to realise the need for secondary reorganisation, we should have no undue anxiety anywhere.

Mr. Hogg

In view of the anxiety that has been expressed, will the right hon. Gentleman expedite his general statement? Can he indicate when we may expect it?

Mr. Stewart

I will get on with it as soon as possible. I would rather not state a precise date at this stage.

22. Mr. Palmer

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many education authorities have either changed or are proposing to change their secondary education system from a substantially tripartite to a substantially comprehensive basis; and whether he will make a list of such authorities available to hon. Members together with relevant particulars.

Mr. M. Stewart

In January of this year there were 189 comprehensive schools in England and Wales and 39 local education authorities had some secondary school provision of a comprehensive type. A large number of authorities are considering secondary school reorganisation and several are planning to introduce comprehensive schemes in the next two years; but the situation is one of constant development and I cannot say exactly how many plans for comprehensive schools have taken definite shape. It would not therefore be practicable to provide a list of the kind envisaged by the hon. Member.

Mr. Palmer

Would my right hon. Friend agree that an increasing number of education authorities are moving from the tripartite to the comprehensive system and that they show a great variety of political colour?

Mr. Stewart

That is certainly so and that is one of the reasons, as my hon. Friend will understand, why it would be difficult to provide the list for which he asks.

Mr. Robert Cooke

Will the right hon. Gentleman acquaint his hon. Friend with the very special nature of the Bristol problem, as his hon. Friend has a very limited knowledge of the City of Bristol and as many people who have spent a lifetime there and who have represented it for a very long time realise that there is very grave anxiety in the city?

Mr. Stewart

I do not think that my hon. Friend said anything to suggest that he was not aware of the Bristol problem, but if the hon. Member wishes to tell my hon. Friend something about it, no doubt my hon. Friend, who is always very courteous, would be happy to listen.