HC Deb 05 August 1965 vol 717 cc1855-6
10. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the future of direct grant schools, in view of his policy of achieving an integrated system of state and public schools.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Anthony Crosland)

I have already made suggestions in my recent circular on secondary education which I hope will encourage a closer integration of direct grant schools with local schemes of comprehensive organisation.

Mr. Smith

Is it not the right hon. Gentleman's avowed intention eventually to destroy direct grant schools? Would it not be better to end this double-talk so that those responsible for the administration of direct grant schools may know exactly where they stand?

Mr. Crosland

My avowed intention is clearly set out in the circular, which states: The Secretary of State looks to both local education authorities and the governors of direct grant schools to consider ways of maintaining and developing this co-operation in the context of the new policy of comprehensive education. What I hope will happen, and what is beginning to happen in some parts of the country now, is that local education authorities and the schools will start discussions to see how these schools can fit into the comprehensive system.

Sir E. Boyle

Does the reference in the circular to changes in curricula mean that the Minister has in mind nonselective direct grant schools as to the level of education? Will he bear in mind that many people who are by no means diehards on secondary school organisation none the less feel real difficulties about keeping grammar school traditions if all the very finest of the grammar schools are to disappear as separate institutions, and that the anxieties are particularly strong in the case of direct grant schools?

Mr. Crosland

I have taken the view from the start that it is quite impossible to lay down a single national policy for the future of direct grant schools partly because they vary enormously—some are large and some small, some are denominational and some are undenominational—but, as the right hon. Member is almost certainly aware, discussions are going on to see whether the direct grant schools by certain changes, for instance in age of entry and standards of attainment, might be able to fit in with the reorganisation.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Will my right hon. Friend not agree that in many direct grant schools the range of ability is very much broader than in maintained grammar schools and that therefore they are appropriate to provide some sort of comprehensive education?

Mr. Crosland

Yes, Sir.