HC Deb 21 January 1965 vol 705 cc386-8
12. Mr. Chataway

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he accepts the views on secondary reorganisation of the Newsom Committee as outlined in the introduction to its Report, "Half Our Future".

Mr. M. Stewart

The introduction explains why the Report deals with questions other than reorganisation rather than expressing a view on reorganization.

Mr. Chataway

Is there not a clear impression from the Report—indeed it is the tenor of a number of passages—that it is by no means proved that the child of average and under-average ability is necessarily better off in a comprehensive school than in a secondary modern school? On what evidence does the Secretary of State come to a different conclusion than the Newsom Committee?

Mr. Stewart

I think I look at other passages of the Report than those which the hon. Member has chosen to use. We shall be arguing this matter at greater length later this afternoon.

Mr. Hunt

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that we on this side of the House are as much concerned about the future of secondary modern schools as about grammer schools? Is he aware that at this moment thousands of teachers in secondary modern schools in all parts of the country who are doing their best to help children to take the O-level examination of G.C.E. are alarmed and indignant at the prospect of seeing their pupils swamped, discouraged and overwhelmed by being absorbed into the Government's vast comprehensive system?

Mr. Stewart

I am glad to have the hon. Member's assurance that hon. Members opposite are interested in secondary modern schools. That was not apparent in the debate we had before Christmas on this subject. I do not at all accept the latter part of his supplementary question.

Mr. Armitage

Will my right hon. Friend agree that, whatever the Newsom Report says, evidence proves that the great bulk of secondary school children had a very raw deal under the old separatist system?

Mr. Stewart

That is quite clear.