HC Deb 24 February 1966 vol 725 cc611-2
22. Mr. Frank

Taylor asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he is aware that the heads of Manchester's comprehensive schools will be appointed from people who believe in the system; what is his policy on this situation; and what steps he intends to take.

Mr. Redhead

No, Sir. The Manchester Authority has recently stated that it will follow normal practice in making appointments to new comprehensive schools.

Mr. Taylor

Is the Minister not aware that in my constituency two or three weeks ago the Chairman of the Manchester Education Committee stated quite categorically that headmasters' positions in comprehensive schools would be given to those who are in favour of the system? This was reported in the Daily Telegraph of 15th February and the statement was reiterated after a further interview with the head of the Education Department. Will the Minister say whether he and the Government approve of this?

Mr. Redhead

I am aware that certain views have been attributed to the Chairman of the Education Committee, but the statement by the authority is quite clear that the factors to be taken into account are the candidate's qualifications, experience and personal and professional suitability for the post in question. In response to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I would say that discriminatory action against teachers because of their views on educational matters would be, to our mind, intolerable. I am confident that we can rely on the good sense and fairness of the authorities in making appointments to schools of all kinds.

Sir E. Boyle

While the hon. Gentleman's Answer will give some relief, would he not agree that it is of high importance that education committee chairmen, and others, should exercise restraint in public debate on this sort of issue in view of the very great importance of attracting more graduates to secondary schools? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a graduate, uncertain whether to go to this authority or to some other, might well be deterred by some of the remarks attributed to the chairman of this education committee?

Mr. Redhead

I am sure that the answers I have already given will be noted in all appropriate quarters.