HC Deb 24 February 1966 vol 725 cc608-9
18. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consideration he is giving to the desirability of having a single school-leaving date each year.

Mr. Redhead

The reason for the adoption in 1962 of two leaving dates rather than one are in my view still valid.

Mr. Hill

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that to move on from the advantages shown by having two leaving dates to only one in a year would greatly assist the efficient running of the schools, particularly when the school-leaving age comes to be raised? Therefore, would he not consult his colleague the Minister of Labour and such bodies as the Youth Employment Service at least to have an up-to-date feasibility study for having a single school-leaving date in future?

Mr. Redhead

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that the reduction of the number of leaving dates from three to two in the Education Act, 1962, represented a compromise as between education and employment considerations. It is perfectly true that education authorities were unanimously in favour of one common leaving date, but this was found not to be acceptable to employers. A single leaving date would undoubtedly create difficulties about finding employment for school leavers, especially those most in need of help. Industry would be faced with absorbing the whole year's intake at one time and, as at present advised, I am afraid that this appears to be a substantial difficulty.

Mr. H. Hynd

While the interests of the schools may be important, are not the interests of the pupils more important?

Mr. Redhead

That is true, but one must also have regard to their interests as school leavers and being placed in employment with the utmost expedition.