HC Deb 21 July 1966 vol 732 cc859-60
31. Mr. Hunt

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will now state his policy regarding the future of the direct grant schools within the Greater London area.

Mr. Crosland

My policy for direct grant schools, which applies to those in the Greater London area as to those in the rest of the country, is explained in Circular 10/65 of which I am sending the hon. Gentleman a copy.

Mr. Hunt

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that he has very special responsibilities towards these schools? Will he reject the political prejudice of his hon. Friends— [Interruption.]—both in this House and across the road in County Hall, and recognise that these direct-grant schools have a unique role to play in our educational system and that they should be supported rather than suppressed?

Mr. Crosland

There is no doubt that there is a good deal of prejudice on all sides in respect of this kind of argument. The policy for direct-grant schools is perfectly clear, and I have no doubt that it is the right one. I have asked the authorities on the one hand and the governors of the direct-grant schools on the other to get together and consult about how these schools might play their part in a system of secondary reorganisation. There are a number of parts of the country where this is occurring, and I am sure that this is the right way to proceed.

Mr. Hamling

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the Conservative Party does not help these matters by publishing confidential documents in Conservative newspapers?

Sir E. Boyle

Would the right hon. Gentleman accept that there is very deep concern felt by many people who are not unsympathetic in principle to a measure of secondary reorganisation—deep concern about the future of these schools, which are mostly of very high academic standards and to which admission is in no way dependent on accident of birth? My hon. Friends and I, also, are greatly concerned about these schools.

Mr. Crosland

I believe that all hon. Members are deeply concerned about the future of these schools. That is not in dispute. However, there is no possible single national solution to the problem of the direct grant schools. They differ so much within themselves. I am sure that the right way to proceed is to leave this matter for local negotiation between the schools and the local authorities.