HC Deb 03 March 1966 vol 725 cc1472-3
30. Dr. Wyndham Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science to what extent it is his policy that the direct grant schools, King Edward VII School for Boys and the High School for Girls, should be planned as part of a comprehensive system like all the other grammar schools and direct grant schools in Birmingham.

Mr. Redhead

The Government's policy to reorganise secondary education on comprehensive lines applies to all grant aided schools. In Circular 10/65, issued last July my right hon. Friend, asked local education authorities to discuss with the governors of direct grant schools ways in which the schools could co-operate in local reorganisation schemes.

Dr. Davies

Is the Minister aware that the King Edward School Foundation in Birmingham does exactly the type of social engineering which seems to be the aim of that Circular, and there is no need to do this type of work again by bringing into a comprehensive system a perfectly sound school which has served the citizens of Birmingham and the surrounding areas well?

Mr. Redhead

I understand that discussions have yet to take place between the Birmingham authority and the King Edward Foundation, and it would, therefore, not be proper for me to comment on the position of the two direct grant schools in which the hon. Gentleman is interested. I can only say that, after the outcome of discussions between those bodies, my right hon. Friend will consider any proposals on their merits in the particular circumstances.

Sir E. Boyle

Does the Minister realise that the position of the direct grant schools is causing more concern than any other aspect of the secondary reorganisation policy of the party opposite, not least in Birmingham, and will he take it that this is partly because of the particular quality of these schools, the fact that they cover a wide catchment area and they are institutions which have achieved so much both academically and in terms of social mixing?

Mr. Redhead

I fully recognise the excellent achievements of most direct grant schools. My right hon. Friend is asking them to accept the challenge of a more varied entry so that the advantages they can offer are more widely shared. We shall look forward with interest to what we hope will be the fruitful discussions between the direct grant schools and the local education authorities.