HC Deb 03 March 1966 vol 725 cc1469-70
26. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he takes where a local authority has decreed that all grammar schools in its area should be absorbed into comprehensive units and objections are made by a majority of the parents immediately involved.

Mr. Redhead

Most proposals of this kind would require my right hon. Friend's specific approval under Section 13 of the Education Act, 1944. The local education authority would need to give public notice of the proposal and objections could be made to him within two months. He would carefully consider all the circumstances, including any objections, before giving his decision.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Does the hon. Gentleman think it right that the views of parents should be completely ignored by Socialist authorities which always seem to place uniformity above variety?

Mr. Redhead

My right hon. Friend, in Circular 10/65, has already drawn attention to the importance which he attaches to the fullest possible information being given to parents.

Sir E. Boyle

Leaving aside the merits of individual schemes, will not the Minister agree that, even in the case of some proposals which do not technically involve Section 13, it is desirable to urge authorities to publish notices and give an opportunity for objections to be heard? Is he aware that in the last Parliament, whenever a proposal of this kind came up, if there was any question of public opinion really being roused on the matter, I always encouraged authorities to publish notices?

Mr. Redhead

The effect of what the right hon. Gentleman has said is implicit in the terms of the Circular.

Mr. Armstrong

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind, in thinking about the parents and children involved, that the parents of children attending secondary modern schools are equally involved with those of children attending grammar schools and that, very often, we tend to feel that grammar school opinion represents public opinion?

Mr. Redhead

The policy to which Circular 10/65 refers is a policy applying to grammar schools as to other kinds of secondary school.