HC Deb 26 May 1966 vol 729 cc706-7
23. Miss Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he now has for the expansion of nursery school facilities.

Mr. Crosland

I am encouraging local education authorities to establish new nursery classes wherever they can show that this will enable more qualified married women teachers to return to service. I will study the forthcoming reports of the Central Advisory Councils of Education before reaching any wider conclusions about the expansion of nursery education.

Miss Lestor

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the provision of educational facilities for the under-fives is rapidly becoming the monopoly of the private and often unqualified sector? Does he not consider that this development is likely to be detrimental to the interests of the under-fives?

Mr. Crosland

I am aware of that, and I am also aware that everybody in the House, I think, would greatly welcome a large expansion of nursery provision for the under-fives if this were possible. Whether it will be possible or not will depend partly on funds available. Apart from that, as the Plowden Council is expected to report during the summer and this is within their terms of reference, I think that we should wait for their report before making any further decision.

Mrs. Short

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied with the response which he has received so far from local education authorities in reply to his very welcome circular about setting up nursery classes?

Mr. Crosland

No, Sir, I am not satisfied. Therefore, a good deal of prodding is going on.

Mr. Hornby

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any progress report on increases in the recruitment of teachers arising out of the experiments started by my right hon. Friend with regard to nursery provision?

Mr. Crosland

That is a different question and I should like to have notice of it.