HC Deb 10 November 1966 vol 735 cc1508-9
5. Mr. Hattersley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local education authorities with appreciable numbers of non-English speaking immigrants within their boundaries have refused to implement the recommendation of Circular 7/65.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Denis Howell)

Detailed information is not available, but reports suggest that the great majority of local education authorities are acting upon the recommendations of the circular.

Mr. Hattersley

Is my hon. Friend aware that in Birmingham, one of the cities not implementing the circular, individual headmasters are choosing to exclude non-English-speaking children unilaterally? How long is this potentially dangerous situation going to continue?

Mr. Howell

As my hon. Friend would expect, I am well aware of what is happening in Birmingham. I agree with him about the difficulties and sympathise very much with the headmasters concerned. I would only add that in my view authorities which pursue policies which might inevitably lead to segregated schools bear a very heavy responsibility indeed.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Will the Minister discourage local education authorities from applying this circular at the level of primary schools, since dispersal of that age group is likely to lead to consequences of a disadvantageous nature?

Mr. Howell

In the case of primary schools, dispersal usually means a policy which is effected at the moment of entry into the school. It rather suggests to parents that they take their children to school A rather than school B. It does not usually mean transportation. I think it is very important to get that right. But even in primary schools there is still good evidence to show that to have more than 30 per cent. of immigrants in such schools has educational difficulties which we want to avoid.