HC Deb 05 December 1968 vol 774 cc1819-20
15. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether it is his intention in his forthcoming legislation to seek powers to override the policies of local education authorities in respect of selection at ages other that 11 years.

Mr. Edward Short

I cannot at present add to my recent statement that the next major Education Bill will provide that secondary education is to be nonselective.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does that answer mean that the right hon. Gentleman rejects not only selection at 11 but selection at any age?

Mr. Short

What I reject is the division of children at the age of 11, determining the rest of their educational careers and, therefore, the rest of their careers.

Mr. Christopher Price

Does my right hon. Friend recall that in a recent Answer he said that he hoped we should be able to legislate in this Parliament on comprehensive legislation, and does he realise that many of us on this side are waiting anxiously for that hope to be turned into reality very soon?

Mr. Short

I am well aware of that. It is not only the opinion in the House but, as I said in reply to an earlier Question, there is now a great upsurge of public opinion on this matter in the country.

Sir E. Boyle

The original Question relates to selection after 11. Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that it would not be his idea to interfere with schemes involving selection at 13, as in Kent (Thamesside), Doncaster and Middlesbrough, which are widely accepted by public opinion locally as providing a flexible means of doing away with the old-fashioned strict bipartite system of selection at 11?

Mr. Short

We look at each case carefully on its merits. I could not give a general answer on that today. We must be careful to ensure that we do not in the end have the same result as we have now.