HC Deb 20 June 1968 vol 766 cc1299-300
33. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he is taking to ensure that the 19 empty primary classrooms in Wolverhampton schools are used for the children of school age who have been unable to get a school place so far.

Miss Bacon

This is a matter for the authority, who have told me that they hope to staff and fill every available classroom by next September.

Mrs. Short

Is not this a very extraordinary situation? In spite of my right hon. Friend's generosity in allowing the Wolverhampton education authority to build four new primary schools, there are still 400 children unable to get places. Does my right hon. Friend not think she should be much tougher with the education authority to see that these empty classrooms are in fact used? This is a nonsensical situation, and it is depriving large numbers of children of the education that they should have.

Miss Bacon

My right hon. Friend and I visited Wolverhampton recently and noted the position there. Some of these empty classrooms are caused by the fact that numbers on the new estates have not risen to the expected maximum and because the local authority cannot get the necessary teachers. I would emphasise that my right hon. Friend is willing to raise the quota, and indeed has done so, in these areas of special difficulty. But it is the inability of certain authorities to recruit the numbers of teachers in their quota which makes the problem so difficult.

Sir E. Boyle

Will the right hon. Lady agree that nothing causes more genuine indignation than the spectacle of empty classrooms in the same city where one has overcrowded schools? Will the right hon. Lady do what she can to see that the situation does not arise again, particularly in the West Midlands, where she knows there are special problems?

Miss Bacon

Yes, certainly. As I said, my right hon. Friend and I visited the West Midlands and we discussed all these problems. I hope that before long these classrooms will be full.