HC Deb 21 March 1968 vol 761 cc580-1
22. Mr. Marks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what discussions he has had with the appropriate educational organisations on the question of the single school-leaving date; and whether he will make a statement.

47. Mr. Longden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he will introduce legislation to ensure that, as from the next convenient date, all pupils in maintained secondary schools leave at the end of the summer term whatever the date of their birth, thus ensuring that all have at least four years in a secondary school.

Mr. Gordon Walker

As I said in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. R. C. Mitchell), on 7th February, I am considering this. I am not yet in a position to make any statement.—[Vol. 758, c. 172–3.]

Mr. Marks

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that reply. Could he say whether any educational or industrial organisations have expressed objections to this?

Mr. Gordon Walker

I do not think so. I think I am right in saying that education authorities which so far have given me their views are in favour and I do not think I have had any representations from industrial organisations.

Mr. Longden

Would it be a better arrangement that pupils should leave at the end of the summer term which followed their 15th birthday?

Mr. Gordon Walker

That is a possibility, but it is very difficult to have different ages, because employers have to be careful not to break the law. They must not employ people who should be at school. Although I shall look at this possibility, it is difficult to work out.

Mr. Arnold Shaw

May I press my right hon. Friend on the question of the single school-leaving date? Would he not agree that this in some way would mitigate the postponing of the raising of the school-leaving age?

Mr. Gordon Walker

That may well be so. The main thing is to consider it in terms of the educational advantages, which are very considerable.

Sir E. Boyle

With regard to the first supplementary answer, surely it is not expecting too much of the right hon. Gentleman that he should know the views of the educational and industrial organisations which he has consulted? He really should know. Is not the time soon approaching when he should make up his mind on this matter, for which there has been pressure in the educational world since the end of last year?

Mr. Gordon Walker

The right hon. Gentleman has got it wrong. I have not yet consulted those organisations; some of them have volunteered views. There are a number of Departmental considerations which must be reconciled in the matter before we can embark on consultations. I have not started consultations, and that is why I am not fully aware of the position.