HC Deb 02 May 1968 vol 763 cc1270-7

Statement of the conditions upon which the Secretary of State for Education and Science will recognise certain schools and establishments of further education as efficient but not for the payment of grants.

1. Recognition as efficient is a special mark of the Secretary of State's approval and is given to:—

  1. (a) Schools and
  2. (b) Establishments of Further Education which apply for it and fulfil the conditions indicated below.

2. In order to be eligible for recognition as efficient

  1. (a) a school must provide a progressive general education suitable at all stages for 1271 pupils of an age-range of normally not less than three years between the ages of two and nineteen, and
  2. (b) an establishment of further education must provide courses which are educationally sound, are suitable to the needs of students over the statutory school leaving age and have a content appropriate to their stated objectives.

3. A school or establishment of further education must comply with any requirements of the Education Acts, 1944 to 1965, and the Regulations made under them.

4. A school or establishment of further education must be kept on a level of efficiency which is satisfactory, regard being had to the purposes for which it is conducted and to the level of efficiency which would be required in the case of any similar school or establishment aided by grant.

5. The instruction must be efficient and suitable and must be adequate in scope and character for the whole age-range of pupils.

6. The number of pupils must be sufficient for economical and effective organisation.

7. (i) The teaching staff must be suitable and sufficient in number and qualifications for providing adequate instruction at each stage of the course.

(ii) No person shall be employed as a teacher who the Secretary of State decides, or the Minister or the Board of Education previously decided, is unsuitable either on medical grounds or on grounds of misconduct or grave professional default. If it has been decided that a teacher is suitable for employment to a limited extent only, he shall be employed only to that extent.

(iii) If a teacher's engagement is terminated, whether by dismissal or resignation, on account of misconduct, grave professional default or conviction of a criminal offence, the facts must be reported forthwith to the Secretary of State.

(iv) Before a decision is made as to the unsuitability of a teacher he will be informed of the charges against him and will have an opportunity for explanation or making representations on the subject.

8. The premises must be adequate, suitable and properly equipped having regard to the number, ages and sex of the pupils. They must be kept in a proper state of repair, cleanliness and hygiene and adequate arrangements must be made for the health and safety of the pupils and staff in case of danger from fire and other causes.

April, 1968
Recognised as Efficient
Boys Girls Co-educational All
Day Bdg. Day Bdg. Day Bdg. Day Bdg. Total
Nursery* 5 4 5 4 9
Primary† 51 279 15 18 218 49 284 346 630
Secondary 116 22 45 56 14 175 78 253
Primary and Secondary 85 127 19 146 160 59 264 332 596
252 428 79 220 397 112 728 760 1,488
* 3–6 age range. †5–13, in some cases.

9. No instruction shall be given involving the use of:

  1. (i) radioactive material other than elemental potassium, thorium or uranium, or such compounds of them as are normally used as chemical reagents, or
  2. (ii) apparatus in which electrons are accelerated by a potential difference of five kilovolts or greater, other than apparatus used only for the purpose of receiving visual images by way of television and sounds connected therewith until the Secretary of State has given his approval (except that further education establishments using quantities small enough to bring them within the exemption provisions of the Code* need not seek his approval). He may withdraw his approval if at any time he is of opinion that the arrangements made for the health and safety of the pupils and staff are inadequate.

10. Such registers and records must be kept and such information and returns must be furnished from time to time as the Secretary of State may require.

11. Failure to comply with the above conditions may lead to recognition being withheld or withdrawn.

12. The Secretary of State will notify the Local Education Authority and, where appropriate, the Divisional Executive, of the granting of recognition and also of the withdrawal of any such recognition.

*"Code of Practice for the Protection of Persons Exposed to Ionising Radiations in Research and Teaching" issued by the Ministry of Labour (H.M. Stationery Office, 1964).

16. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science in regard to independent education, how many infant, primary and secondary schools are now registered in his Department; how many of these are respectively, day and boarding; how many, respectively, recognised and unrecognised; and whether he will tabulate these statistics at the latest convenient date, by sex and/or co-educational status.

Miss Bacon

With permission, I will circulate the table of figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the table:

Boys Girls Co-educational All
Day Bdg. Day Bdg. Day Bdg. Day Bdg. Total
Nursery* 1 1 93 95 95
Primary† 74 9 18 839 34 931 43 974
Secondary 11 55 24 8 19 9 54 72 126
Primary and Secondary 17 59 10 25 209 97 236 181 417
103 123 53 33 1,160 140 1,316 296 1,612
17. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he is imposing a limit on the minimum size of school that will be recognised as efficient under the new policy outlined in his Department's letter of March, 1968.

Mr. Edward Short

I shall not be inflexible about sizes. Though there must be sufficient pupils for effective organisation, I know that some schools are provided for special needs and may justifiably be small.

Mr. Turton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are very many small schools and establishments run by tutors which cannot be recognised as efficient under Rule 16? Will he consider amending the regulations to enable them to become recognised?

Mr. Short

There are two aspects to this question. The first is that a school must be of such a size, having regard to the number of teachers, to enable it to be run efficiently. The second is that the communal life of the school is an important factor. However, bearing in mind these two factors, the right hon. Gentleman can be assured that I will not be inflexible about this; and if he has individual cases in mind I hope that he will mention them to me.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the change of policy announced by his predecessor whereby a school which is not recognised as efficient would lose registration requires a new flexibility in his rules about size, because if recognition is refused on the ground of size, the school is simply out of business?

Mr. Short

I do not think this requires a new rule. It may require more flexibility on our part, and I have given the assurance that we shall not be inflexible.

18. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many additional inspectors are being appointed to carry out the programme outlined in the letter from his Department, dated March, 1968, to the proprietors of all unrecognised independent schools; and what will be the extra cost involved.

Mr. Edward Short

Inspectors, including existing members of Her Majesty's Inspectorate, will be assigned to this programme as the need arises. To allow for this, up to 20 additional inspectors may be appointed in the ordinary course of recruitment. The extra cost involved in each additional appointment is estimated at about £3,000 a year.

Mr. Turton

Will not the extra £60,000 going on this programme retard the work to be done in the implementation of the Plowden Committee's Report?

Mr. Short

No, I do not think it will. I believe that public interest now demands that we should take this step forward in independent schools. We shall do it sensibly, of course, but as more than half the registered independent schools are still not recognised as efficient, we must take a step forward in getting them efficient.

Sir G. Nabarro

While fully endorsing the policy of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter, may I ask if he would confirm the view that it will take six to 10 years to carry the programme through?

Mr. Short

No, I do not think it will take so long as that. It will take some time. It cannot be rushed. We will do it carefully and gradually. The Inspectorate is independent of my Department, but we shall begin this work and do it gradually and as carefully as we can.

23. Sir J. Eden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the requirements which must be met before a school can be inscribed on the Register of Independent Schools; and what proposals he has for their alteration.

Mr. Edward Short

Proprietors of a newly opened independent school are required to supply factual information in the form laid down by Regulations made under the Education Act, 1944. The school is then provisionally registered. Registration is not made final until H.M. Inspectors have made an inspection and have verified that the premises, accommodation and instruction are not unsuitable. I propose to apply progressively to all registered schools the standards required for a school to be recognised as efficient.

Sir J. Eden

In view of the fact that the system of registration has itself acted as a safeguard for parents, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that some form of registration is kept in future because there are many schools which would still serve a very useful purpose even though they cannot get up to the standards for recognition?

Mr. Short

No, I cannot accept that. The standard for registration in future—after a period of time, of course—will be the standard now required for recognition as efficient. I pointed out in reply to an earlier Question that of 3,000 independent schools rather more than half are not yet recognised as efficient. Public interest now demands that we should take some action about this.

Mr. Christopher Price

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Cholderton case and the subsequent inquiry proved that registration is no safeguard whatever? Will he press on, not with registration but with recognition?

Mr. Ronald Bell

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that one main reason why half these schools are not recognised as efficient is that they have not yet applied to be so recognised?

Mr. Short

Yes. I do not put them all in the same category as the school mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Christopher Price). It may be that a great many are not recognised because they have not applied for recognition, but we must get on with the task of inspecting these schools and bringing them up to standard.

24. Sir J. Eden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in the light of the letter dated March 1968 concerning the inspection of independent schools, he will make a statement about the instructions he has given to Her Majesty's inspectors as to the yardstick they shall use to measure the quality of the instruction and the suitability of the staff at these schools.

Mr. Edward Short

I have given no such instructions. H.M. inspectors will continue to use their experience and judgment in recommending whether schools should be recognised as efficient by my Department.

Sir J. Eden

As these schools provide for a very wide variety of needs, will the Minister ensure that the inspectors' work is done as flexibly as possible, bearing in mind that quite a few of the teachers, even though not qualified as such, are doing very valuable work?

Mr. Short

We must bear in mind the children as well as the teachers in these schools. The time is rapidly approaching when we must insist that head teachers are qualified teachers. That is the first step. I pointed out earlier that in this country the inspectors are appointed by the Privy Council and are independent of the Department. I assure the House that we shall certainly be flexible and sensible in any action we take as a result of their reports.