HC Deb 02 May 1968 vol 763 cc1269-70
15. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he is taking to implement the provisions of the Leadbetter missive, sent by his Department in March, 1968, to the proprietors of all unrecognised independent schools; and whether he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the letter, in view of its importance to thousands of educational establishments.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Edward Short)

I am circulating a copy of the letter in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I hope that the first advisory visits will take place in the autumn term.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. In view of the great additional amount of work of examination and inspection that will be required by Her Majesty's inspectors to bring all of these unrecognised schools up to the requisite standards, how many additional inspectors will be engaged in the next few years?

Mr. Short

There is a later Question on this subject.

Following is the letter and the Department's Rules:

14th March, 1968.


1. I am directed by the Secretary of State for Education and Science to draw your attention to his announcement in the House of Commons on 3rd November, 1967, of his decision to apply the standards required for recognition as efficient to all boarding schools included in the register of independent schools. He is anxious that all independent schools shall reach similar minimum standards, but he has decided to concentrate first on the boarding schools, both because the children's education and welfare depend during the term time entirely on the school and because their parents are often far away, sometimes out of the country.

2. The standards required for recognition as efficient are indicated in the Department's Rules 16 (copy enclosed) and are comparable to those of a well-run maintained school. All independent boarding schools which are not yet recognised as efficient will in due course be visited by members of a team of H.M. Inspectors who will assess the general efficiency of the school, the quality of the instruction, the suitability of the staff and of the premises, and the arrangements for the general welfare of the pupils. Proprietors will be given adequate notice of the dates chosen for the inspection of their schools.

3. Schools which are found to be below standard in any respect will then be advised by the Department of the measures that they will need to take to bring them up to the required standard, and they will be given a reasonable period, of a year or longer, before a further inspection takes place. The Secretary of State's aim is that schools should reach the required standard and the advice of H.M. Inspectors will be constructive and designed to that end. However, if, after the second inspection, a school has not made the improvements required of it and still falls below the standard needed for recognition as efficient, the Secretary of State will consider the issue of a notice of complaint against the proprietor of the school under Section 71 of the Education Act 1944. This procedure, which includes the right of appeal to an Independent Schools Tribunal, could in the last resort lead to the closure of the school.

4. If you would like any further information about the arrangements mentioned above please write to the Department at the above address, or consult H.M. Inspector for your school. As explained above, it is proposed to concentrate for some time on boarding schools, but when the new standards have been secured in those schools it is the Secretary of State's intention that measures will then be taken to raise minimum standards to a comparable level in the day schools. Meanwhile, he will of course continue to take action where necessary in respect of any day or boarding school which fails to satisfy the minimum standards hitherto applied under Part III of the Education Act, 1944.

I am, Sir/Madam,

Your obedient Servant,

D. H. Leadbetter.

To the Proprietors of all unrecognised Independent School

Rules 16

(Revised, December, 1965).