HC Deb 16 July 1969 vol 787 cc604-5
32. Mr. James Davidson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his policy towards the closure of single-teacher primary schools in remote rural areas; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Millan

Any proposal of an education authority for the closure of a school requires my right hon. Friend's approval, and he considers each case on its merits. In general, children are believed to gain social and educational advantages from being taught in a larger school community and in more homogeneous age groups than obtain in one-teacher schools, but other factors such as the condition of the existing buildings, the availability and economic use of teachers, the distances which children would have to travel, and the wishes of parents are also taken into account.

Mr. Davidson

I thank the Under-Secretary of State for his reply. I am well aware of his views on the subject. Will he confirm that he agrees that where the closure of such schools might lead to difficulty and danger to young children travelling in winter conditions, those schools should be maintained, if possible, even though the cost appears to be unjustified?

Mr. Millan

I certainly take the view that traffic conditions involving any question of danger to the children concerned are a very important factor to be borne in mind in any such proposal.

Mr. Rankin

Has my hon. Friend ever given any thought to the employment of small aircraft in order to obviate altogether the necessity for this type of school?

Mr. Millan

No, Sir. I must confess that I have never given it any thought.