HC Deb 06 March 1969 vol 779 cc655-6
17. Mr. Silvester

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has for allowing exemptions when the school-leaving age is raised to 16 years.

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

None, Sir, but I am about to consult teachers and local authority associations about whether in certain circumstances older schoolchildren should be allowed to attend further education institutions instead of school.

Mr. Silvester

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that both the majority and minority Reports of the Crowther Committee recommended that some exemptions would be required? Why has he rejected that recommendation?

Mr. Short

I would not be prepared to agree to making exemptions from some sort of schooling because that would conflict with the whole object of raising the school-leaving age.

Mr. Christopher Price

Does my right hon. Friend agree that his answer about allowing older children to spend some time in colleges of further education is a very useful and encouraging one? Can he be a little more specific about what he means by "older children"? Can he put an age range on that phrase?

Mr. Short

I mean by older children those in the last year, the fifth year in the secondary school. There are difficulties here, but we are discussing them with the local authority associations and the teachers' organisations.