HC Deb 13 March 1969 vol 779 cc1531-2
2. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many of Her Majesty's Inspectors have been allocated to preliminary investigations in preparation for the recognition of private schools; how many man-hours they have spent and what is the estimated cost of this operation; how many children are being educated at the schools covered; what is the number of Her Majesty's Inspectors; what is the number of children in the public sector of education; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Miss Alice Bacon)

In England, 28 Inspectors are specifically assigned to give part of their time to the exercise aimed at raising standards in independent boarding schools not recognised as efficient. The cost of the time which they, with specialist colleagues, devoted to advisory visits to the schools in the autumn term, 1968, was about £12,000. Similar costs are expected in the spring and summer terms, 1969, and plans are being made to double the rate of inspection from autumn, 1969, so as to complete the advisory visits by summer, 1970. The total cost of this part of the exercise will, therefore, be about £105,000.

The answers to the other parts of the Question are, respectively, nearly 25,000, 527, and just over 7½ million, and that I think that there is no need for a further statement at this stage.

Mr. Judd

While I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, does she not agree that that is a considerable subsidy at public expense for the private sector of education? Does not it reveal the need for a more radical approach to the private sector?

Miss Bacon

I think my hon. Friend will recognise that we have been pressed very hard from both sides of the House and all parts of the country to bring these schools up to an efficient standard. We have a duty to ensure that the children in them are given a proper education or that the schools close down.

Sir E. Boyle

But is it not a shade rough to grudge the independent schools this help at a time when a number of them, and particularly the I.A.P.S., are extremely keen to raise standards and want to see a clear distinction in the public mind between the recognised schools and the schools that are merely registered?

Miss Bacon

I think the right hon. Gentleman will see from what I said that I could not go along with my hon. Friend's view.