HC Deb 13 November 1969 vol 791 c589
6. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the minimum age at which within the system of State education he is prepared to accept selection on the basis of academic ability for the purpose of determining at which educational institution a student shall continue his or her studies.

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

It is the Government's policy that children of school age should not be segregated in different schools as a result of selection based on ability or aptitude.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that, a year ago, he said that he was out to abolish selection at the age of 11, yet he accepts it for university entry purposes at 17 to 18? Can he not say whether there is not a point between those ages at which selection on grounds of ability is satisfactory to him?

Mr. Short

The right hon. Gentleman is a bit behind the times. He will have noticed that we have set up a number of polytechnics which are comprehensive institutions of higher education. I myself share the view of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology that, eventually, we will have comprehensive universities as well.