HC Deb 09 April 1970 vol 799 cc740-2
36. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now make a statement about the future of the direct grant schools.

Mr. Edward Short

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave on 24th March to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof).—[Vol. 798, c. 389.]

Mr. Smith

Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to implement the Donnison proposals; and if so, when?

Mr. Short

The Donnison Report is very long and detailed. We have not had it for long, and the Government are still studying it.

37. Mr. Kenneth Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what provisions he proposes to make for children who require secondary education provided for them because of direct grant schools going independent.

Mr. Edward Short

In the first place, this will always be a matter for the local education authority concerned. But I shall be ready to approve proposals designed to make good any loss of direct grant school places which authorities may put to me.

Mr. Lewis

I am glad to have that answer. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the effects of Donnison are already obvious and that an open school in my constituency, being a direct grant school, has now gone independent? Will he make it absolutely clear that whatever difficulties arise, not only in Rutland but elsewhere, he will back up the local authorities so that they can find the money to pay the extra fees which they will have to pay in the bridging period?

Mr. Short

I have told the local education authority in Rutland that I am willing to consider any request that it may make for additional places because the fees at Oakham School will, when it goes independent, be extremely high.

Mr. Molloy

Will my right hon. Friend continue with his practical policy of making the State schools not only equal but superior to some of the direct grant schools so that there will be no need for the latter?

Mr. Short

Certainly, and as the State, or county, schools—we have no State schools in this country—improve, the need for both independent and direct grant schools will wither away.

Mr. Doughty

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is considerable consternation about the possible threat to direct grant schools? Does he realise that the best method of dealing with this situation is to leave well alone?

Mr. Short

It is not entirely "well". We do not want, as I have said many times in the House, to abolish any good schools. What we want is for them to come into the ordinary county school system.