HC Deb 19 November 1970 vol 806 cc1420-1
34. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will make a statement on the progress of preparations for raising the school-leaving age.

Mrs. Thatcher

Good progress is being made in teacher supply, the provision of buildings and curriculum development. I am now reviewing developments in order to consider whether any further preparations are necessary either centrally or locally.

Mr. Lane

I welcome that answer. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the raising of the school-leaving age, which I strongly support, is likely to be successful only if the new final year takes a radically different shape from hitherto? Will my right hon. Friend's Department be ready to give all possible help in working out the curriculum development which she mentioned?

Mrs. Thatcher

I accept what my hon. Friend said. It is for this reason that we are giving so much attention—as much as we can—through the Schools Council to the curriculum in the final year.

Miss Lestor

Bearing in mind the increase in the annual output of teachers during our Administration, plus the £125 million allocated to meet the needs of increasing the school-leaving age, may I ask the right hon. Lady whether she will withdraw the comment which she made at the Tory Party conference that we had raised the school-leaving age and she had been left to find the money to implement it?

Mrs. Thatcher

I thought that the points which I made were extremely valid. We made provision to raise the school-leaving age, but the party opposite did not honour that provision. The party opposite made provision to raise the school-leaving age, and we are left to honour it. We shall.