HC Deb 04 February 1971 vol 810 cc1889-91
9. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement on the Government's future policy for educational priority areas.

Mrs. Thatcher

Through the Urban Programme and in other ways it is my policy to help local authorities to give special attention to the educational needs of socially deprived areas.

Mr. Spearing

I am surprise at that rather general answer. Is it not a fact that the period of E.P.A.'s is due to finish in some areas this March? Since the origin of these grants was in November, 1968, there may be new needs which have arisen since then which the right hon. Lady would want to look at closely.

Mrs. Thatcher

There are no specific areas designated. But a number of schools receive special attention. Areas which have multiple social deprivation will continue to receive help under the Urban Programme in the way of extra teacher quotas and by other means.

Mr. Lane

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us from non-priority areas, while fully supporting the Government's policy towards priority areas, are delighted by the prospect of increasing resources for non-priority areas, especially for the replacement of antique primary schools? Can my right hon. Friend confirm that that is definitely her intention and hope?

Mrs. Thatcher

The last improvement programme for primary schools was divided approximately equally, about half going to the socially deprived areas and half to other areas. I cannot say precisely how the next programme will be divided. There are a number of ways. It might possibly be done on the basis of the distribution of pre-1903 schools in the country.

Miss Lestor

Can the right hon. Lady be a little more forthcoming on the future of educational priority areas, bearing in mind that the recent Douglas Report and the earlier Newsome Report demonstrated clearly that it is the working-class child who is discriminated against in areas which are culturally, educationally and socially deprived, and that this is a real and urgent problem?

Mrs. Thatcher

That is why special help was given by the hon. Lady's Government. It has been and is being continued by my Government.

28. Mr. Armstrong

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals she has for the expansion of resources allocated to the educational priority areas in the Northern Region; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

The Northern Region's share of the 1972–73 major school building programme is £12.4 million compared with £11.5 million in the 1971–72 programme. £249,000 for educational purposes has recently been approved for the Northern Region in the third phase of the Urban Programme.

Mr. Armstrong

Would the right hon. Lady accept that the children concerned in these areas have been permanently deprived of the opportunity to reach their potential? Is it not a strange order of priorities that the right hon. Lady can be so generous towards direct-grant schools, which in the main are catering for children who have not been deprived, and yet so mean towards educational priority areas where there are children who need attention and who are being done an injustice?

Mrs. Thatcher

I would point out that the amount allocated under Phase 3 of the Urban Programme was greater than the amount allocated under Phase 2 or Phase 1. We are doing better.