HC Deb 10 June 1971 vol 818 cc1224-5
29. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will issue a circular giving guidance on the courses and syllabi which could be available to the less academically inclined in secondary schools when the school-leaving age is raised, designed to give them those skills and aptitudes which will attract them to continued full-time education, whilst at the same time adjusting them to the type of employment they will eventually take up.

Mrs. Thatcher

I shall shortly be consulting the local education authorities and the teachers on the guidance to be given on raising the school-leaving age. Guidance on the curriculum is given by the Schools Council.

Mr. Osborn

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, particularly in areas such as Sheffield and the West Riding, there is considerable apprehension on the part of teachers about the possibility of the raising of the school-leaving age? [HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."] Hon. Members may look at this bit of paper if they like. Will my right hon. Friend be quite certain that adequate arrangements are made to make the extension of compulsory attendance at school to a higher age a success?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think that far more preparations have been made for the raising of the school-leaving age this time than could possibly have been made on the previous occasion, and I believe that the whole operation will go through fairly smoothly, although I know that there will be difficulties in individual cases.

Mr. Spearing

Is the right hon. Lady aware that, despite the nominal control of the Schools Council by teachers, there are misgivings by many practising teachers about the recruitment carried out by the Council for people providing materials and courses of the sort to which she referred?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have no direct control over the Schools Council. It is financed jointly by my Department and the local education authorities, but we do not control its activities.

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