HC Deb 21 December 1972 vol 848 cc1560-1
17. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many totally deprived junior schools there are at present in use within the county borough of St. Helens and what is the age of each such school.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

There are no "totally deprived" schools. In the country as a whole some 570 schools have been designated as schools of exceptional difficulty for the purpose of a special salary addition to teachers but there is, as the hon. Gentleman will know, none in St. Helens.

Mr. Spriggs

I regret that the hon. Gentleman is not aware that there are totally deprived schools in St. Helens. I should like him to convey to his right hon. Friend an invitation from me and from the management committee of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School, St. Helens, to visit that school and others where infants and juniors are being taught in conditions reminiscent of workhouses of the Dickensian age. I appeal to the right hon. Lady to give some time to see for herself what teaching staff and children have to put up with in this day and age. I appeal to the hon. Gentleman not to be so complacent in his replies but to get off his behind and do something about it.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

At least I have now complied with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's exhortation. There are 11 old primary schools in St. Helens, but the hon. Gentleman must be fair. One of the difficulties in replacing these has been the extreme difficulty in acquiring alternative sites in the area for new buildings. Attempts have been made with regard to four schools. With regard to three of the schools, Moss Bank's future is uncertain because of redevelopment, and the school has only two classes; St. Austin's is being remodelled with money from the minor works programme; and Windleshaw has been submitted for the next preliminary list which my right hon. Friend is now considering for projects to start in 1975–76.