HC Deb 10 February 1972 vol 830 cc1540-1
17. Mr. O'Halloran

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations have been made to her from local education authorities regarding the problem of truancy in secondary schools.

Mrs. Thatcher


Mr. O'Halloran

Is the right hon. Lady aware of the growing problem of truancy in inner London? Will she arrange for closer liaison between childparent-teacher organisations and local authorities to deal with truancy?

Mrs. Thatcher

I believe that the best educational results are obtained when there is maximum co-operation between parents and teachers and local education authorities. The Inner London Education Authority is very much aware of the problem of truancy, and that authority is in the best position to deal with truancy in its own area.

Mr. Jeffrey Archer

Will my right hon. Friend be kind enough to consider producing statistics on this problem so that we may discover how serious it is?

Mrs. Thatcher

Truancy is a notoriously difficult subject upon which to get accurate statistics. Had it been an easier subject on which to obtain statistics we should already have done so. So far no national statistics have been available, and I doubt whether we could get accurate statistics.

Mr. Marks

Is it not time the right hon. Lady stopped washing her hands of this serious problem and initiated in her Department research into avoidable absence from school?

Mrs. Thatcher

Naturally, we are all concerned about avoidable absence from school. Some local authorities have figures—Manchester is one—but this is a problem for the local education authority and the individual school to deal with, often in conjunction with the social services.

Mr. Simon Mahon

Is the Secretary of State aware that many of us feel that the new attitude towards marriage, and especially the attitude towards divorce, is having an adverse effect on many of the children from broken homes? Would she look into this aspect, since it is the home that matters?

Mrs. Thatcher

I agree. If we could sort out some of the problems that occur in the home, we should be well on the way to solving many of the problems in our society. The hon. Gentleman will agree that the problem is easier to pose than it is to solve.