HC Deb 10 February 1972 vol 830 cc1541-3
18. Sir Gilbert Longden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she has yet decided how she can best make a contribution towards preventing violence in schools and dealing with it when it occurs.

Mrs. Thatcher

Evidence gained through the normal activities of the inspectorate suggests that this problem is mainly confined to a few areas. I believe it is best dealt with by the teachers, governors and local education authorities.

Sir Gilbert Longden

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Has she received any representations from local education authorities about this problem?

Mrs. Thatcher

No. And when we sent out a circular to the local authorities in connection with the raising of the school leaving age, very few mentioned this as one of their problems. Obviously this problem occurs, but it is by no means confined to the schools. One of the reasons for the existence of some violence in our schools is that there is a lot of violence in society, and possibly the violence in society is the cause of some of the violence in schools.

Mr. David Stoddart

Is the right hon. Lady aware that in future her policy may lead to increased violence in schools? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I draw her attention to the warning issued by Professor Bryce-Smith that lead poisoning in children can lead to emotional disturbances, cruelty and violence in children. Will she not reconsider her policy and re-introduce free school milk to prevent children suffering brain damage?

Mrs. Thatcher

The hon. Gentleman struggled very hard with that supplementary. The policy of spending a great deal more money on primary schools—more money than has ever been spent before—will help to deal with some of the problems in the primary schools, and our policy of raising the school leaving age will give many children opportunities they have not had before.

Mr. Lane

In preparing for the raising of the school leaving age, would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, as the date draws near, the problem of discipline is one of the main anxieties of many teachers>

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, Sir. I also have that in mind. I believe the fact that we are getting an increasing number of teachers coming into the schools will help to alleviate that problem, since children will receive more individual attention from teachers.

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