HC Deb 09 March 1972 vol 832 cc1631-2
10. Mr. Dormand

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will issue a statement showing the progress made on the recommendations of the Central Advisory Council's report, "Half Our Future", and if she will take the initiative in convening a conference of all interested parties to discuss the statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

I do not think that a conference is needed. We have acted on the main recommendation that the school leaving age should be raised. Most of the others were addressed to local education authorities or schools and have already had a considerable effect.

Mr. Dormand

That is a disappointing reply. Does not the right hon. Lady agree that this is not only one of the most important reports of recent years but is the most neglected report? Is it not now in imminent danger of being buried and forgotten? Is she aware that Lord Boyle—one of her predecessors—in welcoming the report emphasised that what was needed above all was a change of heart in the community as a whole. What progress has been made in that important aspect, and what action does the right hon. Lady propose to take?

Mrs. Thatcher

I do not agree with a great deal of what the hon. Gentleman says. We have taken action, and that action was to raise the school leaving age. That was the main recommendation of the report. Whatever any Minister may do, he or she cannot single-handedly bring about a change of heart in the community as a whole, although I would be the first to realise that that is most desirable.

Mr. Spearing

If the right hon. Lady will not convene a conference on this matter, will she undertake to inquire into the attainment of those pupils who leave school before taking public examinations and conduct a survey of their motivation at the time they leave school?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, Sir—not at the moment. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have records of examination results of those who leave school at 16, but not of those who leave at 15. I cannot at the moment agree to an inquiry of the kind that he suggests.