HC Deb 09 March 1972 vol 832 cc1625-6
4. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will allow local authorities to include the replacement and improvement of secondary school buildings among their proposals under the urban programme.

Mrs. Thatcher

I think it right that most of the resources available to education under the urban programme should be devoted to nursery places. To allow expenditure on secondary schools under this programme would jeopardise that objective.

Mr. Montgomery

I agree with the priorities of my right hon. Friend, but would she not agree that there are exceptional cases in the secondary sector? When resources are more readily available, can she give them a certain amount of extra priority?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am well aware of the exceptional cases in the secondary sector. In the two years 1972–74, 15 secondary schools are to be rebuilt or improved. I am anxious that as soon as more resources become available we should do more to improve secondary education facilities.

Mr. Freeson

Is the right hon. Lady aware that if some secondary school replacement were provided under the urban programme it would be possible to make sites and, sometimes, buildings available for the special objective that she has stated, namely, the provision of more nursery places and similar facilities? I draw her attention to the Brondesbury and Kilburn secondary schools in my constituency, which are totally out of date and should be closed down as soon as possible to make available sites for other purposes.

Mrs. Thatcher

The cost of sites is not the only factor. The cost of a secondary school place vastly exceeds the cost of a nursery school place, and it is the nursery schools which should have priority in this programme.

25. Mr. Fox

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science to what extent the number of qualified mathematics and science teachers in maintained secondary schools falls short of needs.

Mr. van Straubenzee

A recent survey indicates that though the position is improving there is a shortage of 1,600 graduates whose main teaching subject would be mathematics, 500 for physics and a few hundred each for other sciences. The shortage of non-graduates is a good deal smaller.

Mr. Fox

From his reply the Under-Secretary is obviously aware, as I am, of the grave concern of many parents at this shortfall. What we seek is an improvement in the situation.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I hope that my hon. Friend will take comfort from the fact that over 3,000 graduates in mathematics and science are at present on postgraduate training courses. Last year the figure was about 2,200 so that shows an encouraging improvement.