HC Deb 19 October 1972 vol 843 cc435-6
15. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps she has taken to ascertain the long-term needs of the educational priority areas.

Mrs. Thatcher

Through the urban programme, the increased allowance for teachers in schools of exceptional difficulty and through the school building programmes we have already made a positive contribution towards meeting the needs of educational priority areas. I am now considering the recommendations in Dr. Halsey's book "Educational Priority" published at the beginning of October.

Mr. Spearing

I am glad that the right hon. Lady has considered the report, but does she not agree that, whatever is written in research institutions or by researchers, in the end success depends upon the people in the schools? Can she assure us that when considering the future of teacher training and teacher supply she will ensure an adequate supply of teachers to go to educational priority and other areas which will very shortly need more than one teacher per class in order that basic educational standards can be maintained?

Mrs. Thatcher

I agree that the key to solving the problems of these areas lies in the teachers in the schools and parents in the home. The co-operation of both is required, with the co-operation of the social services, if the best is to be done for the children. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are not short of teachers to go to these areas at the moment and I am delighted to see a number of dedicated teachers operating in the primary schools in those areas.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will the right hon. Lady take into account that some areas of educational priority still have some very old schools? One school in my area, the Swinton Fitzwilliam Junior Mixed School, was built in, I think, 1853. It has no hall in which the children can take their meals and they have to travel about 400 yards each way in very inclement weather to take their meals in another place. Will the right hon. Lady do something to make certain that a new school is built as soon as possible?

Mrs. Thatcher

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put that school to me and tell me what priority the local education authority has accorded to it in its recommendations, because that influences the decisions we make.

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