HC Deb 13 November 1973 vol 864 cc235-6
17. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she expects the projected secondary school building programme for children in Melbourne and the surrounding areas of South Derbyshire will be completed.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Two phases in the construction of the proposed Chellaston Secondary School in Derby, which will provide selective places for children from the Melbourne area, are programmed to start during 1975–76 and 1976–77 respectively. These projects are expected to be completed during 1977 and 1978. No new provision for non-selective pupils from that area is at present included in the building programme.

Mr. Rost

Is my hon. Friend aware that 1977 will not be soon enough because, as a result of the reorganisation of Derby borough education, children in Melbourne and the surrounding areas of South Derbyshire will now have to continue to take a selective examination in order to compete for places in a non-selective system? Does my hon. Friend really think that this represents equality of educational opportunity?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern for the children of his constituents, but in allocating resources for the replacement of old and sub-standard secondary schools priority naturally has to be given to the most pressing bids made by the authorities. Unfortunately, the replacement of the Melbourne Secondary School has not been given high priority by the Derbyshire authority.