HC Deb 17 December 1974 vol 883 cc1339-41
11. Miss Fookes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress is being made by the committees inquiring into educational standards and discipline.

Mr. Armstrong

My right hon. Friend has not appointed committees to inquire into these matters, but they arc being carefully considered by the Department.

Miss Fookes

May I ask the Undersecretary why not, in view of the widespread disquiet about both these matters?

Mr. Armstrong

We have set up an assessment of performance unit and a disadvantaged unit in the department. We are preparing a consultative document so that we can discuss with local authorities, teachers and other interested parties these very serious problems which occur in our schools.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that the remit of these committees is sufficiently wide to cover incidents such as arson at Harrow? Does not that indicate that there is a considerable degree of dissatisfaction on the part of pupils there with that kind of education?

Mr. Armstrong

My hon. Friend will probably agree that to place the responsibility for all the problems that we have in education on a particular type of school is very unfair. The Opposition may, however, take note of what he said.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Does the Undersecretary not agree that if we are to maintain effective discipline in schools, the school and the home must work together rather than against each other? In that connection, will he consider implementing those proposals in our parents' charter which call for greater involvement of parents in schools and which have been widely welcomed in the educational world and are supported by, among others, members of the NUT?

Mr. Armstrong

We are most anxious to involve parents in schools, but involving parents does not mean inciting those who are against the wishes of the majority of parents all over the country that selection ought to be abolished. One of the most important contributions we can make to solving the problem of indiscipline in schools is to raise the morale of the teaching profession. No Government have done more for teachers than the present administration have done since March.