HC Deb 29 January 1974 vol 868 cc225-6
6. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what study has been made by her Department on the special problems affecting sixth form ("junior") colleges in local reorganisation schemes in England and Wales.

Mr. Raison

My Department and Her Majesty's inspectors are keeping under review the development of sixth form colleges in England.

Mr. Dykes

As they are still very new animals, having been going for a year or two in most areas, will my hon. Friend undertake to consider the possibility of a formal study? There are many problems relating to these institutions, not least questions of curricula, preparation for university, their examination successes, and so on.

Mr. Raison

There are now 31 sixth form colleges, and a further 37 have been approved. My Department and I will follow closely the success or otherwise of the colleges. If a special inquiry should seem to be necessary, we would set one up, but I believe that for the moment we have adequate means of looking at the matter.

Mr. Cant

As a member of the new Staffordshire County Education Committee and Chairman of the Stoke Education Committee, which built the first sixth form college in this country, may I ask the Minister to ask his right hon. Friend to defer a decision on the comprehensive school arrangements for Staffordshire county until the new district of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Kidsgrove has had a full opportunity to give its thoughts on the proposals being put forward for comprehensive education?

Mr. Raison

I shall bear that point in mind and write to the hon. Gentleman about it.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

How many of the secondary colleges to which the hon. Gentleman referred are open-access colleges?

Mr. Raison

I do not have that figure with me, but I shall write to the hon. Gentleman.