HC Deb 19 November 1974 vol 881 cc1090-1
13. Mr. Kilroy-Silk

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on his policy towards the reorganisation of secondary education in Ormskirk.

Mr. Armstrong

The Government's general policy on the organisation of secondary education is fully set out in Circular 4/74 and this applies to Ormskirk as to other parts of the country. It is for the Lancashire local education authority under the circular to inform my right hon. Friend by the end of next month of the measures that will be taken to end selection and for the authority, or school governors where appropriate, to put to him statutory proposals in respect of individual schools.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Is my hon. Friend aware that the majority of parents in Ormskirk wish to see an end to the present arbitrary discrimination against the majority of children of 11 years? Further, is he aware that they are tired of the tardy delays of the local authorities? Will he ensure that a proper comprehensive reorganisation of secondary education is implemented as soon as possible? Further, will he ensure that proper resources are made available by his Department?

Mr. Armstrong

After consultation has taken place it is for the local authority to submit proposals for my right hon. Friend to consider. We are determined to end selection and to introduce throughout the country a fully comprehensive system. We shall take all the appropriate measures to ensure that it is achieved.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

How can the Government press on with that policy in view of the evidence, for example, from Manchester which shows that in terms of academic achievement the county schools that have been reorganised have fallen behind the Church grammar and modern schools which have not been reorganised? How can the Government persist in that policy when The Times Educational Supplement has shown that the majority of teachers in every grade of teaching are opposed to the abolition of grammar schools?

Mr. Armstrong

I would not accept either of the generalisations made by the hon. Gentleman. There is no such evidence about lowering of standards. There is certainly contrary evidence about the opinion of teachers. Almost every teachers' organisation that comes to the Department stresses the urgency of ending the present system of selection, which is so unfair to so many of our children, and of introducing a comprehensive system which will get rid of the privileges in the present education system.