HC Deb 16 December 1975 vol 902 cc1147-8
7. Mr. Viggers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is satisfied with the level of discipline in schools.

11. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is satisfied with the level of discipline in schools.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Miss Joan Lestor)

I doubt whether there has ever been a time when one could have been wholly satisfied about this. I realise that there are influences mainly outside the school which make discipline these days more difficult; but I do not accept that behaviour problems are as widespread as is often suggested.

Mr. Viggers

Is the hon. Lady aware of the widespread frustration that is felt by parents who are unable to assist in their children's education because they have no choice of school? Is she aware of a recent report that indicates that a number of school leavers are regarded as unemployable because of their attitude towards employment? Does she agree that the best long-term interests of a child are brought out in a disciplined environment, which is often not available?

Miss Lestor

The answer to most of those questions is "No". However, to give a general answer, I am impressed by the number of parents who take a part in their children's education by their involvement in the schools. We should do well to look not so much at the schools as at influences outside the schools. We must bear in mind the pressures to which young people are now subjected.

Mr. Grocott

Does my hon. Friend agree that those parents most conspicuous in abrogating any responsibility for their children's education are those who send them away to boarding schools?

Miss Lestor

That is a point of view with which I have a lot of sympathy.

Sir W. Elliott

Although I accept the hon. Lady's point about outside influences, does she accept that a growing number of parents are very concerned about the Government's over-emphasis on the type of school rather than an standards within schools? Will she support those members of the teaching profession who demand certain standards of dress and who, for instance, refuse to allow girls to wear jewellery?

Miss Lestor

Dress within schools is largely a matter for the schools and for the heads of schools. One of the main arguments for comprehensive reorganisation was that we wanted to make available to children opportunities for them all to reach the same standards. We do not want standards to be considered only in the context of selective education.