HC Deb 19 April 1977 vol 930 cc19-20
16. Mr. Ovenden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science which local education authorities have now replied to her request under the Education Act 1976 for comprehensive reorganisation plans and which authorities have not.

Miss Margaret Jackson

My right hon. Friend wrote to eight local education authorities on 24th November 1976, a further 26 on 17th January 1977, and a further one—Walsall—on 14th April 1977, requiring them to submit, within six months, proposals for the completion of secondary reorganisation in their areas. No proposals have yet been received from any authority or from the governors of any voluntary school.

Mr. Ovenden

Has my hon. Friend received any approaches from any of the authorities involved about the availability of resources for reorganisation, and is she in a position to give the House an assurance that comprehensive reorganisation will not be further delayed in areas where it has been held back for long enough because of a lack of resources?

Miss Jackson

Some local authorities have commented on the difficulties that they expect to face. However, until we receive full proposals for reorganisation from any of these areas we are not prepared to make any decisions. We wish to see the proposals as a whole. The question of resources—as with other questions—will then be taken into account.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Does the Department have any recognised way of measuring the academic or educational change following reorganisation?

Miss Jackson

I am not sure what the hon. Gentleman means by that question. If he is asking whether we monitor closely the progress of individual schools, the answer is "No", but local authorities may do so.

Mr. Forman

Is the hon. Lady aware that one of the consequences of the reorganisation proposals that she has called for is that some good schools have been threatened with closure, particularly in my area of the London Borough of Sutton? Is she satisfied that that should be a consequence of her policy?

Miss Jackson

No, we are not satisfied, and we have made efforts to see that a number of schools are kept open and that they offer their facilities to a wider range of children than has been able to experience them in the past. We greatly regret the loss of any good school, but some, unfortunately, have preferred to withdraw rather than become part of the State system.