HC Deb 17 January 1978 vol 942 cc230-1
7. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she remains satisfied with the method by which county councillors have a dominant role in the appointment of school governors within their wards.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Current practice varies a great deal betwen one local education authority and another, but the Taylor Committee has recently made recommendations about the composition and method of apointment of school governing bodies on which my right hon. and learned friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I are at present consulting widely. I refer the hon. Gentleman to what I said on this subject during the debate on the Address.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Secretary of State aware that, following last May's county council elections, there is evidence of some newly elected county councillors disposing of existing school governors, against the wishes of headmasters and the local community, for purely party political reasons? Will she bear that evidence in mind when she considers the Taylor Report?

Mrs. Williams

I am well aware that that has happened on some occasions. The Government have already indicated their support for a larger parental and teacher representation on governing bodies, although we still have to give our detailed recommendations on the Taylor Report.

Mr. Ovenden

What action will my right hon. Friend take to stop authorities such as Kent taking account of political considerations when deciding on the suitability of parent governors?

Mrs. Williams

I have said on more than one occasion that I think that local education authorities should consider very seriously the contribution that governors can make, and that this should be regarded as the overwhelming consideration in making appointments. But the House will know that changes cannot be made in the present circumstances of local authority appointment until there is legislation about a different composition of governing bodies.

Mr. William Shelton

I am glad to hear that the Secretary of State is consulting the Taylor Report. Do not these exchanges show that it is about time the House had an opportunity to debate it? Will the right hon. Lady press her right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to provide time for us to discuss it?

Mrs. Williams

I shall be happy for representations to be made to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to that effect.