HC Deb 16 May 1978 vol 950 cc222-4
6. Mr. Forman

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations she has received about the Taylor Report on school governing and managing bodies.

Miss Margaret Jackson

We consulted more than 30 interested bodies immediately after the publication of the Taylor Report and received about 170 letters commenting on various aspects of the report's recommendations. I have had recent discussions with some of the bodies concerned and expect to have further meetings shortly.

Mr. Forman

Is the Minister confident that in the light of those representations there is now more widespread public understanding of Lord Taylor's commitment to a genuine partnership in the management and running of schools? Will the Minister confirm that the teaching profession has nothing to fear from a fuller and more equal partnership with parents?

Miss Jackson

I accept and endorse completely all that the hon. Gentleman said. I can only say to him, in the hope that it will not do him any harm, how nice it is to hear positive sentiments coming from the Conservative Benches.

Mr. David Atkinson

Whatever the considerable merits of the recommendations of the Taylor Committee, their implementation will require additional resources for local education authorities. Will the hon. Lady give the House an assurance that it will be the Government who provide those resources?

Miss Jackson

We are a long way from implementing the recommendations of the Taylor Report. We are still at the stage of full discussions about the exact implications of the report. Only when those discussions are finished shall we have a clear idea about the resource implications.

Mr. Beith

As local authorities in some parts of the country are now embarked upon appointing their education committees in the absence of any change in the law, does not the hon. Lady think that the time is ripe to remind them that governing bodies should contain people who are genuinely representative of the interests involved in schools, and not simply political placemen?

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Miss Jackson

I accept what the hon. Gentleman said, but I am surprised to hear cheers coming from the Conservative Benches, because it is that party which has been instrumental in putting political placemen in public bodies and in removing governors of immense interest and experience. I agree entirely with what the hon. Gentleman says. Local authorities are already free to implement many of the recommendations of the Taylor Report, and we hope that many of them will do so.

Dr. Boyson

Is the Minister aware that, in view of the number of representations, many people fear that the Taylor Report—it is an important report, because it is vital to have more teacher and parent representation on the governing bodies—will be put in the "awaiting action" file, like the report on literacy from the Bullock Committee? Can the Minister assure us that, instead of its being put in the "awaiting action" file, the Taylor Report will be debated in this House so that the great debate on education, which is supposed to be going on round the country, may eventually arrive here?

Miss Jackson

It is not for me to say what will be debated in this House. As the hon. Gentleman well knows, there are many aspects of the Taylor Report which do not need action in this House and which local authorities are perfectly free to carry out at present. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will do his part in encouraging the many Conservative education authorities to carry out those proposals.