HC Deb 25 November 1980 vol 994 cc311-3
8. Mr. Squire

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when the results of the Government inquiry into the future of the Inner London Education Authority will be published.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

The Government's review of the arrangements for education in inner London is still in progress. I shall make a statement when it is complete.

Mr. Squire

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the recent inspectors' report, as published, showed that ILEA, in spite of enjoying perhaps the best pupil-teacher ratio on average in the country, none the less had very disturbing educational results? Will be take steps in the immediate future to produce a system in which ILEA is more politically, educationally and financially accountable than it is now?

Mr. Carlisle

Clearly the local inspectors' report, which we published, shows that there is considerable room for improvement in certain parts of the educational system in London. I think I can add no more than what I said at the time of its publication, which was that it shows clearly that the standard of educational achievement is not solely dependent either on the degree of financial provision or on the pupil-teacher ratio.

Mr. Tilley

Does not the Minister accept, first, that Her Majesty's inspectors' report shows, apart from odd sentences picked out by the hostile press, that ILEA's standard of education is very high indeed in the areas of nursery, primary and further education and in adult education? Does he not realise that it is time that he removed the sword of Damocles that he holds over this education authority of threats of action—the grounds for which he seems unable to substantiate—and allowed ILEA to get on with its job of educating the children of London without threats from the present Government about what may or may not be done?

Mr. Carlisle

I am happy to repeat the words that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister stated the day after the report was published. When asked a similar sort of question in the House, she said: To do justice to a number of the teachers in the Inner London Education Authority, the report was complimentary about the standards in nursery schools and primary schools…in a number of the older comprehensive schools."—[Official Report, 13 November 1980; Vol. 991, c. 617.] That is so. But to accept that should not mean that one does not also recognise that the inspectors were critical of other parts of the system in the secondary schools. I hope that ILEA will learn the necessary message from that report.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

Does my right hon. and Learned Friend agree that the inspectors' report on ILEA is a damning indictment of the quality of secondary education available in inner London—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."]—and that the findings as regards secondary education largely vindicate the findings of the Committee which sat under my chairmanship earlier this year? If the quality of education is to improve in inner London, will be ensure that there is greater involvement both of parents and of local councillors at local level, which is not available under present arrangements?

Mr. Carlisle

I agree with my hon. Friend that the report was clearly critical of certain parts of secondary school provision in London and showed that the inspectors believed that the teachers were not getting the best out of the pupils in those schools and were underestimating the pupils' abilities. To that extent, the report was critical of the secondary education. As to the rest of my hon. Friend's question, I ask him to await the statement which I shall make once our review has been completed.

Mr. Guy Barnett

Is the Secretary of State aware that, speaking as the parent of a child in a secondary school run by ILEA, I am totally satisfied with the quality of the education and with the quality of the consultation available to parents? What account does he take of the massive hostility that was aroused in ILEA to these mad proposals?

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman must be responsible for his own assessment of the education being received by his own children, and I do not wish to comment on it. All that I can say is that it is stupid to blinker one's eyes and not accept that the report was very critical of certain aspects of secondary education whilst being complimentary about certain other aspects of ILEA's performance.

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