HC Deb 14 July 1981 vol 8 c970
10. Mr. Nicholas Winterton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what importance he attaches to parental choice and expression of parental support for a school when considering proposals to reduce or close maintained schools.

Mr. Macfarlane

My right hon. and learned Friend attaches great importance to the views of parents, alongside the wide range of educational and other factors that he has to take into account when making a decision.

Mr. Winterton

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that there is a great deal of support from parents for many schools, particularly village and denominational schools. Although there must be good reason to reduce the expected vast surplus of school places over the next few years, does the Minister agree that such places should be found from the least popular schools rather than from the most popular schools?

Mr. Macfarlane

I accept the theme of what my hon. Friend says. Each proposal is considered on its merits by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. All those factors are taken into account in each case that comes to my Department. In relation to my hon. Friend's anxiety, he must observe that the educational content of each school is an integral part of each consideration.

Mr. Christopher Price

Does the Minister agree with the recent statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts to the effect that if schools have to be closed, voluntary and county schools should be closed broadly in the same proportions as were the teacher training colleges?

Mr. Macfarlane

If that question is directed at me personally I must tell the hon. Gentleman that I have not read the exact evidence given. I take note of what he says.