HC Deb 14 July 1981 vol 8 cc964-5
5. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received from members of the public and interested parties on the different methods of selection for places in secondary schools conducted by local authorities by geographical, catchment-area, transport, and sibling-related criteria.

Mr. Macfarlane

Local education authorities are free to make their own arrangements for admissions to schools in their area, and in general my right hon. and learned Friend has no role to play in this. However, the matters mentioned by my hon. Friend are often raised in the context of individual admission cases and occasionally by objectors to proposals made by local education authorities under sections 12 and 13 of the Education Act 1980.

Mr. Dykes

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. It is, of course, a matter for local authorities to determine. However, would he consider it a good idea for the Department to give guidance about the design, style and content of the forms which parents have to fill in at the initial stage? Will he further consider the possibility of modernising and improving the appeals procedure and the option of parents being interviewed, at least for the first part of their appeal, so that their up-to-date views can be heard?

Mr. Macfarlane

That theme was an integral part of the Education Act 1980. All those criteria are echoed not only in the Act, but in the regulations which are about to be issued. They are all important factors. The intention of the 1980 Act was to pursue those important objectives.

Mr. Spearing

Does the Minister agree that all the matters about which the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) complains were foretold and forewarned in the Committee stage of that legislation, and that the problems have all come home to roost?

Mr. Macfarlane

Not at all. There was much exaggeration on the part of the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) in Committee on that Bill. The matters to which my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) referred form an integral part of the intention of the Education Act 1980 that parents should be fully involved.