HC Deb 09 November 1982 vol 31 cc417-8
8. Mr. Parry

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on Croxteth comprehensive school.

Dr. Boyson

As a result of statutory proposals published by the Liverpool education authority and approved by my right hon. Friend, Croxteth comprehensive school closed in August 1982 and a new school was established at Ellergreen in September 1982 to serve the needs of the Croxteth and Ellergreen communities. The premises of the former Croxteth school are now unlawfully occupied.

Mr. Parry

Is the Minister aware that about 180 youngsters are attending Croxteth school and being taught by voluntary teachers? As the level of youth unemployment in that area is one of the highest in Britain, and as there is a complete lack of facilities for the largest housing estate in the area, will the Minister reconsider his decision, which is causing anguish to both parents and pupils?

Dr. Boyson

To be fair to the Government, we did not close the school. The local education authority proposed section 12 action to us and we agreed. The hon. Gentleman understands that. We agreed to the closure because if one added together the pupils at Croxteth and Ellergreen schools last year they would have constituted only a five-stream school. Moreover, the population of the schools was continuing to fall. It was obvious that Ellergreen school was more popular—it has a sports hall and a sixth form centre—so we agreed to the closure.

Mr. Allan Roberts

Is the Minister aware that not only school provision but community provision is at stake in Croxteth? Is he further aware that the Liverpool Liberals, who are now supported by the Secretary of State, are destroying a community asset, which will lead to a breakdown of law and order in the area?

Dr. Boyson

Liverpool council intended to use the Croxteth school building for community purposes. It is unfortunate that it is being occupied. It would have been used for youth training, adult education classes, a library and day care for the elderly. If some schools in Liverpool are not closed the rest will be only half full within the next four or five years.

Mr. Christopher Price

Does the Minister believe in parental choice, or does he not?

Dr. Boyson

I am delighted—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I shall answer. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman raised that point. It is interesting to note that one-third of the children in the Croxteth area contracted to go to schools outside that area with their parents' consent and only one child from outside chose to come in.