HC Deb 07 February 1984 vol 53 c753
9. Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to improve the quality of school education in Liverpool.

Mr. Dunn

My right hon. Friend's policies are directed towards improving the quality of education in all areas, including Liverpool.

Mr. Alton

Has the Minister had the chance to consider the report of the North-Western Society of Education Officers, which says that levels of absenteeism, including truency, are as high as 40 per cent. in some Liverpool schools? Is he aware that 24 of the 27 schools that are affected by the Labour party's reorganisation plans in Liverpool have objected to those proposals and that some 70,000 parents have now objected to the city of Liverpool? Will he undertake to stand by his statement of last year that parental choice is non-negotiable?

Mr. Dunn

I have received today a copy of a synopsis of observations on the report. I understand that the conclusions reached in it are contested by the Liverpool education authority. My Department is currently examining the report. One benefit of the current review of the school curriculum, which was initiated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, should be a reduction in truency because the subject matter will be more relevant and therefore of greater interest to children.

Mr. Terry Fields

Does the Minister agree that the opportunistic tendency to wild exaggeration for publicity purposes does not improve the education of children in Liverpool? Is he further aware that; in the past decade under the Liberal and Tory administration in Liverpool; 13,000 young children have been crowded into classes of 30 or more and have not benefited from that administration taking advantage of falling school rolls to enhance the standard of education? Is he aware that Her Majesty's inspectors of schools condemned that administration? Will he guarantee that the Government will applaud Liverpool city council for doing something about education in Liverpool at long last?

Mr. Dunn

The House will know that the Department has before it proposals for secondary reorganisation in Liverpool. I cannot comment upon them. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) has the right to ask Ministers any questions which he sees fit to ask.

Mr. Loyden

Will the Minister bear in mind, when reorganisation of Liverpool's secondary education is being considered, that reorganisation has been avoided and evaded by the Liberals and Tories in Liverpool for between eight and 10 years? Will he also bear in mind that it took the Labour party to grasp the nettle of reorganisation?

Mr. Dunn

I can only repeat what I have just said. The proposals are before us for secondary reorganisation in Liverpool, and a decision will be announced as and when we are ready to make that decision.