HC Deb 22 January 1985 vol 71 cc844-5
2. Mr. Madden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he has to change the composition of school governing bodies.

Sir Keith Joseph

Proposals for a new framework for school government in England and Wales were published last year in the Green Paper "Parental Influence at School". The Government are now carefully considering the way ahead in the light of the responses that were received, and will make an announcement in due course.

Mr. Madden

Does the Secretary of State agree that any changes in the composition of governing bodies are rendered largely ineffective unless there is a proper relationship between head teachers and governing bodies, and unless head teachers command the overwhelming confidence of the majority of parents? What help does the right hon. Gentleman plan for governing bodies in cases where head teachers patently do not command the overwhelming confidence of the majority of parents?

Sir Keith Joseph

I think that the hon. Gentleman and I are largely in agreement on that proposition. The Government in their consultation paper proposed some alteration in the powers to clarify the relationship between head teachers, governing bodies and local education authorities. Those proposals received general — though not entire— approbation. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will take into account what the Government proposed in that publication.

Mr. Stern

In considering responses to the Green Paper on governing bodies, published last year, will my right hon. Friend take into account the fact that the overwhelming majority of parents with children at school are not represented among any of the corporate bodies that responded to the Green Paper? Many of us feel that the proposals in the Green Paper reflected parents' views more adequately than the responses that were received. Will my right hon. Friend take that into account in considering policy resulting from the Green Paper?

Sir Keith Joseph

I am encouraged by what my hon. Friend says. I had formed the impression that the reaction to the proposals to give parents a majority on governing bodies had been almost universally hostile. We are considering all the responses, and I shall take into account what my hon. Friend says.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Will the Secretary of State confirm that in the consultation document he talked a great deal about giving governors a much greater say in discussions about discipline in schools? Therefore, is it not unfortunate that the Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill says nothing about the role of governors or the whole question of discipline in schools?

Sir Keith Joseph

Corporal punishment is not the only form of discipline in schools, as the hon. Gentleman would soon tell me if I said otherwise. That whole issue is to be discussed later today.

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