HC Deb 23 July 1985 vol 83 cc858-9
18. Mr. Hubbard-Miles

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his current policy towards the retention of selective secondary education.

20. Mrs. Rumbold

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his policy towards grammar schools; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Dunn

My right hon. Friend is content with the existing legal framework, which gives freedom to each local education authority to maintain its existing pattern of school organisation and, if it wishes, to propose changes in that pattern. Using this freedom, some local education authorities continue to maintain selective secondary schools. The freedom to submit statutory proposals to reintroduce grammar schools was restored by the Education Act 1979.

Mr. Hubbard-Miles

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Does he agree that many parents would like the opportunity to consider an alternative? Is he considering any proposals to widen parental choice?

Mr. Dunn

We are always considering proposals to widen parental choice. Our stance is in stark contrast to that of the parties opposite, all of which agree with the abolition of grammar schools and parental choice as Conservative Members understand it.

Mrs. Rumbold

Are there serious plans to reintroduce direct grant grammar schools to help children who are deprived of an excellent education because they come from areas where they are unable to receive an education according to their abilities? If so, when is my hon. Friend likely to produce them?

Mr. Dunn

As I said a few moments ago, we are continuing at all times to consider the various options of organisation available to us. Undoubtedly in the fullness of time certain proposals will be made known, but I am not yet in a position to say what they are.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

Can the Minister explain why the Catholic sector in the northern part of the borough of Trafford has no grammar school provision, only secondary modern schools, when Trafford is a selective authority and 40 per cent. of primary school children go on to grammar schools? Does the Minister accept that that effectively reduces the secondary modern schools to "sink" schools?

Mr. Dunn

The Conservative party has always regretted the passing of the grammar and direct grant schools. I assume from what the hon. Gentleman said that he is in favour of the total abolition of selective schools in the borough of Trafford.