§ Mr. Stern
Does my hon. Friend agree that the principal cause of complaints that are heard from time to time about low capitation and poor quality of repairs in schools is the failure of authorities, such as Avon, to reorganise schools, thereby wasting the money that could otherwise be provided to improve standards in schools? Will he allow and encourage authorities to speed up much-needed reorganisation? Will he also take into account the fact that when authorities are contemplating reorganisation, they are often considering a period of three years?
§ Mr. Peter Bruinvels
Will my hon. Friend look at the administration of our schools, as many teachers who serve on local education authorities appear to act in a negative way, especially in relation to Leicestershire county council 759 schools? Will he also encourage further single-sex schools to be established, as they are the only real way to allow pupils to develop?
§ Mr. Eastham
Does the Minister realise that the Department of Education and Science is pressing for the economic use of schools? It is recognised that in future some of those places will be required as the numbers increase. Therefore, some authorities are applying under section 13 for closures of one form per school to allow a thinning-out to get over the problem temporarily. However, on occasion, the Department is overruling the recommendations, especially in Tory areas, and that is causing an imbalance in other parts of the city.
§ Mr. Dunn
The hon. Gentleman seems to be somewhat confused about the provisions of the 1980 Act. Local education authorities can reduce their planned admission levels by up to 19.99 per cent. without recourse to the Department. If they wish to go beyond that, they must have recourse to the Secretary of State. How local authorities respond is entirely a matter for them.
§ Mr. Teddy Taylor
Has my hon. Friend studied the recent figures which show that the part of the United Kingdom with the highest success rate in A and O-levels is Northern Ireland, where 25 per cent. of all children go to grammar schools? Consequently, will he resist, or look very carefully at, any proposals from county councils that seek to wind up, abolish or undermine grammar school education in places such as Southend, as it is extremely successful and popular?