HC Deb 04 February 1986 vol 91 cc136-7
9. Mr. Chope

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the latest progress in preparations for the implementation by local education authorities of the provisions contained in the Education (Amendment) Bill.

13. Mr. Pawsey

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many education authorities have made, or will make this school term, fresh arrangements for midday supervision of children in school, thus relieving teachers of the obligation to perform this duty.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Chris Patten)

Twenty-five English LEAs have submitted bids or draft schemes and a further 38 have made inquiries about the scheme. Of the 17 schemes which have been approved so far to go ahead this term, none relies upon the voluntary unpaid participation of teachers.

Mr. Chope

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his reply. Does he share my concern that many local education authorities are not taking full advantage of the extra Government money presently available to provide alternative midday supervision? Can he confirm that there is now no excuse for a school not to provide full midday supervision?

Mr. Patten

I share my hon. Friend's concern. He is correct in what he has said. The previous arrangements, which have long been criticised by the teachers' unions and others, have broken down. Our proposals should mean adequate arrangements everywhere.

Mr. Pawsey

Does my hon. Friend accept that the Government's action in making funding available for midday supervision was widely applauded by teachers and parents alike, and that many of those parents are now most disappointed that adequate supervision is not being provided, with the result that many children have to go home at lunchtime, to their disadvantage?

Mr. Patten

I agree with my hon. Friend. Two thirds of local education authorities have been in touch with us about the new proposals. I hope that the remaining one third will listen to my hon. Friend's robust advice.

Mr. Freud

How many local education authorities will not be able to bid for lunchtime supervision because it would take them into penalty? In those areas, what will happen at lunchtimes, and what will happen to the money that properly belongs to those local education authorities?

Mr. Patten

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has said that he is willing to consider sympathetically any application to disregard expenditure approved for education support grant on midday supervision in 1985–86.