HC Deb 06 May 1986 vol 97 cc7-8
8. Mr. Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received on the provision in the Education Bill to prohibit the appointment of school governors under the age of 18 years.

Mr. Dunn

The Department has received nine letters, including five from hon. Members, opposing the proposal. In addition, the matter has been discussed during debates on the Bill in another place.

Mr. Wainwright

Is the Minister aware that some local education authorities already include pupils under the age of 18 among their appointments to governorships? Does he not realise that a minority of pupils as school governors would further the consumer-based society that the Government claim to champion?

Mr. Dunn

The Government have long held the view that a school or college governor holds an office of public and pecuniary trust. Minors are not eligible to hold such office. We are aware that there are contrary legal views, and that is why we are seeking to put the matter beyond doubt, especially in the light of the wider responsibilities now proposed for governing bodies.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

Is it true, as the Daily Mail stated in an education article today, that it can cost more for a child to be educated in the public secondary sector than through a private school? If so, does that not suggest that the financial management of our schools leaves much to be desired? If that is the case, what is the point of governors who lack either financial or management skills having a say in how our schools are controlled?

Mr. Dunn

We shall have the opportunity to discuss those matters when the Bill comes here from another place. It is fair to point out to the House that we intend to legislate for a degree of financial management in schools and to embark on and create training courses for governors so that they will know why they are appointed.