§ 12. Mr. Squire
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many parents have written to him objecting to the establishment of a city technology college.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
Our records show that only 15 letters of objection have been received in nearly two and a half years to city technology colleges. Parents see the CTC programme as a great opportunity for their children. There have been over 1,200 applications for 180 places available this year at Kingshurst, the first CTC. That is what parents think of CTCs.
§ Mr. Squire
Does my right hon. Friend agree that that excellent answer give the lie to the comments that we sometimes hear from Labour Members to the effect that parents and children do not want CTCs? Will my right hon. Friend particularly confirm that the interest is as high, if not higher, in areas where poorer standards of education and an absence of choice have been a legacy from the Labour party?
§ Mr. Baker
We are receiving applications from many areas to have CTCs—either new colleges or schools converted to CTCs. This is proving to be a very popular policy, because people recognise that these schools provide a special type of education. We want them to become beacons of excellence, copied by others. Of course, that is now happening in the Birmingham area.
§ Mr. Madden
If the Secretary of State is so confident that parents want CTCs, why is he so terrified to allow parents in Bradford a ballot to decide whether £8 million of their money should be spent on setting up a CTC, at a time when the vast majority of them see the expenditure of that amount of money as being wholly unnecessary, very divisive, and damaging to the existing schools in the city?
§ Mr. Baker
That is simply not true. It has been possible to establish a CTC in Bradford—a new one, to be built next year—only because the Conservatives now control Bradford city council. The hon. Gentleman will find that, once that school is established and has started to recruit, 13 it will be one of the most popular in Bradford, to which the children of many of his constituents will want to go. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Holt
My right hon. Friend will know that the new Macmillan CTC in Teesside has been oversubscribed by teachers many times over, and that many of the parents of the 40 to 60 children who applied to join but have not been found places this year will want a new college in addition to the one that we already have.
§ Mr. Straw
The Secretary of State must be aware that the parents of children at the Sylvan school in Croydon, which is the subject of a proposal to turn it into a CTC, have voted overwhelmingly to keep it as a county school. Why is the Secretary of State refusing to accept the outcome of that parents' ballot?