HC Deb 04 April 1989 vol 150 cc12-3
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, 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. Speaker

Order. I ask the House to listen to Education Questions.

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. Baker

Once again, I am quite sure that that school will be very popular. Many teachers want to teach in it, and many parents want to send their children to it. I am quite sure that after it has been established for a few years its popularity will grow even further.

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?

Mr. Baker

I understand that the Croydon local education authority voted only last night to publish statutory notices to close the school. That triggers a formal process, and the application will come to me. Of course, I will take into account any objections to the proposal.