HC Deb 12 July 1994 vol 246 c815
4. Mrs. Lait

To ask the Secretary of State for Education when he expects to announce the use of the first education association.

Mr. Patten

I will not hesitate to transfer failing schools to education associations when appropriate. About 10 schools have been declared failing so far. A number of cases for the use of educational associations are under active consideration.

Mrs. Lait

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the issue of poorly performing schools has been swept under the carpet for too long? Can he assure me that he will be resolute in taking action against schools that fail pupils and parents, and introduce education associations as and when necessary?

Mr. Patten

When and if necessary, I will not hesitate to do so. I entirely agree that for too long information about schools was swept under the carpet. The hon. Member for Dewsbury and her Labour team oppose the regular and open inspection of schools and the publication of results. They oppose the publication of performance information for schools. They oppose giving parents the information that they need to help to promote the welfare of their children.

Mr. Jamieson

If the Secretary of State genuinely believes that education associations can combat low standards in schools, why does not he send an education association in to some of the private schools, such as Finborough school in Suffolk or Rodney school in Nottinghamshire, which receive a large proportion of their funding from the taxpayer through the service children's boarding schools allowance, and yet have the most damning inspectorate reports?

Mr. Patten

I am not aware of the reports to which the hon. Gentleman refers. I shall take the trouble to inform myself about them when I return to my Department this afternoon, because I know that the hon. Gentleman is a serious player in the education world. He is a member of the Education Select Committee which, as recently as a few weeks ago, heard a number of distinguished professors, including Professor Michael Barber, until recently a fully paid member of the NUT's team and now the professor of education at Keele, and Professor Mortimer, who said that we have to expect and demand more from children. Professor Mortimer, who is not exactly a running dog of mine and who is professor of education at the university of London, also said that, at long last, educators were looking at teaching in schools rather than at peripheral issues.