HC Deb 13 December 1995 vol 268 c974
3. Mr. Legg

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many pupils are currently being educated in grant-maintained schools. [3870]

The Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mrs. Gillian Shephard)

More than 680,000 pupils are currently being educated in grant-maintained schools in England.

Mr. Legg

I welcome the fact that 680,000 pupils are now educated in grant-maintained schools. Does my right hon. Friend agree that grant-maintained status is the best route for education, as it leads to higher academic standards and lower truancy than in neighbouring schools directly controlled by local education authorities?

Mrs. Shephard

Yes. I agree with my hon. Friend that the results in grant-maintained schools in terms of academic results, truancy, behaviour and so on compare very well with comparable schools in the maintained sector.

Mr. Spearing

Is it not a fact that the Government are claiming that education can be as well based in grant-maintained schools as in those that are locally administered? Does that not mean that the accusation could be made that the Government's long-term policy is the elimination of local education authorities as we know them today? Will she confirm that that suspicion is well based in respect of the legislation that she has put in place?

Mrs. Shephard

There are very real benefits for pupils in grant-maintained schools, as I have just said. Those benefits are clearly perceived by 1.3 million parents whose children attend grant-maintained schools. According to a survey in The Times Educational Supplement last year, it is the view of heads and governors of grant-maintained schools that the independence of those schools from LEAs and the flexibility to handle their entire budgets contribute directly to the success of the schools. Therefore, it would be irresponsible not to examine whether those benefits might be extended to all pupils.

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