HC Deb 13 November 1996 vol 285 cc351-2
14. Mrs. Peacock

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many (a) grant-maintained and (b) local education authority schools are represented in the top 50 state schools measured by A-level results. [2084]

Mrs. Gillan

The 1995 school performance tables show that 32 of the top 50 schools in England measured by A-level results were grant maintained and 18 were local education authority maintained.

Mrs. Peacock

Does my hon. Friend agree that A-level results show that GM schools enhance our children's education? Will she also confirm that the Labour party's policy would do great damage to our children's education?

Mrs. Gillan

Yes; I have great pleasure in confirming what my hon. Friend says. Overall, pupils in grant-maintained schools taking two or more A-levels achieve a higher average point score, at 17.1, than LEA pupils, at 15.5. The Labour party presents the real threat to grant-maintained schools, and its continued hostility to them is paraded openly. The hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman) and the right hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) should speak up, and, when next they visit the schools that their children attend, tell the head teachers of their plans to disrupt the schools and to put them under LEA control.

Mr. Spearing

Does the Minister agree that the concept of a top and a bottom in tables of attainment is meaningless compared with the absolute standards achieved by all the schools? Will she note the damage done by publication of tables, and back both the head and the parents of students at Cheltenham college, who have taken a sensible view of education—against the views of their rather narrow-minded, business-minded and statistically minded governors?

Mrs. Gillan

I thought that the hon. Gentleman's party was becoming rather keen on our performance tables, which have bedded down extremely successfully. Higher standards and better results, which is what we are now getting from our schools, are what we expect and what we have delivered in the education system.

Mr. Stephen

My hon. Friend will be aware that many of the top 50 schools—judging by A-level results—are in the private sector, where head teachers have the power to use the cane if in their professional judgment it is the right way in which to deal with a particular pupil. She may recall that, two years ago, I tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill to give back that power to head teachers in the state sector, from which she may deduce that it is my personal view that head teachers in the state sector should have that power. What response has there been from parents and the general public to the current debate on the issue?

Mrs. Gillan

I am always interested, as I am sure is the whole House, to hear my hon. Friend's personal views on a wide range of subjects, which he often brings to the Floor of the House. As he knows, there have been no demands to increase the disciplinary measures that we are introducing, over and above those in the Education Bill.