HL Deb 22 December 1965 vol 271 cc1053-60

3.10 p.m.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I might take this opportunity to repeat a Statement made earlier to-day in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science:

"The Government have already announced that they propose to set up a Public Schools Commission. I am glad to be able to tell the House that Sir John Newsom has accepted my right honourable friend's invitation to be Chairman of the Commission.

"The main function of the Commission, which will cover Scotland as well as England and Wales, will be to advise on the best way of integrating the public schools with the State system of education. The Government are determined that the public schools should make the maximum contribution to meeting the educational needs of the country, and that this should be done in such a way as to reduce the socially divisive influence which they now exert. This implies that the schools should, like other parts of the educational system, become progressively open to boys and girls irrespective of the incomes of their parents; that they should move towards a wider range of academic attainment, so that the public school sector may increasingly play its own part in the national movement towards comprehensive education; and, in particular, that they should seek to meet any unsatisfied need for boarding education among wider sections of the population.

"For the immediate purpose of the Commission, public schools are defined as those independent schools now in membership of the Headmasters' Conference, Governing Bodies' Association or Governing Bodies of Girls' Schools Association. But the Commission will also be asked to recom- mend in due course whether any action is needed in respect of other independent schools.

"The Commission will be expected to collect and assess all relevant information about the public schools and the need and existing provision for boarding education; to work out the rôle which individual schools might play in national and local schemes of integration; to initiate, subject to my right honourable friend's approval, experimental schemes; and to recommend a national plan for integrating the schools with the maintained sector of education.

"The Commission's detailed terms of reference and a list of the schools concerned will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT."

Following are the Terms of Reference and list of schools referrd to:


The main function of the Commission will be to advise on the best way of integrating the public schools with the State system of education. For the immediate purpose of the Commission, public schools are defined as those independent schools now in membership of the Headmasters' Conference, Governing Bodies' Association or Governing Bodies of Girls' Schools Association.

The Commission will be expected to carry out the following tasks:

  1. (a) To collect and assess information about the public schools and about the need and existing provision for boarding education; forms of collaboration between the schools (in the first instance the boarding schools) and the maintained system.
  2. (b) To work out the rôle which individual schools might play in national and local schemes of integration.
  3. (c) If it so wishes, and subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, to initiate experimental schemes matching existing provision with different types of need.
  4. (d) To recommend a national plan for integrating the schools with the maintained sector of education.
  5. (e) To recommend whether any action is needed in respect of other independent schools, whether secondary or primary.

In carrying out its tasks the Commission will be expected (while respecting the denominational character of the schools), to pay special attention to the following objectives:

  1. (a) To ensure that the public schools should make their maximum contribution to meeting national educational needs, and in the first instance any unsatisfied need for 1055 boarding education in the light of the Martin and Newsom Reports.(*)
  2. (b) To create a socially mixed entry into the schools in order both to achieve (a) above and to reduce the divisive influence which they now exert.
  3. (c) To move towards a progressively wider range of academic attainment amongst public school pupils, so that the public school sector may increasingly conform with the national policy for the maintained sector.
  4. (d) To co-operate closely with local education authorities in seeking to match provision with need for boarding education.
  5. (e) To ensure the progressive application of the principle that the pubic schools, like other parts of the educational system, should be open to boys and girls irrespective of the income of their parents.
(*) Report of the Working Party on Assistance with the Cost of Boarding Education, published 1960.Half Our Future. A report of the Central Advisory Council for Education (England), published 1963.



Abbotsholme, Ackworth, Aldenham, All-hallows, Ampleforth, Ardingly, Beaumont, Bedales, Bedford, Berkhampstead, Bishop's Stortford, Bloxham, Blundell's, Bootham, Bradfield, Brighton, Bromsgrove, Bryanston, Canford, Carmel, Charterhouse, Cheltenham, Chigwell, Christ's College, Brecon, Christ's Hospital, City of London, Clayesmore, Clifton, Colston's Boys', Cranleigh, Dean Close, Denstone, Douai, Dover, Downside, Dulwich, Durham, Eastbourne, Edinburgh Academy, Ellesmere, Epsom, Eton, Felsted, Fettes, Forest, Friends', Giggleswick, Glasgow Academy, Glenalmond, Trinity College, Gordonstoun, Grenville, Gresham's, Haileybury and I.S.C., Harrow, Harrow, Lower School of John Lyon, Highgate, Hurstpierpoint College, Ipswich, Kelly College, Tavistock, King's College School, Wimbledon, King's College, Taunton, King's School, Bruton Somerset. King's School, Canterbury, King's School, Ely, Cambs., King's School, Gloucester, King's School, Macclesfield, King's School, Rochester, Kingswood, Lancing College, Langley School, Leighton Park, Leys, Liverpool, Llandovery, Lord Wandsworth, Loretto, Malvern, Marlborough, Merchant Taylors', Merchiston Castle School, Mill Hill, Milton Abbey, Monkton Combe, Mount St. Mary's, Nautical College, Pangbourne. Nottingham, Oratory, Oswestry, Oundle, Prior Park, Queen's College, Taunton, Radley, Ratcliffe, Reed's Rendcomb, Repton, Rishworth, Rossall, Royal Masonic, Royal Merchant Navy School, Rugby, Ruthin, Rydal, St. Bees, St. Benedict's, St. Dunstan's, St. Edmunds, Canterbury, St. Edward's, St. George's, Harpenden, St. George's, Weybridge, St. John's, Leatherhead, St. Lawrence, St. Paul's, St. Peter's, Scarborough, Sebright, Sedbergh, Sevenoaks, Sherbourne, Shrewsbury, Silcoates. Solihull, Stonyhurst, Stowe, Strathallan, Sutton Valence, Taunton, Tettenhall College, Tonbridge, Trent, Truro Cathedral School, University College School, Hampstead, Uppingham, Warwick King's School, Wellingborough, Wellington, Westminster, Whitgift, Winchester, Worksop, Wrekin, Wycliffe, The Abbey, Malvern Wells, Abbot's Hill, Hemel Hempstead, Alice Ottley School, Worcester, Ancaster House School, Bexhill, Ashford School, Kent, Atherley School, Southampton, Badminton School, Westbury-onTrym, Bedford High School, Bedgebury Park, Goudhurst, Benenden School, Cranbrook, Berkhamsted School for Girls, Brentwood School, Southport, Bruton School for Girls, Burgess Hill P.N.E.U. School, Casterton School, Kirkby Lonsdale, Channing School, Highgate, Charters Towers School, Bexhill, Cheltenham Ladies' College, Christ's Hospital Girls' School, Hertford, City of London School for Girls, Claremount School, Esher, Cleveland School, Stockton-on-Tees, Clifton High School, Convent of the Holy Child Jesus, Edgbaston, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Hove, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Woldingham, Cranborne Chase School, Tisbury, Croft House School, Shillingstone, Croham Hurst School, S. Croydon, Derby High School, Downe House, Newbury, Durham High School, East Anglian School, Bury St. Edmunds, Edgbaston Church of England College, Edgbaston High School, Ellerslie, Great Malvern, Elmslie Girls' School, Blackpool, Eothen School, Caterham, Esdaile School, Edinburgh, Farnborough Hill Convent College, Farringtons Girls' School, Chislehurst, Felixstowe College, Francis Holland School. N.W.1, Francis Holland School, S.W.1. Gardenhurst School, Burnham-on-Sea, Godolphin School, Salisbury, Greenacre School for Girls, Banstead, The Grove School, Hindhead, Guildford High School, Harrogate College, Hawnes School, Haynes Park, Headington School, Oxford, Heathfield School, Ascot, Hollington Park School, St. Leonards-on-Sea, Howell's School, Denbigh, Hull High School. Hunmanby Hall, Filey, Huyton College, Liverpool, James Allen's Girls' School, Dulwich, Kent College, Pembury, Kingsley School, Leamington Spa, Lady Eleanor Holles School, Hampton, Lawnside School, Malvern. Lewes High School, Lillesden School, Hawkhurst, Lowther College, Rhyl, Malvern Girls' College, Micklefleld School, Seaford, Moira House School, Eastbourne, Moreton Hall, Oswestry, Mount School, Mill Hill. Mount School, York, Newcastle-on-Tyne Church High School, Northwood College, Oakdene, Beaconsfield, Ockbrook School, Derby, Overstone School, Northampton, Parsons Mead, Ashtead, Penrhos College, Colwyn Bay, Pipers Corner School, High Wycombe, Polam Hall, Darlington, Princess Helena College, Hitchin, Prior's Field, Godalming, Queen Anne's School, Caversham, Queen Ethelhurga's School, Harrogate, Queen Margaret's School, Esrick, Queen's College, London, W.1, Queenswood, Hatfield, Roedean School, Brighton, Royal Masonic School for Girls, Rickmansworth, Royal Naval School, Haslemere, Royal School, Bath, St. Albans High School, St. Audries School. West Quantoxhead, St. Brandon's School, Clevedon, St. Catherine's School, Bramley, St. Clare's School, Penzance, St. Dunstan's Abbey, Plymouth. St. Elphin's School, Darley Dale, St. Felix School, Southwold, St. George's School, Edinburgh, St. Helen's School, Northwood, St. Hilary's School, Alderley Edge, St. James' School, West Malvern, St. Joseph's Convent, Reading, St. Leonards-Mayfield School, Mayfield, St. Leonards and St. Katherine's, St. Andrews, St. Margaret's School, Exeter, St. Martin's School, Solihull, St. Mary's Convent, Ascot, St. Mary's Convent, Shaftesbury, St. Mary's Hall, Brighton, St. Mary's School, Calne, St. Mary's School, Gerrards Cross, St. Mary's School, Wantage, St. Michael's School, Limpsfield, St. Michael's School, Petworth, St. Monica's School, Clacton, St. Paul's Girls' School, W.6, St. Stephen's College, Broadstairs, St. Swithun's School. Winchester, St. Winifred's School, Llanfairfechan, School of S. Mary and S. Anne, Abbots Bromley, Sherborne School for Girls, Skellfield School, Thirsk, Stonar School, Melksham, Stover School. Newton Abbot. Stratford House School, Bickley, Sunderland High School, Surbiton High School, Tormead School. Guildford, Trinity Hall, Southport. Tudor Hall School, Banbury, Uplands School, Parkstone, Upper Chine School, Shanklin, Upton Hall Convent, Upton, Wirral, Wadhurst College, Welsh Girls' School, Ashford. Middlesex, Wentworth Collegiate School, Bournemouth, West Cornwall School, Penzance, Westonbirt School, Tetbury, Westwood House School, Peterborough, Winceby House School, Bexhill, Winterbourne House Collegiate School, Bristol, Wycombe Abbey School, York College.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Snow, for repeating that Statement, although I cannot give it a very warm welcome. It seems to me a further example of how the Government have their priorities wrong in the sphere of education. In our opinion, the real priorities lie in the school curriculum, the provision and training of teachers and the building of schools; whereas the Government have gone for the red herring of comprehensive education, in which they have put our grammar schools at risk, and are now seeking to interfere with the public schools. I need not remind your Lordships that in these two sectors, grammar and public schools, lie most of the outstanding schools in this country. The only glimmer of hope in the Statement, and something which I welcome, is the appointment of Sir John Newsom as the Commission's Chairman. Those of us who know Sir John Newsom certainly have confidence in his judgment. I hope that under his chairmanship the Commission will act with wisdom.

May I ask the noble Lord whether he can go a little further in defining what is meant by the word "integrate". The Secretary of State has said on several occasions that he has no intention of interfering with the freedom of people to educate their children privately, should they so wish. Can the noble Lord then confirm that by "integration" there is no intention of taking over the public schools, of interfering with their internal independence of government, or of interfering with the standards of entry which they set?


My Lords, may I also welcome the Statement, and thank the noble Lord for making it? May I join with the noble Lord in welcoming Sir John Newsom as Chairman of this Commission. I understand that a list of the schools concerned, as well as the Commission's terms of reference, is to be published in the Official Report. If that means to-morrow, may I ask whether we are also to have the names of those who will be serving with Sir John Newsom, whom we so much welcome? I ask this because it has come to the notice of some of us who have a certain interest in public schools that certain representatives, if not officials, of the Ministry of Education have come round investigating, and in one case I know of they said they were making a complete survey of the public school system within a period of two months. This seemed to me quite ridiculous, in view of the very widespread and traditional effect that these schools have. I take it that there is no limit to the time which the Commission may spend on this inquiry, but we should like to know, and to be reassured by knowing the names of the other members of the Commission.


My Lords, the list of schools and the terms of reference will appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow, and we hope to give the names of the other members to noble Lords within a few days. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Rea, that, misguided we may be; mad we are not. We have not suggested that two months would be a reasonable time for any such Commission to work. In fact, the time we have thought provisionally in which it might be able to report is about two years, which seems to me a relatively reasonable time.

On the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, I think it would be for the Commission to suggest what integration really means. I can reiterate the statement of my right honourable friend that there is no intention of interfering with the right of parents to educate their children privately. I should like to say further—on this I am a little sensitive—that it is unreasonable of a noble Lord, who is usually a very reasonable man, to suggest that many Members on these Benches, including myself if I may say so, are completely insensitive to the needs of quality in secondary education.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether it is intended to include within the purview of the Commission the direct-grant schools?


No, my Lords; I have to tell the right reverend Prelate that my right honourable friend is very happy about the present co-operation of the direct-grant schools and the local authorities, and he proposes to leave that there for the moment. He believes that to bring them within the purview of this Commission would be to confuse the issue.


My Lords, may I follow that up by asking that this point may be very carefully considered? A great many of the direct-grant schools consider themselves to be public schools. Their headmasters are members of the Headmasters' Conference, and I think that great harm might be done if the welfare and the contribution of the direct-grant schools were not included in this general survey of the public school system.


My Lords, I will certainly communicate to my right honourable friend the views of the right reverend Prelate, but I am afraid that I ought not to raise false hopes. This point has been deeply considered, and I think it unlikely that my right honourable friend will feel able to alter his decision.


My Lords, if the Government have chosen distinguished men to serve on this Commission on whom they rely, as I assume is the case, why cannot they be left to make up their own minds on whether there should be comprehensive schools or not, and on how far the public schools entering a comprehensive system would improve the quality of education?


My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, that in fact the Commission will be given the fullest liberty to express any views on almost any subject relating to secondary education.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord, Lord Snow, this? He is talking about the integration of independent schools. Will the noble Lord ensure that, whatever integration means, it does not mean the loss of independence? Would he agree that independence means the right to choose your master, your teachers; the right to choose your pupils, and the right to determine your own curriculum?


These are clearly things which the Commission will have most carefully to consider.


My Lords, I must declare my interest as I am a governor of an independent school with a long history of independence in the days when education was very much the prerogative of the State and the State Church. May I ask the noble Lord whether the governors and the views of the governors of independent schools will be considered, and whether, if any particular school does not wish to enter a comprehensive system, it will be able to stay out?


To the first question, I can give a simple, "Yes". My right honourable friend is most anxious that the Joint Committee of the Headmasters' Conference and the Governing Bodies' Association should be associated with the Commission during its activities. To the second question I must say that this would be a matter for the Commission to suggest recommendations to Her Majesty's Government. But there is no immediate intention of introducing legislation unless in fact the Commission suggests this is the only method by which we can operate.