§ Mr. KELLAWAY
asked the President of the Board of Education if his attention has been called to a proposal to close the Ightham (Kent) council school and convert it into a Church of England school; if he is aware that the vicar of the parish declared at a public meeting that the proposal originated with the Board of Education; if he is also aware that 130 parents in the parish have signed a petition in favour of the maintenance of the council school; and if the Board will take steps 1340W to see that these parents are not forced to send their children to a denominational school?
§ Mr. J. A. PEASE
My attention has been called to this matter, and I have seen a newspaper report of a statement made by the rector that the first move in the matter originated with the Board of Education. This statement apparently rested on the fact that the Board of Education pressed the local education authority to improve the premises of the council school, and, so far as it suggests that the proposal to close the council school and convert it into a Church of England school originated with the Board of Education, it is inaccurate. I understand that a petition in favour of the continuance of the council school has been extensively signed, but I have not yet received a copy of the petition. On the facts at present before me I do not think I could sanction the discontinuance of the existing council school, whether in the existing premises or in new premises which it would be the duty of the local education authority to provide if their tenancy of the existing premises is terminated. Apart from other considerations, it seems a pity, from a ratepayer's point of view, that the local education authority and the trustees of the school buildings have not yet been able to come to an arrangement which would enable the council school to be continued in the existing premises.