HC Deb 21 February 1924 vol 169 cc1996-8W

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he proposes to maintain the restriction on the award of free places tenable in secondary schools?


I shall do all that I can to give effect to the principles embodied in Section 4 of the Act of 1918 that children and young persons shall not be debarred from receiving the benefit of any form of education by which they are capable of profiting by inability to pay fees. The artificial restriction in the Secondary School Regulations which limits the percentage of free places to the percentage awarded in the year 1921–22 is inconsistent with this principle, and it is my intention to remove it. I think that the, time has come for reconsideration of the provisions which govern the system of free places, regard being had to the recommendations of the Departmental Committee which reported in 1920. But, in the meantime, I propose to inform local education authorities that they are at liberty to raise the percentage of awards on the existing lines to 40 per cent.


asked the President of the Board of Education if it is the intention of the Government to adopt as their policy the recommendations of the Departmental Committee on Scholarships and Free Places, so that the percentage of free places, calculated on admissions, should be raised from 25 to 40 for each area generally and normally for each school, and that the provision of secondary schools should be increased so as to provide at least 20 school places for each 1,000 population; and whether, in such areas as Merthyr and Rhondda, where free secondary education prevailed until recent years, he will recognise expenditure upon such free secondary education as expenditure upon which he will pay Exchequer grants?


With regard to the first part of the question, I may refer my hon. Friend to the reply I have given to-day to the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. J. Scurr). As regards the second part of the question, I am prepared to consider on their merits applications from local education authorities under Article 19 (a) of the Secondary School Regulations for the Board's sanction to the abolition of fees.


asked the President of the Board of Education if he is aware of the very serious shortage of places for children in the secondary schools of the country and the consequent harm that is being done to children over the age of 11 years; and will he make the necessary arrangements to give to children in the elementary schools of that age education of the type given to children of similar age in the secondary schools so that the effect of the shortage will be modified as I far as possible?


I may refer to the reply I gave on the 14th February last to my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. W. Jenkins). With regard to the second part of the question, I am quite ready to entertain on their merits proposals for providing advanced courses in elementary schools, whether by means of central schools or otherwise, and I may add that I have asked the Board's Consultative Committee to advise me upon the organisation, objective and curriculum of courses of study suitable for children who will remain in full-time attendance at schools other than secondary schools up to the age of 15.