HC Deb 23 March 1972 vol 833 cc367-9W
Mr. Galbraith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what reply he has given to Glasgow Education Authority about the proposals it has put to him for the reorganisation of the selective schools in the city.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

The education authority has put outline proposals to me but has not yet submitted formal amendments to its educational provision and transfer schemes for my approval. Fol- lowing is the text of the reply which was sent by my Department today:

"I refer to your letter of 6 March, 1972, conveying your Education Authority's proposals for revised arrangements at the High School of Glasgow, Glasgow High School for Girls, Hill head High School, Allan Glen's School, Notre Dame R.C. High School for Girls, St. Mungo's Academy, Hill head Primary School, Notre Dame Primary School, and the High School of Glasgow Primary Department. The Secretary of State notes that draft revised schemes under Sections 7 and 30 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1962, will be submitted as soon as possible.

The Secretary of State feels that he should not consider reorganisation of these selective schools in isolation and he would wish to relate the Authority's proposals to the context of the intended total pattern of primary and secondary provision in the City and to take account, in particular, of the other selective secondary schools (i.e., both junior and senior secondary) which are not included in the present proposals. These other selective schools are for the most part so located that their potential catchment areas as area comprehensive schools are bound to be in close proximity to, if they do not actually encroach on, those of the schools which are the subject of the present proposals. I am to inquire, therefore, about the Authority's intentions as regards the other selective schools, both junior and senior secondary, and to ask for a note showing the effect reorganisation of the six secondary schools in question and of these other selective schools would have on the present and future catchment areas, rolls, accommodation and staffing of (1) these other selective schools and (2) the existing comprehensive schools; and similarly the effect which the proposed reorganisation of the three primary schools will have on the present and future catchment areas and rolls of the Authority's other primary schools.

The Secretary of State notes that a subcommittee of the Education Committee heard representatives of the pupils of five of the schools concerned and of a number of interested bodies, and that the sub-committee also considered letters received from the Glasgow Local Association of the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Scottish Association of Labour Teachers. In his view, however, these measures fall short of the degree of consultation with parents and staff of the selective schools which he indicated, in Circular No. 760 of 2nd July, 1970, he would expect education authorities to carry out before submitting reorganisation proposals. The Secretary of State also considers that those consulted in terms of that Circular should include the staff and parents of pupils at other schools substantially affected by the proposals, for example by the redrawing of catchment areas. I am therefore to ask for a note of what further consultations the Authority propose to carry out, and in due course for a note of the results of these consultations.

As it will clearly take some time for the Authority to submit this further information and for the substance of the proposals subsequently to be considered by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State regrets very much that the Authority have put forward so late in the 1971–72 session proposals some aspects of which are planned to come into effect at the beginning of the 1972–73 session, and which have still to be submitted in the form of revised educational provision and transfer schemes. While the matter will of course be dealt with as quickly as possible, the Secretary of State cannot at this stage be certain that he will be able to reach definitive decisions either about the proposed amendments to the Authority's schemes, which have still to be submitted to him, or about any proposed closures of schools or parts of schools, in time for any revised arrangements at the schools to be effective from session 1972–73. In the circumstances, therefore, the Secretary of State assumes that the Authority will proceed in accordance with their currently approved schemes and usual practice until such time as he has approved amendments to the schemes.

Since it seems important to avoid uncertainty that might be harmful to the education of the present pupils or those who might normally expect to be candidates for admission to the selective schools in August, 1972, the Secretary of State would like the Authority to make a public announcement about their arrangements for these schools for next session at the earliest possible date."