HC Deb 13 July 1978 vol 953 cc757-8W
Miss Joan Lector

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she has ordered the shredding of a report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate on "Our Worst State Schools" or otherwise suppressed its publication.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

No. There has never been any draft report or anything resembling such a draft. Nor has there ever been any intention on my part or that of HMI that such a report should be prepared it follows that I could not have ordered its suppression.

In addition, to instances which arise in the course of their normal surveillance, HMI generally follow up unfavourable reports in the press or elsewhere about particular schools; from time to time I or another Minister in my Department requests a report from HMI on a particular school. Sometimes HMI find that there is sufficient cause for concern to justify a formal HMI inspection; sometimes they find there is a storm in a teacup which calls for no further action. In my view, it would be negligent not to follow up such reports and, indeed, this has been the practice for many years.

Soon after I joined the Department in the autumn of 1976 I asked the inspectorate to let me have illustrations of the factors which make for success, or create problems, with the development and running of comprehensive schools, with a view to the encouragement of good practices. Partly as a result of this process, my Department organised a conference on good practice in comprehensive schools which was held in York in December 1977. This exercise had no connection with the DES publication "Ten Good Schools" which was in preparation before I became Secretary of State and was based on a survey of schools conducted in 1975.