HC Deb 04 April 1979 vol 965 cc718-9W
Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in the light of her recently announced decision to reject Liverpool city council's proposals for the reorganisation of education in the city, she will make a statement on her policy regarding education in Liverpool, and, in particular, her policy regarding the closure of Edge Hill boys' school, Lawrence Road girls' school, Fairfield girls' school and the Liverpool institutes.

Miss Margaret Jackson

My right hon. Friend's views on the Liverpool proposals were set out in the Department's letter of 30 March which is reproduced belowDear Sir, Enclosed with this letter is an official letter notifying the Authority of the Secretary of State's decision in respect of the proposals to rationalise secondary provision in Liverpool. You will see that the proposals to close Arundel and Sefton Park have been accepted, the proposals to close Paddington and the Institutes, to establish a sixth form college and to enlarge Lawrence, Edge Hill and Fairfield Schools have not, and that no decision has been made on the proposals to add sixth forms to Ellergreen and Croxteth Schools and to remove the sixth form from Lambeth. The Authority may find it helpful if I set out some of the reasoning behind the decisions. Firstly, I should say that the Secretary of State fully accepts that the Authority have a serious problem caused by falling rolls, and supports the Authority in their desire to tackle their problem. Further, she fully accepts that any attempt to rationalise the Authority's secondary school provision is likely to involve school closures on a very substantial scale. She also accepts the need to rationalise sixth form provision in the Authority as a whole and particularly in the inner area—indeed she welcomes the attempt to do so. However, there are aspects of the Authority's approach which she finds unacceptable. Fundamental to this is the proposal to close Paddington. The closure of the Authority's most modern school built only recently at considerable cost, would deprive the inner City of first rate educational facilities in favour of other schools offering facilities of a much lower quality. Paddington School is in the heart of the inner City area. To close both Paddington and Arundel and force their pupils to travel out of their neighbourhoods for their secondary education would add further to the deprivation of the inner City, and would be in contradiction to the spirit of the Government's inner City policy, of which Liverpool is the major beneficiary. The retention of Paddington carries with it a certain logic, since it could alone meet much of the needs of the inner area. This is why the Secretary of State has approved the closure of Arundel and Sefton Park, and has turned down the proposals to extend Lawrence Girls', Edge Hill Boys' and Fairfield Girls' to 4 FE. The viability of a 4 FE comprehensive school must in any case be open to serious doubt, and the Authority will wish to reconsider the future of the schools in the light of whatever new overall proposals they put forward. The Secretary of State's rejection of the proposals to establish a sixth form college in the premises of the Institutes follows in part from the rejection of the proposal to close Paddington, but also partly because she concluded that the cost of converting the Institutes for any future school use—whether as a sixth form college or otherwise was unacceptably high when compared with plant already existing elsewhere, particularly the Paddington building. It was in any case seriously questionable whether the Institute buildings—even

Liverpool LEA* England and Wales
Achievements on leaving school Number Percentage of all leavers Number Percentage of all leavers
No A levels but five or more O levels 650 7 68,840 9
One or more A levels 930 9 117,260 16
* Maintained schools only.
Including independent schools recognised as efficient.
O level grades A-C, CSE grade 1.

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