§ Mr. Hickmet
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has received the report of the working group on the collection of education statistics on an ethnic basis; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
I have received the report of this working group and I accept its main recommendations. These are that the collection of ethnic statistics of school pupils would be of great benefit to schools and local education authorities as a basis for making appropriate provision and for monitoring achievement; that authorities should institute systems for the collection of information which parents and pupils provide on a voluntary basis on ethnic origin, mother tongues and religious affiliations; and that authorities should consult the local communities about arrangements for ensuring confidentiality. I cannot however accept the recommendation that the Government should provide extra funds for this purpose. The cost to local education authorities should be very small.
In addition, I propose that this information should be aggregated centrally by my Department in order to assist me to fulfil my responsibility to secure appropriate education for all pupils. The collection of these aggregate statistics will not involve the provision to my Department of data in a form which would enable any individual to be identified.
I intend shortly to issue a draft circular for consultation. I have placed copies of the working group's report in the Library.