HC Deb 19 July 1999 vol 335 cc436-7W
Miss Geraldine Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what measures the Government are taking to increase parental choice in education. [90371]

Ms Estelle Morris

Parents mainly exercise their right to parental choice when expressing a preference as to the school they would like for their child's education. The Government have ensured that local education authorities have a statutory duty to have regard to the principle that pupils should be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents as far as possible.

The Code of Practice on School Admissions confirms the need for: parents to be given sufficient information for informed choice; clear and objective admission arrangements; simple admission procedures with the minimum of bureaucracy; and an effective statutory right of appeal.

The Greenwich judgment of 1989 has given many parents greater opportunity for choice as to their child's school. The funding we are providing to LEAs to meet our infant class size pledge for 5, 6 and 7 year olds will mean that more parents will achieve their first choice of school and will also result in 12,000 extra places at popular schools. And we have ensured, in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, that appeal panels will be visibly independent of those who took the original decision not to admit a child, giving parents greater confidence to pursue appeals.

Forward to