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Service Families' Children

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 15 July 1954

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36 and 37.

asked the Minister of Education (1) what compensating facilities are offered to parents serving with Her Majesty's Forces to enable the education of the children of such parents to be equivalent in all respects to that offered to the children of other parents whose residence remains static;

(2) whether she is satisfied that the children of officers and men serving in Her Majesty's Forces have opportunities of education suited to their abilities and in no way worsened by the conditions of service of the parents.

38.

asked the Minister of Education whether she has given special consideration to the educational problems presented by children of officers and men of the Royal Air Force, who are subject to frequent postings; and what action she proposes to take to enable these children to have the same opportunities as others.

39.

asked the Minister of Education whether she is aware that the education of children whose fathers are serving in Her Majesty's Forces is often interfered with owing to postings; what is the size of this problem; and what steps she is taking to solve it.

I have no responsibility for children who are abroad with their parents serving with Her Majesty's Forces. Children who are in this country, with or without their parents, normally attend day schools in the ordinary way, but I recognise that the absence of parents abroad or frequent movements may cause special difficulties and local education authorities have power, in appropriate cases, to provide or help a child to obtain boarding education.

I am aware that the present arrangements do not always work satisfactorily and I am considering with my right hon. Friends who are responsible for the Services what improvements can be made.

While welcoming greatly that statement, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether she will take into special consideration local education authorities who have to bear a particular responsibility and burden in this direction? For instance, Bath has a considerable moving population in connection with the Admiralty, and certain counties, especially on the East Coast, where there are many airfields, have a similar burden.

Will the Minister bear in mind that serving men want for their children their rights under the 1944 Act, namely, adequate and separate primary and secondary education? And when she is considering this matter with the Service Ministers, will she look into the problem of our soldiers who are stationed in various areas of the country which do not provide such education?

Yes, I realise that. A great deal of the difficulty is over secondary education. In looking into these difficulties I will take account of the children of all who, because of their work, have to be moved frequently.