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Sacred Heart School, Redcar

Volume 889: debated on Tuesday 8 April 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a further statement about the situation at the Sacred Heart School, Redcar.

As my right hon. Friend stated yesterlay in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe), it is understood that the governors have suspended the headmaster following his unwillingness to integrate the eight teachers who had been on strike.

Does the Minister join me in welcoming the initiative of the Chairman of the Cleveland County Education Committee in calling a meeting of interested parties in an endeavour to reach a solution to this protracted dispute? Will he give some reassurance to the teachers who are in dispute about their future if they accept other posts in the area, since otherwise they might be extremely concerned about their situation?

I understand that the teachers concerned have been offered permanent posts within the authority. In this long and seemingly intractable dispute, it is surely now time for all the parties to consider what they can do in the best interests of the children. If they were to sit down in that spirit, they might be able to resolve the dispute. We are willing at all times to help in any way possible.

Does the Minister accept that there is the gravest disquiet locally because of the fact that just when it appears that the dispute may be coming to an end, the matter is taking another and yet more serious twist? Since the dispute has been going on for so long, will the Minister personally arrange a meeting with the parties concerned—governors, the local education authority, parents and teachers—to see whether a fresh initiative can be taken by a totally disinterested person, so as to lead to a new approach to a solution?

I share the hon. Gentleman's concern and I shall consider his suggestion. I believe that we should make progress if all parties, rather than considering who was right and who was wrong, asked themselves what was in the best interests of the children.