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The Local Education Authority Bexley

Volume 934: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1977

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Our reference: S303/4/018

Date: 20th June 1977

Sir,

EDUCATION ACT 1976, SECTION 2

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of the authority's formal proposals for the completion of the reorganisation of secondary schools in their area enclosed with Mr. Green's letter of 24th May.

It appears to the Secretary of State that the proposals for county schools are unsatisfactory in three respects:—

  • (a) the mixture of 11 to 16 and 11 to 18 schools
  • (b) the proposed date for the elimination of selection
  • (c) estimated capital costs.
  • THE MIXTURE OF 11 TO 16 AND 11 TO 18 SCHOOLS

    A scheme for secondary reorganisation which envisages the retention of a mixture of 11-16 and 11-18 schools would not in her opinion be a satisfactory long term solution unless the authority could demonstrate that no other scheme was feasible. The Secretary of State appreciates that, for a variety of reasons, it would not be possible or desirable to organise all the secondary schools in Bexley as 11-18 schools. But she believes that two other schemes deserve consideration:—

  • (i) a scheme providing for 11-16 schools and sixth form or tertiary colleges; and
  • (ii) a scheme providing for some 11-16 schools linked to sixth form or tertiary colleges and some 11–18 schools.
  • TIMING

    The authority propose to admit the first comprehensive intake to all its schools in 1988 when it expects to have completed all the changes necessary in all schools for them to cater for children of all abilities at all age levels. The Secretary of State does not consider it necessary to wait for all schools to be fully adapted for all age levels before they admit a comprehensive intake in the first year. Adaptation and extensions can take place, if properly planned, as the all ability intake progresses through the school without detracting from the education provided for the children. Such planning would allow the principle set out in Section 1 of the Education Act 1976 to be achieved much more quickly than the authority's present plan.

    Further, the Secretary of State does not accept that it is necessary for all the schools in the whole of the authority's area to admit pupils of all abilities simultaneously. The Secretary of State can see no reason why the first all ability intake should not be admitted to most secondary schools in 1978 and to all schools within 2 or 3 years of that date.

    COSTS

    It seems from the authority's figures that capital expenditure not essential to reorganisa- tion has been included. While some improvement in buildings is desirable as a long term objective, such expenditure should not be included as part of the cost of reorganisation; and it is unlikely that resources will be available in the next few years to enable the authority to carry out their proposals to eliminate split sites or to reduce the size of schools, such as those put forward by the authority for Erith at a cost of £500,000. It follows that proposals of this kind are not acceptable to the Secretary of State.

    FURTHER ACTION

    The Secretary of State requires the authority, under Section 2(4) of the Education Act 1976, to submit within 4 months of the date of this letter further proposals in substitution for those previously submitted which take account of the observations above and which:

  • (a) eliminate the mixture of 11 to 16 and 11 to 18 schools unless the former are linked with sixth form or tertiary colleges as suggested above;
  • (b) provide for the progressive elimination of selection from 1978 and its complete elimination not later than 1981;
  • (c) provide for the better use of existing resources and include no proposals involving expenditure which are not related to the introduction of comprehensive education.
  • A separate letter will be sent to the authority about their proposals for voluntary schools.

    Officers of the Department are available to assist at any time.

    I am Sir

    Your obedient Servant,

    R.W.J. Mitchell.