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Nursery Schools

Volume 976: debated on Tuesday 18 December 1979

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13.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list by local education authority the percentage of children aged 3 or 4 years who are at present attending nursery schools.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will arrange for the latest information, which refers to January 1979, to be published in the Official Report.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, whatever information he may publish in the Official Report, the action of some local authorities means that many children aged 3 and 4 years will not receive nursery education because of the cuts? Will he therefore consider issuing a circular to local authorities, placing on them a requirement for minimum provision in every area?

I do not consider that it is neccessary to issue a circular or guidance. The Education Acts cover the matter, and I am considering the whole situation. May I say to the hon. Lady that the only reason why I could not answer the question fully was that it would require reading out every individual local authority by name. For both nursery schools and nursery classes the answer would have been 18 per cent. overall.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the best way to expand nursery education is to bow to public pressure and allow local authorities to charge for that service?

The Government have received many requests that we should allow charging for nursery education, and we have not yet made a decision.

Is the Secretary of State aware that his ministerial colleague went a little further this morning in Committee when he said that the Government were actively considering the introduction of charges for nursery school places? Is he further aware that that statement will cause a great deal of fear and despondency to everyone involved in nursery education, and that, if such charges were introduced, they would hit hardest those children who would benefit most from nursery education?

The hon. Lady would be somewhat surprised if she were not told that the Government were considering their response to the many requests made on this subject. I believe that that is what my hon. Friend said. There have been many requests from local authorities that they should be given freedom to charge, in the belief that by doing so there would be a greater demand for nursery education, which they could then meet. As I said, we are considering our response to those requests.

Following is the information:

Full-time and part-time pupils aged 3 and 4 in maintained nursery schools and nursery classes in maintained primary schools as a percentage of the estimated population aged 3 and 4 years.

JANUARY 1979

Local Education Authority

Per cent

Barking22
Barnet25
Bexley9
Brent27

Local Education Authority—cont.

per cent.

Bromley2
Croydon6
Ealing22
Enfield19
Haringey30
Harrow15
Havering4
Hillingdon32
Hounslow30
Kingston-upon-Thames32
Merton34
Newham42
Redbridge9
Richmond-upon-Thames9
Sutton14
Waltham Forest31
Inner London35
Birmingham23
Coventry18
Dudley22
Sandwell27
Solihull19
Walsall42
Wolverhampton38
Knowsley16
Liverpool36
St. Helens17
Sefton24
Wirral16
Bolton27
Bury11
Manchester50
Oldham19
Rochdale25
Salford32
Stockport11
Tameside25
Trafford10
Wigan16
Barnsley42
Doncaster36
Rotherham37
Sheffield29
Bradford26
Calderdale23
Kirklees25
Leeds17
Wakefield38
Gateshead20
Newcastle-upon-Tyne30
North Tyneside37
South Tyneside37
Sunderland27
Isles of Scilly
Avon11
Bedfordshire26
Berkshire20
Buckinghamshire13
Cambridgeshire11
Cheshire17
Cleveland39
Cornwall11
Cumbria17
Derbyshire18
Devon6
Dorset5
Durham29
East Sussex7
Essex4
Gloucestershire
Hampshire4
Hereford and Worcester5

Local Education Authority—cont.

per cent.

Hertfordshire32
Humberside22
Isle of Wight5
Kent4
Lancashire13
Leicestershire22
Lincolnshire7
Norfolk4
North Yorkshire16
Northamptonshire8
Northumberland12
Nottinghamshire38
Oxfordshire12
Salop10
Somerset2
Staffordshire22
Suffolk10
Surrey12
Warwickshire14
West Sussex3
Wiltshire1
England18