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Assisted Places Scheme

Volume 981: debated on Monday 17 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many places for boys, how many places for girls and how many places at mixed private schools in Wales are to be assisted under the assisted places scheme; and what will be the total expenditure by his Department on this scheme.

It is estimated that the expenditure on the assisted places scheme in Wales will be £0·1 million in the financial year 1981–82, £0·2 million in 1982–83 and £0·4 million in 1983–84. The Government have not yet decided on the levels of public expenditure for later years. The number of places at boys', girls' and mixed schools cannot be given until the schools have been selected and the number of places at each school has been decided.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the original estimate prepared by his Department on spending on the assisted places scheme in Wales.

Of the £55 million shown in the financial memorandum to the Education (No. 2) Bill as the cost of the assisted places scheme when it was fully operational, it was estimated that £1·5 million would be attributable to Wales.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many private schools in Wales were contacted by his Department with a view to having them participate in the assisted places scheme; how many schools had responded by the closing date for provisional applications; and if he will publish this information, by county.

Letters were sent to the 33 direct grant grammar schools and independent secondary schools in Wales. By 31 January, 13 schools had indicated that they were interested in joining the scheme and a further three responded within a few days of that date. One other school has said that it is interested but has not yet returned the form. It would be premature to publish the locations of these schools before we have consulted local education authorities and reached conclusions about the suitability of schools for inclusion in the scheme.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what consultations he has had with local education authorities, primary school teachers and secondary school teachers about the proposed assisted places scheme.

The scheme has been explained to local education authorities in Wales and they will be given an opportunity of commenting on its operation within their areas. The teachers' unions have had the opportunity of discussing the proposed scheme at various meetings with me and my ministerial colleagues in the Welsh Office. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has also had meetings—with which the Welsh Office was associated—with the various teachers' unions, the local authorities associations and the Welsh Joint Education Committee about the Education (No. 2) Bill.