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Secondary Education (Manchester)

Volume 20: debated on Tuesday 16 March 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to complete consultations on the Manchester local education authorities' revised proposals for secondary education; and if he will announce his decision in time for implementation in 1982.

I wrote to the hon. Member on 10 March advising him that, immediately following the completion of consultations, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had approved Manchester's proposals.

I welcome the early announcement, which will enable changes to take place this year, although it is 14 months since Manchester submitted its application. Does the Minister agree that Manchester acted urgently and correctly in recognising the problem of falling school rolls? The Government have since told all local education authorities to do the same. What has been the response?

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's kind remarks about the early announcement. I should tell him that we had the new proposals for only about two weeks before we approved them. That is productivity of which the country can be proud. With regard to the rest of the country, the number of places taken out of use last year with Government approval was twice that of the previous year.

What undertakings have been given by the Manchester city council to ensure that there is no bad effect arising from the city council's policies on the recruitment to the three excluded schools or on the careers structure of their staff?

I am aware of my hon. Friend's concern about that matter. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met the Manchester education committee to discuss that matter and to ensure that there was no movement away of child population that would deprive the three retained sixth forms of their natural catchment. An assurance was given by the authority that that would not happen.