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Assisted Places

Volume 205: debated on Friday 13 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any information about the examination performance of assisted places pupils.

The aim of the assisted places scheme, which was set up by the Government in 1981, is to allow children to attend Scottish independent schools which would otherwise be beyond the financial means of their parents.Some 2,900 children now benefit from the scheme in Scotland and I expect that number to rise to 3,000 in the 1992–93 session.The examination performance of children on the scheme has also demonstrated once and for all that children from families with low incomes and from a wide social background can, and do, perform just as well as children from better-off families when they are given the same opportunity.A survey, which has been commissioned by the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, will I am sure, shortly provide further evidence to confound those who have questioned the merit of the scheme. Final results from the survey are expected in July. The scheme is working well. I look forward with interest to the results of the survey.