Tertiary Education (Hansard, 3 December 1990)
HC Deb 03 December 1990 vol 182 cc2-4
3. Mr. Martyn Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received about the implementation of tertiary education in (a) Clwyd and (b) Wales as a whole.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Sir Wyn Roberts)

The establishment of tertiary education is inevitably linked with proposals by local education authorities to reorganise their secondary provision. I have received numerous representations from members of the public in Clwyd and other parts of Wales on a range of issues connected with secondary reorganisation, including the principle of tertiary education.

Mr. Jones

I hope that the Minister supports the principle of tertiary education and that when he receives representations from Clwyd county council for the funding of its proposals he will listen sympathetically and make sure that the authority gets enough finance to put tertiary education properly in place in a way that will work and will help Welsh-medium tertiary provision in Clwyd and Wales as a whole.

Sir Wyn Roberts

Of course I acknowledge that there is a great deal to be said for tertiary education, which has the advantage of combining sixth-form education with further education. However, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I do not come into the discussions of the proposals in Clwyd or elsewhere. My right hon. Friend comes into them only when proposals are made to change the character of secondary schools, possibly as a result of tertiary education proposals.

Mr. Raffan

As and when my hon. Friend receives approaches from Labour-controlled Clwyd county council for extra funding for tertiary education, will he reject them until the authority has made an effective reduction in surplus places in the primary and secondary sectors?

Sir Wyn Roberts

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the problem of surplus places. There are 2,779 surplus places in the secondary sector in Clwyd and 44,597 in secondary schools in Wales. I assure my hon. Friend that it is not the practice of the Welsh Office to allocate funds where they are not justified to the hilt.

Dr. Thomas

Will the Minister confirm that he has received the organisation plans for tertiary education in Gwynedd and that Ministers will be able to reach an early decision on the scheme, which for the first time provides for development in further education at Dwyfor in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) and at Dolgellau in my constituency? Will he ensure that any plans for north Wales will be integrated between Gwynedd and Clwyd to ensure maximum border participation and so that pre-16 education at Ysgol y Berwyn Bala can be maintained?

Sir Wyn Roberts

I confirm that statutory objections have been lodged to the proposals of Gwynedd local education authority to reduce the age range of Ysgol y Berwyn Bala as part of a proposal to introduce a tertiary system. The case is currently with the Welsh Office and I therefore cannot comment on its merits.

Mr. Michael

It is disappointing that the Minister sounded a little half-hearted about tertiary education. Is he aware of its attractiveness to many young people in Wales? Given our desperate need as a nation to improve the standards of education and training and to breathe new life into them, will he note that the proportion of young people staying on past the age of 16 rose from about a third to almost a half in the catchment area of Coleg Glan Hafren, the new tertiary college in my constituency? Will the Minister give more positive encouragement and take responsibility for providing help and finance for authorities to speed up the introduction of tertiary education in Wales?

Sir Wyn Roberts

It is not for me to distinguish or discriminate between tertiary colleges, sixth-form colleges or traditional sixth forms, which are all options for consideration by local education authorities. The hon. Gentleman will know that there are tertiary colleges in Gwent, West Glamorgan and South Glamorgan. Gwynedd, as he heard, is considering them and Mid Glamorgan is, I understand, reviewing provision for 11 to 19-year-olds. It is for local education authorities to decide which system is preferable in each case.