Sits,-My reply to Mrs. K. Warren's enquiry about how a parent may enforce his rights in the choice of a suitable school for his children is that the parent and the headmaster should enforce the right of choice by taking direct joint action, provided the following conditions prevail: 1. The pupil has qualified for a grammar school education.
2. There is no available Catholic grammar school in the home area.
3. There is a vacancy in the school of choice.
4. The headmaster is willing to admit the boy.
Then let him do so; he is master in his own house and can admit whom he chooses within the terms of the 1944 Act; the boy has the right of entry and the parent has the right of choice. Secondary matters such as out-county fees can be settled between the two administrative bodies who are public servants and administrators of the law rather than its authoritative or arbitrary interpreters.
(Canon) C. H. Parsons.
Finchley Grammar School, N.12.
SIR,-T h e difficulties about which Mrs. K. Warren wrote last week are not confined to her area. They are difficulties which are born of the fact that Catholic head-teachers are not willing to resist the unjust demands of their education authority, even when right is on their side, as in this matter.
If a local education authority sends a circular (as many have done) to head teachers, telling them that in future no out-county children are to be admitted unless the permission of both the authority of residence and the educating authority have previously been obtained, that does not alter the statutory position, or diminish in any way the right which the Catholic school managers or governors enjoy of having full control of admissions to the school.
The right of the Catholic school managers or governors to have control of admissions is, once this right has been safeguarded in the rules of management or articles of government of the school, indisputable. That fact was admitted in July, 1948. by the secretary of the Association of Education Committees, Dr. W. P. Alexander, even before the Catholics' case was strengthened by Section 6 (1) of the Education Act. 1948, Dr. Alexander wrote in Education on July 9. 1948, "There is no doubt that admissions to voluntary schools are controlled by the managers or governors. . . . The local education authority cannot require the managers or governors not to admit a child without the consent of the authority, since the question of admissions to the schools rests with the managers or governors."
The 1948 Education Act made the matter even more favourable for us Catholics. Section 6 of that Act says that "Where any provision for primary or secondary education is made by a local education authority in respect of a pupil who does not belong to their area, they shall be entitled to recbupment of an amount equal to the cost to them of the provision, subject to the providing authority's making a claim in that behalf within the prescribed period. Provided that if the Minister is satisfied that the other authority ought not to be required to make recoupment in respect of the provision having regard to the availability of provision of the kind in question under arrangements made by them, and to all other circumstances of the case, he may, on their application, direct that the providing authority shall not be entitled to recoupment in respect thereof."
The phrase "having regard to ihe availability of provision of the kind in question" was agreed in negotiations between the Catholic authorities and the Ministry before the Act became law.
It follows, therefore, that if Catholic parents suffer hardship. this hardship is due to the unwillingness of Catholic head teachers to take advantage of their rights. Parents thus aggrieved should always exercise their own right of reporting the matter to the Minister of Education. Curzon Street, London, W.I. There can be no doubt whatever of the result of the Minister's ruling in this matter.
J. J. Bateman,