Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 300-302)


2 MAY 2006

  Q300  Robert Key: I started my teaching career, when I had a proper job, at a boarding school in Scotland and I am a Scottish registered teacher. That is when I first came across the Queen Victoria School in Dunblane which I have visited with the Defence Committee in a previous Parliament, and I was extremely impressed by it. I do not know the Duke of York's Royal Military School in Dover. However, I am concerned about what happened to the `de-agencifying' of the Queen Victoria School last year. Is the same likely to happen to the Duke of York's Royal Military School?

  Ms Cassidy: There is certainly a chance. So far as QVS is concerned, it was the commissioners of the school, who are, if you like, roughly the equivalent of the governors of the school, who chose to look at the advantages and disadvantages of de-agencification and they concluded that actually, on balance, they saw advantage which is why QVS was de-agencified at the end of last year.

  Q301  Robert Key: Are you satisfied entirely with the performance of the two schools?

  Ms Cassidy: With the performance of the schools, they are both good in their way. The schools are extremely different. QVS, one of its great strengths of course is that it teaches to the Scottish curriculum, so it provides a very valuable service for those who want to board children on that curriculum. It is not a very large school, but it is also an extremely supportive school, so it takes a lot of children with distinct educational needs, I do not say a large proportion of SEN, but it is a very supportive school with a good teacher:pupil ratio and it provides a very supportive environment for children who probably would not cope with standard alternative boarding schools. It meets a real need for the Army in Scotland or for all three Services indeed. The Duke of York's is a very different school. They do not have quite the niche position. Over the last ten years they have focused slightly more, I would say, on educational output and they have improved their educational standards very significantly over the past ten years. As you will see from the league tables, they compete with some pretty decent independent schools.

  Q302  Robert Key: Minister, does the Government have any plans to disengage from these two schools, to see them go independent?

  Mr Touhig: No, we have no plans at all to disengage those schools.

  Chairman: That is the sort of answer we like and it allows us to finish at 12.31, so sorry to be a minute late. Can I thank you all very much indeed for giving a lot of help to the Committee in an inquiry of extreme importance.

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