DES Circular 11/76 (1976)

This circular was one of a series which dealt with the isssue of comprehensivisation. They were:

Circular 10/65: Harold Wilson's Labour government asked local education authorities to submit plans for reorganising their schools on comprehensive lines.

Circular 10/70: Edward Heath's Conservative government, with Margaret Thatcher as Education Secretary, allowed local authorities to decide whether or not to proceed with comprehensivisation, effectively cancelling Labour's Circular 10/65.

Circular 4/74: Harold Wilson's Labour government reinstated the requirement that local education authorities should submit plans for comprehensivisation.

Circular 11/76: Harold Wilson's Labour government explained that local authorities which had not submitted schemes for comprehensive reorganisation would now be expected to do so.

Circular 12/76: Harold Wilson's Labour government explained that arrangements made by local authorities with non-maintained schools must be 'consistent with the Government's policy of abolishing selection for secondary education'.

See also Circular 10/66 School building programmes.

The text of DES Circular 11/76 was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 15 July 2017.

Circular 11/76 (1976)
Education Act 1976

Department of Education and Science
London: 1976
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Circular 11/76
25 November 1976



Today the Secretary of State for Education and Science made the following statement in the House of Commons:-

"The Education Act 1976 received the Royal Assent on 22 November. The Act gives the Government power to require local authorities or governors of voluntary schools to submit proposals where progress or further progress in giving effect to the comprehensive principle is desirable.

At last the principle of fully comprehensive secondary education is written into the law. It is a long time since the unfairness, the divisiveness and the wastefulness of selection for secondary education were first recognised, and over the last twenty years there has been accelerating progress towards a comprehensive system under Labour and Conservative Governments alike. Seventy-five per cent of pupils of secondary age are now in comprehensive schools.

Parliament has given the Government powers to complete the task as fast as is realistically possible. We have always preferred to proceed by agreement with local authorities and voluntary bodies, and we still wish to do so. Indeed I should emphasise that even where the powers given under this Act have to be used, it will be for local authorities and voluntary school governors to propose whatever pattern of comprehensive education seems best for their areas, consistent with the resources available and the need to complete the job with all reasonable speed. We are not going to force unsatisfactory schemes on anybody, but we do expect authorities and voluntary bodies to comply responsibly with the law. I am confident that they will do so.

I have already asked eight authorities to submit reorganisation proposals under Section 2 of the Act. The position of other authorities who have not yet completed reorganisation is under review and I shall write to them before long.

Section 5 of the Act enables me to regulate the use made by local education authorities of places in non-maintained schools. I shall endeavour to ensure that authorities' arrangements in this area are consistent with the comprehensive principle. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have issued today a circular to all local education authorities explaining how Section 5 will operate.

The Act also contains provisions relating to the arrangements for special educational treatment of handicapped pupils, student awards, school milk, and the remuneration of members of independent schools tribunals. Separate guidance will be issued on these matters in due course."


To Local Education Authorities and
the Governors of Voluntary Aided,
Special Agreement, Direct Grant
and Independent Schools.