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OFSTED figures show 44% schools go short

More than 5,500 schools in England have book or equipment shortages which have "adversely affected the standard of lessons", according to figures from the Office for Standards in Education obtained by the Labour party.

In reply to a parliamentary question, Chris Woodhead, the Chief Inspector, provided David Blunkett, Labour's shadow education secretary, with figures for 199394 and 199495 from his Annual Report. These showed that 23 per cent of secondary schools had shortages in books, 13 per cent in equipment and 8 per cent had shortages in both. In primary schools 13 per cent were short of books, 10 per cent in equipment and 6 per cent in both.

In his letter to Mr Blunkett, Mr Woodhead said: "We are not planning a report on the effects of book and equipment shortages but on the different levels of resourcing available to schools. This report should be completed by early summer 1997."

However an OFSTED spokeswoman said it was wrong of the Labour party to make a direct link from funding to the amounts spent on books and equipment. She said: "Schools manage their own budgets and use the money in different ways: some may be spending more on staff; one year a school may have bought a minibus. OFSTED see this as a management issue and will be looking at why there are such differences in the ways schools spend their money."

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