No cash, but at least our infants are quieter now

24th March 2000 at 00:00

LABOUR will be spending pound;6.4 billion more per year on education than the Tories did by the time of the next general election.

This is what the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, told Chris Ruane, Labour MP for the Vale of Clwyd, in response to his question about education's future.

However, as the table below shows, the cash mentioned by Mr Blunkett will only have just started to trickle down and reach schools this year.

While spending increased by pound;1.9bn this year - and, before Tuesday's Budget, was planned to increase by similar amounts in the next two years - between 1997 and 1999 there was precious little of the extra cash schools have heard so much about.


THE number of children who are forced to try to learn in crowded secondary classes with more than 30 pupils has risen by almost a quarter under Labour, the schools minister, Estelle Morris, admitted this week. Responding to a question by Sir Teddy Taylor MP, Ms Morris revealed that almost 350,000 secondary and 1.4 million primary pupils are in classes of more than 30 pupils. The primary figure represents a drop of 137,000 from 1998 but there are today still more primary pupils in large classes than in 1996.

However, the Government is moving towards meeting one of its goals - its target of reducing all infant classes to 30 or fewer pupils. In 1999, there were 165,000 cildren in oversized classes - which is half the number of the previous year.


THE Government will shortly issue draft guidelines on the placement of children with special educational needs in independent schools, Jacqui Smith, education junior minister announced this week. In response to a question by Dr Vincent Cable MP, she said that the plans had been delayed to take account of the recommendations of the tribunal looking into the abuse of children in care in North Wales.


THE average cost of weekly childcare for families who pay carers to look after pre-school children is pound;68.

Margaret Hodge, minister for employment and equal opportunities, gave this statistic in an answer to Karen Buck MP. One in seven of these families faced a bill for that childcare of more than pound;100.


ENGLAND'S poorest-performing schools, on average, have more than seven times as many pupils entitled to free school meals than those topping the league tables.

Answering a question by Hilary Benn MP, a former adviser to the Education Secretary David Blunkett, Estelle Morris said in the 500 maintained mainstream schools with the most pupils getting five or more A-C grades, an average of one in 20 pupils was eligible for free school meals.

This compares with more than a third of pupils in the 500 schools with lowest results.

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