Targeted funds do make a difference

16th June 2000 at 01:00
THE report "Small classes are 'waste of money'" on the TESCentre for the Economics of Education debate on the linkage between educational resources and performance (TES, May 26) unfortunately missed what was probably one of the most significant points: the lack of intellectual rigour in the arguments put forward by Professor Eric Hanushek.

Two of the most important contributions to the debate, from professors Goldstein and Mayston, and which attempted to put the issues on a firmer footing, were effectively left unanswered.

Unchallenged, the assertions of Professor Hanushek, and others, that resources have no signficant impact on educational performance are pernicious, even when stated in the anecdotal form adopted in the debate.

They neglect the evidence from this side of the Atlantic o the value and importance of properly-targeted increases in funding for specific purposes, such as those identified in Professor Peter Mortimore's work in the Institute of Education, on the importance of smaller class sizes in the early years.

It is a pity, given the planned increase in educational expenditure over the next few years, that the newly-constituted, and Department of Education and Employment-funded, CEE should have made this its first public contribution to this important debate.

The occasion might still provide the opportunity to challenge the DFEE to ensure that it acts upon the best and most up-to-date studies in this field.

Professor David Jesson

Centre for performance evaluation and resource management

Department of economics

University of York

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