The two Davids

Government spending may be an inexact science, if the Justice Minister will excuse the allusion to his views on the art of fingerprinting. There is always something in it for someone, there is always something which can be found to criticise and there is always something absent. Professor David Bell's calculations for The TESS, admirably even-handed though they are, provide ample testimony that figures can be all things to all people.

But two significant statistics indicate that this is a spending announcement of some importance. On the education side, there were 80 schools built over the 16 years from 1980-96 and 80 in just four years from 1998-2002, with the promise of another 300 new or renewed buildings over the next seven years. In lifelong learning, the pound;800 million spent on further and higher education four years ago will be spent on HE alone in four years' time, with another half a billion pounds going to FE.

Whatever reservations there may be about the use of private finance in school building projects or impatience within the college and university sectors about inadequate funding, these are significant figures. There is criticism, of course. As local government and FE leaders never tire of arguing, the extra money is often tied to extra initiatives, rather than to the ongoing costs of the service.

It is a story of the two Davids (page 3). Eaglesham of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, believes everyone is pulling in the right direction. Miliband, from south of the border, does not excite the same support from the English unions about his policies.

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