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Schools (Provision)

Volume 31: debated on Tuesday 9 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he is satisfied with the standards of provision in schools.

There is always scope for improvement, and that is the objective of our educational policies.

Will the Secretary of State confirm that there is wide scope for improvement? Will he also confirm that Her Majesty's Inspectorate said that it was satisfied with the educational provision by in only five out of 96 educational authorities?

I can certainly confirm that there is ample scope for improvement, but it does not follow that putting extra money into any place will necessarily improve the quality of education.

Would it not be conducive to the quality of education if more importance were attached to reports by inspectors and if more publicity were given to reports by inspectors in particular and in general?

Yes, Sir. I have said publicly that I regard extra publicity as desirable.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that a significant factor in the standards of provision in schools is the amount of expenditure per pupil? Has that increased in recent years, particularly in real terms?

Yes, Sir, it is one of the relevant factors. In real terms the expenditure per pupil this year is at a record level. If local education authorities keep their costs under control, and in particular if teachers are content with 3½ per cent. or less, there will be a further improvement next year in real spending per pupil.

What mechanisms does the Secretary of State suggest for maintaining existing standards of provision? Will he allow Her Majesty's Inspectorate to produce a report in the coming 12 months in the same form as he allowed it to produce a report last year?

Many factors are relevant to improving standards—above all, the policies of local education athorities and the skill and character of head teachers and teachers. I intend no change in the format of the annual report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate for this year.