Select Committee on Education and Employment Minutes of Evidence



SUPPLEMENTARY MEMORANDUM FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT (DF 16)

THE COST OF THE GOVERNMENT'S INFANT CLASS PLEDGE

  This letter provides a brief explanation of the cost of the Government's pledge to limit infant classes to 30 pupils, as promised on 16 May.

  It was suggested at the hearing that Ministers had indicated that the cost of implementing the pledge would be £100 million; whereas the funding actually being provided to implement the pledge is £620 million.

  We understand that £100 million was a broad estimate, made for the Labour Party before the 1997 general election, of the annual revenue cost of delivering the pledge—the annual cost to local education authorities (LEAs) of supporting the additional teachers needed to limit infant classes to 30 pupils. They also recognised that the savings from the assisted places scheme (APS) would amount to £180 million a year at 1997 prices once the scheme was phased out.

  The revenue element within the £620 million amounts to some £420 million, spread over four financial years, from 1998-99 to 2001-02 inclusive. Revenue funding has, in addition, been made available to enable LEAs to implement the pledge by this September—one academic year before the limit of 30 becomes law in September 2001. We estimate that the long-term revenue cost of maintaining infant classes of 30 or below will be some £160 million a year, which would be met from APS savings.

  The estimate did not include capital costs. Ministers decided after the election that the initiative should be pursued in such a way that would enhance parental preference, by enabling popular schools to expand. Capital funding available for extra classrooms amounts to £200 million, spread over the same four financial years.

P A Shaw
Department for Education and Employment

May 2000


 
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