Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
WEDNESDAY 26 JUNE 2002
80. That will be a consultation paper from the
Department of the Deputy Prime Minister?
(Mr Normington) I think it will be from the Government,
will it not; it will be from the Deputy Prime Minister, but it
81. What I am interested in is what was your
input to that; broadly, what have you recommended, in terms of
changes, to get a better balance between the various factors,
the deprivation and the cost factors?
(Mr Normington) We have had a major input to it, and
indeed we have had two working parties going, with local authorities
and others, to try to draw up the best options.
82. But the working parties actually are conclusive?
(Mr Normington) I cannot tell you what the outcome
is of the Government's deliberations, because that will come in
July. I think our own working papers, from that work, are available,
in fact, on our website and can be made available; whether they
are wholly intelligible to people like me, who get to the limits
of understanding this, I do not know, and it is quite technical
stuff, this. But it is all available, that work, and it is in
the public domain.
There are still then judgements to be taken about what you actually
do, but a lot of the work has been done jointly with headteachers,
teacher associations, mainly local authorities, the LGA and others.
83. But, in terms of the judgements that you
have made, on the basis of the technical work that has been done,
what has been your judgement about the kinds of changes that need
to be made?
(Mr Normington) We are clear, and the Government is
clear publicly, that there needs to be a minimum entitlement per
pupil, which applies across the country; but then there needs
to be a number of factors, on top of that, to reflect some of
the things I have described, and all the debate is about that.
And I do not think I know precisely the answer as to what we have
recommended internally, but I could not tell you anyway, at this
moment, because we are not quite at the point of decision, we
are about a few weeks off.
84. Do you have a view about the balance, or
the proportion of total spend that should come from the minimum
entitlement, and the proportion that should come from the additional
factors; is it 50/50, or 40/60, what do you think will be reasonable?
(Mr Normington) I do not actually know. I guess the
Department does have a view about that. I do not think I know
that. I think some of the factors, in the present formula, are
very small, in fact, they are about 2 per cent; so I would expect
the basic entitlement to be a big bit of it.
85. A big bit? What I am saying is, somewhere
it must be documented as to what the Department's view is on the
size of the basic entitlement bit, and that is why we are interested
in trying to get that from you?
(Mr Normington) I do not know the answer to that question,
but if I did I do not think I could tell you yet, because the
Government is still debating it inside and will be coming out
with that in the middle of July.
86. Could we ask the Permanent Secretary if
we could have a short paper from the Treasury, something that
is pretty understandable for the lay reader, on this, as a future
(Mr Normington) Certainly, I can do that; it will
be better to do it at the time the Government produces its consultation
paper. I can certainly at that point produce some sort of note.
87. We are concerned, as you know, Mr Normington,
that sometimes we think you, as a Department, take us a bit for
granted; and one of the ambitions for us, as a Select Committee,
was to get on your radar, we actually wanted you to be conscious,
when you talked to the Secretary of State, when you made decisions,
or made mistakes, or whichever, that there is a Select Committee
here, a Parliamentary Select Committee, that wants to have, yes,
a healthy relationship with you, but we want you to be aware that
we exist. And this is interrupting David's flow, but in this section,
we are not even on your bibliography, when you publish your bibliography
you do not even put any of our Reports in it, we are not even
mentioned. And it does worry me sometimes that you see us as a
kind of peripheral irritant, rather than anything meaningful in
(Mr Normington) Well you would expect me to deny that.
We do know you exist, and we take you very seriously; and if there
are ways we can help this relationship... I actually think the
Individual Learning Accounts did move the relationship between
us on quite a long way, we were as open as we could be with you
and you responded with, if I may say so, a very accurate, good
Report. And I think that probably proves to us that if we share
what is happening with you, actually, we get treated accordingly.
88. You are trying to seduce us now, yes.
(Mr Normington) I am sorry. I will not do that then.
89. Just pursuing part of that point, is there
not a logic to including in your bibliography the Government's
response to the Education Select Committee's Reports? I am not
necessarily suggesting you should list all the Select Committee's
Reports, but, in terms of the Government response, this is something
for which you are directly responsible, and your bibliography
is now extensive and wide-ranging and has documents written, PricewaterhouseCoopers,
and so on, so it is not entirely all your own work. But I would
have thought the Government's response to this Committee's Reports
would be legitimate content for next year's Report?
(Mr Normington) We can certainly do that.
90. One other point on the Report then, in terms
of the new policy of actively recruiting more practitioners from
the Education Service, what is the sort of balance now that you
have achieved there at senior levels? I seem to remember, in the
article that you wrote recently for the Education Journal,
you talked about 40/60, did you?
(Mr Normington) I think, at the two most senior levels,
i.e. the two levels below me, the Director-General, Director levels,
it is about 40/60, in terms of people recruited from a whole range
of places outside the Department, and people who have developed
within the Department.
91. This is an innovative procedure; do you
think that it will continue beyond 40/60, and do you envisage
a time when the whole basis of traditional Civil Service recruitment
may change, and that the traditional routes of professional career
civil servants will be replaced by a continuous process of drawing
in people from the relevant service, whether it is the Health
Service, for the Department of Health, or whether it is education,
for yourselves? Potentially, this is a revolutionary change in
(Mr Normington) It is in line with where the Government,
and actually the previous Government, wanted us to go; it is quite
a way ahead of some others. I do not think there is a precise
number, because all the time, at your senior levels, you are trying
to build the team for the job you have to do, and sometimes the
best people come from inside, and sometimes the best come from
outside. I am comfortable with the balance I have got. I do not
want to send too many signals into the Department that you cannot
have a good career within the Department, and that good people
will not come through, that would not be good for our internal
career development. I think there is a case for bringing in more
people at a number of levels, so that you are constantly refreshing
your talent, but you are also developing your talent inside, but
some of that talent has come in, in later career, at other levels
of the Department. I also think that one of the messages to our
own staff is that, as part of their Civil Service career, they
need to be thinking hard about how they develop themselves. So
if I may take just one precise example; my Director who looks
after school workforce and teacher issues, as part of his career
before he took that job, spent a year as the Assistant Chief Education
Officer in Manchester, and he is a career civil servant, but his
career route took him in that direction. So it does not have to
be these two streams, they can cross over, I think I would like
to see that happening. I do not see a time though when there is
not a good career to offer to really effective civil servants
who have developed their skills within the Civil Service. I would
not want to go the whole hog.
92. Is it not a problem though, and I think,
what you are saying about this bringing in people from outside,
all of us on this Committee would approve of that, we like that
diversity, and we understand the points you made. But, in terms
of putting names forward for public appointments, you are not
bringing through many women for those public appointments, the
balance is not very good; are you having difficulty finding suitably-qualified
women to take up positions on public bodies?
(Mr Normington) On public appointments; in terms of
the recruitment we have done to the senior levels, the majority
of the recruits are women.
93. It says in my notes: "According to
the Departmental Report Annex G page 173, only two women were
appointed to non-departmental public bodies in 2001, compared
to 16 men."
(Mr Normington) You are talking about the appointments
to non-departmental public bodies; well, we are very clear that
we need to do better on this. Are we having problems; obviously
we are. I have not looked at this just recently, and, I think,
if those are the figures then it is not good enough. I am surprised
those are the figures, because a great deal of effort has gone
into trying to widen the recruitment process; and, actually, most
of these opportunities are advertised now, some of them are in
the Engineering and Construction Training Boards, are they not,
where there is a particular issue about the difficulty in recruiting
women, and it has been really hard to do that there.
94. Perhaps the Select Committee can help you;
we know a few good women, we have a good network.
(Mr Normington) I would be happy for you to do that.
Remember that most of these opportunities are now advertised,
and actually encouraging those people to put their names forward
is a really important part of it.
95. Perhaps you, the Department, and the Committee
can work together on this, because we would like to see more women
appointed to these positions?
(Mr Normington) Yes, certainly.
96. On the SSAs, which we have already discussed,
LEAs like mine, in Derbyshire, have been consistently right at
the bottom level of funding, under the SSAs, and obviously they
are hoping that by next year they are going to get a significant
increase in the funding. But if that is going to happen to the
F40 group, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, and all
the rest, is that increase in funding, do you think, going to
come from the injection of extra money, to bring people at the
bottom up, or are the LEAs, who have been benefiting for the last
ten years by getting the 10 per cent increases, going to lose
(Mr Normington) I think the Government's commitment
is to level up, is it not; that was one of the things it said
in its original Green or White Paper on Local Authority Finance,
that it would try to ensure that there was a levelling-up. But
I do not want to be misunderstood about this. We are not quite
at the point where I can say for certain that there will not be
some redistribution; if you have a new formula, it may mean that
over time there is some redistribution, that is what has happened
with changes in the formula before. So I think it is possible
that will happen too; but I think the Government's commitment
is, if people are below the floor of basic entitlement, to inject
some money to bring them up. It is all subject to the discussions
in the Spending Review.
97. And, very quickly, on the consultation period;
if the document is coming out for consultation somewhere in the
middle of July, just before schools and Parliament go into recess,
for example, not the best time to consult, do you know what the
closing date of the consultation is going to be?
(Mr Normington) I can try to let you know that. I
do not know the answer, it is not my consultative document, it
is the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, as it now is, is it
not, so I do not know.
We will be pressing on them the need to take account of that precise
point, but I think they will understand it anyway.
98. Before we leave that topic, there was some
concern that it seemed that the new SSA was going to come out
before we could actually take benefit of the data coming out of
the most recent census. I do not know if that is the case, but
certainly it was suggested to this Committee that it was. That
would seem rather strange, would it not, if you were feeding into
your computer ten-year-old, 11-year-old data from the census?
On the other hand, could we have a note on what the Department
is doing in terms of a better focusing on deprivation? What this
Committee finds, time and time again, in terms of sessions we
have, when we are talking about EMAs, when we are talking about
the possibility of HEMAs, is the use of postal codes as a basis
for giving particular money to higher education, to identify young
people from Poorer backgrounds; constantly we hear that it is
not a very refined tool, that it scoops up all sorts of inappropriate
people. How much work is the Department doing on getting a better
focus, being able to pin-point the people in a better way; is
this a familiar story to you, and are we making tracks to get
(Mr Normington) It is a familiar story, and I will
provide you with a note on it, because we work with others, a
lot of the data we use is the data that others provide, it is
from the census but it is also from the work that the former DTLR
have done on deprivation, and so on, so we do not generally work
alone on this. And I will have to provide you with a note;
it is a very important issue, and we are constantly trying to
get the measures better, for the reason you said.
99. It runs through all your policy, does it
(Mr Normington) Yes, it does.
Chairman: I just want to move on. Two more topics,
before we end, and we want to talk a little bit about running
the Department, and Val is going to interview you on this.
1 Note by witness: The address of the website for
the work of the Education Funding Strategy Group is www.dfes.gov.uk/efsg Back
See page Ev 20. Back
Note by witness: The closing date of the consultation period
is 30 September 2002. Back
See page Ev 20. Back