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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, there was a question which she did not answer. That may be my fault and if it is, I apologise in advance. I was talking about the class size pledge being met in the coming year. I know the figures for this year because they have been well trailed and mentioned by the noble Baroness in this House. I want the 1999-2000 figures. I do not believe that I am out of order because I am referring to a question that was not answered by the noble Baroness. I want to know the resources for 1999-2000. We are only 20 weeks away from that pledge having to be met in full. What are to be the resources for that year?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am sorry if I misunderstood the noble Baroness. I thought she was asking about 1998-99. We shall make further announcements about the detailed breakdown of how we shall meet that pledge in the near future.

4.51 p.m.

Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, I want to take this opportunity to welcome this Statement, not just because of the £19 billion boost to education but also because of the way in which that money is to be used. I am somewhat disappointed that there was not a more enthusiastic welcome for it from the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. However, I am probably more disappointed by the fact that she made a comparison with the amount of money that previous governments had spent on education since 1979.

I want the Minister to confirm that if the money that was devoted to education from 1979 had been spent correctly and properly, we would not have the current problems which mean that we now have to have this tidying-up exercise. For example, we should not have to reduce the size of classes in schools. We should not

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have to tackle levels of literacy and numeracy which are not good enough. We should not have to deal with the problem of truancy. That is to name just a few issues. Therefore, when noble Lords opposite boast about the spending of money, they should remember that it is the way in which it is spent that is important. This new Government are doing exactly that.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, on a point of order, are we not supposed to make very short contributions in order to ask a question?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I understood my noble friend to ask if--and he did ask a question quite clearly--since 1979 there had been devoted to education the kind of funding which it needed and the kind of funding which this new Government are now proposing, we would now have the current problems of large class sizes, declining school buildings and so on. My noble friend's question was perfectly clear and I cannot understand why the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, should take up the rather limited time that we have to deal with questions from Back Bench Peers by querying whether my noble friend asked a question.

I can confirm that over the years of the previous Conservative government, there was an average increase of only 1.5 per cent. in spending on education. That is the average increase in expenditure. I can confirm also that spending over the next three years will increase by 5.1 per cent. I hope that that answers my noble friend's perfectly well put question.

Lord Beloff: My Lords, your Lordships may be surprised to know that I spend a lot of time trying to think of something nice to say to the Minister. On this occasion, I can. Universities will be delighted by the announcement of a great deal more money for science.

But that leads to a question because the noble Baroness said also that some of the money which will come from student fees would go to further education and not only to higher education. It seems to me that unless the universities receive all that money--and possibly more--there will not be the infrastructure to make use of that extremely important additional resource for science.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, in addition to the announcement by my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade of a very large increase of £1.1 billion on science expenditure over the next three years, my department will, in the first year of this settlement, be putting in another £50 million on top of that.

The additional money which the universities will receive will be much more than the net increase available from the charging of fees. Therefore, again, the universities will welcome what the Government are doing.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, it is a popular fallacy to equate volume of expenditure with quality of outcome. Certainly nobody who has worked in, or had any association with, education in the Home Counties

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and who has watched the money which has poured into London schools can feel anything other than a certainty that there is no correlation at all. One accepts that in many London schools different and difficult social problems must be faced. But all too often, those social problems are excuses for a poor outcome rather than the reasons for it.

I assume that the Minister's Statement refers to England and Wales. If that is the limitation that is put upon it, the sums of money provided will be transferred in due course to Scotland via the Barnett formula so that the effect there will be somewhat similar. Therefore, the figures which I am about to produce, which fortunately I did not have to produce yesterday, are nevertheless valid. They make the point and I shall then come to my question.

In England, a pupil in a sixth form costs on average £2,290 per year whereas in Scotland that same pupil in a secondary school costs £2,960. Those are annual costs. An English secondary education, therefore, costs £13,740 whereas a Scottish secondary education costs £14,800.

We need to be concerned about quality. The fact is that when the Scots go to university--and we have heard a great deal about that--they require four years to achieve their degree whereas English students, who have cost £1,000 per student less over their period in secondary school, need only three years to achieve their degree.

The question I ask is: how is the quality control as regards that massive increase in expenditure to be measured? What happens if the money is simply churned into the system and the quality does not improve? Will there be any sanctions to ensure that there is some come-back if the volume is up but the output remains the same?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I was rather confused by the noble Lord's argument. On the one hand, he seemed to be suggesting that large amounts of additional expenditure have little to do with quality of outcome yet on the other hand he was concerned also that we might not achieve the required level of quality in sixth forms in England and Wales, if I understood him rightly--

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Baroness if I did not explain myself clearly. I am not concerned about quality in either England or Scotland. However, I am concerned about whether the additional money will produce any additional quality or whether it will simply go into the system and churn up the volume.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I assumed that that was what the noble Lord was getting round to by a slightly circuitous route. The noble Lord is right to ask that question. It is vitally important that we ensure that we achieve the very best value for money, although the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, from the Front Bench,

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said that she does not want interference in schools or colleges. There must be some checks on the expenditure and on performance and quality.

Of course, we will be rewarding institutions the performance of which is high and, indeed, we will be rewarding teachers whose performance is high. Right through the system we want in place proper quality assessment schemes. We already have one available for universities. We also have a further education system of inspection. There is also Ofsted which inspects our schools. That process is a very important way of testing out whether individual institutions are up to scratch.

However, at the same time, through our system of targets we shall also be monitoring and evaluating the impact of this expenditure on the overall performance of the system. Again, I accept that that is vitally important. I should tell the noble Lord that I believe that most teachers, most lecturers in further education and most university teachers are crying out for more resources. They will welcome what has been announced today.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I welcome the Statement, especially as regards the substantial additional resources which will be going into our schools. I also welcome it because of the certainty which a three-year settlement will bring. All too often in the education service--and, indeed, in other public services--the annual spending round means that short-term decisions tend to be made. I believe that many people in the education system will very much welcome the certainty which this three-year plan will bring.

However, does my noble friend the Minister agree that these measures, which will undoubtedly bring a very great deal of confidence to the state education system and certainly to parents, depend crucially on our teachers and on their having confidence in the future? On the crucial issue of recruitment and retention, does my noble friend agree that, although pay is undoubtedly an important issue, what is more relevant is the esteem in which teachers are held by people in this country? In that regard, I welcome the new grade of the advanced skill teacher as a means of enhancing the reputation of teachers, keeping them in the classroom and rewarding them for good performance.

Does my noble friend the Minister further agree that, although the recruitment of young teachers to the profession is important at present, so too is dealing with the problems that we are experiencing because many thousands of experienced teachers are retiring all too early from the teaching profession? Can my noble friend assure me that the Government have some plans for dealing with that issue?

The Government must recognise that the role of head teachers in schools can be crucially important in retaining teachers, in giving the right leadership and in ensuring that, where teachers face very stressful situations, they receive support from the senior management of the school. Indeed, we must recognise the very important role that head teachers have to play in leading their schools, in supporting teachers and in

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adapting to the enormous changes that are taking place in our schools. Can my noble friend say whether a little of the money that has been allocated will be invested in management development training and support for head teachers?

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