HC Deb 04 February 1971 vol 810 cc1898-9
23. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the capital and revenue cost per place of nursery, primary and secondary education, respectively.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Capital costs per pupil place at present are:

for nursery schools between £412 and £574 depending on the size of the unit;

for primary and secondary schools £371 and £702 respectively.

Current expenditure per pupil for 1970–71 is estimated at:

£202; £97; £186 for nursery primary and secondary schools respectively.

Mrs. Short

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for those figures. Before dismissing the provision of nursery education as being too expensive from the capital cost point of view, will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that when we provide nursery schools through the urban aid programme we are providing for two children in one place, because they attend on a part-time basis? Will he therefore bear in mind that it is possible to spread the benefits of nursery education at a lower cost per child than the cost of secondary and primary education appears to suggest?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I accept much of what the hon. Lady said.

Mr. Robert Cooke

Will my hon. Friend do all he can to further what the hon. Lady is asking for, because nursery education is of enormous importance? Its importance is often unrecognised and underrated.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I do not underrate its importance. I am sure it is not necessary to remind my hon. Friend, however, that we always have to work within the limits of resources available.

Mr. Marks

Nursery classes and nursery schools are taking children parttime—one group attending in the morning and another in the afternoon. Will the hon. Gentleman urge local authorities to make extra provision, therefore, for clerical and other assistance, because the system involves twice as much work as would be the case if half the children attending were to spend all day at the school?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I will look at this point, but the hon. Gentleman is illustrating the financial problems in such provision.