HC Deb 05 February 1980 vol 978 cc214-5
2. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what he expects will be the size of reduction in school rolls in 1980–81 for primary and secondary schools, respectively.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Dr. Rhodes Boyson)

Between January 1980 and January 1981 it is expected that in England and Wales primary school rolls will fall by 180,000, or 4 per cent., and secondary school rolls by 40,000, or 1 per cent.

Mr. Miller

Does my hon. Friend agree that these reductions allow some scope for a reduction in expenditure but also room for an increase in standards, and that most parents are concerned about standards? Will he tell the House what he is doing to improve standards in education?

Dr. Boyson

I accept the two points that my hon. Friend has made. Over the two years 1978–79 and 1980–81 there will be a 4.7 per cent. reduction in pupils, but the reduction in expenditure will be only 3.5 per cent. That should allow more expenditure per pupil. In any case, educational standards are not just a question of money. They are also a question of core curriculum, discipline in the classroom and the way in which examinations are organised.

Mr. Greville Janner

Is it not correct that in certain areas, such as Leicestershire, the number of pupils on school rolls will increase? If that is so, will the Minister give a direction to Tory councils, such as that of Leicestershire, that they should not dismiss ancillary workers from their primary or secondary schools, thus devastating standards of education in those schools and imposing a burden on those who can bear it least?

Dr. Boyson

In areas such as Leicestershire, which I accept may be faced with increases in population, these increases will be taken into account for rate support grant and facilities will be provided for the authorities there to maintain, and indeed to improve, standards in the schools.