§ 5. Mr. Allan Roberts
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what have been the pupil-teacher ratios of maintained schools in Bootle over the last three years; and what are the anticipated ratios for 1980–81 and 1981–82.
§ Dr. Boyson
Separate figures for Bootle are not available. For Sefton, the local education authority within which Bootle is situated, the overall pupil-teacher ratios for maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools were 20.6 in January 1977, 20.3 in 1978 and 19.6 in 1979. The local authority estimates that the ratio for January 1980 remains unchanged at 19.6. Projections of pupil-teacher ratios for individual local authorities are not made by my Department.
§ Mr. Roberts
Is the Minister aware that his figures are probably out of date as a result of a secret meeting that took place last night in Sefton? The Conservative councillors of Sefton decided behind closed doors to cut £1.3 million off an already inadequate budget. They have agreed to policies that will directly affect teacher-pupil ratios. Those policies will force 100 teachers to retire prematurely. They are to amalgamate 12 infant and junior schools. They have gone so far as to cut out swimming lessons in an area that incorporates the Leeds and Liverpool canal—the cause of many deaths. They have even decided to close a special school.
§ Dr. Boyson
I do not see how my figures can be out of date. Those figures were from January 1977. Whatever strange meeting may have been held last night, and whatever canals were closed in that area, I do not see how it can affect the pupil-teacher ratio of three years ago. As soon as we have received 220 official information about the meeting we shall study it with interest to try to understand the situation in Bootle.