HC Deb 22 February 1983 vol 37 cc785-6
2. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much was spent in real terms per pupil in primary schools in England in the most recent year for which figures are available; and how this compares with the figures for 1978–79.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Sir Keith Joseph)

Net institutional recurrent expenditure per full-time equivalent primary pupil in England in 1981–82 was £619 compared with £581 in 1978–79, at 1981–82 outturn prices. The figures show an increase in real terms of approximately 6 per cent. over the three-year period, when pupil numbers fell by some 10 per cent.

Mr. Knox

Do the figures not belie the Opposition's claim that under this Government education standards have fallen?

Sir Keith Joseph

I do not accept that education standards can be judged solely on financial expenditure. I should like to emphasise to the House that the Opposition's claim is completely ill-informed. We now have a record number of teachers in relation to numbers of pupils in our schools.

Mr. Kinnock

Would the Secretary of State say that Her Majesty's Inspectorate's view is entirely ill-informed? If not, will he acknowledge that the HMI said that standards of numeracy, literacy and much else in both primary and secondary schools are threatened by the impact of Government expenditure cuts on maintained schools?

Sir Keith Joseph

It is common ground that there is considerable scope for improvement in many subjects in many schools. However, I repeat that there are more teachers in relation to the number of pupils than ever before.