HC Deb 05 March 1984 vol 55 c591
5. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many school visits he made in 1983; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Stradling Thomas

During 1983 I made seven such visits, four to secondary schools and three to primary schools.

Mr. Jones

As about 20,000 people work in the school meals service in Wales, and as the service is to be affected by public expenditure cuts and ratecapping, will the hon. Gentleman guarantee that the price of school meals will not escalate sharply, that there will be no job losses in the school meals service and that there will be no cuts in the hours worked by those employed in the service?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I can give no such guarantees, but I shall bear in mind the points behind the question and keep a careful watch on the circumstances.

Mr. Raffan

Does my hon. Friend agree that the improvement in the pupil-teacher ratio has been matched by an equally dramatic reduction in the number of unqualified school leavers, down from a high of 13.4 per cent. under the last Labour Government to 8.3 per cent. now, and an increase in the number of school leavers going on to further and higher education, up from 23 per cent. under the last Labour Government to 29 per cent. now?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

My hon. Friend's question is a clear demonstration that standards are improving and that the Opposition's allegations that our cuts are harming education are entirely unjustified.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Does the Minister accept that his recent answers to me show that the training and updating of head teachers is a major contribution to the development of curricula within schools, and is he satisfied that his Department's funding activity in Bristol meets the needs of the training of head teachers in Wales?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

This is an important matter, and we are making every effort to introduce schemes in Wales that will help head teachers, because they are vital to the success of a school.

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