HC Deb 31 March 1993 vol 222 cc348-9
12. Mr. Knox

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was spent per pupil in primary schools in Scotland in the most recent year for which figures are available; and what was the comparable figure in 1978–79, at constant prices.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Current expenditure per primary pupil in 1990–91 was 50 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1979. The latest figure is £1,508 per primary pupil.

Mr. Knox

Can my hon. Friend say how those excellent figures square with claims of cuts in primary education in recent years?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Yes, we have a very good record in that matter. Expenditure per pupil has increased enormously. It is particularly significant today, the day before Scots universities and further education colleges come under Scottish Office control, that Scots schools produce proportionally more young people who have obtained the normal entry qualification for higher education. The figure is 27 per cent. of school leavers in Scotland compared with 22 per cent. south of the border. That is a testimony to the effectiveness and strength of the Scottish education system.

Mr. Michael J. Martin

Visiting primary schools in my constituency, I have found that the level of dedication among the teachers is second to none. However, I often hear complaints from teachers who say that the problems would be better resolved if school maintenance were considered. Sometimes the facilities in which the pupils and teachers have to work leave a lot to be desired. I put that down to the fact that the local education authority has been starved of finance and I hope that central Government will put in more finance to help those dedicated teachers.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

We are today issuing guidelines for devolved school management to schools and authorities in Scotland. That can decidedly help in the circumstances to which the hon. Gentleman referred. Any scheme for devolved management should continue to make appropriate funding available to meet the needs, for example, of maintenance of such schools. Those authorities that have pioneered pilot schemes have proved that they are working well and have gained the confidence of the schools taking part.