HC Deb 24 January 1995 vol 253 cc131-2
7. Mr. Enright

To ask the Secretary of Stare for Education what new grants for education support and training money has been made available to improve standards in inner-city schools.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

The GEST programme for 1995–96 will benefit schools in all areas, directly or indirectly. In addition, initiatives to raise standards in schools are eligible for funding from the single regeneration budget.

Mr. Enright

Does not a real cut of £20 million here on top of a cut of £13 million in inspection funds mean that the Government are mouthing things about quality, but will not put their hand where their mouth is?

Mrs. Shephard

No. [Interruption.] I think that I disagree with the hon. Gentleman and his rather extraordinary image; I certainly disagree with the sentiment that he has tried to express. The GEST programme for the next financial year provides £250 million for local education authorities and schools to spend on 20 priority areas, including school effectiveness, and on a number of in-service training areas, particularly for primary teachers, concentrating on a grasp of the basics. All those areas will contribute directly to raising education standards.

Mr. David Shaw

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that adequate funding is available under the GEST programme and other programmes for the 100 or so state schools which are located on the route between Islington and the London school at Brompton Oratory?

Mrs. Shephard

I am sure that I can confirm that to my hon. Friend's satisfaction.

Mr. Steinberg

Is the Minister aware that considerably fewer funds are available under the GEST programme now than five years ago, yet the changes in the national curriculum orders mean that schools must perform many more tasks? Will the Secretary of State consider allocating more funds to the GEST programme? Otherwise, it will be a huge failure and teachers will be very disappointed indeed.

Mrs. Shephard

As I pointed out to the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright), a great deal of money—nearly £250 million— is devoted to the GEST programme. I also made it clear that components of the GEST programme are designed specifically to maintain high standards and to provide training for teachers. The hon. Gentleman should look also at the resources that are now devoted to inspection and testing, all of which are designed to increase and improve education standards.