HC Deb 24 October 2002 vol 391 cc400-1
14. Richard Younger-Ross (Teignbridge)

What progress has been made towards meeting the targets set for his Department for 2004 relating to primary school education. [75279]

The Minister for School Standards (Mr. David Miliband)

Primary schools have made outstanding progress in raising standards over the last five years. This year, 75 per cent. of 11-year-olds achieved the expected level in English, and 73 per cent. did so in mathematics, maintaining world-leading standards of achievement. We believe that schools can achieve even higher standards, and have a challenging target of 85 per cent. by 2004. The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that we are already working closely with local education authorities and schools to ensure progress towards that.

Richard Younger-Ross

It is clear that the previous Secretary of State had not met her targets. In 1999, the right hon. Lady said that if she did not meet her targets, she would resign. She also said at that time that her colleagues would resign as well. If her colleague who is now the Secretary of State followed what his predecessor promised, could this be the quickest resignation on record?

Mr. Miliband

I think that we have probably had enough of that for one 24-hour period. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we will work closely with teachers, who have achieved outstanding improvement but can go further, notably in the primary education of boys, where there is a significant gap between them and girls. We are working on that already.