Mr. John M. Taylor
To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer to the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) of 28 April 1999,Official Report, column 336, if he will make a statement on the changes there have been in average school class sizes for children over the age of seven years since 1 May 1997. 
§ The Prime Minister
The Government's manifesto pledge is to reduce the size of infant classes to 30 or below. The evidence of Ofsted and others is that class size matters most in the early years when children are learning the basics. As a result of an investment of £67 million there were some 130,000 fewer infants in classes of over 30 in January this year than in January 1998. And we have announced that from September this year we expect a further reduction of 150,000 meaning that the number of infants in classes over thirty will be 200,000 compared to 485,000 in January 1998. Between January 1998 and January 1999The average size of primary classes fell overall from 27.8 pupils to 27.6, the first fall for 10 years;the average size of Key Stage 2 classes remained steady (28.3 in 1998, 28.4 in 1999) as did the average size of secondary classes (21.9 in 1998, 22.0 in 1999);average size of classes in all maintained primary and secondary schools fell for the first time in 5 years from 24.9 in January 1998 to 24.8 in January 1999.