Pupil-teacher Ratios

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th December 1983.

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Photo of Mr Clement Freud Mr Clement Freud , North East Cambridgeshire 12:00 am, 20th December 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make it his policy to lay before Parliament an annual statement of pupil-teacher ratios in maintained primary and secondary schools.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

Summary figures for these ratios have long been included in the report on education and science presented annually to Parliament. More detailed information is given in the Department's statistical bulletins.

Photo of Mr Clement Freud Mr Clement Freud , North East Cambridgeshire

Will the Minister accept that the proposed rate-capping legislation is likely to have a substantial effect on pupil-teacher ratios? Will he ensure that the figures are published within a few months after the passing of the rate-capping legislation so that we can see the effects on pupil-teacher ratios?

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I note what the hon. Gentleman has said. Staffing provision is the responsibility of local education authorities. It is for them to decide the number of teachers to deploy in their local areas. It is a matter for them and is clearly known as such.

Photo of Mr John Powley Mr John Powley , Norwich South

If we are to provide more teachers in the education service, does my hon. Friend agree that they, too, have a responsibility when their organisations seek wage and salary increases to keep those increases at a moderate level, so that more resources can be spent on real forms of education, instead of on wages and salaries?

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. If costs are contained, with the cash that remains much more can be done in other essential areas.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Cynon Valley

Will the Minister answer the question that was put to him by the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud)? If, under the Bill that was published today, local education authorities are prevented from increasing their rates, what effect will that have on teacher-pupil ratios?

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I cannot speculate on that. Local education authorities are responsible for the management of their cash flows and resources. How they behave is entirely a matter for them.

Photo of Mr Giles Radice Mr Giles Radice Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Is the Minister aware that the real education picture, as shown in the HMI report, is one of shortages of teachers, inadequate curriculums, not enough books and materials, and an increasingly urgent need for repairs to school buildings? Does he agree, as the local education authorities told the Secretary of State, that the situation will only be made worse by the level of RSG settlement for 1984–85 and by the Bill published today to take away the ability of LEAs to charge rates as they think fit? How will the Government Actuary's report, which is published today, on the increase in teacher pension contributions affect the financial position of LEAs?

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I am happy to tell the hon. Gentleman and the House that pupil-techer ratios are at their best level ever. That is a matter of pride, and we expect the trend to continue into the coming year. I am happy to give the House that information. It is good news which should be welcomed in a robust fashion.