Ethnic Minorities

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st March 1995.

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Photo of Mr George Stevenson Mr George Stevenson , Stoke-on-Trent South 12:00 am, 21st March 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment has been made of the effects on schools of changes in section 11 funding; and if she will make a statement. [13245]

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

Most of the £30 million recently announced for new section 11 projects starting in 1995–96 will benefit schools. Together with continued funding of existing projects, it will support specialist English language teaching for ethnic minority pupils, and so help raise standards generally.

Photo of Mr George Stevenson Mr George Stevenson , Stoke-on-Trent South

Is the Minister aware that his response will be greeted with dismay throughout the country? Does he realise that section 11 cuts are having disastrous effects on pupils whose first language is not English? Will the Minister urgently intervene to restore the damaging cuts before further irreparable harm is done to that vital service?

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the funding programmes are of great importance both to children and to schools generally, and I pay tribute to the teachers involved in them. The hon. Gentleman may not have noticed the announcement, which amounted to a doubling of new section 11 funding. For example, in the hon. Gentleman's own local education authority of Staffordshire, £191,000 of additional money will be given to support the existing programmes. That pattern will be reflected throughout the country in all areas where there is a major need for that activity.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

Does my hon. Friend accept that there are many Conservative Members who do not echo the calls from Opposition parties for more funding for a variety of ethnic programmes at a time when budgets are inevitably tight?

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

I agree that we must have priorities, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed that when drawing up his Budget decisions. The programmes have value, and they are not the only way in which we support areas of educational difficulty. They must be judged on their merits as part of a balanced programme.