Primary Schools

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 10th July 2008.

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Photo of Stephen Hesford Stephen Hesford PPS (Vera Baird QC, Solicitor General), Law Officers' Department, PPS (Mr Michael Wills, Minister of State), Ministry of Justice 10:30 am, 10th July 2008

What recent assessment he has made of the effects on the economy of expenditure on primary schools.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Investment per pupil has increased by some £2,500 a year to more than £6,000 a year. The proportion of children getting above key stage 2 level 4 is up from 63 to 80 per cent. in English and 62 to 77 per cent. in maths. The Leitch report showed that raising skills and education has a significant impact on improving the economy.

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Photo of Stephen Hesford Stephen Hesford PPS (Vera Baird QC, Solicitor General), Law Officers' Department, PPS (Mr Michael Wills, Minister of State), Ministry of Justice

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. My constituency shares those successes. Class sizes are down in Wirral, West, every school has been refurbished and key stage 2 results are up from 1997. As a result, over the past 10 years, more students have been going into further and higher education in my constituency. Despite the current downturn in economic circumstances, may I ask my right hon. Friend, who controls the purse strings, to affirm for me that we will continue the investment that we have put into our schools over 10 years, so that that progress can continue?

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

My hon. Friend is right: in a competitive global economy, skills matter more and more. Therefore, it is vital that we have the skills and education base in this country, so that the economy can compete and we can grow in the long term. We will continue to do that, in contrast with previous Conservative Governments who, in the face of economic slowdown, always cut investment, particularly capital investment. We have increased capital investment in schools from less than £700 million in 1997 to £6.4 billion this year. That is an improvement in giving our children the high-quality facilities that they need.

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