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Education secretary David Blunkett has admitted that the Labour government has spent less on education than the las...
Education secretary David Blunkett has admitted that the Labour government has spent less on education than the last Conservative government.

The Financial Times (p8) reports that Mr Blunkett, appearing before the all-party Commons select committee on education, confirmed that 4.7% of GDP was spent on education. The Conservative government spent 4.9% in the pre-election year.

He acknowledged that the government would have to spend an extra£1.6bn a year just to return to the Conservatives' level of spending.

Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, said that to deliver the investment needed to boost the education service, the government would need to find between£9bn and£10bn in the comprehensive spending review. 'Anything less, and they will have failed,' she said.

Meanwhile, David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, will further expose government problems over funding education when he calls, in a letter to ministers, for the removal of the 'ludicrously wide disparities' in the funding system by April 1999.

He says the system is grossly unfair, with some schools paid more for each pupil than others, depending on their local education authority. Nine authorities have calculated that, as a result, their schools lose out by a total of£300m.

In Kensington and Chelsea, the highest-paid LEA in England, schools receive£2,384 per primary pupil. Primary schools in Greenwich get£1,909 per pupil and those in Derbyshire get£1,275.

In his letter, Mr Hart says: 'The current system of funding education is a complete and utter lottery. It produces vast disparities which bear absolutely no relation to the cost of delivering the curriculum.'

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