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GOVERNMENT'S ANNUAL REPORT ANALYSED

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The Daily Telegraph (p4) analyses the details concerning education that are contained in the government's annual pe...
The Daily Telegraph (p4) analyses the details concerning education that are contained in the government's annual performance report published yesterday.

The government asserts that it will spend£19bn more over the next three years. In reality, it is increasing the annual education budget by£6.3bn, a rise in real terms of five per cent. Welcome though the extra money is, it will do no more than add 0.2% to the proportion of gross domestic product devoted to education, the paper says.

What the report does not say is that that proportion is lower in Britain than in 16 of the 21 other countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

So, as most teachers know and most parents suspect, the promised financial bonanza is little more than a catching-up exercise.

The Independent (p3) meanwhile, gives the government six out of ten for its performance in education. It predicts that the government's key manifesto pledge on infant class sizes will be met a year early in September 2000.

But the paper points out that average class sizes for pupils over eight have gone up and the cost of increasing free nursery places has been huge. The pledge for universal provision for three-year-olds disappeared in last year's report and no target has been set for England and Wales.

It gives the government four out of 10 for its achievements in transport. The government admits its promise to introduce an integrated transport sysrtem could take some years to attain. The goal is vague, so it will be hard to establish whether and when it has been achieved. Everyone accepts that it is a long way off.

The provision of rural buses has been nudged and the rural roads programme refocused. The national public transport information system seems to have slipped into 2000.

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