§ Mr. Ashdown
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, further to his reply to the hon. Member for Yeovil on 6 March, Official Report, column 705–6, concerning returns made by district inspectors of Her Majesty's inspectorate, what separate items of statistical and financial information were given in the returns for the last year to show the distribution of resources and the overall levels of expenditure within a local education authority; whether such information is collected by means of a standard form; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Rumbold
Her Majesty's inspectors sought statistical and financial information from local education authorities covering the range of issues discussed in the report on the effects of local authority expenditure policies on education provision in England, 1985. A standard form was used. Detailed information on actual and estimated education expenditure by individual local authorities is published each year by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and copies are placed in the Library.
§ Mr. Ashdown
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science further to his reply to the hon. Member for Yeovil on 6 March, Official Report, columns 705–6, concerning returns made by district inspectors of Her Majesty's inspectorate, if he will review whether parts of the returns containing assessments by inspectors of the appropriateness of provision and the impact of changes may be placed in the Library without statistical information given by local education authorities in confidence; what considerations have been material to such parts of the returns not being pubished; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Rumbold
No. The assessment by Her Majesty's inspectors of provision made by individual local education authorities are based on the statistical and financial information they provide and on Her Majesty's inspectors' general knowledge of the authority. Neither of these is complete enough in its coverage to allow judgments to be made about the quality of education in individual LEAs. However, the information from and assessment of all 97 English LEAs, when drawn together and analysed, is able, in the view of Her Majesty's inspectors, to provide a well-founded picture of the general picture and noticeable trends nationally. It is this picture which makes up the 565W reports by Her Majesty's inspectors on the effects of local authority expenditure policies on education provision. The treatment of the background material relating to individual LEAs in confidence ensures a high return from them without which the reports would be considerably diminished. Only in their published inspection reports on education provision in single LEAs are Her Majesty's inspectors able to provide a securely based judgment of efficiency and effectiveness across an individual authority.