Results 'improved faster under Tories'

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The Independent Online

GCSE results improved faster under the Tories than under the Labour government, according to a report by an influential all-party committee of MPs published yesterday.

GCSE results improved faster under the Tories than under the Labour government, according to a report by an influential all-party committee of MPs published yesterday.

The cross-party Education Select Committee warned that the figures undermined government claims that rising standards could be directly attributed to higher levels of education spending under Labour.

The MPs called on Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, to stop trying to take the credit for rises in GCSE passes by attributing improvements to extra spending allocated by the Treasury.

The report concluded that there was no proved link between higher spending and better results and urged the Government to be more careful not to make claims that could not be supported by evidence.

In fact, GCSE results rose faster under the Conservatives when education spending increases were much lower, the report concluded. Between 1991 and 1995 the proportion of students getting five good passes rose by 6.7 percentage points while spending rose by 11.4 per cent in real terms.

From 1995 to 1999, exam passes rose by 4.4 per cent while spending increased by 3.4 per cent. But between 1999 and 2003 under Labour, education spending rose by 31.6 per cent but exam passes increased by just 5 percentage points.

Barry Sheerman , chairman of the committee, said: "The Government has argued that its increased investment in education since 1997 has led directly to increased levels of achievement, for example at GCSE. Our report shows that it is not possible to demonstrate a straightforward link."

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said that increased investment had an important role to play in raising standards. "Investment, education reform and the achievement of the teaching profession go hand-in-hand in raising standards," he said.

"Investment has provided the record increases in teacher numbers, the new buildings and the classroom technology necessary to support education reforms, which together with the hard work of teachers and pupils has delivered significant improvements in pupil performance since 1997."

The report also criticised the DfES for its response to the school funding crisis of 2003, when at least 250 teachers were made redundant after changes to the funding system left some schools with deficits of more than £100,000.

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