Sunday 22 October 2017

Angela Rayner could not say how many children Labour's policy would benefit in awkward LBC interview

The shadow education secretary said she did not want to “play that numbers game”.

By Nilima Marshall

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner found herself in a rather awkward spot when she went on LBC to talk about her party’s plans to reduce class sizes for under-eights and was unable to answer how many children the policy would benefit.

Speaking to presenter Nick Ferrari on the radio station, she said Labour’s plan would help “a significant number” of students, but was unable to provide a ballpark estimate.

When pressed by Ferrari, Rayner responded by saying: “There’s quite a substantial amount of pupils that are affected. I haven’t got the numbers on me to hand, but it is quite a substantial amount of children that are in class sizes that are over 30.”

Eventually, Ferrari provided the answer himself – the number of primary school pupils in England in classes of 30 or more was 520,445.

He said: “You are the shadow education secretary. One of your key pledges is to try to reduce class sizes, which will really resonate with my listeners for four, five, six and seven-year-olds.”

He added: “Do you not think you ought to have had that number?”

But Rayner refused to cave in, saying: “I’m not going to try and play that numbers game with you and pluck that out of the air.”

Her awkward interview did not go unnoticed on social media:

Others thought it was more a case of point-scoring from the LBC host.

Labour wants to end class sizes of over 30 as part of its education plan, which is expected to cost £20 billion.

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