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Modern Apprenticeships

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many Modern Apprenticeships have been started in each of the last five years. [141695]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 11 December 2000]: The numbers of people starting Modern Apprenticeships in the last five years in England are given in the table:

Number
1995-9625,800
1996-9770,300
1997-9884,200
1998-99119,100
1999-2000170,700

Notes:

1. Figures for the first two years are for Advanced Modern Apprenticeships only.

2. From 1997-98 they also include Foundation Modern Apprenticeships.


Maintained Sector

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how many (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in the maintained sector have a charitable trust to raise funds for education-related purposes; [141697]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 11 December 2000]: The information is not held centrally.

Colleges of Agriculture (Funding)

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will set out details of the funding for colleges of agriculture for (a) 2000-01, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2002-03. [142284]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2000]: £61 million has been allocated to 20 colleges of agriculture for the 2000-01 academic year. Provisional allocations for colleges of further education, including colleges of agriculture, for the 2001-02 academic year will be made at the end of February 2001. Allocations for the 2002-03 academic year will be made in 2002.

Learning and Skills Council

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many of the 753 staff of his Department employed in the Government Offices will transfer in April 2001 to the Learning and Skills Council; and what fraction of the aid budget will be transferred as a result. [142289]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2000]: The work that Government Offices (GO) currently perform in respect of TEC contracts will no longer be necessary once the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is in place. There will therefore be no formal direct transfer of staff and work from Government Offices to the LSC. We do, however, expect a small number of GO staff to find opportunities with the Learning and Skills Council over

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time. We have estimated that, as a result of the creation of the LSC, GO running costs will be some £15 million less than they otherwise would have been.

Lifelong Learning Directorate

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment of the 1,013 staff employed in the Lifelong Learning Directorate of his Department, how many will transfer to the Learning and Skills Council on April 2001; what budget will be allocated to them; and what functions will remain in the Lifelong Learning Directorate. [142290]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2000]: We estimate the equivalent of 90-100 full time posts will transfer to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) from the Department as a whole. As individuals are being given a choice as to whether they join the LSC or not, the number of people actually transferring with the work may be less than this.

We have set an overall administration budget for the LSC of £188 million for 2001-02. It is for the LSC to decide how it uses that resource to achieve the objectives it has been set.

The Lifelong Learning Directorate is responsible for the oversight and delivery of the Government's policies to promote post-16 learning, including: quality and delivery of the post-16 agenda; adult learning and skills; higher education; youth policy; qualifications and the Connexions strategy.

Higher Education Funding

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the level of funding per student in higher education is in 2000-01 and is planned to be in (a) 2001-02, (b) 2002-03 and (c) 2003-04. [142291]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 30 November 2000, Official Report, columns 810-11W.

Blind and Visually Impaired People

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what he is doing to encourage the wider dissemination of career information in alternative formats to blind and visually impaired people. [141554]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2000]: Section B11 of the Requirements and Guidance for Careers Services states that information must be made available in ways that ensure clients with disabilities, including those with learning difficulties or sensory impairments, are able to access it. Equality of opportunity is a fundamental principle in provision of careers guidance and will be equally applicable to those working in the Connexions partnerships. Suppliers of career resources are encouraged to make their materials available in alternative formats to meet the needs of particular groups including blind or visually impaired. These include audio tapes, large print Braille and facilities in electronic formats, including websites to permit access by speaking browsers.

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Golden Jubilee

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what are the implications of the extra Golden Jubilee bank holiday in June 2002 for the timetable of public examinations during that summer. [141555]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2000]: The awarding bodies were notified that HM the Queen's Golden Jubilee will be on Monday 3 June 2002 and that the spring bank holiday has been moved to 4 June 2002. Examinations will be rescheduled to take place in the last week of May and no examinations will take place in the week beginning 3 June 2002.

Adult Basic Skills

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will set out his strategy for improving adult basic skills with particular reference to (a) the costs of the programme, (b) methods of delivery, (c) professional development for those involved in tuition and (d) the criteria for its evaluation. [141556]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2000]: On 5 December my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State issued a statement on how the Government propose to improve adult basic skills. Measures include new standards, a national test and curriculum, new learning materials and programmes and action to target specific groups of adults with basic skills needs. Spending on this programme will rise from £241 million in 2000-01 to £313 million in 2001-02, £366 million in 2002-03 and £403 million in 2003-04. Raising standards through training and qualifications for new and existing teachers will be a key part of the strategy. The national strategy, to be launched early next year, will be evaluated through pathfinder projects and regular monitoring of progress at national level against the target of reducing the number of adults with weak literacy and numeracy skills by 750,000, by 2004.

Joint Academic Network

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what progress has been made in linking further education colleges with the Joint Academic Network. [141557]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2000]: At the end of November, 212 of the 420 English FE colleges have direct connections to the Joint Academic Network (JANET). These connections were funded by the National Learning Network initiative. A further 114 colleges have connections to JANET via a local university, and these will be converted to direct connections in due course. The plan to have all English FE colleges connected to JANET by spring 2001 remains on target.

Needy Students

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how he will encourage higher education institutions to attract additional funds to assist needy students. [141558]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2000]: The Government have increased the resources available through the Access and Hardship Funds to £87 million in 2000-01,

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over four times greater than in 1997-98. Additionally, Opportunity Bursaries for young disadvantaged students will also be available from 2001. This carefully targeted extra support is a key part of our widening access policies, which are designed to ensure that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have the confidence to enter higher education and the help they need to complete their studies. We have made available £2.7 million of the total amount of £4.4 million provided for specific administrative funding in 2000-01. We believe that higher education institutions should also use their own funds to ensure these essential services are properly resourced and effectively delivered.

Of course we welcome initiatives such as the Ogden Bursary scheme, and the recent one announced by Edinburgh University with the Royal Bank of Scotland, which are excellent examples of private/public sector partnerships providing further opportunities for more of our disadvantaged young people to benefit from higher education. We have responded to these initiatives by increasing the income students can receive through bursaries without it affecting the level of student support they receive from the taxpayer.


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