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Special Needs

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he is taking to improve the consistency of decisions on special educational needs resources across the country; and if he will make a statement. [144484]

Jacqui Smith: We recognise that there are differences in practice between areas in the use made of funds for special educational needs (SEN). The funding arrangements allow both LEAs and schools flexibility in deciding their local priorities. We are seeking to promote good practice in this through the DfEE SEN Funding Steering Group, which is working to improve the current arrangements for reporting on SEN budgets and outturn, and to develop tools and strategies for managing an SEN budget in as inclusive a way as possible. It is aiming to produce guidance, drawing on existing LEA models, and to disseminate this by summer 2001.

At the individual pupil level we are also working to promote better and more consistent practice, through other good practice material, for example our July 2000 report on Education Psychology Services. The revised SEN Code of Practice should also promote more consistent practice by schools and LEAs. While individual pupils with SEN will vary in their needs it is important that schools and others adopt a consistent and rigorous approach in identifying and providing for these needs.

Consistency of good practice will also be promoted through amendments to the Education (Special Educational Needs) (Information) Regulations 1999. These amendments will require LEAs to set out their detailed arrangements for what schools might normally provide from their budgets for pupils with SEN. It will also require LEAs to publish their plans for providing appropriate SEN support. Schools will continue to be required to provide information about their own arrangements for identification, assessment and provision within their SEN policy. As with the revised SEN Code of Practice these amended regulations will be subject to parliamentary approval of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill.

Secondary Schools

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many local education authorities in (a) Greater London and (b) the rest of England and Wales are currently unable to offer permanent places to all pupils in secondary schools within their boundaries; what efforts are they making to provide an education to those pupils; what support his Department is providing to them; and if he will make a statement. [144485]

Ms Estelle Morris: My Department does not collect detailed information on the provision of school places by local education authorities in England; education in Wales is a matter for the Welsh Assembly.

It is for local education authorities to ensure sufficient school places to meet demand. They may make emergency arrangements for pupils who cannot

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immediately be offered permanent school places by, for example, providing temporary tuition or assisting with travel to schools in neighbouring authorities. Where authorities can demonstrate insufficient school places to meet future demand, they may apply to the Department for capital funding to provide additional places. In December, the Government announced allocations of £90.9 million for LEAs in England to provide 43,260 new school places, including £10.9 million for over 4,000 new secondary school places in Greater London.

Disability Discrimination Act

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many claims of discrimination under the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 have been considered to date by (a) employment tribunals and (b) the courts. [144718]

Ms Hodge: From April 1997 to December 2000, the employment tribunals have considered at a full and final hearing 713 claims made under the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Due to changes to the database system of the Employment Tribunals Service in 1996, statistics are not available for 1996-97.

Seven claims under Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 had been heard by county and sheriff courts up to September 2000, the latest date for which research information is available.

School Governors

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what powers a school governing body has to refuse to accept the appointment of a governor made by a minor local authority. [144872]

Jacqui Smith: Under the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act the school governing body is now the appointing body for an additional co-opted governor nominated by the minor authority named in the school's instrument of government. Where there is more than one minor authority, the governing body can choose which to seek nominations from, or can select from nominees put forward by more than one.

In the case of a single nominee, a governing body is bound to accept that nomination unless it can show good reason why it should not do so. In these circumstances the governing body should explain its reasons and seek another nomination from the minor authority.


Mr. Cann: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what funding has been allocated for numeracy in primary schools. [144445]

Ms Estelle Morris: We have provided primary schools with substantial funding, as shown, to support the implementation of the National Numeracy Strategy since September 1999:

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Llanwern Steel Works

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he was first informed of the possible closure of the Llanwern steel works. [144878]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I have been aware of widespread speculation on the subject over several months. However, Corus plc recently confirmed that no decision has been taken about the future of Llanwern.

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the impact in terms of lost jobs of the closure of the Llanwern steel works by Corus plc. [144877]

Mr. Paul Murphy: While Corus has made clear that it is looking at further restructuring, the company has not made any announcements about a possible closure of Llanwern. None the less, I am working with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and with the National Assembly for Wales, to assess the potential impacts in the event of changes to the structure of steel plants in Wales.

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Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he has taken to ensure that the Llanwern steel works are not closed. [144879]

Mr. Paul Murphy: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and I have held discussions with Corus plc at the highest level and will continue to do so. The Government are committed to helping the steel industry deal with the challenges of the fiercely competitive environment in which it operates and are working closely with industry representatives on a range of issues to help it to improve competitiveness and ensure its long term future.

Steel Industry

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what meetings he has had with trade unions representing steel industry workers in Wales. [144876]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I take a very close interest in the steel manufacturing industry in Wales and have visited a number of plants. I have met all that are interested in the industry, including trade unions and management, and I remain in close contact.