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Teacher Administration

24. Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what recent meetings he has had with teachers' representatives to discuss the level of administration by teachers. [152573]

Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I meet regularly with teachers' representatives and we discuss a wide range of subjects, including our work to cut down the level of administration by teachers.

15 Mar 2001 : Column: 726W

Funding Formulae

25. Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what progress has been made in reviewing the formulae for the funding of local education authorities. [152574]

Ms Estelle Morris: We issued a Green Paper on Local Authority Funding on 19 September 2000 and consultation ended on 8 December. An analysis of consultation responses was published on 5 March on the DETR website at www.local.detr.gov.uk/greenpap/ analysis/index.htm. Copies of the analysis have also been placed in the Library. We will publish a White Paper on Local Government Finance later in the year. We will be working on a new formula for funding local education authorities over the coming months, with the aim of moving towards a new system in 2002-03.

GCSEs

26. Mr. McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the trend in the percentage of pupils gaining five or more A* to C grade GCSEs since 1997. [152575]

Ms Estelle Morris: The percentage of 15-year-old pupils gaining five or more A*-C grades at GCSE or the GNVQ equivalent has increased from 45.1 per cent. in 1996-97 to 49.2 per cent. in 1999-2000. The overall increase was four percentage points with an increase of at one percentage point in each of the intervening years. This shows that the figures are on track to reach the target of 50 per cent. by 2002.

School Discipline

27. Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on discipline in schools. [152576]

Jacqui Smith: We regularly meet representatives of the teacher associations and discipline is one of the issues discussed at these meetings.

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools' latest annual report shows that behaviour is good in three quarters of secondary schools and almost all primary schools, although he noted increasing levels of poor behaviour in the early years of secondary school. That is why we are providing record levels of funding--£174 million in 2001-02--a third more than this year and 10 times more than in 1996-97--to help schools and local education authorities tackle poor behaviour and provide education for excluded pupils.

This is helping to pay for the 1,000 on-site Learning Support Units which take disruptive pupils out of the classroom quickly, improve their behaviour and reduce the need for exclusion. This network has been delivered a year ahead of the original target date.

We are giving heads the full support they need to tackle disruptive and violent behaviour, including the use of exclusion where appropriate. We have clarified our exclusion guidance to emphasise that heads can permanently exclude pupils who are very disruptive or violent. And the new guidance for exclusion appeal panels makes clear that the head's decision should not be overridden in a range of circumstances including where there is violence or the threat of violence.

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Where an exclusion is necessary provision for excluded pupils is being greatly increased. There are over 1,000 more places and nearly 600 more teachers, instructors and education support staff at Pupil Referral Units compared with 1997. Planned LEA funding for PRUs increased by 13 per cent. this year compared with last, and we expect to see a 10 per cent. rise in the number of PRUs in 2001 compared with 2000. And by 2002 all local education authorities plan to provide a full timetable for excluded pupils.

37. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what recent meetings he has had with teachers' representatives to discuss discipline in schools. [152587]

Jacqui Smith: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given earlier today to the right hon. Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith).

SEN (South Swindon)

28. Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he has taken to improve support for pupils with special needs in South Swindon. [152578]

Jacqui Smith: Swindon Local Education Authority has received in 2000-01 £807,309 from the DfEE's Standard Fund grants for special educational needs, inclusion and emotional and behavioural difficulties, social inclusion and access for post 16. Swindon LEA SEN budgets have increased in 2000-01 by £172,000 (3.46 per cent.) to £5,143,000 and special school delegated budgets by £376,000 (11.83 per cent.) to £3,584,000. £50 million is available nationally from the Schools Access Initiative for 2001-02 to support projects to make mainstream schools and the curriculum accessible to pupils in wheelchairs or with sensory impairments. Swindon LEA has been allocated £185,650 for community, foundation and voluntary controlled schools and £46,750 for voluntary aided schools.

Employment Zones

29. Mr. Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the performance of and future plans for Employment Zones. [152579]

Ms Jowell: Employment Zones have been running only since April 2000 but are already getting substantial numbers of the hardest to help into work. The Government will build on this early success by extending the existing zones for an additional 12 months. Subject to satisfactory evaluation of the existing zones in the coming months the Government will consider extending Employment Zones to new areas and to other claimant groups, for example, lone parents.

Disabled People

30. Ms Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what progress has been made towards introducing comprehensive civil rights for disabled people. [152580]

Ms Hodge: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 5 March 2001, Official Report, column 14W.

15 Mar 2001 : Column: 728W

Childminders

31. Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he has taken to increase the supply of childminders. [152581]

Ms Hodge: On 15 June last year, I launched a £4.5 million start-up grant, to help provide up to 39,000 childminder places in 2000-01. The grant, supported by the European Social Fund (ESF), helps people starting out in childminding to meet some of the associated set-up costs. The childcare tax credit element of the Working Families Tax Credit helps more parents to use childminding services as it pays up to 70 per cent. of childminding fees. This has the effect of allowing childminders to use the increase in revenue to invest in their business and, therefore, of encouraging more people into childminding.

Over the next three years, we have given Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships the target of setting up a minimum of 145,000 new childcare places with childminders across England by March 2004, a minimum of 25,000 of which will be in areas of disadvantage. These places will be in addition to those which partnerships would normally expect to create.

To support partnerships in achieving these targets, we are making extensive new investment in increasing the supply of childminding reflecting the Government's determination to reverse the decline in numbers. This includes extending the childminder start-up grant by £17 million over the three years.

We are also helping with infrastructure support for childminding by providing £11.25 million for the creation of 450 childminder networks over the next three years. Networks can encourage people to enter childminding and, by providing support, help to reduce childminder turnover.

Last month I announced a new £3 million project, again supported by ESF moneys, to support new childminder networks in four disadvantaged areas helping teenage mothers stay in full time education and training.

Complaints Procedures

32. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what proposals he has to introduce a school complaints system. [152582]

Ms Estelle Morris: I have nothing further to add to the reply I gave my hon Friend on 4 May 2000, Official Report, column 186W. We believe that the majority of schools already have procedures in place for handling complaints, generally based on models provided by local education authorities and diocesan boards.

Chris Woodhead

33. Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which Mr. Chris Woodhead ceased to be Her Majesty's chief inspector of schools. [152583]

Ms Estelle Morris: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given earlier today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess) and my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice).

15 Mar 2001 : Column: 729W


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