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School Standards and Framework Act

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if it is the policy of the Government that independent appeals tribunals under section 94(6) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 should inform appellants that their decisions are binding in law. [157459]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 9 April 2001]: Paragraph 15 of Schedule 24 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 specifies what information an appeal panel must give to appellants when informing them of the panel's decision on their appeal for a school place. It does not require appeal panels to inform appellants that its decision is binding on the admission authority whose decision is the subject of the appeal.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of the compatibility of his powers to overrule an independent appeals panel under section 94(6) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 with the United Kingdom's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. [157460]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 9 April 2001]: Section 96 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 provides local education authorities with a power of last resort to direct the admission of children to a foundation school when those children have been refused admission to, or been excluded from, all schools within a reasonable distance. Upon a referral from the governing body concerned, section 97 of the 1998 Act empowers the Secretary of State to name an alternative school in the direction. The Colne Community School was the subject of the last direction proposed by the Essex local education authority and referred to the Secretary of State. In the event, a vacancy arose and the pupil was admitted without the need for a direction.

The Court of Appeal has held, in R v. Richmond LBC ex parte JC, that the requirements of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights are not engaged in admission appeals, because admission appeals are determinative only of parents' preferences as to the school at which they wish education to be provided for their child, rather than any civil right of the child.

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Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the policy of the Government is concerning overcrowded schools, with particular reference to the Colne Community School, Essex. [157461]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 9 April 2001]: The School Standards and Framework Act 1998 requires each maintained school to have a 'standard number', which is the minimum number of pupils it must admit, if there is demand. This continues a principle established in the Education Reform Act 1988. Where an individual school chooses to have a higher 'admission number', that is the minimum number of pupils it must admit, where there is demand. Once an admission number has been set, the admission authority must respect that number, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

The Colne Community School, like all other maintained schools, can refuse applications for places once the standard number, or higher admission number, has been reached. But the 1998 Act makes sensible provision for local education authorities to place children in schools which have reached their standard number, or higher admission number, if all other schools within a reasonable distance have refused the child a place or where the child has been excluded from all other schools within a reasonable distance. The alternative would mean the pupil attending a school beyond a reasonable distance.

Administrative Burdens (Schools)

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he is taking to reduce administrative burdens in schools. [157775]

Jacqui Smith: The Government are fully committed to reducing administrative burdens in schools in order to allow teachers to concentrate on teaching and raising standards. Examples of our action to do so include:

We have guaranteed to cut by a third the number of documents, and by a half the number of pages, that the Government send automatically to schools during this school year--in the first two terms of this school year, we will have halved the paperwork we sent to schools, compared with the first two terms last year.

We have radically simplified this year's Standards Fund--we have replaced bidding, claiming and reporting with a single expenditure returns sheet; we have allowed schools to vire funds between almost all grant headings; we have allowed schools to carry funds over to the end of the school year; and we have introduced monitoring against existing targets.

We have placed model schemes of work on the DfEE website to underpin all National Curriculum subjects at Key Stages 1-3--they are entirely voluntary and teachers may adopt them or adapt them as they wish. These have now been joined by over 1,000 useful lesson plans and resources in a further effort to reduce paperwork and make the necessary lesson preparation as straightforward as possible.

We have developed new ICT resources, including the launch of:



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We have harnessed DfEE and Cabinet Office resources to simplify some of the paperwork that schools complete--the first results of this joint project are set out in the "Making a Difference: Reducing School Paperwork" report. This shows potential savings for a typical school of over 200 hours every year--equivalent to more than a month's work for one person; and across the school system 4.5 million hours could be saved annually.

We are reducing data collection and avoiding data request duplication. We have set up a high level group with head teacher representation to review all new and existing DfEE data collection. This approach has been extended to involve QCA, Ofsted and TTA. We are also developing a common set of data for schools that, from 2002, will be collected once only and shared electronically by all authorised parties and agencies.

Teacher workload is being reduced with 44,000 FTE extra non-administrative support staff, including teaching assistants and learning mentors, since 1997. Within this, we have provided funding to recruit and train an additional 20,000 FTE teaching assistants between 1999 and 2002.

We have introduced a £35 million Technology Package to enable schools to invest in new computers for management and administration, provide training and install software to introduce a seamless system that will save the average school five days work per year.

We have reviewed Ofsted procedures. Ofsted inspections can be a source of pressure on teachers and we have taken steps to reduce that pressure through the reduced notice period; shorter 'light touch' inspections for the most effective schools; and extending the maximum interval between inspections to six years.

We have provided specific help for small schools. In 2000, we set up two grants within the Standards Fund to assist small schools and we have now merged these into a single Small Schools Fund. The Fund provides support for small schools to help them with the extra difficulties that administration and collaboration present. The Fund is worth £80 million in 2001-02 and is guaranteed for at least three years.

School Leavers

Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many (a) male and (b) female 16-year-olds left school in the last six years without recognised qualifications. [157824]

Ms Estelle Morris: The numbers of (a) male and (b) female pupils in England aged 16 who achieved no GCSE or GNVQ equivalent passes in the last six years are shown in the table.

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(a) Male(b) FemaleTotal
1994-9527,45319,15346,606
1995-9627,14219,07146,213
1996-9726,21618,73844,954
1997-9822,53915,32937,868
1998-9920,94214,09435,036
1999-200019,19113,11432,305

Head Teachers (Coventry)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much money will be paid to head teachers in schools in Coventry, South as a part of the education funding announced in the budget. [157857]

Ms Estelle Morris: Schools will receive School Standards Grant (SSG) on the basis of the number of pupils on roll as at 18 January 2001. The following table shows the amounts individual schools will receive:

Amount (£)
Primary schools; middle deemed primary with no year 8 or 9 class; nursery schools; PRUs
Fewer than 100.5 pupils7,000
At least 100.5 but fewer than 200.513,500
At least 200.5 but fewer than 400.524,000
At least 400.5 but fewer than 600.530,000
600.5 or more48,000
Secondary schools; middle deemed secondary; and middle deemed primary with year 8 or year 9 class
Fewer than 600.558,000
At least 600.570,000
1200.5 or more82,000
Special schools
Fewer than 100.520,000
100.5 or more28,000


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It is intended that maintained schools will receive these sums in their delegated budget shares by mid May.

Also, schools will receive additional devolved capital funding, via a formula, based on a lump sum of £6,000 per school plus an amount based on the number of pupils in the school. In Coventry, South the nursery school will receive £7,168; primary schools will receive an average £10,639; secondary schools will receive an average £28,905 and special schools will receive an average £10,826.


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