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School Meals (Stockton, South)

Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children in Stockton, South have school meals provided by the local authority. [1094]

Mr. Timms: The latest information available is shown in the following table.

School meal arrangements—January 2000

Stockton, SouthEngland
Primary schools
Number of pupils eligible for a free school meal1,538816,994
Percentage of pupils eligible for a free school meal(8)15.418.4
Number of pupils who took a free school meal1,333671,486
Percentage of pupils who took a free school meal(8)13.415.0
Secondary schools
Number of pupils eligible for a free school meal1,524523,630
Percentage of pupils eligible for a free school meal(8)18.616.5
Number of pupils who took a free school meal984368,303
Percentage of pupils who took a free school meal(8)12.011.6

(8) Number of pupils eligible for a free school meal and taking a free school meal expressed as a percentage of all day pupils

Comprehensive School System

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her Department's aims for a comprehensive school system are. [1130]

Mr. Timms: Our aims for a comprehensive school system are to give all young people the opportunity to acquire the skills, attitudes and formal qualifications necessary for their personal development, lifelong learning, work and citizenship. This means that all schools must deliver a broad and balanced curriculum including literacy, numeracy and information and communication technology. At secondary level they must also provide high-quality pathways able to meet the needs of individuals, be they academic or vocational. In order to better achieve these aims, we want to increase diversity by enabling each school to develop a distinct mission, ethos and character and, provided it demonstrates success, have the autonomy to manage its own affairs.

School Places (Bromley)

Mr. Forth: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many pupils in the London borough of Bromley have not had an offer of a secondary school place for September. [1268]

Mr. Timms: As of 25 June, 152 children in Bromley were still to be made an offer of a secondary school place for September. However, appeals are still taking place, and some parents may also be holding offers of places in neighbouring boroughs. As in previous years, the LEA will be negotiating with their schools to take on additional pupils. They also have powers to direct the admission of pupils for whom no school place can otherwise be found.

Mr. Forth: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to review the effects of the Greenwich Judgment, particularly with regard to the number of out-of-borough pupils in schools in the London borough of Bromley. [1270]

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Mr. Timms: We have listened carefully to representations that we should seek to reverse the effect of the Greenwich Judgment. However, when we consulted on the Bill that became the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 there was no evidence of a groundswell of opinion nationally for doing so, and we have no reason to alter that view. The judgment was a sensible recognition of cross-LEA patterns of travel to schools. It prevented LEAs from refusing applications for schools simply on the basis that a child might not live in their specific administrative area.

Parents can apply for any school, regardless of where they live. If a school is oversubscribed, admission criteria are applied to decide which applicants should be allocated the available places. The Code of Practice on School Admissions encourages admission authorities to operate admission arrangements which reflect the reality of pupil admission patterns, especially where there tends to be a high level of cross-border movement.

Typical criteria used give priority where there is a sibling already at the school, to those who attend a named feeder school, who have a medical condition, live in a defined catchment area or who live closest to the school. Admission authorities for schools must review and consult on their admission arrangements each year, and this gives an opportunity to introduce any changes they consider to be in the best interests of local parents and children.

In many cases, a child's nearest school may be in another authority area. This is one reason why there is so much cross-border travel. Cross-LEA travel to school is a well-established practice in London, and pre-dates the Greenwich judgment. It is one of many factors that LEAs must take into account when planning and organising the provision of school places in their area.

Supply and demand of places is finely balanced at present in Bromley with significant growth predicted. A new secondary school will open in September 2003.

LEA Councillors (Disqualifications)

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will have discussions with other relevant Ministers about introducing legislation to make agency teaching staff subject to the same disqualifications from serving as councillors on their local education authority as teaching staff directly employed by the schools or local education authority. [1335]

Mr. Timms: Agency teachers are already subject to the same legislation.

Teaching Assistants (Staffordshire)

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many new posts of teaching assistant she plans to fund during the current financial year; how such funding will be distributed; and what Staffordshire's share will be. [1337]

Mr. Timms: The appointment and deployment of teaching assistants are matters for individual schools and local education authorities to consider in the light of local needs and circumstances, so I cannot say how many posts will be created this financial year. But the numbers of

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full-time equivalent teaching assistants rose by over 25,000 between 1999 and 2001. During the period April 1999 to March 2004, we are making available around £750 million to local education authorities in England to meet the cost of recruiting, maintaining and training this level of new teaching assistants. The Department has allocated funds this year to LEAs on the basis of 80 per cent. to primary and nursery schools and 20 per cent. to secondary and special schools and Pupil Referral Units. Staffordshire's share for 2001–02 is £3,174,241.

Modern Languages

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teachers are qualified to teach (a) Urdu, (b) Bengali, (c) Gujerati, (d) Hindi, (e) Mandarin, (f) Cantonese and (g) modern languages; how many teacher training places are available for the teaching of such languages; and if she will make a statement on her policy on the teaching of such languages in schools. [1396]

Mr. Timms: Data on the number of teachers qualified to teach these languages are not collected centrally.

The total number of teacher training places available for all modern languages is set annually by the Government and allocated to providers by the Teacher Training Agency. In 2001–02, 2,050 places on courses of initial teacher training in modern languages will be available. That figure does not include the employment- based training places for modern languages available though the Graduate and Registered Teacher Programmes. Providers themselves determine the languages in which they will offer training courses.

The National Curriculum requires schools to offer at least one of the working languages of the European Union, but schools are free to offer additional languages, including those spoken in the local community. The development of specialist Language Colleges is intended further to widen the language-learning possibilities on offer. The Colleges now offer over 20 different languages, including Urdu, Bengali, Gujerati, Hindi and Chinese.

Teacher Shortages

Dr. Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of teacher shortages in Castle Point (a) primary schools and (b) secondary schools; and what action she will take to remove those shortages. [1485]

Mr. Timms: We do not collect data on anticipated vacancies in schools. Information on the number of teacher vacancies is collected once a year in January as part of the annual census of teachers and vacancies. However, information is not available at individual constituency level.

University Staff

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many academic staff at universities in the UK resigned their posts in the first three months of this year who would otherwise have been employed on 31 March and included in the RAE submissions either as research active or as not research active; how many of them were re-engaged (a) to teach

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and (b) to continue research broken down by university and unit of assessment; and if she will make a statement. [1494]

Margaret Hodge: This information is not available.

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