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Education Funding (Worcestershire)

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make it her policy to bring spending per pupil in Worcestershire closer to the average for the shire counties; and if she will make a statement. [23085]

Mr. Timms: The Government are currently working up proposals, in partnership with local government and other education interests, for the introduction of a new funding system in 2003–04. We are taking a fresh and objective look at what provision is needed, and at the additional costs some authorities undoubtedly face. We want a system that is both fair and clear. The element of the proposals set out in the Green Paper most relevant to Worcestershire's position is that LEAs should receive a basic entitlement per primary or secondary school pupil, with enhancements only for authorities where significant deprivation adds to costs, or schools need to pay more to recruit and retain staff. This would mean that a number of LEAs would get the same funding per pupil, rather than those like Worcestershire getting less than almost all others.

Sex Education

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what criteria the Government follow in determining the suitability of (a) publications and (b) materials to be used in the teaching of sex education. [22881]

Margaret Hodge: Our sex and relationship education guidance published last year, and underpinned by the Learning and Skills Act 2000, gives heads and governors a statutory responsibility to have regard to the guidance in ensuring that young people are protected from inappropriate teaching and materials.

Education Funding (South Gloucestershire)

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills for what reason South Gloucestershire has a negative SSA for post-16 education in 2002–03; how many other authorities are in the same position; and if she will make a statement. [22604]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 13 December 2001]: South Gloucestershire has a negative net post-16 SSA because the deduction in respect of its Learning and Skills funding allocation for post-16 education is greater than its gross post-16 SSA for 2002–03. There are a further six authorities in this position. We will be making a special grant available, to guarantee that no authority will have a net post-16 SSA which is less than 7.5 per cent. of its gross post-16 SSA. Allocations of this special grant will be announced once the Local Government Finance Settlement is finalised at the end of January.

Returnees Bonus

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teachers have (a) applied for, (b) been rejected for and (c) received the returnees bonus for teachers; and if she will make a statement on the numbers and nature of those applicants who have been disqualified from teaching in the interim since their last full-time post. [23114]

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Mr. Timms: Information on the total number of applications for the bonus received by local education authorities, and the number of those to have been assessed as ineligible, is not collected centrally. To date, four local education authorities have submitted claims to my Department for the reimbursement of bonus payments made to seven teachers in their areas, but the bulk of claims will not be made until the new year. Any teacher who has been disqualified from the profession would be barred from working in a school and therefore ineligible to apply for the bonus.

Special Education Grant (Worcestershire)

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to pay a special education grant to Worcestershire for 2002–03 financial year; and if she will make a statement. [23495]

Mr. Timms: We propose to pay a grant to those authorities where there is a significant impact from the transfer of funding from Education Standard Spending to the Learning and Skills Council. The grant will guarantee:


Allocations of this grant will be finalised in January, after the consultation on the Local Government Finance settlement has been completed, and final figures for LSC allocations and Education SSAs are available. We have no other plans for special grants to support LEA budgets for 2002–03, because increases in funding mean there is less need for special grant support from Government than there was in 2001–02: over £1.3 billion extra in Education Standard Spending Assessments (SSAs); a further increase in Standards Fund grant of almost £160 million; and an increase in the direct grant for schools of 2.75 per cent.

Student Support

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to consult with Universities UK on the new system of student support. [23549]

Margaret Hodge: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills has written to Prof. Roderick Floud, President of Universities UK, to inform him that a review is under way. We plan to consult on any proposals for change and would expect Universities UK to contribute.

Specialist Schools

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what advice she has received from Ofsted on the performance of specialist schools; and when the advice was received. [22322]

Mr. Timms: Ofsted's report, "Specialist Schools: An evaluation of progress", was published on 9 October 2001. An initial draft of the report was received within the Department for Education and Skills at the beginning of July. Ofsted's report confirms that four out of five of the schools surveyed are achieving the aims of the specialist schools programme and are making good use of the

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advantages it brings. The report's first main finding states that: "For these schools specialist status has often been a catalyst for innovation and helped to sustain or accelerate the momentum of school improvement." Technology, language and arts colleges are improving attainment at a faster rate than is the case nationally and in GCSE examinations in 2000 the combined average points score for each pupil for specialist subjects was higher in all four categories of specialist school than the average for all other maintained secondary schools. Ofsted also found that, with few exceptions, the community dimension was the weakest part of the school's work. However, sports colleges had responded well to this challenge and the report found that about half of the technology and language colleges visited had developed good examples of community support. We expect all specialist schools to benefit from the findings in the Ofsted report.

DEFENCE

Procurement

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much new equipment has been purchased in the last financial year. [17203]

Dr. Moonie: This information is contained within the Defence Procurement Agency's "Annual Report and Accounts for 2000–01" (Pages 8 and 11) which was published on 28 November and laid before the House. I am arranging for copies to be placed in the Library of the House.

Fair Trade Goods

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what fairly traded products, other than tea and coffee, have been purchased by his Department in each of the last five years; and what the value was. [18161]

Dr. Moonie: We do not keep records of purchases that fall into the fair trade category.

Defence Aviation Repair Agency

Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the cost of repairing the sewerage and water systems of RAF St. Athan. [19422]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence is currently engaged in a GB-wide public private partnership project, Project Aquatrine, which will involve the transfer of responsibility for delivering water and wastewater services to a private sector service provider over a 25 year contract period. RAF St. Athan is within the scope of Project Aquatrine. The bidders are responsible for assessing both the priority and level of investment in the waste and wastewater infrastructure, and pricing accordingly in their bids.

Defence Jobs, Ilford

Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of jobs that are dependent on defence spending in the Ilford, North constituency. [22293]

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Dr. Moonie: There were 24 regular armed forces personnel employed at 1 July 2000 within the local area authority of Redbridge, of which the Ilford, North constituency is a part. In addition to these there are a number of Territorial Army personnel, and within Ilford there were fewer than 10 Ministry of Defence (MOD) civilians at the same date.

In addition to this direct employment, the MOD supports a significant number of defence related jobs in industry throughout the UK.


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