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Education Funding (Swindon)

12. Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to increase education funding in Swindon. [23842]

Mr. Timms: Swindon's Education Standard Spending Assessment will be increased by 4.65 per cent. next year, and the sums available through the Standards Fund and in direct grant to schools will also increase.

University Research Funding

13. Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has for the distribution of university research funding. [23843]

Margaret Hodge: The Government's policy is selectively to support high quality research in universities and colleges. The detailed distribution of public funds for research is a matter for the research councils, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the other UK funding councils.

Nursery Provision

14. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement about nursery provision. [23845]

Margaret Hodge: Since September 1998, all four- year-olds have been able to access a free early education place.

We have increased the percentage of three-year-olds able to access free places from 34 per cent. in 1997 to 62 per cent. in 2001. From September 2004 all three-year-olds will have access to a free early education place.

The funding available for early education will be increased from £1 billion in 1996–97 to £2 billion in 2003–04.

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27. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of children aged between three and five years are in full-time nursery education. [23861]

Margaret Hodge: My Department estimates that eight per cent. of three and four-year-old children were in full-time nursery education 1 in England in January 2001.

However, the vast majority of children engage in nursery education on a part-time basis. If these children are included, my Department estimates that two in three children aged three and four are in either full or part-time nursery education. Of these, 32 per cent. of the population attended private and voluntary providers, four per cent. attended independent schools, 30 per cent. attended maintained nursery schools or nursery classes within maintained primary schools and less than 0.5 per cent, special schools.

We are committed to guaranteeing free part-time places for all four-year-olds whose parents want one and by September 2004 free part-time places for all three- year-olds.

Children in nursery education comprise those educated in schools and private and voluntary early years settings, but does not include children educated in infant classes in maintained primary schools.

Pupils Without Qualifications

15. Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the proportion of pupils reaching the end of compulsory schooling without qualifications. [23846]

26. Ms Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the proportion of pupils reaching the end of compulsory schooling without qualifications. [23860]

Lawrie Quinn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the proportion of pupils reaching the end of compulsory schooling without any qualifications. [23850]

Mr. Timms: In 2001 the proportion of pupils reaching the end of compulsory schooling without any qualifications fell for the sixth year in a row to 5.5 per cent. This reflects a continuing rise to 94.5 per cent. in 2000–01 in the percentage of pupils achieving one or more GCSEs at grades A*-G (or equivalent).

Teachers (Administrative Burden)

17. Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to reduce the administrative burden on teachers. [23848]

Mr. Timms: My Department is committed to making teaching a more manageable profession and keeps administrative requirements on all schools under continuous review. Following the recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study on teacher workload and its recommendations on reducing administrative burdens, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has invited

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teacher representatives, local authorities and other key education figures to join her on a working party to take forward work on remodelling the teaching profession.

Education Funding (Wiltshire)

18. Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on funding for education in Wiltshire. [23849]

Mr. Timms: In 2002–03 Wiltshire's Education SSA will be £189.72 million, an increase of £11.58 million or 6.50 per cent.—above the national average. Wiltshire will also benefit from the increase in Standards Fund grant of almost £160 million; and in the direct grant for schools of at least 2.75 per cent..

University Status

19. Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the process for awarding university status to higher education colleges. [23851]

Margaret Hodge: The criteria and processes for the award of university title to higher education colleges were revised in 1999 following full consultation with the academic community and others. I am satisfied that they are working effectively balancing, as they must, the legitimate wishes of some colleges to become universities with the need to protect the reputation of the United Kingdom university title.

Further Education

20. Valerie Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures she is taking to increase participation in further education among 16 to 18-year-olds. [23852]

John Healey: We are investing substantially in a wide range of policies designed to raise participation among 16 to 18-year-olds, including in further education. We have established the Learning and Skills Council to drive these forward and have put in place a number of measures which provide the support and incentives young people need to take up and succeed in learning. These include the Connexions Service, education maintenance allowances, new generation modern apprenticeships, and the new Connexions Card to be launched nationally in autumn 2002. Further education colleges will also play a central role in our plans to develop a coherent 14–19 phase of learning for young people. We will be publishing a Green Paper shortly setting out our plans in this area. Finally, with the Learning and Skills Council, we are continuing with our drive to improve standards in further education, underpinned by a rigorous, independent inspection regime.

Higher Education (Wales)

22. Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent discussions she has had with regard to the future of higher education in Wales. [23854]

Margaret Hodge: My right hon. Friend and I have regular discussions with the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning at the National Assembly for Wales covering a range of issues, including higher education.

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Adult Learning

24. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what strategy her Government have to increase participation in adult learning. [23858]

Margaret Hodge: The Government's strategy is to ensure that learning is available in a form and at a time and place that best suits the needs of adult learners; to provide targeted financial support to adult learners; and to extend the information, advice and guidance available on learning. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has a statutory duty to encourage adults to learn. It will publish its strategy for workforce development by the end of March 2002. The National Target for Participation in Learning has been achieved one year early, with 500,000 additional learners since 1997.

University Attendance

25. Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to encourage more children from lower socio-economic backgrounds to attend university. [23859]

Margaret Hodge: We are spending over £190 million on the Excellence challenge programme, which will provide extra help and information for young people in areas with traditionally low participation to reach higher education. In addition, education maintenance allowances and our reforms to qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds will assist young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds to stay in education and training and to reach the level to access higher education.

Individual Learning Accounts

29. Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she intends to lift the suspension of individual learning accounts. [23863]

John Healey: Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs) will not be reinstated in their present form. However, I can give a cast-iron guarantee that this is not the end of Government funding for adult learning, or of Government support for all those who find a lack of money a barrier to returning to education, learning or training. We are developing future plans which build on the successful elements of the ILA programme.

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how the premises of training organisations dealing with ILA holders were inspected with regard to (a) the training stations available and (b) the training qualifications of staff. [23436]

John Healey [holding answer 18 December 2001]: The premises of training organisations dealing with ILA holders and the training qualifications of their staff were not inspected. However, as part of the registration process learning providers were asked to provide a copy of a valid health and safety certificate and their public liability insurance. In addition we required all learning providers to sign a learning provider agreement. A key part of the agreement asked providers to offer a clear explanation to account holders of any accreditation held (in respect of the course, the qualification or the provider), the qualification a course undertaken may lead to, and the awarding body.

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ILAs aimed to encourage more people into learning by helping tackle the financial barriers to learning. To help meet the policy objective the ILA system was designed to be simple and easy to use and non-bureaucratic.

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what compensation her Department is providing to colleges in respect of losses incurred by the withdrawal of individual learning accounts. [23831]

John Healey: The Department has no plans to compensate learning providers in relation to the closure of individual learning accounts.


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