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Vocational Subjects

25. Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has for GCSEs in vocational subjects. [50371]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Eight new GCSEs in vocational subjects will be introduced in September 2002. Beyond this our proposals for their development are contained in the Green Paper "14–19: extending opportunities, raising standards". Our plans for the new qualifications will depend on the findings of the consultation.

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School Sports Facilities

27. Phil Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of sports facilities in secondary schools. [50373]

John Healey: The Department has not carried out its own assessment of sports facilities in secondary schools, but as part of the data collected from local education authorities' asset management plans, the Department has some information on the suitability of internal PE spaces. It also has some information on external sports areas and school playing fields, which is currently being appraised. Depending on the reliability of the information, we plan to publish analyses later in the year to provide a basis for benchmarking.

Teachers' Pay

28. Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to change the system of performance-related pay for teachers in England and Wales. [50374]

Mr. Timms: There are no plans to change the statutory arrangements for awarding performance pay points to teachers set out in the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document, which applies to England and Wales. However, the funding arrangements for England have recently been modified. The revised arrangements are set out in a statement made on 5 April, a copy of which has been placed in the Library. Funding in Wales is a matter for the National Assembly.

Tertiary Education (Eastern Region)

30. Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department is taking to increase participation in tertiary education in the eastern region. [50376]

Margaret Hodge: We are investing substantially in a wide range of policies to raise participation among 16 to 18-year-olds. The Learning and Skills Council has a statutory duty to promote the participation of individuals in post-16 education and training and have allocated it national budget of £3,932 million for 2002–03 for this.

We have put in place measures that provide the support and incentives young people need to take up and succeed in learning. The Connexions Service provides impartial information, advice and guidance to young people on the full range of learning options open to them up to 19 and beyond. We are addressing the financial barriers to participation through piloting education maintenance allowances; providing discretionary funding targeted at specific learning needs and the Connexions card, which will offer discounts on transport and learning materials.

We have also recently published the 14–19 Green Paper: "Extending Opportunities, Raising Standards", which proposes giving young people a range of high quality, general, mixed and vocational options to support our aim to end the culture of leaving education for good at age 16.

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Educational Performance

31. Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to raise standards at key stage 3. [50377]

33. David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on initiatives to improve educational performance among 11 to 14-years-olds. [50379]

Mr. Timms: Our plans to transform secondary education include a major programme to help schools improve the attainment of all 11 to 14-year-olds, as confirmed by the Secretary of State in her recent DEMOS speech. The key stage 3 strategy sets high expectations and challenging targets. It aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom by investing in teachers' professional development. We are supporting expenditure on the strategy of around £500 million from 2001–02 to 2003–04.


Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many staff were seconded between (a) PWC Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers, (b) Ernst and Young, (c) Deloitte and Touche, (d) KPMG and (e) Andersen and her Department in (i) 1999–2000, (ii) 2000–01 and (iii) April 2001 to the latest date for which figures are available. [33866]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, on 26 February 2002, Official Report, column 1266W.

Special Educational Needs

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the special schools in each county in England and the numbers of children with special needs attending each school in (a) 2001, (b) 1996 and (c) 1991. [37420]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Tables containing the available information have been placed in the Library. These relate to information published in performance tables for 1996 and 2001. Performance tables were not produced in 1991.

Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what targets she sets for (a) measuring and (b) improving teaching standards in schools for children with special needs, with particular regard to children with autistic spectrum disorders. [51200]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Our target is for all children with special educational needs (SEN) to receive excellent provision which meets their needs. Maintained schools are under a duty to use their best endeavours to make the special educational provision children's learning difficulties call for, including children with autistic spectrum disorders. Teachers have a crucial role in

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meeting this duty. As part of the continuous improvement we seek in teaching standards, we want to see the support given by teachers to children with special educational needs (SEN), including those with autistic spectrum disorder, brought up to the standards of the best throughout the country and in all schools. Ofsted has a regular cycle of inspection of maintained schools, non-maintained special schools and independent schools which cater wholly or mainly for children with SEN, including schools which make provision for children with autistic spectrum disorders. In determining their judgments Ofsted inspectors have to consider the extent to which pupils with SEN are making progress and how well the teaching meets pupils' diverse needs.

As part of their initial teacher training, all student teachers must show that they understand their responsibilities under the SEN Code of Practice, and know how to seek advice. During induction teachers must demonstrate that they can plan effectively to meet the needs of pupils with SEN. £91 million of supported expenditure is available under the SEN category of the Department's Standards Fund. Training is an important sub-head under this category and training in autism is specifically mentioned in guidance on the SEN category as something which local education authorities (LEAs) may wish to support. Grant support has also been made available to voluntary organisations and higher education training providers to create new training opportunities and, again, autistic spectrum disorders are mentioned in the bidding criteria.

The forthcoming publication of guidance from the Department's Autism Working Group will further raise teachers' awareness of the disorder. The guidance will emphasise the benefits of staff who come into contact with children with autistic spectrum disorders having an understanding of the condition. The guidance will help schools and LEAs to make best use of the increasing resources available annually for the education of school children when making provision for children with autistic spectrum disorders. Currently more than £23 billion is available for the education of children in school of which over £1 billion is used by LEAs to provide additional support for children with SEN and some £1.9 billion is identified by LEAs as notionally allocated in schools' budgets towards meeting children's SEN. The guidance will emphasise the benefits of LEAs collecting data on the numbers of children with autistic spectrum disorders. The Department is also examining whether data on different types of SEN could be collected, probably from January 2004. At present there are 12 commonly used categories of SEN. These categories include pupils with autistic spectrum disorders and this would be one of the categories we are likely to collect.

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