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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 23 May 2002



10. Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will require local education authorities to implement an asthma policy; and if she will remind them of her Department's 1996 guidelines for supporting children with medical needs in schools. [56353]

Mr. Timms: We encourage all local education authorities and schools in England to have policies for supporting pupils' medical conditions, including asthma. We reminded them in the spring of the importance of following our guidelines.

Standard Spending Assessment

11. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how standard spending assessments for education take into account the impact of large movements of pupils with differing needs across local authority boundaries. [56355]

Mr. Timms: The current system allocates extra funding for additional needs on the basis of where pupils are educated, rather than where they live. We are currently working on a new funding system for introduction in 2003–04. Our aim is for the new system to be fairer and clearer, and justified by the educational needs of children. We want it to be child and school based, taking into account cross-LEA boundary migration.

National Insurance

13. Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what impact the increased national insurance contributions announced in the Budget will have on special needs schools. [56358]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The cost to all special schools in England will be around £6 million a year from 2003–04. This cost will be considered along side other priorities and pressures in the 2002 spending review.

9. Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) of 29 April 2002, Official Report, column 571W, how much the increases in national insurance announced in the Budget will cost the average (a) primary and (b) secondary school, expressed on a cost per pupil basis. [56352]

Mr. Timms: On average, the changes will cost about £15 per primary school pupil and about £20 per secondary school pupil in England from 2003–04. These costs will be considered as part of this year's Spending Review alongside other priorities and pressures.

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Youth Service

14. Phil Hope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action she is taking to improve the quality of and resources for the Youth Service. [56359]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Under the Government's "Transforming Youth Work" agenda we will publish later this year our view of an adequate and sufficient' Youth Service. In the longer term this will be supported by the introduction of National Quality Standards, National Performance Measures, a Common Planning Framework, a new National Management Training Programme, and a Workforce Development Strategy. In addition we have provided £49 million to Youth Services over the next two years to support this agenda.

Medical Students

15. Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans the Government have to provide more financial support for medical students in higher education, with particular regard to graduate entrants. [56360]

Margaret Hodge: There are special arrangements for both undergraduate and graduate medical students. Students on undergraduate courses pay no tuition fees in year five and later years and become eligible for means- tested NHS bursaries and reduced-rate income contingent student loans made on generous terms. Students undertaking the four year graduate entry programme have the same enhanced support in years two to four. In the other years medical students are eligible for DfES student support on the same basis as other students.

School Discipline

16. Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what policies are in place to tackle poor behaviour and promote discipline in schools. [56361]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We have provided extensive support to schools including funding for over 1,050 Learning Support Units for disruptive pupils, guidance on discipline and exclusion policies, and guidance on developing effective anti-bullying strategies.

In addition, the £66 million made available through this year's Budget will fund a programme of focused support for schools in the 34 LEAs facing the toughest challenges of behaviour and criminality.

Student Funding

17. Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proposals she has to increase student funding. [56362]

Margaret Hodge: Our review of student finance is still under way. We shall make an announcement on the outcome of the review when it is complete.

School Funding

18. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of money provided to schools by her Department is allocated to specific purposes and activities. [56363]

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Mr. Timms: Recurrent funding for schools is channelled through local education authorities and is made up of Education Standard Spending, the Standards Fund, the Schools Standards Grant and other special grants.

Education Standard Spending is the amount the Government consider appropriate for local authorities to spend on education from their total budgets and is not ring-fenced for specific purposes or activities. In addition, the School Standards Grant is paid to schools to be used by them as they wish to raise standards.

LEAs and schools receive Standards Fund Grant for particular specific purposes and activities such as the literacy and numeracy strategies. Other special grants are paid to schools to support payments to teachers passing the threshold and performance pay for teachers. Schools also receive funding via education action zones for particular purposes. Taken together these account for 11.7 per cent. of recurrent education funding for LEAs and schools. Of this, around half is devolved to schools from the Standards Fund for them to spend on their own priorities within the broad objectives of the Standards Fund programme.

Capital funding for schools is provided through a combination of credit approvals, Government grant, and through the Private Finance Initiative. Around 45 per cent. of capital funding is allocated for specific purposes or activities.

31. Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what extra funding she has made available to schools with classes of 8, 9 and 10-year- olds containing more than 30 children in the last 12 months. [56376]

Mr. Timms: In 2001–02 we made up to £73 million available to local education authorities to make progress on class sizes at Key Stage 2. We estimate that this has paid for around 500 additional teachers and 500 new classrooms.


19. Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the measures that she has taken to increase the number of young people taking AS and A-level mathematics. [56364]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Because post-16 education is not compulsory, the Government is not able to promote an individual subject at the expense of others. But we are keen to see that students take on a broader range of subjects, mixing science and art subjects, including mathematics. To encourage this, we have made available additional funding to schools and colleges.

Centres of Vocational Excellence

20. Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the new centres of vocational excellence. [56365]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: On 29 April we announced new money to fund an extra 100 centres of vocational excellence. Centres of vocational excellence will develop new, and enhance existing, excellent vocational provision which is focused on meeting the skills needs of employers, nationally, regionally and locally.

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An additional £57 million is being invested into extending the centres of vocational excellence programme beyond our existing commitment to create centres of vocational excellence in half of all general further education colleges by 2004. The money, £40 million of which is new resource from the Capital Modernisation Fund announced in the Budget, will fund an extra 50 centres in colleges and an additional 50 centres of vocational excellence based in organisations beyond the further education sector, such as private or voluntary training providers.

For the first time, we are inviting training providers outside the further education sector to become involved in the programme. These new centres will help us harness the valuable experience that many in the private and voluntary training sectors possess and is a direct response to the positive feedback we received for this proposal in our consultation.

We have made excellent progress to date. The first 16 centres are up and running and beginning to deliver excellent results across a range of industries. A further 70 have just been established and the first non-college centres of vocational excellence come on stream later this month. By March 2004 there will be 250 centres of vocational excellence making a vital contribution to increasing the nation's vocational skills and productivity.

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