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Margaret Hodge: Of the 93 college inspections carried out to date under the new regime, results have been published for 44 colleges. There have been some good results, but there is still some way to go to achieve consistent quality.
John Healey: Ministers have received extensive recent representations about funding and other support for further education. In particular, the Association of Colleges, NATFHE, the NUS and others organised a lobby of Parliament on 23 April on the issues of further education funding, pay and support. We are listening carefully to the views of those in the further education sector and will take these into account in determining how best to use the 2002 spending review settlement.
John Healey: The Government are steadily increasing investment in further education. By next year funding for further education will have risen by 26 per cent. in real terms since 1997. The Learning and Skills Council's funding rates for programmes delivered by further education colleges are increasing by 2.5 per cent. above current rate of inflation for the 200203 academic year.
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John Healey: Five Trailblazer sector skills councils were announced in December 2001 covering audio visual industries, land-based industries, apparel, footwear and textiles, oil and gas extraction, chemicals manufacturing and petroleum industries and the retail sector. Four Trailblazer sector skills councils have received two-year licences, the fifth should follow shortly. The Sector Skills Development Agency is expected to call for formal expressions of interest to establish new sector skills councils in the next few weeks.
Margaret Hodge: The latest data published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show that the number of applications is 1.5 per cent. higher than last year. This is very welcome and indicates the strength of demand for British higher education. The 4.6 per cent. rise in applications from mature entrants is particularly welcome since we have introduced generous additional support for student parents, including a child care grant and a travel and equipment grant.
25. Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidelines she issues on ensuring that parents do not come under inappropriate pressure to enrol their children in reception classes before they are ready. 
Mr. Timms: The code of practice on school admissions says that admission authorities can offer places in reception classes to parents before their children are of compulsory school age (e.g. five), but also that parents accepting the offer can ask to defer their child's entry until he or she is of compulsory school age, provided the place is taken up within the same academic year.
23 May 2002 : Column 458W
Mr. Timms: The Department has commissioned Professor Alan Smithers and Dr. Pamela Robinson, from the university of Liverpool, Centre for Education and Employment Research to undertake research into this issue. The study is gathering information from a nationally representative survey of teachers leaving the profession about the factors affecting their decisions to leave teaching. The research commenced in December 2001 and we expect the report to be published in March 2003.
28. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what support her Department gives to local education authorities seeking to raise standards in meeting special educational needs. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Officials in the Department's Special Educational Needs Division support local education authorities in raising standards in meeting special educational needs through offering guidance, drawing on expertise provided by educational advisers, building consultants, members of the Office for Standards in Education, officials in other Government Departments and voluntary organisations. Education standard spending assessment support for local education authorities for 200203 totalled £23.68 billion, an increase of nearly £1.2 billion compared with 200102. By 200304 average recurrent funding per pupil will have increased by over £760 in real terms since 199798. In addition £91 million was available from the Department's Standards Fund for special educational needs for 200203. This represents more than a fivefold increase compared with the £17 million available in 199798.
Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children per 1,000 are issued with a statement of special needs in (a) Boston and Skegness, (b) Lincolnshire and (c) England. 
|Total pupils||Pupils with statements of SEN(2)||Number of pupils per 1,000 with a statement of SEN|
|Boston and Skegness parliamentary constituency(3)||13,005||296||22.8|
|Lincolnshire local education authority(3)||100,666||3,218||32.0|
(2) Estimates have been made at national level for January 2001 because the data for SEN are known to be incomplete. Figures given for Boston and skegness parliamentary constituency and Lincolnshire LEA are as reported by schools in the Boston and Skegness parliamentary constituency and Lincolnshire LEA areas.
(3) Pupils attending schools within Boston and Skegness parliamentary constituency and Lincolnshire local education authority.
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Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what provision for special educational needs statementing will be in place for children in accommodation centres (a) on arrival at the accommodation centre and (b) before entering mainstream schools. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We expect the needs of most children with special educational needs to be met by the provision in the accommodation centres in the same way as in schools. Where asked by an accommodation centre to carry out a statutory assessment of a child's needs, the local education authority will consider the request in the same way as for other children and, where appropriate, will draw up a statement of special educational needs.
32. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she expects that the funding for students at sixth form colleges will be raised to the same level as for students in school sixth forms. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government have set no timetable for achieving equivalent funding between further education and sixth form colleges and school sixth forms. We have made it clear that bringing the level of funding for colleges towards that of school sixth forms can be done only as resources allow and it would be unwise to commit ourselves beyond the resources we secure. We are looking to the current spending review to provide the resources needed to deliver the Government's ambitious agenda for further education.
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