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Home Education

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what support and guidance is provided by her Department for parents educating their children at home; and what guidance has been given to education authorities about support for the education of children at home. [61369]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government fully recognise and support the right of any parent who wishes to educate their child at home, a right established under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996.

Parents choose to educate their children at home for a variety of reasons and the Department encourages LEAs to be sympathetic to these and endeavour to enter in to a discussion with home-educators. They should not seek to prevent parents from opting for home education, but must assure themselves that the education is appropriate to their child's age, ability and aptitude, and to any special

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educational needs they may have (Section 7 of the Education Act 1996). In addition, the local education authority must satisfy itself that the child is receiving suitable education (Section 19 of the Education Act 1996), and the Department suggests that parents should provide sufficient information for the local education authority to be able to do this.

The Department has compiled a fact sheet regarding home education which is available to parents and local education authorities on request or can be downloaded from the Department's website at: parents/learning/home.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to her answer of 16 October 2001, Official Report, column 1189W, on bullying, what measures have been (a) drawn up and (b) implemented to prevent bullying, with special reference to racist and homophobic bullying in schools and colleges; and if she will make a statement. [61529]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: We are determined to help all schools prevent homophobic or racist bullying, and other forms of bullying, among pupils. Our anti-bullying pack contains specific advice on tackling bullying because of race or sexual orientation, and we have also provided a foreword to "Safe for All: a best practice guide to prevent homophobic bullying in secondary schools" published by Stonewall.

We are funding new research by ChildLine to obtain young people's views on schools' anti-bullying policies. In addition, external researchers are evaluating the use of our anti-bullying pack and video by schools. We have taken steps to publicise further the pack's availability, and plan to re-launch the document later this year. In addition, our guidance on the Safer Schools Partnerships (covering the areas of highest crime) mentions that the police and schools need to be essential partners in the prevention of bullying and antisocial behaviour.

We are not directly responsible for further education colleges as they are independent institutions. I understand that the further education sector has developed guidance regarding positive duties on promoting race relations in colleges; these might be helpful in creating an appropriately supportive environment.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to her answer of 15 October 2001, Official Report, column 1189W, on bullying, what review has taken place to assess the anti-bullying strategy; what plans she has to introduce legislation to prevent bullying and harassment in further education colleges; and if she will make a statement. [61530]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: We have not carried out a review of this strategy. However, external researchers are evaluating the use of our anti-bullying pack and video by schools; the results should be available early next year.

We have no plans to require further education colleges to draw up anti-bullying policies, as they are independent institutions. However, we would encourage any college to draw up such a policy if they believe that one is needed.

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Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how the parity of esteem between general academic, vocational and work-based qualifications for young people is to be funded; to what extent; from what sources; and over what time scale. [62461]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 18 June 2002]: The arrangements for the relative funding levels of different qualifications are a matter for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). I have therefore asked John Harwood, the council's chief executive, to write to my hon. Friend providing the information requested and to place a copy of his reply in the Library.

The Government are committed to bringing up the funding for colleges towards that of schools in time and as resources allow. This will help the LSC to ensure that qualification funding levels are equitable across different learning sectors.


Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many primary schools and how many secondary schools reported zero per cent. for unauthorised absence in her Department's absence tables in academic year 2000–01. [62659]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: There were 3,675 primary schools, which represents 20 per cent. of all maintained primary schools, and 29 secondary schools, which represents almost 1 per cent. of all maintained secondary schools, that reported zero per cent. for unauthorised absence in 2000–01.


Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many errors have been found in examination papers set by Edexcel for examinations in the current year. [62795]

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Mr. Stephen Twigg: Seven errors have been found in Edexcel examination papers during 2002, consisting of five in the January series of examinations and two in the May/June series.

Community Schools

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the community schools that in each of the last five years have become voluntary aided schools, with any resulting religious affiliation, and stating in each case the (a) estimated value of the land and buildings transferred from public ownership and (b) amount paid by the voluntary organisation for those assets. [62841]

Mr. Miliband: Community schools were introduced by the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 with effect from 1 September 1999. Since that time the Department has been informed that proposals have been approved for the community schools in the tables to close and re-open as a voluntary aided school with a religious character, or to close and amalgamate with other voluntary aided schools with a religious character.

The Department is not routinely told of the value of the school assets transferred by an LEA to school trustees in connection with such proposals. Details are, however, provided of the purchase price agreed between the LEA and trustees where voluntary aided school grant has been agreed to assist trustees with a purchase.

Community schools closed to become new voluntary aided schools

Community school nameHenry Smith School
VA school nameSt. Hild's CofE VA School
Religious characterChurch of England
Date of change1 September 2001
Grant aided purchase cost (£)700,000

Community schools closed to amalgamate with voluntary aided schools

LEA Previous school names New VA school name Religious character Date of changeGrant-aided purchase cost
LiverpoolKirkdale Primary School (Community) and St. Lawrence's Primary School (VA)Kirkdale St. Lawrence CofE Primary SchoolChurch of England1 September 20000
BarnsleyDodworth CofE Infant School (VA) and Dodworth Junior School (Community)Dodworth CofE (VA) Primary SchoolChurch of England1 September 20010
Stockton-on-TeesElm Tree Community Infant School and St. Marks CE VA Junior SchoolSt. Marks Elm Tree Primary SchoolChurch of England1 September 2001(12)
SheffieldPye Bank Community Infant School and Pye Bank Trinity CE VA Junior SchoolPye Bank Trinity CofE Primary SchoolChurch of England1 September 20010
GatesheadDerwent Infant School (Community) and St Cuthberts VA Junior SchoolSt. Aidens Church of England Primary SchoolChurch of England1 September 20000

(12) Expected to be £8,000 but not yet finalised

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Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the role parents of school age children can play in helping improve children's academic performance at home. [62858]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: Parents have an important role to play in supporting their children's learning at home to improve their academic performance. At a general level, for example, parents can discuss the school day with their child so they can praise and encourage them for good results and help them through any academic or other problems they might have. Parents can provide support with homework set by the school where it is appropriate; indeed our national homework guidelines for schools, published in 1998, emphasise, among other things, that schools should ensure they work closely with parents and ensure that they are given guidance about how best to help their children. A survey my Department published this April found that 76 per cent. of parents believe helping their children with homework is extremely important.

A great deal of work has been carried out by my Department to help parents become more involved, based on the strategy for involving parents which was first described in the 1997 White Paper "Excellence in Schools". This strategy comprised three strands: providing information to parents, giving parents a more effective voice, and encouraging families to learn together. Resources which have been produced for parents as part of this strategy include the Parents' Centre website, the Learning Journey parents' guides to the curriculum, and the "Parents + Schools" magazine, as well as several hints and tips booklets produced as part of publicity campaigns including the National Year of Reading, Maths Year 2000, and the Dads and Sons campaign.

Of course there are also many specific activities that parents can carry out: for younger children, reading with them and to them, playing number games or helping them with spellings; for older children, giving advice on how to organise their time, giving them support with using the internet, and encouraging children to engage in activities of general educational benefit, such as reading, and visiting museums and galleries. Underlying all these and many other activities is the idea that parents have a responsibility to show children that they believe in the value of education and learning, both for their own sake and as a means to achieving greater success in later life.

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