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19 Sept 2002 : Column 119W—continued

School Absence

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the change has been in the number of (a) unauthorised absences and (b) exclusions in schools since 1998. [69294]

Stephen Twigg: The information requested is shown in the following table.

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Number of Exclusions (1) and Unauthorised Absences (2) In Schools in England

Total ExclusionsPercentage of school population (3)Percentage of half days missed because of unauthorised absence (4)

(1) Includes maintained primary and secondary and maintained and non-maintained special schools.

(2) Includes maintained primary and secondary schools, maintained and non-maintained special schools, independent schools and city technology colleges.

(3) The number of permanent exclusions expressed as a percentage of the total number (headcount) of full and part-time pupils of all ages (excluding dually registered pupils in special schools) in January each year.

(4) The percentage is calculated by dividing the number of sessions (i.e. half days) missed due to unauthorised absence by the total number of sessions.

(5) Provisional estimates


Annual Schools' Census and the Absence in Schools Survey

Faith Communities

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list projects involving faith communities which are supported by her Department. [71848]

Mr. Miliband: The information requested is not collected centrally by my Department.

Autistic Children

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to reduce the number of exclusions from school of autistic children; how she plans to support autistic children in Autism Awareness Year; and if she will make a statement. [72027]

Stephen Twigg: Figures on the number of children excluded from school by type of special educational need are not collected centrally. Guidance from the Department makes clear that, other than in the most exceptional circumstances, schools should avoid permanently excluding pupils with statements of special educational needs. The guidance also requires head teachers to say, when reporting exclusions to Discipline Committees and local education authorities, whether the pupil has special educational needs, either with or without a statement. The most recent figures show that the rate of permanent

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exclusions for children with statements of special educational needs as compared with other pupils is declining—three times as high in 2000–01 as compared with six times as high the previous year.

On 22 July the Department published guidance from its Autism Working Group on autistic spectrum disorders. This provides guidance to schools, local education authorities and others on the nature of the disorders and pointers to good practice. It will raise awareness of autistic spectrum disorders further and help teachers and local education authorities to fulfil their statutory duties to meet children's special educational needs, whether the children are in mainstream or special schools.

Mental Health

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to (a) help schools promote mental health and (b) support teachers and pupils in dealing with mental health problems. [72686]

Mr. Miliband: In June last year, the Department published guidance "Promoting Children's Mental Health within Early Years and School Settings". The guidance is designed to help teachers and others, working alongside mental health professionals, to promote children's mental health and to intervene effectively with those experiencing problems. A four page summary is also available.

The National Healthy School Standard (NHSS), which was launched in October 1999, has as one of its specific themes "Emotional Health and Well being", which includes awareness of mental health issues. The development of emotional health and well being is covered in the National Curriculum as part of the Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) framework. PSHE enables pupils to develop their self-esteem, confidence and well being. It also helps pupils to appreciate the effect of their actions on their own lives and the lives of others, and to understand the limits and codes of personal and social behaviour.

In addition the Department has been working with its partners to develop a long-term strategy on behaviour improvement. A key measure being piloted is the establishment of Behaviour and Education Support Teams. Their role is to provide an effective early intervention model of supportive services to children and young people who are experiencing emotional, behavioural and mental health problems, and their families. These multi-agency Teams will link with Social Services and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

The Department are working closely with the Department of Health on the National Service Framework (NSF) for children. One of the modules will be setting standards for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Officials in my Department are represented on the CAMHS module.

Scottish Executive

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many formal and official inter-ministerial meetings her Department has held with the Scottish Executive since May 1999, broken down by (a) Scottish Executive department, (b) subject and (c) date. [72712]

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Stephen Twigg [holding answer 24 July 2002]: Information is not available in the form requested. Ministers from my Department have frequent meetings with Ministers from the Scottish Executive, both formal and informal, covering a broad range of topics.

Secondary Schools, Taunton

Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many vacancies, unfilled with permanent staff, in secondary schools there are in the Taunton constituency; and how many there were in 1997. [73265]

Mr. Miliband: In January 2002, there were 12 vacancies for full-time teachers in maintained nursery, primary, secondary and special schools in Somerset Local Education Authority, compared with no recorded vacancies in January 1997.

In the same period, the number of full-time equivalent regular teachers working in the maintained sector in Somerset Local Education Authority rose by 290. This is the most recent information available.

Better Public Buildings Initiative

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will name the projects the departmental Design Champion has sponsored as part of the Better Public Buildings initiative; and if she will make a statement on the extent of her personal input in respect of each. [73643]

Mr. Miliband: My noble Friend, the Baroness Ashton is the Department's Design Champion and she will announce which projects she is to sponsor in the autumn.

Asylum Seekers (Nottingham)

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children from families of asylum seekers are in Nottingham schools; what additional funding has gone to schools in Nottingham to address the needs of the children of asylum seekers; how much specialist language teaching the Government have funded for each child from an asylum-seeking family in Nottingham; and what funding packages the Government have made available in Nottingham to meet the education and training needs of asylum seekers. [73691]

Stephen Twigg: There were over 400 children from families of asylum seekers in Nottingham schools in May 2002 but numbers fluctuate greatly throughout the school year.

Nottingham schools receive funding for these children in the same way that they do for all other children on school rolls, through the Education Standard Spending Assessment. Both LEAs are eligible for funding through the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG). The total allocations for EMAG for 2002–03 are £1,974,000 for Nottingham City and £278,000 for Nottinghamshire. In addition, Nottingham has received a total of £148,500 from this Department's grant to support the children of asylum seekers in schools in the Home Office dispersal areas.

In Nottingham, the EMAG supports 100 specialist teachers who provide English language support to children, including those from asylum seeking families.

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The provision of funding to meet the education and training needs of asylum seekers is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council. I have therefore asked John Harwood, the Council's Chief Executive to write to the Honourable Gentleman with the information requested and to place a copy of his reply in the Library.

Pupil Funding

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will commission independent research to establish the gap in the level of funding per pupil between school sixth forms and colleges of further education. [73645]

Margaret Hodge: Given the different ways in which schools and colleges are funded and the very much broader remit of colleges, comparisons on the funding of school sixth forms and colleges of further education are far from straight forward. My Department is currently considering the best basis for making sound comparisons and we do not believe that external research is necessary. The Government remains firmly committed to bring up the level of funding of colleges towards that of school sixth forms. However, as we have repeatedly made clear, this will take time and must be done as resources allow.

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