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The Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Mr. Charles Clarke): I am grateful to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), the other regulatory authorities and the examination boards for their hard work in ensuring that the exam system ran smoothly this year. It is nonetheless a system under strain. QCA has therefore developed proposals to ensure we have an examinations system fit for the 21st century which will support rising standards in schools and colleges.
I am announcing today that I shall be making some £50 million available to QCA in each of 200405 and 200506 by reprioritising from within my existing resources. In doing so, I remain committed to ensuring that schools are properly funded. The resources released for modernisation will not impact on the money available for school funding.
The overall programme will include improving the supply and quality of examiners; upgrading examinations offices in schools and colleges and supporting the work of examinations officers; improving the system for the transfer of information between schools, colleges and awarding bodies; and streamlining and making more secure the movement of examination papers and scripts between awarding bodies, schools and colleges, and examiners. It will also cover some developmental work on increased use of ICT in the examinations system, including some piloting of e-marking. The programme will also cover some short-term work aimed at reducing the assessment load and complexity.
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It would work with the examination boards to secure the long-term viability of the examination system and lead the way in modernising it through the five strands of work which I have announced today, including through the use of its own ring-fenced budget. It would also be responsible for administering the tests that take place at the end of each key stage, but not for the regulatory functions which would remain with the main QCA. The establishment of the new agency would thus ensure that these two potentially conflicting responsibilities are kept apart.
This programme of work represents a considerable investment in the examinations system. I believe it will make for an efficient, robust and modern examinations system such that our young people deserve.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Yvette Cooper): I am pleased to announce today that in the light of positive responses to the public consultation on the Government's proposals to improve standards of temporary accommodation for homeless households we intend to:
Issue statutory guidance to bring together and re-state existing minimum standards for all temporary accommodation used by housing authorities to accommodate homeless families and individuals under the legislation;
Issue statutory guidance on additional standards that should apply to B&B accommodation where this is used by housing authorities to accommodate homeless families and individuals under the legislation; and
Issue statutory guidance on the arrangements that should be put in place to ensure that all households placed in temporary accommodation by housing authorities under the legislation receive support to ensure that their health, education and welfare needs are met.