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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions she has had with representatives from the North East region regarding the education White Paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All". 
The Secretary of State has been in the north east of England on a number of occasions in recent months. She met with local MPs and councillors and among other issues she discussed the White Paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All". She also addressed the delegates in the North of England Conference in Gateshead on 6 January.
6 Feb 2006 : Column 1004W
Mr. Paul Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many representations she has received from Wales about the cross-border implications of the White Paper on Schools, Higher Standards, Better Schools for All: More Choice for Parents and Pupils". 
Jacqui Smith: The Department has received over 200 representations from a wide range of organisations, Members of Parliament and members of the public which directly refer to the White Paper. We have not received any representations from Wales which specifically refer to cross border implications of the White Paper on Schools, Higher Standards, Better Schools for All: More Choice for Parents and Pupils".
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of candidates achieved five or more A* to C grades at GCSE, excluding BTEC First diplomas or equivalent, in each of the last six years. 
|Year(55)||Percentage of 15-year-olds(56) achieving 5+ A*-C grades at GCSE and equivalent excluding BTEC First diplomas||Percentage contribution of BTEC First diplomas to the percentage of 15-year-olds(56) achieving 5+ A*-C grades at GCSE and equivalent|
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will include teaching of English folk dance and song within the national curriculum; and if she will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: Within the National Curriculum Programme of Study for Physical Education there is already provision for the teaching of dances which reflect different times and cultures. The National Curriculum Programme for Study for Music states that the breadth of study should be taught through a range of music from different times and cultures which may include music from the British Isles.
We have moved away from a prescriptive curriculum and no longer explicitly state exactly what must be taught in any subject. Indeed, we have given teachers this flexibility as they will know the best ways to address the needs of their pupils.
6 Feb 2006 : Column 1005W
Beverley Hughes: There are 107 early excellence centres (EEC) across England, of these six deliver special projects across the country and the others are based around schools and early years settings. We do not hold information on the constituencies covered by the centres. The following table lists the number of centres within each local authority.
We do not collect information about the number of full or part-time places provided by individual centres. Centres provide a range of services including: one-stop shop activities like parent/carer drop-ins, access to adult education and training, home visiting, health visitor and therapist services, information and counselling.
|Local authority||Number of centres|
|Bath and NE Somerset||1|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||2|
|Isle of Wight||2|
|Kingston upon Thames||1|
|North East Lincolnshire||1|
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her Department's timetable is for bringing forward final proposals on design and managing against the risk of fire in schools. 
Jacqui Smith: The draft of Building Bulletin 100, Designing and Managing Against the Risk of Fire in Schools", has been out to public consultation and an analysis of the responses should be completed by the end of March. Work will then commence on a final version and we expect to be able to publish this during the summer.
Jacqui Smith: We have made good progress in the number of pupils getting five or more GCSEs or equivalent at grade A* to C. In 2005, 56.3 per cent. of 15- year-olds achieved five or more GCSEs or equivalenta 2.6 percentage point increase on 2004 results and an increase of 11.2 percentage points compared with 1997. Over 67,000 more pupils are now achieving at this level than did so in 1997. We have also made good progress in the percentage of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs or equivalent at grade A* to C including English and mathematics, which rose from 42.6 per cent. in 2004 to 44.3 per cent. in 2005. This was the biggest annual percentage point increase since 1997.
The Department has a number of initiatives to ensure that schools receive the resources, advice and support that they need to raise attainment further at key stage 4. The key stage 3 national strategy has extended to become a full secondary national strategy for school improvement designed to raise standards, particularly in the core subjects, for all secondary school pupils. It aims to introduce excellent teaching and learning practices into every classroom through CPD, teaching materials and consultancy support. In addition, we are drawing on the expertise of successful schools and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust to work in partnership with around 400 schools underperforming in value added terms.
The White Paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All" published in October 2005 sets out our plans to improve standards further, particularly by providing significant new incentives for schools to tailor education to the needs of every child and focus on the basics of English and mathematics.
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