Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


"Learning from Success" Conferences

Lord Shutt of Greetland asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The "Learning from Success" conferences offered ministers and officials the chance to listen to the views of head

6 Nov 2000 : Column WA135

teachers from just over 1,500 schools. It was the most extensive interactive consultation exercise ever carried out with head teachers.

One of the most innovative aspects of the conferences was the use of keypad technology to involve every delegate, thereby giving them the opportunity instantly to register their views on a range of issues. Responses to questions were immediately displayed to the audience and the range of opinion explored.

6 Nov 2000 : Column WA136

At each day of the conferences delegates were asked the question, "Do you feel your efforts to raise standards are sufficiently supported by: (a) Parents? (b) Your governing body? (c) The media? (d) The LEA? (e) The Government? (f) Teacher Unions?" Answers to this question were recorded using keypad technology and the possible responses were "yes" or "no". For each of the five conference venues the percentage of delegates saying "yes" in answer to each of the six parts of the above question were as follows:

6 Nov 2000 : Column WA135

LondonManchesterNottinghamBirminghamNewcastleOverall
Parents54%53%49%45%51%50%
Your governing bodyNot asked78%75%77%73%76%
The media1%2%4%2%2%2%
The LEA60%61%58%53%51%56%
The Government46%50%41%45%24%41%
Teacher Unions28%20%21%19%24%23%

6 Nov 2000 : Column WA135

Further details of both the keypad analysis and the outcomes of the conferences can be found on the Learning from Success area of the Internet Standards Site. The site's web address is http://www.standards.dfee.gov.uk/learningfromsuccess.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the case of each "Learning from Success" conference held in September, what was the date on which it was held; what was the venue; the cost; and the number of persons attending; and what proportion of attendees were head teachers.[HL4302]

Baroness Blackstone: The "Learning from Success" conferences offered Ministers and officials the chance to listen to the views of head teachers from just over 1,500 schools. It was the most extensive interactive consultation exercise ever carried out with head teachers.

The conferences were held at five venues across England from 18-22 September 2000. The locations for each conference were as follows:


    Monday 18 September--The Paragon Hotel, London;


    Tuesday 19 September--New Century House, Manchester;


    Wednesday 20 September--Jubilee Campus, The University of Nottingham;


    Thursday 21 September--The National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham;


    Friday 22 September--Eldon Leisure Centre, Newcastle.

6 Nov 2000 : Column WA136

The overall cost of all five conferences was just under £700,000.

The attendance for each venue was as follows:

VenueAttendance
London350
Manchester350
Nottingham250
Birmingham350
Newcastle375
Total for the week1,675

One of the most innovative aspects of the Learning from Success conferences was the use of keypad technology to involve every delegate, thereby giving them the opportunity to instantly register their views on a range of issues. Responses to questions were immediately displayed to the audience and the range of opinion explored.

Results from the answer to the first keypad question "What type of school do you work in?" show that

91 per cent of delegates who registered an answer were school representatives. The invitations sent out to the conferences were addressed to the head teachers of schools, so the vast majority of school representatives were heads. The invitation letter did state that if the head teacher was unable to attend then he or she had the opportunity to send a member of their senior teaching staff in their place; therefore it is possible that not all school representatives would have been head teachers.

Further details of both the keypad analysis and the outcomes of the conferences can be found on the Learning from Success area of the Internet Standards Site. The site's web address is http://www.standards.dfee.gov.uk/learningfromsuccess.


6 Nov 2000 : Column WA137

Age Diversity in Employment: Code of Practice

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent employers have changed their practices and procedures as a result of the Department for Education and Employment's Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment.[HL4345]

Baroness Blackstone: The evaluation of the Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment assesses employment practice in relation to recruitment, promotion, training and development, redundancy and retirement. Not surprisingly, few employers acknowledge that they discriminate unjustifiably on grounds of age. However, there is some evidence to suggest that companies are beginning to adopt more age aware policies, at least in the area of recruitment. For example, the second wave of the evaluation shows that during the company selection process, less than one in five (16 per cent) organisations report taking age into consideration. This is a reduction from the first wave of the evaluation, immediately prior to the launch of the code, when approximately one quarter (27 per cent) reported taking age into consideration when recruiting new staff. These results are based on survey findings at Wave 2, just six months after the code was introduced. Details of the findings can be accessed on the DfEE website at http://www/dfee.gov.uk/research/re-brief/RBX6.doc. Results of the full evaluation, based on research findings 16 months after the code was first issued, will be published by summer 2001.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any evidence that people over the age of 50 believe that employers descriminate against older employees; and, if so, what does that evidence show.[HL4346]

Baroness Blackstone: The evaluation of the code of practice on Age Diversity in Employment assesses employment practice and experience in relation to recruitment, promotion, training and development, redundancy and retirement. The second wave of the evaluation shows a significant minority (20 per cent) of the sample of people aged 50 and over report that they have personally experienced discrimination in relation to an actual or possible job because of their age. This is slightly lower than the reported incidence of age discrimination in the first wave of the research, immediately prior to the launch of the code, when approximately one quarter (26 per cent) felt that they had experienced age discrimination. These results are based on survey findings at Wave 2, just six months after the code was introduced. Details of the findings can be accessed on the DfEE website at http://www.dfee.gov.uk/research/re-brief/RBX6.doc. Results of the full evaluation, based on research findings 16 months after the code was first issued, will be published by summer 2001.

6 Nov 2000 : Column WA138

Examination Performance and Month of Birth

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the examination performance of English children at KS2, GCSE and A=level still varies to a statistically significant extent according to the month of their birth; if so, what is the extent of this variation at each level; and whether the examination performance of children with unfavourable birth months might be raised by letting them start school a year later.[HL4400]

Baroness Blackstone: Research by the National Foundation of Educational Research (NFER) in England and Wales (1997) found that children's attainment at Key Stage 1 was significantly related to their age, season of birth and length of schooling. More recent research (Tymms et al, 2000) shows that the gap tends to close during the primary years.

At GCSE, research by Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR) published in 1998 found a statistically significant variation in pupils' examination performance according to the month of their birth. Similar work by OCR at GCE A level found this variation then diminished. We are not aware of any more recent research in this area.

Tymms et al (1997) considered that other factors such as school attendance, prior attainment and school attended are more significant for pupils' ultimate performance than the month of their birth.

Current legislation requires that pupils start school by the beginning of the term following their fifth birthday. Many parents do choose to enrol their children before that. There are no plans to raise the age of entry.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page