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Lord Warner: My Lords, other member states have quite strict controls on smoke flavours. As I mentioned, the primary products that produce those flavourings represent a hazard to human health. If I may, I dare to say that this is an example of the EU protecting UK consumers from potentially dangerous products manufactured abroad. I know how many Conservative Members are interested to know about the benefits of belonging to the European Union.
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, does it make a difference from where the smoke comes? For instance, smoked salmon proudly boasts that it comes from oak chippings. Is smoke regardless bad for one's health? Is it the end of bonfires? Is it the end of barbecues?
Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, is the Minister aware that blow torches are used with some meatlamb, in factfor minority use? Some of that meat is not properly cooked and is the subject of investigation by environmental health authorities. Does he have any plans to keep a register of those retail outlets, which are causing great health concern?
Lord Warner: My Lords, what I am saying in answer to the Question is that there are controls on those additives in other countries. That concern has been brought to the attention of other members of the European Union and the regulations will deal with the issue in due course.
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, the progress being made by specialist schools is very satisfactory. In 2002, 54.1 per cent of pupils in non-selective specialist schools achieved five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C, compared with 46.7 per cent for all other comprehensive schools, even though the intake of ability at age 11, as shown by key stage 2 results, was broadly similar to that for non-specialist schools. By this September there will be 1,454 specialist schools in place, providing for 46 per cent of all pupils.
Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, given the massive and continuing growth in the number of specialist schools, can my noble friend tell me how many schools wishing to become specialist schools have been unable to do so because of the shortage of certain specialist teachers? Can my noble friend also confirm that the specialist schools receive much more in the way of grants than do non-specialist schools? In those circumstances, how can the non-specialist schools pretend to have the same standards as the specialist schools?
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, my noble friend is very interested in specialist schools and has been for a long time, but I regret that I cannot give him any information about the number of schools that have not been designated "specialist" because of the shortage of teachers. We know that some schools have not been able to achieve the £50,000 sponsorship that they need but, again, we do not know how many because schools are not required to provide that information. However, I do believe that the results that are being attained in specialist schools demonstrate that the status is part of a very effective schools improvement programme, which I hope my noble friend will want to support and thereby enable more schools to achieve that aim.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, the Minister said that over 50 per cent of those pupils in need of a special school place are catered for, which means that well over 40 per cent are not. Do the 40 per cent of pupils who do not have a special school facility available to them not wish to attend such schoolssome people believe that it is better not to be educated at a special schoolor is there still a desperate need to be met among that proportion of well over 40 per cent?
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, the noble Baroness is talking about special schools, while I am referring to specialist schools. Specialist schools are those which have a specialism in one of 10 different subjects.
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, it is true that the two most recent specialisms to be announced are in music and the humanities and, as with all other specialist schools, we want to see those curricula being developed to the highest standards. But the schools themselves are all bound by the national curriculum and will have to abide by it.
Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, is it government policy to roll out specialist status to every secondary school in the United Kingdom? If that is the case, how are the Government proposing to help those schools which cannot find sufficient local resources to meet the £50,000 sponsorship required for specialist status?
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, the noble Baroness is absolutely right. The Secretary of State has made it clear that we intend to roll out the specialist school programme nationally because the status forms part of the improving schools programme, and it is successful.
We know that many schools are experiencing difficulties in raising the required sponsorship. For this year we have made available £3 million in the form of partnership money on which schools may draw. The application forms are now being made available and, if they meet the criteria, the first schools will be able to draw down from that fund from September to March of next year. When we come to the end of this funding year we shall look again at the situation to see what else we can do.
Lord Renton: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that great confusion has arisen over the use by the Department for Education and Skills of the terms "special schools" and "specialist schools"? Special schools are for those with learning disabilities and thus are quite different from the specialist schools. Could not something be done to rename either the special or the specialist schools in order to avoid further confusion?
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I do not believe that generally there is any confusion between special and specialist schools. Perhaps I was not clear in my pronunciation of the word "specialist", which may not have helped the noble Baroness. However, the specialist school status is very much about schools having specialisms in different subjects.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that my noble friend has made a very good point? Special schools do have a specialism: they are specialist in the field of teaching young people with learning difficulties. So I do think that my noble friend has a point.
Further, does the noble Baroness accept that specialist schools were established by my government when last in office and that we are delighted that the proposal is being built upon? However, concerns are now being expressed that many schools are being given specialist status when in fact the particular subject in which they are declared to be specialist is one that is very weak within some schools? I think that the rigorous selection process for allowing a school to become a specialist establishment should at the least insist that a school is specialist in the subject for which it is given specialist status.
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