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Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list those local education authorities in England which have indicated that they will be unable to meet the financial provisions for school sixth forms in 200203, as specified by the Learning and Skills Council; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Learning and Skills Council has issued to LEAs and schools their provisional sixth form funding allocations for 200203. These allocations will be confirmed shortly. LEAs will be required to pass on all the money received for sixth forms to the schools.
Because the way the LSC distributes the funds differs from that formerly used by LEAs, transitional issues have arisen for some authorities. We propose to deal with these by providing extra grant resources for 200203 for those authorities most significantly affected, and by allowing more flexibility in the way LEAs fund schools. A letter to this effect was sent to all LEAs on 7 December 2001 and copies have been placed in the Library.
Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list, by local education authority in England, the amounts allocated for 200203 to schools with sixth forms, excluding funding for statemented special education needs, by the Learning and Skills Council according to the (a) terms of the Real Terms Guarantee, (b) Learning and Skills Council's methodology and (c) Learning and Skills Council's methodology as modified by the restriction of gains to 30 per cent. above the levels of the Real Terms Guarantee. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: This is principally a matter for the Learning and Skills Council. Their provisional school sixth form allocations were published on 14 December 2001 and are publicly available on the LSC's internet website in the form requested by the hon. Member at www.lsc.gov.uk. The allocations will be confirmed shortly.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance she has given to local educational authorities to cater for the needs of children whose education is disrupted by ME. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: On 1 November 2001, the Department for Education and Skills jointly with the Department of Health published new statutory guidance, "Access to Education for children and young people with medical needs". This guidance sets out minimum national standards for the education of children who are unable to
18 Jan 2002 : Column 518W
attend school because of medical needs, and is applicable to children with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME).
The Independent Working Group report on CFS/ME was published on 11 January 2002. The Government hope that publication of the report will result in improved awareness and understanding of this condition and lead to improved diagnosis, treatment and management. Advice is given in the report about the education of children and young people with CFS/ME.
Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 17 January 2002]: My Department has received two letters making representations about a Children's Rights Commissioner in England, one of which was forwarded by the Prime Minister's office.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her estimate is of the total expenditure on specialist schools in (a) England and (b) Somerset for each year from 199798 to 200304 (planned); and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 17 January 2002]: Information on the actual and planned expenditure for specialist schools for (a) England and (b) Somerset for each year from 199798 to 200304 is provided if the table.
|Financial Year||England (£ million)||Somerset (£)|
(22) Estimates for 200203 and 200304 are baseline figures for those years based on targets of 1,000 specialist schools by 2003 and 1,500 by 2005.
(23) Estimated expenditure on specialist schools in Somerset for 200203 and 200304 is based on current pupil numbers in schools already designated.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many schools have applied for specialist school status in each quarter since May 1997; how many of these schools were granted specialist status in each of these quarters; how many cluster bids have been accepted; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: The number of specialist school applications received in each competition since May 1997 and the number of schools designated in each round are shown in the table. A small number of "associated applications" have been discussed with officials but no applications which are part of these associated applications have yet been successful.
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|Schools applying||Number of schools designated|
261 applications received in the October 2001 competition are currently being assessed.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many schools will be granted specialist school status in the bidding rounds during 2002; what proportion this is of the total number of expected bids; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: It is difficult to estimate the number of bids we will receive this year but it is likely to be at least as many (both in March and October) as in the October 2001 competition, when 261 schools made applications. Our published target is to have at least 830 specialist schools by September 2002. There are 463 specialist schools at present.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to establish nurture groups in primary schools in order to give special assistance to young children with social and educational problems; and if she will make a statement. 
A number of LEAs and schools already use this approach for pupils with EBD. In June 2001, My Department published guidance on promoting children's mental health in early years and school settings, which includes the use of nurture groups as an effective early intervention strategy for young children in schools who have mental health difficulties. In co-operation with the Coram Foundation we will also be publishing guidance later this year on effective strategies for dealing with pupils with behavioural and other difficulties. This will include the use of nurture groups as one of a range of strategies primary schools might adopt. It is for individual schools to decide where it is appropriate for nurture groups to be used depending on the needs of the children and the school's circumstances.
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Mr. Timms: The aim is to include a broad cross- section of primary and secondary schools from across the country, together with a small number of special schools since it is vital that lessons learned from the project have credibility and wide application. We shall be taking into account factors such as school size and location, as well as securing participant schools showing a range of pupil attainment and teacher turnover. We shall want to include schools which are already developing innovative practice and we also plan to ensure there is representation of some in challenging circumstances.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will publish information possessed by her Department which shows the proportion of students (a) on free school meals, (b) in families dependent on benefits, (c) considered to be from more deprived backgrounds as available indicators, in (i) specialist schools and (ii) non-specialist community and comprehensive schools; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: Information on the numbers and proportions of pupils eligible for a free school meal for specialist and non-specialist community and comprehensive schools is shown in the following table. Similar information on students in families dependent on benefits and considered to be from more deprived backgrounds is not available.
|Specialist secondary schools|
|Number of day pupils||769,973|
|Number of pupils eligible for FSM||112,865|
|Percentage of pupils eligible for FSM||14.7|
|Other maintained secondary schools|
|Number of day pupils||2,457,000|
|Number of pupils eligible for FSM||396,811|
|Percentage of pupils eligible for FSM||16.2|
Annual Schools Census (amended December 2001)
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