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Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the Government aims to achieve within the European Union's educational competence at the European Council's meeting at Seville; and if she will make a statement. 
The European Commission is preparing a feasibility study to identify options for helping secondary schools to establish or enhance an internet twinning link with a partner school elsewhere in Europe. This was agreed in principle at the Barcelona European Council, following a proposal from the UK and Spain. The Commission was asked to report back to the Seville Council on its findings. We believe there are considerable potential educational benefits in extending school twinning.
Within the limits of Community competence in this area, we always aim to participate fully in any Council discussions, share good practice with other member states and co-operate with each other wherever it makes sense to do so.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to her answer of 26 October 2001, Official Report, column 453W, on early years' education, if she will publish information on the number of places in early years settings taken up by (a) three year olds and (b) four year olds. 
Maragret Hodge [holding answer 10 June 2002]: The latest national figures on early years provision in England were published by my Department in the Statistical First Release 09/2002 XProvision For Children Under Five Years Of Age In England: January 2002" in May 2002, a copy of which is available from the Library. Figures at LEA level will be made available in the bulletin to be published in October 2002. An electronic copy of the SFR and the 2001 bulletin are currently available on my Department's website (www.dfes.gov.uk/statistics).
Margaret Hodge: The information is not available in the form requested. The headcount for numbers of children aged four in the private and voluntary sector was first collected in 1999 and for children aged three in 2000. The available information is shown in the table.
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for Children Under Five Years of Age in England January 2002 (provisional estimates) (09/2002)" on 17 May 2002, a copy of which is available from the Library. An electronic copy of this publication is also available on my Department's website (www.dfes.gov.uk/statistics).
Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring): To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many places there were in day nurseries in each of the past five years; and how many day nurseries there were in each of those years; 
(3) how many playgroups there were in each of the past five years; and how many places were provided by playgroups in each of those years; 
(4) how many places in after-school clubs were provided in each of the past five years; 
(5) how many places were provided in school holiday schemes in each of the past five years. 
The decline in numbers in some sectors such as the childminding and playgroup sectors coincided with increases in other forms of childcare over the past few years. Since 1995, the number of registered day nurseries has increased from 4,800 to 7,300, the number of registered holiday schemes from 2,900 to 10,500 and the number of registered out of school clubs from 1,300 to 4,300. The number of places for children attending all day care providers rose from 1,182,400 in 1995 to 1,569,200 in 2000. Latest figures on Day Care facilities in England was published by my Department in the Statistical Bulletin XChildren's Day Care facilities at 31 March 2001 (08/01)" in October 2001, a copy of which is available from the Library.
Since September 1999, we have also invested substantially in new free early years education places for three year-olds. 335,000 three year-olds took up free early years education places in January 2001, up from 214,000 in January 1997. We estimate that there are free early years education places available for all eligible four year-olds in England. Figures on the take up of free early years places was published in a table alongside Statistical Bulletin 11/2001 XProvision For Children Under Five Years Of Age in EnglandJanuary 2001". An electronic copy of the Bulletin is available on my Department's website (www.dfes.gov.uk/statistics).
|Playgroups and pre-schools||15,800||15,700||15,000||14,300||14,000|
1 Figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.
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|Playgroups and pre-schools||383,700||383,600||347,200||353,100||330,200|
|Out of school clubs||78,700||92,300||113,800||141,100||152,800|
1 Figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.
2 Additional guidelines were given to providers in 1999.
Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many lecturers in further education have lost their jobs in the last year; and in which institutions these cuts have been made. 
Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what (a) teaching and (b) research funding for higher education establishments was given in the last academic year, broken down by (i) new universities and colleges of higher education and (ii) old universities; 
Margaret Hodge: The information is published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in its report XRecurrent grant for 200102: final allocations" (report 01/57) which records allocations of recurrent grant to higher education institutions and to further education colleges delivering higher education. Information for previous years is published in equivalent reports, the data for 200203 are provisional. Copies of all the reports are available at http://www.hefce.ac.uk/Pubs/
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Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what account is taken of the income of (a) resident step-parents or (b) non-resident parents in applying means tests to students in higher education. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 10 June 2002]: The means test for students in higher education takes account of the income of resident step-parents only where the step-parent has legally adopted the student. Where parents are separated or divorced it is for the LEA to decide which parent's income should be assessed. Where the resident parent's income is assessed, payments made by the non-resident parent to support the student or the household are included as part of the income assessment.
Ms. Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the effect of the reduction in the availability of maintenance grants on the participation in higher education of students from poorer social classes. 
Margaret Hodge: The proportion of young people from the three lowest socio-economic groups participating in higher education rose from 10 per cent. when loans were introduced in 1990 to 17 per cent. in 1998 when the new student support arrangements were introduced. The proportion had risen to 18 per cent. in 2000, the latest year for which data are available.
Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of the average level of debt faced by students on leaving higher education in the last 12 months. 
Margaret Hodge: My Department has not commissioned a survey which includes estimates of student debt since the Student Income and Expenditure Survey of 199899. The next Survey is planned for 200203. Recent data on anticipated debt are available from the UNITE/MORI poll conducted in late 2001, which suggest today's students expect average debt on graduation of #8,133. Indicative figures in the 2002 Nat West Money Matters Survey suggest graduates in 2002 will leave with average debts of #10,000.
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A significant part of the debt arises from borrowing through the Student Loan Company. Repayment relates directly to earnings and the interest charged only reflects inflation. However, some debt is incurred in commercial borrowing to support a higher level of expenditure. These figures have to be considered in the context of graduates currently earning around 35 per cent. more than the national average and potentially #400,000 more over their working lives.
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 10 June 2002]: The most comprehensive information on the social composition of entrants to undergraduate courses in higher education is taken from data collected by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Although it is accepted that not all entrants or undergraduate courses use the UCAS route. UCAS assigns social class to applicants based upon the occupation of the parent with the highest income in the applicants household, as reported by the potential student. For applicants aged 21 or over, the occupation of the person contributing the highest income to the household is used.
|Social class||Numbers||Percentage of known|
Other information on the social composition of higher education entrants is also available from the Youth Cohort Study (YCS), a series of longitudinal surveys of young people that track their activities in the years immediately after they have completed compulsory education. The YCS is a sample survey of young people that employs a socio-economic group (SEG) classification that differs from the social class breakdown used by UCAS. Therefore, the two sources of information are not directly comparable.
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