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11 Jun 2008 : Column 373W—continued


Further Education: Finance

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he is taking to ensure that adequate funding is available for mergers in the further education sector. [204404]

Bill Rammell: I have been asked to reply.

As the statutory planning and funding body for further education, it is for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to consider how it uses the funds it receives in line with stated priorities. There is no specific fund to support mergers. However, the LSC may decide to support the development of proposals in a number of ways, for example, by paying for a strategic options study to look at how provision might best be configured in an area. We are currently reviewing the organisational structure framework within which mergers and other organisational models are considered. This will include a stronger focus on the need to protect and enhance learner choice in an area, value for money and a robust process for appraising all proposals. We are keen to ensure that all options have been considered before mergers, as there is no evidence to suggest that larger colleges provide a better quality experience for the learner.

Literacy

Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on international comparisons of functional illiteracy levels. [210203]


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Jim Knight: The Secretary of State has commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research to supply data on the performance of fifteen-year-olds in schools in England for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's programme for international student assessment (PISA 2006).

In PISA the term literacy is defined as the extent to which students have acquired the ability to put their knowledge to functional use in different situations in adult life. It assesses students' knowledge on a three-year cycle, with each cycle focusing mainly on one of three areas: reading literacy, mathematical literacy and scientific literacy. Scientific literacy was the main focus of PISA 2006, with mathematical and reading literacy as the two minor domains.

For reading literacy, 6,8 per cent. of English students scored below PISA level 1, which was slightly less than the OECD average of 7.4 per cent.

For scientific literacy, 4.9 per cent. of English students scored below PISA level 1, compared with an OECD average of 5.2 per cent. and for mathematical literacy, 6.0 per cent. of students scored below PISA level 1, which was slightly less than the OECD average of 7.7 per cent.

Pre-School Education: Pilot Schemes

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much his Department plans to spend on pilot schemes extending the early years entitlement to two year olds in each of the next three years; how many two year olds will be able to take part in such schemes; and if he will make a statement. [210621]

Beverley Hughes: Building on the success of the existing pilots in 32 local authorities the Government will invest £100 million over the next three years to offer up to 15 hours free early education and child care to the most deprived two-year-olds living in 63 pilot local authorities. We will invest £20 million in this year, £30 million in 2009/10 and £50 million in 2010/11. We anticipate that in excess of 20,000 two-year olds will benefit from the pilot over the next three years.

Primary Education: Class Sizes

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the average (a) pupil-teacher and (b) pupil-adult ratio was for Key Stage 1 in maintained primary schools in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [208848]

Jim Knight: The information requested is not available by the different key stages because some teachers may teach more than one key stage. The latest publication containing information on pupil-teacher and pupil-adult ratios is split by primary and secondary schools in the “School Workforce in England (including pupil: teacher ratios and pupil: adult ratios), January 2008 (Provisional)” (see table 15). This can be found at:


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Pupils: Per Capita Costs

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much funding was provided per pupil in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in (i) Suffolk and (ii) England in each of the last five years. [209353]

Jim Knight: The revenue funding figures per pupil in 2003-04 and 2005-06 in real terms for Suffolk local authority and England are as follows:

2003-04 2004-05 2005-06

Suffolk

Primary (aged 3-10)

3,280

3,400

3,590

Secondary (aged 11-15)

4,070

4,280

4,410

England

Primary (aged 3-10)

3,630

3,740

3,960

Secondary (aged 11-15)

4,500

4,690

4,870


The revenue per pupil figures shown in the table below are taken from the dedicated schools grant (DSG) which was introduced in April 2006. They are not comparable with 2003-04 and 2005-06 figures quoted above because the introduction of the DSG in 2006-07 fundamentally changed how local authorities are funded.

The 2003-04 to 2005-06 figures quoted above are based on education formula spending (EPS) which formed the education part of the local government finance settlement, plus various grants. The DSG is based on planned spend. In addition, the DSG has a different coverage to EPS, which comprises a schools block and an LEA block (to cover LEA central functions) whereas DSG only covers the school block. LEA block items are still funded through DCLG's local government finance settlement but education items cannot be separately identified. Consequently, there is a break in the Department's time series as the two sets of data are not comparable.

To provide a comparison for 2006-07 DSG, the Department have isolated the schools block equivalent funding in 2005-06—this is the basis for the 2005-06 baseline figure quoted in the table; as described above this does not represent the totality of ‘education’ funding in that year. As the DSG is just a mechanism for distributing funding a primary/secondary split is not available. The figures are for all funded pupils aged three to 19 and are in real terms.

The per pupil revenue funding figures for years 2005-06 to 2007-08 for Suffolk local authority and England are provided in the following table:

2005-06 DSG plus grants (baseline) 2006-07 DSG plus grants 2007-08 DSG plus grants

Suffolk

3,760

3,890

4,050

England

4,110

4,240

4,410

Note:
Price base: real terms at 2006-07 prices, based on GDP deflators as at 26 September 2007.

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Religion: Education

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether he is taking steps to ensure that freedom to choose or not to choose religious faith is taught in all state schools. [208793]

Jim Knight: The Department, with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), has published a non-statutory framework for religious education which has been agreed by all the main faith groups and the British Humanist Association. The framework is based on tolerance and respect and provides that pupils should learn about: Christianity; at least two other principal religions; a religious community with a significant local presence, and a secular world view.

Schools: Buildings

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether the quality of school buildings is assessed in Ofsted inspections. [210104]

Jim Knight: This is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the hon. Member and a copy of her reply has been placed in the Library.

Letter from Christine Gilbert, dated 10 June 2008:

Schools: Finance

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families pursuant to the answer of 15 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1789-90W, on schools: finance, what his latest estimate is of the cost pressures facing schools in 2008-09, using updated figures for the teachers' pay award, local pay implementation and local government pension provision; and if he will make a statement. [210260]


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Jim Knight: A broad assessment of cost pressures on schools is made in order to set the level of the minimum funding guarantee (MFG), the details of which were made in the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families' written reply of 12 May 2008 (205312).

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his latest estimate is of the percentage of schools which will receive budget increases in 2008-09 which will be lower than his Department's estimate of cost pressures; and if he will make a statement. [210261]

Jim Knight: The minimum funding guarantee is set at the level of the Department's broad assessment of average cost pressures, offset by efficiency savings. All schools will receive at least the minimum funding guarantee increase per pupil.

Schools: Isle of Wight

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what indications have been given to the Isle of Wight council of funding to be allocated from his Department to cover the cost of reorganising the education system on the Isle of Wight. [209518]

Jim Knight: The reorganisation of education provision on the Isle of Wight is a matter for local determination.

Schools' capital allocations for the period covered by the comprehensive spending review (2008-11) were announced last autumn. The Isle of Wight local authority will benefit from £36.1 million of capital investment over this period. This includes an indicative allocation of £8.4 million to support the delivery of the primary capital programme and is subject to agreement of a primary strategy for change which all local authorities have been asked to submit by 16 June 2008. None of this funding is linked to or conditional upon the Isle of Wight council reorganising school provision.

Schools: Performing Arts

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many performing arts schools there are in England; and how many places there are at each establishment. [209851]

Jim Knight: 551 maintained schools in England are designated as having an arts specialism, of which 478 are Specialist Arts Colleges, 42 are specialist schools which have arts combined with another specialism and 31 are other specialist schools which have arts as a second specialism. Schools with an arts specialism may focus on the performing arts, visual arts or media arts, or combinations of the three; we do not keep records of which particular strands individual schools focus on. In addition, there are two Performing Arts Academies and the Brit School—the only City College for the Technology of the Arts, which is dedicated to education and vocational training for the performing arts and associated technologies. Details of all of these schools, including the number of places within each establishment, has been placed in the House of Commons Library.


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Secondary Education: Liverpool

Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what discussions he has had in respect of secondary school provision in the Croxteth ward of the constituency of the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby; what plans his Department has to provide practical and financial assistance to establish a secondary school as a complement to the Emmaus Primary School; and if he will make a statement. [209321]

Jim Knight: My noble Friend Lord Adonis has had discussions with representatives of the Emmaus Primary School, the local Catholic Diocese, and the local authority about developments in the Croxteth area of Liverpool. My Department has no plans to provide specific assistance to establish a secondary school in the area as a complement to the Emmaus Primary School. Proposals for schools with a religious character are made by the relevant faith bodies. We would expect the local authority to be the first port of call for any necessary capital funding, and that they will consider such investment as part of their overall strategy under the Building Schools for the Future initiative. Where in exceptional circumstances the local authority are genuinely unable to support worthwhile projects from their strategic capital funds, my Department has limited capital funding available to support new projects to increase standards and diversity.

Secondary Education: Standards

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what percentage of mainstream maintained secondary schools in each local education authority area have been classed as outstanding by Ofsted in the last five years for which figures are available. [210161]

Jim Knight: This is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the hon. Member and a copy of her reply has been placed in the Library.

Letter from Christine Gilbert, dated 9 June 2008:


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