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Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what percentage of GCSE students in schools in West Lancashire constituency achieved five or more A* to C grades including English and mathematics in 2008. 
|Percentage of pupils( 1) achieving five or more A* to C grades including English and Mathematics at GCSE and equivalent, 2008( 2)|
|(1) Figures are based on pupils at the end of key stage 4.|
(2) Figures are based on revised data.
(3) Pupils attending maintained schools located in West Lancashire constituency.
(4) Figure includes all schools.
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Girls have out-performed boys since GCSE examinations were introduced in 1988. In 2008 69.9 per cent. of girls and 60.9 per cent. of boys achieved 5+ A*-C grade GCSEs. Girls are ahead of boys at all stages of education. The gap in England has been broadly stable over two decades, and is in line with that in other OECD countries.
The reasons are complex but appear mainly related to differences of biology, maturation, and attitudes to learning and reading at different ages. The Departments 2007 research paper Gender and education: the evidence on pupils in England, of which there is a copy in the Library of the House, sets out the research evidence.
Two points should be noted: first, boys GCSE attainment has improved sharply over the past decade, broadly keeping pace with that of girls; second, gender gaps can be minimised by good teaching practice and by the encouragement of reading, ensuring that pupils of both genders make good progress.
Through its Gender Agenda programme the Department has been leading a programme of action research activities designed to identify and spread good practice in raising boys motivation and attainment. An interim report has been published and a final report will be made available at the end of the programme.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Totnes of 21 January 2009 on funding for a new school building at Dartmouth Community college. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 10 March 2009]: The Department's correspondence handling system shows no record of the letter in question. If the hon. Member forwards a copy of the letter to the Department it will be answered in line with Whitehall standards.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many statutory instruments have been laid before the House by his Department in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) was established on 28 June 2007. Its predecessors were the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) from 5 July 1995 to 10 June 2001 and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) from 11 June 2001 to 27 June 2007.
The records for the Department for Children, Schools and Families and its predecessors show only the numbers of statutory instruments made and not the numbers laid. The number of statutory instruments made each year since 1997 were as follows:
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many children in each local authority have not been allocated a place at a primary school for September 2009; and if he will make a statement. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Department does not collect data on offers of primary school places or on the number of unplaced children. Local authorities are under a duty to make sure that every child of compulsory school age has a suitable school place.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what account (a) his Department and (b) local education authorities in Greater London took of the effect of (i) the birth rate and (ii) Greater London Authority forecasts of the number of children entering primary education in (A) 2000 and (B) 2005 when determining policy on the provision; by what plans he has to take account of the demand for primary school places following changes in the birth rate in (1) 2009, (2) 2012 and (3) 2015; and if he will make a statement. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: In reply to part (a) of your question, when determining policy on the provision of school places, the Department took no direct account of the birth rate or of GLA forecasts of the number of children entering primary education in 2000, 2005 or 2009. Local authorities are responsible for planning provision for their areas. The Department allocates basic need capital to enable authorities to fund new places in response to pupil number growth. To ensure that local authorities can plan strategically, funding is fixed for three years at the beginning of each spending review period (the current period runs from April 2008 to March 2011). In determining basic need allocations, the Department uses local authorities own pupil number forecasts, expecting authorities themselves to take account of local factors that will influence future pupil numbers such as birth rate, new housing and population migration. The Department relies on the accuracy of local authority forecasts as it does not hold back funds to allow for future changes.
In reply to part (b) of your question, the Department does not collect information on the extent to which local education authorities in Greater London take account of the birth rate and GLA forecasts of the number of children entering primary education.
All basic need resources for 2008-09 to 2010-11 have been allocated. However, the Department is reviewing emerging pupil number trends to inform the spending review period 2011-12 onwards and will consider whether to continue allocating all basic need funding at the beginning of a new CSR period.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many (a) dually registered and (b) other pupils attended pupil referral units in each local authority area in each year since 1997. 
Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what proportion of children in each decile of area deprivation by (a) pupil residence and (b) school location were classified as persistent absentees in each of the last three years. 
|Number and percentage( 1) of persistent absentees in schools( 2,3 ) by IDACI decile( 4) of pupil residence( 5 ) and school location, 2006/07|
|By pupil residence||By school location|
|(1) Number of Persistent Absentees expressed as a percentage of the total number of enrolments.|
(2) Includes middle schools as deemed.
(3) School coverage is maintained primary and secondary schools, maintained and non-maintained special schools, city technology colleges and academies. Excludes general hospital schools.
(4) 2004 Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index at Super Output Area level.
(5) Pupil residency figures include only those pupils with a valid postcode.
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Religious education (RE) is a statutory part of the basic school curriculum. Schools must teach RE according to locally agreed syllabuses or in the case of voluntary aided schools with a religious character, according to the trust deed of the school. Local Standing Advisory Councils for RE (SACREs) have the responsibility to ensure that local syllabuses develop pupils knowledge, understanding and awareness of Christianity and the major religions represented in the country and reflect the values and traditions of the community. RE encourages respect for those holding different beliefs and helps promote pupils moral, cultural and spiritual development.
In 2004, the Department with the QCA published a non-statutory framework for RE which has been supported by all the main faith groups and the British Humanist Association. It says that pupils should learn about Christianity throughout each key stage and, by the end of Key Stage 3, pupils should have encountered the other five principal religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism) in sufficient depth. It also recommends that pupils have opportunities to study other religious traditions such as the Bahai faith, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and secular philosophies such as humanism.
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