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Mr. Butcher : Responsibility for educational provision in maintained primary and secondary schools in rural as well as in other areas rests with local education authorities. My right hon. Friend is supporting through education support grant some £1.5 million of expenditure per annum
Column 161on pilot projects in 14 LEAs with a view to improving the quality and range of the curriculum in rural primary schools.
Mrs. Rumbold : Figures to be published shortly by my right hon. Friend show that, in January 1988, 285,000 children were in nursery schools or classes in England. Another 248,000 under-fives were in infant classes. The combined figure has increased by nearly 25 per cent. in eight years.
15. Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he proposes to take to encourage West Sussex education authority to provide more nursery places ; and if he will make a statement.
18. Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he proposes to take to encourage Hereford and Worcester education authority to provide more nursery places ; and if he will make a statement.
30. Mr. Buckley : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he proposes to take to encourage West Sussex local education authority to provide more nursery places ; and if he will make a statement.
40. Mr. Eastham : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he proposes to take to encourage Kent education authority to provide more nursery places ; and if he will make a statement.
42. Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he proposes to take to encourage Oxfordshire education authority to provide more nursery places ; and if he will make a statement.
45. Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he proposes to take to encourage Wiltshire education authority to provide more nursery places ; and if he will make a statement.
69. Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he proposes to take to encourage Essex education authority to provide more nursery places ; and if he will make a statement.
75. Mr. Haynes : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he proposes to take to encourage Kent education authority to provide more nursery places ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Rumbold : Education is not compulsory below the age of five. The scope and form of provision for under-fives are wholly within local authorities' discretion. My right hon. Friend sees no cause to change that.
Mr. Jackson : We are considering the possibility of increasing the impact of student enrolments through some shift in the public funding of higher education from the grant to be disbursed by the Universities Funding Council and the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council towards students' fees met under the mandatory awards arrangements. When we have a clear proposal, we shall consult the various interests before taking a decision.
Mr. Butcher : Recruitment to secondary science teacher training courses has increased by 9 per cent. since the launch in 1986 of our action programme on teacher supply. We shall continue and reinforce our action programme to ensure that we have the science teachers we need in the 1990s.
Mr. Butcher : We project no particular problems with the supply of primary teachers. Most teaching in primary schools is carried out by the class teacher. The Government are already supporting in-service training for primary teachers through the LEA training grants scheme, and the provision of advisory staff through education support grants. Both of these schemes are providing primary teachers with extra subject expertise and support in science.
Mr. Butcher : We have had in place for over two years an action programme to increase the number of science teachers in secondary schools. This includes a £1,300 bursary for those undertaking initial teacher training in physics, an energetic teacher teacher recruitment publicity campaign spearheaded by the teaching as a career unit and new courses of initial teacher training. My right hon. Friend has just announced that the bursary will be extended to chemistry in September.
19. Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what part he expects teaching and research in physics and chemistry to play in universities in the future ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Jackson : The University Grants Committee has recently published for consultation reports on the principles which might inform subsequent proposals for the rationalisation of physics and chemistry in universities. As in other subject reviews, the objective is to strengthen national provision in both teaching and research.
Column 163secondary schools in Staffordshire in the most recent year for which figures are available ; and what was the comparable figure in 1978-79, at constant prices.
Mr. Butcher : Staffordshire spent an average of £1,040 per secondary pupil in 1978-79 and £1,255 per secondary pupil in 1986-87. The figure for the earlier year has been repriced to 1986-87 prices using the gross domestic product (market prices) deflator.
31. Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take further steps to support better recruitment and retention of school teachers in geographical areas of shortage or high turnover ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Butcher : The Department's action programme to combat teacher shortages is designed to help relieve pressure on regions with recruitment difficulties. The teaching as a career unit continues to hold discussions with local authorities on how best to improve teacher recruitment and retention.
22. Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what information he has as to the number of schools who have indicated their intention to seek grant-maintained status ; and if he will make a statement.
28. Mr. McLoughlin : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many schools have used the Education Reform Act 1988 to opt for grant-maintained status ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Butcher : Eight schools have now published proposals for grant- maintained status, which my right hon. Friend will determine on their merits in due course. Parents have voted for publication of such proposals at 10 other schools, and further ballots are in preparation. The Department continues to receive numerous inquiries from parents and governors about grant-maintained status and the application procedures.
41. Mr. French : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the results of the recently held ballots of parents to determine whether they wish to seek grant-maintained status for their children's schools.
Mr. Butcher : Parents at 21 schools have voted on whether to apply to my right hon. Friend for grant-maintained status. They voted in favour at 18 schools, nearly all by a very large majority. I am pleased to note that the average turnout in the ballots so far has been 72 per cent.
Mr. Butcher : Where parents vote in favour of seeking grant- maintained status for a school, section 62(2) of the Education Reform Act 1988 requires the governing body to publish proposals accordingly. My right hon. Friend will consider such proposals on their merits after taking account of any objections received.
Mr. Jackson : The Natural Environment Research Council plans to undertake research relevant to air pollution in the financial year 1989-90 at a level of some £1.1 million. This includes research on acid rain, fluorine and radionuclides. The NERC is helping organise the Glasgow international conference on acid deposition in 1990. Longer-term funding levels will be influenced by the trend of income from research commissioned by other Government Departments.
Mrs. Rumbold : Since 1 September 1984, all entrants to initial teacher training courses in England and Wales and all new entrants to teaching in the maintained sector by the non-standard routes have had to have attained the standard required for grade C in the GCE at O-level or the equivalent in English.
price-sensitivity of demand for school meals ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Kenneth Baker : I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses copies of a report from the School Examinations and Assessment Council on the first GCSE courses and examinations, and the reply I have sent today. The report confirms that the GCSE is off to a good start, and identifies a number of areas where improvement is required. I look to the council to play a central role in effecting these improvements so that we can realise the full benefits of the GCSE.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received on general certificate of secondary education examinations from parents over the past nine months.
Mrs. Rumbold : My right hon. Friend and I have received about 700 letters on GCSE since June 1987, from parents and other interested parties. The vast majority have been supportive of the principles behind the new examination.
34. Mr. Harris : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has inquired into the reasons for the delays by some boards in announcing general certificate of secondary education results ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Rumbold : The issuing of GCSE results is the responsibility of the independent GCSE examining groups. My right hon. Friend has made it clear to them that late results cannot be tolerated. The examining groups regret the delays that affected a small percentage of results in 1988, and have undertaken to review administrative arrangements and to take corrective measures to ensure that the problems do not recur.
62. Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received from students in Wales, and their representatives, concerning his proposals for student loans ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received concerning his proposals over changes to the method of student financing ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Jackson : Since the publication on 9 November 1988 of the White Paper on top-up loans for students, some 3,912 representations have been received. Representations from Wales are not separately recorded.
33. Mr. Callaghan : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he last met representatives of banks and financial institutions to discuss proposals to introduce a loan scheme for maintenance of students in higher education.
Mr. Jackson : The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals and the Association of University Teachers are discussing university lecturers' pay with each other : since last April, my right hon. Friend has received just over 200 letters on the topic.
43. Mr. Riddick : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local education authorities currently implement anti- racist policies in their schools ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Butcher : Information about how many local education authorities currently implement anti-racist policies in their schools is not collected centrally. It is Government policy that ethnic minority pupils should have the same opportunity as all others to profit from what schools can offer them and that schools should preserve and transmit our national values in a way which accepts Britain's ethnic diversity and promotes tolerance and racial harmony. It is for individual local education authorities and schools to determine, in the light of their own needs and circumstances, how to give effect to this policy.
The Government plan to implement section 5, which is concerned with the approval of qualifications and syllabuses for pupils of compulsory school age, with effect from 1 August 1989. The proposed arrangements are set out in a draft circular which was issued for consultation before Christmas.
We are on course to start the phased implementation of the national curriculum from this autumn : development work has begun on the attainment tests in readiness for the first run in 1991.
Column 167Local education authorities have been required to submit, in most cases, by September 1989 schemes for the local management of schools, for introduction the following April. Local education authorities and governors of secondary schools must also be prepared from August 1990 to admit eligible pupils up to the assessed capacity of the school building. Preparations for the transfer of education responsibilities from ILEA to the inner London boroughs in April 1990 are well in hand.
The Act gives schools the opportunity to opt out of local authority control and become grant-maintained. Parental ballots have now been held at 19 schools on whether to seek grant-maintained status. There has been excellent progress in the establishment of city technology colleges. Sponsorship has already been announced for 10 CTCs, and further announcements will be made soon.
The Department's circulars 8/88 and 9/88 were issued in September 1988 requiring local education authorities to reform the governing bodies of their further education colleges and to draw up schemes of planning and delegation for those colleges.
Sections 214-216, on bogus degrees, came into force on 30 November 1988 ; orders made under section 216 came into effect on the same date.
The Act's new arrangements for higher education will be in full operation from 1 April 1989. We have established the higher education corporations to take over the running of polytechnics and major colleges of higher education as independent institutions, as well as the Universities Funding Council and the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council.
We have also established the Education Assets Board to oversee the transfer of assets and liabilities from local education authorities to relevant institutions in the PCFC sector and to grant-maintained schools.
With respect to the provisions on academic tenure, the university commissioners and their staff have been appointed and they have begun their work of reviewing statutes for modification.
46. Mr. Gregory : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what resources are made available (a) nationally and (b) in north Yorkshire for the education of gifted children ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Rumbold : This information is not held centrally at present. However, the Department is sponsoring a survey of current local education authority provision for the most able pupils to be carried out by the National Association for Gifted Children. The association intends to invite all LEAs in England and Wales to participate and hopes to complete the survey by the summer.
Mrs. Rumbold : The Government's policy on modern foreign languages in the school curriculum was set out in the January 1988 policy statement, a copy of which I am sending to my hon. Friend. The national curriculum will include a modern foreign language as a foundation subject at secondary level to be studied by each pupil between the ages of 11 and 16. Within this framework, my right hon. Friend is encouraging a greater diversity of languages offered in the school curriculum.
Column 168taking to encourage a growth in, and the take-up of, places available in foreign language courses at further and higher education levels.
Mr. Jackson : The Government are concerned to increase the number of pupils continuing to study a foreign language until age 16 and beyond. Our proposals for a national curriculum include a modern foreign language as a foundation subject at secondary level to be studied by all pupils between the ages of 11 and 16. We hope that the greater numbers studying a language to that age will result in an increase in those continuing with further language learning not only in the sixth form but also in further and higher education, so stimulating demand.
The Government are working to make the whole of the education system, including the provision for foreign languages in further and higher education, more responsive to demand.
In addition, the network of language export centres, funded by the Department's professional, industrial and commercial updating programme (PICKUP) and the Training Agency, brings together universities, polytechnics and colleges to help firms meet their language training needs.
Mr. Butcher : My right hon. Friend does not intend to hold such an inquiry. Under the Education Acts, the responsibility for taking action on truancy rests with local education authorities. They should ensure that attendance levels in their schools are monitored and that action is taken to keep them under control.
49. Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he has to support and develop fundamental research into factors affecting the environment and to encourage the work of the Natural Environment Research Council.
66. Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he has to promote fundamental research into the greenhouse effect and other global environmental issues and to fund the research programmes of the Natural Environment Research Council.
Mr. Jackson : The Government are committed to support for fundamental research, in particular in the environmental field. It is for the Natural Environment Research Council and other Research Councils to plan scientific priorities within the overall funds available. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will announce the 1989-90 allocations to research councils as soon as possible.
Column 169lower than the indicated ratio for the Inner London education authority of 16 :1 for nursery, 17:1 for primary, 13:1 for secondary and 5:7 for special.
Mrs. Rumbold : All teaching and non-teaching staff in ILEA schools will on 1 April 1990 transfer to the employment of the council by which their school is to be maintained. Thereafter, staffing policy will be the responsibility of the inner London councils and, with the implementation of schemes of local management, the governors of the schools.