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Assisted Places

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he will publish his criteria for permitting an assisted place to continue to be offered to a child who has reached the age of 11 years. [4721]

Mr. Byers: The Education (Schools) Bill currently before Parliament provides for pupils aged 11 and over at the start of September 1997 to continue to hold their assisted places until the end of their secondary education. The Bill also provides for a discretionary power to allow, in certain circumstances, pupils receiving primary education to continue to hold their assisted places for a further period during which they receive secondary education. Each case will be considered sympathetically and on its own merits, once the Bill has received Royal Assent.

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of the cost to the Government of all children (a) currently at junior or primary school under the assisted places scheme and (b) expected to start this autumn under the scheme remaining in the scheme until the age of 18 years. [5187]

Mr. Byers: Supporting all primary age pupils in junior departments of participating senior schools--both those who took up assisted places in the current academic year and those who are expected to take up places in September 1997--through to age 18 would have cost in the region of £80 million at current prices in England from academic year 1997-98 onwards.

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Internet

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what use he plans to make of the Internet to make Government more open. [5106]

Dr. Howells: The Department has a large Internet site which has been progressively developed and extended over the past two years and this will continue. From our new home page we offer signposted information for parents, schools, job seekers and employers. Material is also available on education and training generally and on equal opportunities. Our intention is to extend the site, wherever possible, to ensure that details of all aspects of the Department's policies will be available there.

As the number of people and organisation having access to the Internet increases, the Department plans to make extensive use of it as a medium for consultation on new or planned policy initiatives and to invite and freely exchange views. Later this year, all of the Department's staff will be able to use Internet email to speed communication with outside people and organisations, particularly its "partners" in taking forward improvements in education and training.

Teachers

Mr. McNulty: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to introduce qualified teacher status for teaching staff in universities and colleges. [5356]

Ms Estelle Morris: We shall be considering very carefully what the National Committee of Inquiry has to say about teaching standards in universities and colleges in its report which is expected next month.

Grant-maintained Schools

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how many schools in England and Wales currently have grant-maintained status; and what is the total additional budget allocation granted to these schools since 1990 in addition to that which they would have received through their local management of schools funding allocation; [5231]

Mr. Byers: Responsibility for education in Wales is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales. There are currently 1188 grant maintained (GM) schools in England. They receive two types of recurrent grants: annual maintenance grant (AMG) in respect of general school running costs and special purpose grants (SPGs) paid for specific purposes. The AMG that GM schools receive includes elements to cover school meals and the central administration and services provided directly by LEAs to LEA maintained schools. These are additional to the school budget shares which LEA schools receive through their LMS schemes.

Special Purpose Grants (SPGs) are intended to mirror existing funding arrangements operating in the LEA sector and to reflect specific aspects of GM status.

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The calculation of grants to individual GM schools is a matter for the Funding Agency for Schools (FAS). I have therefore written to Sir Christopher Benson at the Funding Agency to ask him to provide with the figures and detailed background information requested.

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much public money has been allocated to (a) the Grant-maintained Schools Foundation, (b) the Grant-maintained Standing Advisory Committee, (c) the Association of Heads of Grant-maintained Schools, (d) the National Association of Grant-maintained Primary Schools and (e) the Association of Grant-maintained and Aided Schools since the inception of these organisations. [5333]

Mr. Byers: The total grant paid by the Department to the Grant Maintained Schools Foundation since its inception in April 1994 is £2.6 million. Grant to GMSF ceases from 30 June 1997. The Grant Maintained Schools Advisory Committee (GMSAC) has received £0.3 million since April 1994. Prior to that, the Grant Maintained Standing Advisory Committee (the predecessor of GMSAC) was funded from the total grant paid by the Department to the Grant-Maintained Schools Centre (the predecessor of GMSF).

The Department has offered a maximum sum of £15,000 to each of the Association of Heads of Grant Maintained Schools, the National Association of Grant Maintained Primary Schools and the Association of Grant Maintained and Aided Schools to support effective consultation and communication with the GM sector.

Performance League Tables

Mr. McNulty: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans there are to review the present use of performance league tables so as to address the issues of (a) utilising value added data and (b) the inclusion of absent and statemented pupils; and if he will make a statement. [5354]

Ms Estelle Morris: We are committed to the principle of publishing measures of value added alongside information on school performance. It is important that such measures are statistically valid, do not place an undue administrative burden on schools, and can be readily understood by parents. We have asked the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority to undertake feasibility studies into such measures and then to consult widely with schools, with a view to publication in 1998.

The treatment of absent and statemented pupils in primary performance tables is under review. We expect to announce our final decisions in the autumn on the arrangements for the publication of these tables by local education authorities.

Partnership Agreements

Mr. McNulty: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to introduce home-school partnership agreements; what plans he has to promote a wider role for parent governors and parent representatives; what role the local authority will have in these developments; and if he will make a statement. [5355]

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Ms Estelle Morris: Our Manifesto promised that we would increase the powers and responsibilities of parents. We are committed to having more parent governors and to parent representatives on LEAs. A major objective is to promote a culture of responsibility for learning within the family, through contracts between all schools and parents, defining the responsibilities of each. LEAs will have a major part to play in raising standards. We will announce our proposals in a White Paper very soon and initiate widespread consultation.

Pre-school Centres

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what arrangements are to be made for the inspection of private nurseries and other pre-school centres in order to control their quality. [5334]

Mr. Byers: The Government is committed to improving the quality of pre-school provision. For the time being, the present arrangements for inspection for private and voluntary providers of nursery education will continue.

We have made clear our intention to examine the regulatory and inspection regimes with a view to making them more uniform. A consultation exercise will begin in the Autumn.

Cash Limits

Mr. Sutcliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what changes he has to announce to cash limits and running cost limits on votes within his responsibility for 1997-98. [5793]

Dr. Howells: Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit for Class IX, Vote 1, Department for Education and Employment programmes and central services, will be increased by £14,693,000 from £9,404,771,000 to £9,419,464,000.

This is the result of a transfer of £1,500,000 to Class X, Vote 1 (the Department of National Heritage) for Dance and Drama students, a transfer of £13,000,000 from Class XI, Vote 1 (the Department of Health) for the merger of Imperial College with the West London Medical School; a decrease of £621,000 in capital expenditure offset by a corresponding increase in the non-Voted DfEE/LACAP cash limit to fund a school capital project, with no overall change to the DfEE's control total, and a switch of £3,814,000 from section G to Section F of the Vote to enable the British Academy to administer the Post Graduate Awards Scheme.

As a result of the changes, the DfEE/LACAP cash limit will be increased by £621,000 from £72,505,000 to £73,126,000.

The running costs provision for Class IX, Vote 1 will be increased by £390,000 from £255,174,000 to £255,564,000. The gross running costs limit for the Department for Education and Employment is increased by £390,000 from £1,056,750,000 to £1,057,140,000.

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