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Collective Acts of Worship

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on collective acts of worship in schools. [47285]

Ms Estelle Morris: The Government are committed to the current statutory requirements: the School Standards and Framework Bill is applying these requirements to the new school framework with minimal adjustments.

Sixth Form Education

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many pupils have entered secondary school sixth forms to study A-levels (a) in the West Midlands and (b) Staffordshire in each of the last five years; and what was each figure as a percentage change on the previous year. [45856]

23 Jun 1998 : Column: 466

Dr. Howells: The available information is shown in the table.

Number of 16 year old pupils studying A levels in maintained secondary schools
West Midlands and Staffordshire LEA area

Position in January each year
19941995199619971998(7)
West Midlands11,23911,06111,42212,46412,440
Percentage change (year on year)---1.63.39.1-0.2
Staffordshire2,4512,4972,5862,887(8)3,050
Percentage change (year on year)--1.93.611.65.6

(7) Provisional

(8) Stoke became a unitary authority separate from Staffordshire in April 1997; the provisional figures for Staffordshire (excluding Stoke) and Stoke LEA areas in January 1998 were 2,897 and 153 respectively


Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many students entered the further education sector to study A-levels (a) in the

23 Jun 1998 : Column: 467

West Midlands and (b) Staffordshire in each of the last five years; and what was each figure as a percentage change on the previous year. [45857]

Dr. Howells: The following table contains the available figures on the number of students in the further education sector in England studying A/AS levels, and the percentage change from the previous year.

1994-951995-961996-97
West Midlands
Number of students31,26130,51130,670
Percentage change from previous year---2.40+0.52
Staffordshire
Number of students5,7185,5335,696
Percentage change from previous year---3.34+2.85

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to (a) encourage and (b) aid schools to create consortia to provide a range of A-level courses in their area. [45855]

Dr. Howells: We are working with the Local Government Association (LGA), Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) and TEC National Council (TNC) to promote greater collaboration in post-16 education. This may include partnerships between schools or between schools, colleges and other parties, building on existing arrangements where appropriate. We expect this collaborative activity to improve the quality of educational opportunities, breadth of curriculum and choice for young people. We support the efforts of existing partnerships, the Tamworth Opportunities Post-16 collaboration being one example.

Music

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what representations he has received on the role of music in the curriculum. [47284]

Ms Estelle Morris: The Department has received a number of representations from organisations and individuals about the contribution which music can make to every child's education and its importance in supporting their cultural, spiritual and social development. Music remains a National Curriculum foundation subject and will continue to be taught in schools.

Departmental Cash Limits

Mr. Hope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what changes he plans to announce to cash limits and running costs limits within his responsibility for 1998-99. [47412]

Dr. Howells: Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Revised Estimate, the cash limit for Class IX, Vote 1, Department for Education and Employment: programmes and central services will be amended as follows:

£
ClassVoteExisting cash limitChangeNew cash limit
IX110,359,290,000-2,870,00010,356,420,000

The reduction is the net effect of a machinery of government change in policy responsibility whereby £1,130,000 of provision for early years is being transferred from Class XI, Vote 2 (the Department of Health), offset by a transfer of £4,000,000 to Class XI, Vote 1 (the Department of Health) to take account of changes arising from the Dearing Review. The transfer is part of an overall transfer of £6,600,000 to the Department of Health, the remainder of which is being found from the Department's non-cash limited expenditure. £4,300,000 is also being transferred from our non-cash limited provision to Class XIV, Vote 2 (the Welsh Office) as a result of the Dearing changes.


23 Jun 1998 : Column: 468

The running costs provision within the Control Total will be increased by £715,000 from £249,833,000 to £250,548,000. £75,000 of this increase is due to the machinery of government change and the remaining £640,000 is as a result of a virement from Section B of the Vote to cover increased administration costs in connection with the Skills Programme.

The non-voted cash limit, DfEE/ERDF, will be decreased by £1,395,000 from £26,912,000 to £25,517,000 as a result of a transfer to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Class VI, Vote 2) in connection with the Liverpool institute of Performing Arts.

The control total elements of the increases will be offset by transfers or charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

School Performance

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what criteria he applied in compiling the list of the top 100 schools. [46496]

Mr. Byers: In order to be included in the list, schools had to show sustained improvement in the proportion of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSE grades A*-C or the GNVQ equivalent in each of the years from 1994 to 1997.

School Inspections

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what procedures he has instituted to ensure that Ofsted inspectors and their teams meet the minimum standard laid down by him. [46501]

Mr. Byers: HM Chief Inspector of Schools is responsible for monitoring standards in the school inspection system. I have asked him to write to my hon. Friend and to place a copy of his letter in the Library.

Local Management of Schools

Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many (a) headteachers and governing bodies and (b) other organisations and individuals have so far responded (i) favourably and (ii) unfavourably to his proposals for further delegation under the Local Management of Schools initiative. [46719]

Mr. Byers: The Government's consultation paper "Fair Funding: Improving Delegation to Schools" was issued on 29 May, with a request for responses by 31 July. No detailed analysis of responses has yet been undertaken.

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Special Schools

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list the maintained special schools in the United Kingdom, by local education authority, and indicate the special educational needs for which each school caters. [46427]

Ms Estelle Morris: The special schools maintained by each local education authority in England have been listed in a table, copies of which have been placed in the Library.

The list is drawn from schools' returns to the Department in January 1998. These returns include updated information about schools' specialisms; this has not yet been analysed, but I will write to the hon. Member with further information as soon as possible.

Information about special schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is the responsibility of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland, for Wales and for Northern Ireland.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Sierra Leone

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) which Ministers in (a) his Department and (b) other departments received copies of the information on alleged United Nations sanctions breaking by Sandline International prepared for Baroness Symons on 10 March; and on what date it was received by each private office; [46019]

Mr. Robin Cook [holding answer 16 June 1998]: A side-copy of briefing provided for my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for her answer to a Parliamentary question on 10 March 1998, Official Report, House of Lords, columns 99-101, was marked to the office of the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Lloyd), but, as would generally be the case for briefing prepared for another Minister, he was not shown it. The briefing was copied to no other Minister.


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