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Summer Schools Programme

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment has been made by Ofsted of the summer schools programme; and what changes will be made this year. [73198]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 9 March 1999]: I have asked Chris Woodhead, HM Chief Inspector of Schools, to write to my hon. Friend to address the first part of his question regarding Ofsted's assessment of the summer schools programme, and for a copy of his letter to be placed in the Library.

This summer, the numeracy programme will expand from a pilot of 51 schools to over 300 schools and 9,000 pupils.

For Literacy the number of schools participating in this summer's programme will rise from over 500 schools to 900 schools catering for over 27,000 pupils. Each school will also introduce a literacy intervention programme during the first four terms of secondary school, to support those children who transfer from primary to secondary with poor literacy skills.

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what evaluation he has undertaken of the effectiveness of literacy summer schools. [74772]

Ms Estelle Morris: Evaluation of the 1998 Summer Schools Programme was carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research. A report of the key findings will be made available to Local Education Authorities next week. Copies will be placed in the Library.

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Cultural Diversity

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) what additional resources his Department plans to make available in order to support the training of teachers and head teachers to implement the new emphasis in the national curriculum on valuing cultural diversity and preventing racism, as proposed in the Macpherson report; [74548]

Ms Estelle Morris: The Government will shortly be publishing a detailed response and action plan about all the recommendations in the Macpherson report, including those relating to education and the national curriculum.

We are committed to an inclusive education service which enables and encourages all children to achieve to the best of their abilities. As part of our vision for a modernised teaching profession, set out in the Green Paper, "Teachers, Meeting the Challenge of Change", published on 3 December, we are determined to ensure teachers have the skills and knowledge they need effectively to raise standards for all their pupils.

The national standards for teachers, published by the Teacher Training Agency (TTA) and endorsed by Government, which span qualified teacher status through to headship, make clear the need for teachers, on entry to the profession and at all stages in their careers, to have the skills and understanding necessary to meet the needs of an ethnically diverse pupil body. The national standards for head teachers, which underpin the training programmes for aspiring and serving head teachers, make clear the responsibility of heads for ensuring that pupils are aware of the ethnic and cultural diversity in their schools and in society and that there are positive strategies for developing good race relations and for dealing with racial harassment. The TTA also will be producing supplementary materials for Initial Teacher Training providers to ensure that new teachers have the skills to deal with ethnic and cultural diversity in schools.

Class Sizes

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many additional full-time qualified teachers have been identified by local education authorities in their plans for reducing infant class sizes submitted to his Department as being required to implement (a) the required reduction in infant class sizes in the school years 1999-2000 and 2000-01 and (b) measures required under paragraph 10 of the Schedule to the Education (Plans for Reducing Infant Class Sizes) (England) Regulations 1998. [75489]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 8 March 1999]: We have allocated £71,882,000 to fund 4,308 additional teachers to reduce infant class sizes in 1999-2000 (including 1,527 teachers funded from September 1998). For the following two financial years, we will be monitoring local authorities' progress in implementing their plans before making allocations to fund the teachers required. As a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review we have made available £160 million for the revenue costs in each of those years of achieving

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the pledge. Local education authorities confirmed in their plans the arrangements they have put in place to ensure that no child will have to attend a school more than a reasonable distance from home.

Sunderland City TEC

Mr. Etherington: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will allow Sunderland City Training and Enterprise Council to retain the proceeds of sale of an asset purchased with funds deriving from his Department. [76008]

Mr. Mudie: I have agreed that Sunderland City Training and Enterprise Council can use the proceeds of sale to lever in matched European funds to further develop their Business Innovation Centre thus creating more business opportunities and jobs for the area.

Student Loans

Kali Mountford: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the outcome of the competition to sell a second part of the Student Loan Portfolio. [76009]

Mr. Mudie: My noble Friend the Minister for Education and Employment has today, Official Report, House of Lords, columns 20-21, announced the conclusion of the second sale of a portfolio of student loans to the private sector for around £1 billion in a written answer to Lord Burlison. The sale has been achieved after a very vigorous competition and we have accepted the most competitive bid. A consortium of the Nationwide Building Society and Deutsche Bank AG was the successful bidder. As a result, the portfolio will be sold to HONOURS Trustee Limited, a company formed for the purpose of acquiring the assets.

The loans sold are those made under the original loan scheme. None of the new income contingent loans introduced at the beginning of the current academic year are involved.

My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has confirmed the policy considerations which have determined the Government's approach to student loan debt sales in a written answer today, Official Report, columns 101-02, to my hon. Friend the Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Mr. Lawrence).

HONOURS Trustee Limited have appointed the Student Loans Company, the existing administrator, to administer the sold loans on their behalf. Borrowers who are currently repaying their loans or who have made deferment arrangements will consequently notice little change. We have legislated previously to ensure that the position of borrowers is protected. Borrowers will retain their existing rights of deferment, where their income is below 85% of average earnings, and interest rates will continue to be linked solely to inflation.

These rights mean that original scheme student loans are provided at subsidised rates. Subsidies will therefore be paid to the purchaser to reflect this. During the 1999-2000 financial year a subsidy of about £64m will be paid.

Part of the gross subsidy payment will be repaid to the Government through the administration charges paid to the Student Loans Company and tax receipts on private

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sector profits. Given the value of loans sold, and that some of the loans will be outstanding for a considerable length of time, the estimated net present value of these subsidies is broadly in the region of £395-£405m. This compares with estimated net present value costs of around £310m which we would have incurred had the loans remained publicly owned. The estimated cost to the Government of selling these loans will therefore be in the region of £85-£100m or 25-30% above the cost of keeping loans in the public sector over the lifetime of the portfolio.

The agreement between the Government and HONOURS Trustee Limited, with commercially confidential information removed, will be placed in the Library of the House on completion of the sale.

School Funding

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list for each local education authority in England, the funding made available to date through (a) the Standards Fund and (b) the New Deal for Schools. [73537]

Ms Estelle Morris: Details of funding made available through the Standards Fund for 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000, and through the New Deal for Schools for 1997-98 and 1998-99, are given in tables that have been placed in the Library. The allocation of the grants for New Deal for Schools for 1999-2000 have not yet been made. For the Standards Fund the figures shown in tables include the grant made by the Department and the contribution made by the local education authority.

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