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National Curriculum (Disapplied Pupils)

Mr. Casale: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to exclude disapplied pupils from the total number when calculating the percentage of pupils achieving specific levels on the National Curriculum assessments. [104262]

Jacqui Smith: We have no such plans. The National Targets enshrine our determination to improve educational standards among all children. Published figures on the performance of our schools and of the country as a whole reflect that by showing the progress of all pupils through the National Curriculum attainment levels.

The National Curriculum tests are designed to be accessible to the vast majority of children. With the range of special arrangements for assessment available to schools only a very small number of children are unable to participate in the tests. There is also a real danger that excluding disapplied pupils from the calculations could by itself lead to an undesirable increase in the number of children excluded from the National Curriculum and its assessment. Our policy is supported by the National Advisory Group on Special Educational Needs.

Access-to-work Scheme

Mr. Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) what is the total budget allocated for informing disabled people and employers about the access-to-work scheme; and what the breakdown of that expenditure is; [103356]

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Ms Jowell: Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its Chief Executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Mr. Leigh Lewis to Mr. Roger Berry, dated 10 January 2000:

    For the current financial year, we have allocated £450,000 to marketing and promoting the full range of our services for disabled people and their employers. This includes Access to Work, although we do not reserve a specific amount within that total for Access to Work. We carefully consider advertising options but do not allocate specific amounts to advertising on radio, television, newspapers or journals and trade magazines. We are spending £350,000 of the budget on national promotions and the rest is being spent to promote disability programmes and services at regional and local level.

    Our publicity strategy is to raise awareness of the whole range of support available to disabled people and their employers from our disability services. Thus we generally market these services collectively to give a coherent picture of the support available. We produce, for example, leaflets, audio tapes, videos, posters, advertisements and articles for publication in a range of general and specific disability journals. All such generic advertising includes information on the Access to Work programme. For example, in March 1999, we worked closely with the British Deaf Association to produce a British Sign Language video--Make it Work--about our programmes and services. We used three case studies in the video, two of which specifically promoted Access to Work. We have distributed the video to every Jobcentre and to 1,000 external organisations including clubs, organisations and collages for deaf and hearing impaired people.

    The leaflets we produce are freely available from Jobcentres, Disability Service Teams and at marketing events, and we produce them in alternative formats. There are specific leaflets for disabled people and employers promoting Access to Work. Disability Employment Advisers use these leaflets on visits to employers to ensure they are aware of Access to Work.

    We also promote our services, including Access to Work, at many national, regional and local marketing events. For example, we have recently held promotions at the Institute of Personnel and Development Conference and Exhibition, the Confederation of British Industry Conference, and the Access Ability, National Information Day. Access to Work was the central theme of the two employment workshops at the Access Ability event.

    In addition to our own promotions, the Government's current "See the Person" campaign is designed to raise awareness of the positive contribution disabled people are able to make. The campaign refers directly to the support Access to Work can provide to those in work.

    I hope this is helpful.

University Fees

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make it his policy to charge university students in the nations of the United Kingdom by different means dependent on (a) their university location, (b) the place they have (i) lived in and (ii) studied at and (c) the place of their birth. [104309]

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Mr. Wicks: The Secretary of State is responsible for the funding of Higher Education in England and Wales. Students currently pay fees of up to £1,025 depending on an assessment of their financial circumstances. These arrangements are fair, just and equitable.

Pre-school Education

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will add Northumberland to the list of authorities with high social need to which funding is provided for new pre-school education places for three-year-olds. [103476]

Ms Hodge: We are making available £390 million over three years to double the number of three-year-olds able to access a free early education place to 66 per cent. This year we are making available £40 million to create around 48,000 new free places. This has been allocated to 57 local education authorities with the greatest social need. From April 2000, we will be providing a further £100 million to increase the number of new places to 83,000. These funds will be distributed across all local education authorities, including Northumberland.

Departmental Productivity

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what action he is taking to increase the productivity and reduce the running costs of his Department. [103846]

Mr. Wills: Delivering efficient and modern public services is a key part of the Government's agenda for improving productivity, and improved administrative efficiency is a key means of ensuring the most effective results are obtained from departmental running costs. The Department's Public Service Agreement, which is available in the Library of the House within "Public Services for the Future: Modernisation, Reform, Accountability" (CM 4181), sets out its running costs provision for 1999-2000 to 2001-02 and the productivity measures that will enable it to increase the quantity and quality of its outputs over that period. Revised targets are being drawn up for a new Public Service Agreement and supporting Service Delivery Agreement that will be published after the completion of the 2000 Spending Review.

School Closures

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when the name of the adjudicator appointed to consider the disputed closure proposals for Milfield, Kirknewton and Acklington schools in Northumberland will be announced; by what date representations relating to these closure proposals need to be submitted; and whether arrangements will be made for the Adjudicator to visit the areas served by the schools. [103475]

Ms Estelle Morris: The Office of the Schools Adjudicator has today received objections to the proposed closure of Milfield, Kirknewton and Acklington schools

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in Northumberland. Any representations should already have been sent to Northumberland LEA. The Adjudicator allocated to deal with the case is Dr. Alan Billings.

Rural Youth Employment

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what measures he is taking to tackle youth employment in the countryside. [103194]

Ms Jowell: The Department's policies are generally individual focused and would therefore respond to need wherever it exists. We are raising standards of education to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to take up jobs; assisting unemployed young people to acquire employability skills and find work through the New Deals for unemployed claimants; and helping those on inactivity benefits get back into the labour market and from there into employment through other welfare to work programmes such as the New Deal for Lone Parents.

As well as these, the Government are delivering macroeconomic stability so there can be increasing employment opportunities for all; and making work pay through various tax and benefit reforms.

All these measures should contribute to reducing youth unemployment in the countryside.

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