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2 May 2000 : Column: 89W
Dr. Jack Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of spending per pupil in real terms in (a) primary schools and (b) secondary schools in Cumbria in (i) 1997-98, (ii) 1998-99 and (iii) 1999-2000; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 20 March 2000]: The following table shows the education standard spending assessment (SSA) per primary and secondary pupil and the DfEE special and specific grant allocations per primary and secondary pupil for the years 1997-98 to 2000-01 for Cumbria Local Education Authority. The special and specific grant totals include the money for schools announced in the Budget on 21 March.
|Standard Spending Assessment||Special and Specific Grants|
|per primary pupil||per secondary pupil||per primary pupil||per secondary pupil|
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much his Department spent directly or indirectly on asylum seekers in (a) 1995, (b) 1996, (c) 1997, (d) 1998 and (e) 1999; and what estimate has been made of expenditure in the year 2000. 
Ms Estelle Morris: Most ringfenced funding, including the Standards Fund and funding for capital work, is paid via Local Education Authorities, not directly to individual maintained schools. Non-maintained special schools and voluntary-aided schools do receive some capital funding direct from the Department. For 2000-2001, around 75 per cent. of the £1.6 billion expenditure supported
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through the Standards Fund must be devolved to schools. In addition, schools will receive a share of the £290 million funding increase announced in the Budget and of the £50 million for general support of school budgets. These additional amounts will be paid to Local Education Authorities but must be fully passed on to schools.
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 19 April 2000]: Information on the cost of preparing a statement of special educational needs is not collected centrally. The Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs sets out that LEAs must identify and make a statutory assessment of those children for whom they are responsible who have special educational needs and who may need a statement. However, LEAs and schools do not account separately for special educational provision, including specific information on preparation of statements. The differential between local practices means any estimated costs would be based on assumptions and cost apportionments.
Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he expects his Department to make a decision on the disposal of school property at St. Gregory's in Cheltenham. 
Ms Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he plans to publish the preliminary report on monitoring the effectiveness of the Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment. 
Ms Hodge: We will shortly be receiving the results from the second wave of research which was carried out earlier this year. We will be publishing the interim findings of the evaluation in early June.
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Ms Hodge: Between September 1999 and April 2001 we have allocated £140 million to provide an additional 83,000 free early education places for three-year-olds, on the basis of each Local Education Authority's position on the Government's Index of Local Deprivation. A further £250 million has been allocated for 2001-02 to take the total number of new free places created to 190,000 by March 2002.
The methodology that will be used to allocate these places in 2001-02 will be decided once we have had an opportunity to evaluate the progress of the scheme across all authorities this year. However, those authorities who have so far received low levels of funding are likely to see increases in their allocation in 2001-02.
Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of the availability of funding from his Department for three-year-olds in (a) the maintained and (b) the voluntary sectors. 
Ms Hodge: The Government are making available grants of £390 million over three years (from September 1999-March 2002) to almost double the number of three- year-olds in free early education places. In 1999-2000, the first tranche of Local Education Authorities which benefited from £40 million of this new money funded over 80 per cent. of the new free places in the private, voluntary and independent sectors.
Prior to this new funding being available, as of January 1999, 37 per cent. of three-year-olds were receiving free early education in the maintained sector funded from each Local Education Authority's Standard Spending Assessment budget.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how he intends to make further use of information and communication technologies in the education of children unable to attend mainstream schooling through (a) disability, (b) illness, (c) behavioural problems and (d) neglect. 
Jacqui Smith: Information and communication technologies (ICT) can facilitate effective communication and give access to resources regardless of the learners' location and individual needs. The Government are committed to exploiting the benefits and advantages of ICT in developing learning in a range of settings, as described.
The developing National Grid for Learning (NGfL) has a specific remit to encourage the inclusion of all pupils--in particular, those with Special Educational Needs (SEN), the disadvantaged, and any children who, for whatever reason, are not being educated at school. Recent developments include the new Inclusion website which is currently focusing on SEN and provides teachers, parents and other professionals with a catalogue of on-line resources.
My Department encourages Local Education Authorities to use ICT in supporting sick children. We have also made £95,000 available in 1999-2000 to provide lap tops for hospital and home tuition services.
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Using the Standards Fund, a number of LEAs are piloting innovative ICT projects to support inclusion and reduce exclusions and the incidence of difficult behaviour. We will be evaluating these projects and will aim to disseminate good and best practice arising from them.
The Department is sponsoring a pilot project (Notschoolnet) on the use of ICT to support groups of pupils excluded from school. The pilot includes the provision of ICT equipment and facilitators providing on-line support for students at home or other locations. We have also funded major trials of digital broadcast material, which have been taking place in schools and with independent learners over the last few months.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will consult internet companies about providing educational assistance for children unable to take part in mainstream education. 
Jacqui Smith: The Government are investing over £1.7 billion in their information and communications technology (ICT). My Department and the British Educational Communications and Technology agency (BECTa) are in regular contact with all those involved in the provision of ICT education materials.
We have issued a challenge document, "Open for Learning, Open for Business", which calls for a national effort to develop content for the Grid under a framework offering access and education resources for both mainstream and special schools. On 10 April we held a major conference which focused on the ICT content (software) industry to discuss the way forward with companies who are linked to the National Grid for Learning.
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