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CHURCH COMMISSIONERS

Church Repairs

34. Miss McIntosh: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent discussions he has held with the Financial Secretary on reducing VAT on church repairs. [119907]

Mr. Stuart Bell: Following my Adjournment Debate last November, the Church has kept in close touch with the Government. The hon. Lady will be aware that Ministers have confirmed that there is no general relief from VAT on repair costs for churches and the Government's current agreement with their European partners means that new zero rates cannot be introduced. While there is no provision for a reduced rate of VAT under Annex H to the Sixth Directive, it applies only to social housing and not churches.

The Church will continue to press its case for a more equitable tax position in this field.

8 May 2000 : Column: 290W

Investments

36. Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what are his estimates of the Church's return on investments for the next three years. [119909]

Mr. Stuart Bell: The Church Commissioners' policy is to be fully invested in asset classes which experience shows should yield the most satisfactory returns over the long term. Their forecasts are accordingly directed towards the longer timescale.

Clergy

37. Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, if he will make a statement on the terms and conditions of employment of the clergy. [119910]

Mr. Stuart Bell: Terms and conditions vary slightly from diocese to diocese, but should include a stipend (based on a national stipend benchmark of £16,420) free accommodation (or a housing allowance) and the full reimbursement of all working expenses. Clergy are not employed, but are office holders.

Church Running Costs

38. Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what contribution the commissioners have made towards the running costs of the Church of England in 1999. [119911]

Mr. Stuart Bell: In 1999 the Commissioners contributed £156.1 million in support for the Church's ministry, including an element targeted specifically towards parish ministry in those dioceses most in need of financial help. The total meets some 20 per cent. of the Church's overall running costs of approximately £760 million in 1999.

The larger share of the Church's running costs is provided by parishioners. This includes the major new commitment taken on by parishes in the shape of funding clergy pensions earned after 1998.

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

Pre-school Education

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many places have been available in local authority-run playgroups in each of the past seven years for each local authority; and if he will make a statement. [117271]

Ms Hodge: Virtually all playgroups are in the voluntary sector with only a few run by local education authorities. Information about places in local authority-run playgroups is contained in tables, copies of which have been placed in the Library. The Department has collected information on playgroup places in England only since 1998. Prior to 1998, information on playgroups was collected by the Department of Health and their national figures have also been shown in the table for completeness.

8 May 2000 : Column: 291W

My Department plans to publish provisional national information about places in local authority-run playgroups (as at 31 March 2000) in July.

New Deal for Schools

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list each grant made to schools in Shrewsbury and Atcham under the New Deal for Schools programme; and if he will make a statement. [120369]

Jacqui Smith: The following table shows the allocations made to schools in Shrewsbury and Atcham under the New Deal for Schools programme, which formed part of the total allocation of £5,677,761 made to Shropshire Local Education Authority.

Table of New Deal for Schools allocations--Shrewsbury and Atcham constituency

£
NDS 1 1997-98NDS 2 1998-99NDS 3 1999-2000NDS 4 2000-01
Unable to identify individual schools for NDS 1 as the allocation was made for an LEA wide ICT strategy package at 16 secondary and 23 primary schools. Total allocation to Shropshire LEA was £185,000(10)--------
Wilfred Owen County Primary School--Replacement of classroom--37,950----
Shrewsbury Severndale Special School--Replacement of classrooms--89,980----
Shrewsbury Harlescott County Junior School--Re-covering to roof of demountable classroom--7,632----
Woodfield County Infant School--Re-covering to roof of demountable classroom--1,906----
Belvedere School--Renewal of roof coverings to demountable classrooms--3,816----
Meole Brace School--Renewal of roof coverings to demountable classrooms--1,908----
Meole Brace School--Replace leaking roof----66,000--
Unable to identify individual schools in a package to improve inadequate fire precautions--Total allocation £517,200 in NDS 3(10)--------
Unable to identify individual schools in a package to identify asbestos--Total allocation £317,002 in NDS3(10)--------
Condover CE Primary School--Replacement of HORSA building------265,299
Holy Cross CE Junior School--Replacement of temporary classroom------38,700
Shrewsbury Radbrooke Primary School--Replacement of hard play area------32,943
Severndale School--Replace heating systems------65,789
Bomere Heath CE Primary School--Improvement to IT/GP areas in seven schools. Total package allocation £180,093 in NDS 4(10)--------
Wilfred Owen School--Roof repairs in four schools. Total package allocation £216,889 in NDS 4(10)--------
Springfield Infants School--Roof repairs in three schools. Total package allocation £184,694 in NDS 4(10)--------
Springfield Infants School--Refenestration to SCOLA buildings in two schools. Total package allocation £143,106 in NDS 4(10)--------

(10) Information on the allocations made to those schools in the Shrewsbury and Atcham constituency is held by Shropshire LEA


8 May 2000 : Column: 292W

Class Sizes (Infants)

Mr. Michael J. Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many infant classes had over 30 pupils in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999 and (d) 2000 in the City of Worcester. [120594]

Ms Estelle Morris: Information on key stage one class sizes collected in January for the Parliamentary constituency of Worcester is shown in the following table.

Provisional national estimates of key stage one class sizes for January 2000 were recently published in a Statistical First Release 'Class sizes in maintained schools in England: January 2000 (15/2000)' on 12 April 2000. Class size information broken down by local education authority area is also available from the House of Commons Library.

8 May 2000 : Column: 293W

National figures for Infant class sizes in September 1999 were published in Statistical First Release 'Infant class sizes in England (2/2000)' on 21 January 2000.

Number of key stage 1 classes taught by one teacher with more than 30 pupils in maintained primary schools in the Parliamentary constituency of Worcester: 1997-2000

Position as at JanuaryNumber of key stage 1 classes with more than 30 pupilsAll classesPercentage
2000(11)1211210.7
19991311611.2
19982811125.2
19972111218.8

(11) Provisional


National Anthem

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the teaching of the National Anthem in state schools. [121020]

Jacqui Smith: There are opportunities to teach about the National Anthem in the curriculum, which schools may take up if they wish.

Key Stages 2 and 3

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will request that the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority cease the practice of selling Key Stages 2 and 3 past papers to BBC Educational. [121093]

Jacqui Smith: No. The QCA has a contract with BBC Educational allowing them to publish past Key Stages 2 and 3 test papers together with a guide book for parents. The test papers are reproduced for the previous year in order to help parents understand the nature of the test which their children are taking. The approach is consistent with two general policies of making the tests available for general use and encouraging parents to help their children prepare for the tests.

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to improve the training of end of Key Stage 2 test markers. [121092]

Jacqui Smith: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has responsibility for the development, administration and marking of the National Curriculum tests, on behalf of the Secretary of State, and takes considerable care in the development and marking arrangements for all the tests. This was reflected in the findings of the Rose Review, an independent cross-party panel set up last year to consider the test development and assessment arrangements at Key Stage 2. As part of the quality control of marking, each external marking agency evaluates the training programme for each year and makes recommendations for change or improvement. In addition the QCA seeks the views of a sample of markers on all aspects of the process, including training. Such feedback is put into the continuous programme of improvement conducted year-on-year.

8 May 2000 : Column: 294W

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment whether he expects teachers to check the marking of end of Key Stage 2 test papers on their return from the external marking agency. [121090]

Jacqui Smith: Teachers are not expected to check the marking of test papers on their return from the external marking agency. However, teachers may wish to use the tests as a means of providing feedback to pupils on their performance and, in order to do this, they would have to review the pupils' marks against the markscheme. It is for schools to decide whether and how to use the tests in reviewing pupils performance. Teachers may also have doubts about the final level awarded to any pupil. If they decide to request a formal review of the marking in the test, they would need to refer to the markscheme in order to identify errors and provide a reason for a review.


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