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School Security

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what financial support is available for measures to improve school security. [128268]

Jacqui Smith: My Department currently provides an annual grant, through the Standards Fund programme, to all local education authorities in England specifically to support measures to improve security in maintained schools in their areas. The Government grant available is £16.5 million, with local education authorities contributing an additional £5.5 million, making a total of £22 million per year.

For 2000-01, Staffordshire local education authority received £290,050 from central Government to support school security measures.

New Deal

Miss Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of the impact of the New Deal for Young People on levels of long-term unemployment among young people in Morecambe and Lunesdale. [128342]

Ms Jowell: The New Deal for Young people is aimed at people aged 18 to 24 who have been claiming unemployment benefits for six months or more.

Claimant unemployment among this group has fallen by 70 per cent. in the three years since April 1997 and by 56 per cent. since April 1998 when the New Deal was introduced. Part of this fall is due to the delivery of a strong and stable economy, but the New Deal for Young People has helped unemployment to fall even faster. The fall of 56 per cent. since the New Deal was introduced compares with a fall of 18 per cent. in total unemployment, 23 per cent. in total youth (18-24) unemployment and 26 per cent. in the total number unemployed for six months or more. The effect of the New Deal is confirmed by independent research from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

In Morecambe and Lunesdale the falls in unemployment among the New Deal client group have also been substantially faster than for other groups. In the Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency in the two years since April 1998, claimant unemployment among those aged 18-24 unemployed for six months or more has fallen by 59 per cent. from 220 to 91. This compares with a fall of 16 per cent. in total unemployment, 25 per cent. in total youth (18-24) unemployment, and 32 per cent. in the total number unemployed for six months or more.

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many people who have been participants in (a) the New Deal for 18 to 24 year olds, (b) the New Deal for those aged 25 and over and (c) the New Deal for older workers have subsequently enrolled on the New Deal for a second time. [128818]

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Ms Jowell [holding answer 3 July 2000]: Latest figures to the end of April 2000 show that 45,930 starts on the New Deal for Young People and 61,720 starts on the New Deal for long-term unemployed adults aged 25 or over were made by people who had previously been on the New Deal. The New Deal 50+ started nationally in April this year and therefore it is too soon for anyone to have re-entered the New Deal. We do not see New Deal as a short term investment and we welcome back those who need the further help that the New Deal offers.

Behaviour Support

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to provide financial support for primary schools with children in need of behaviour support. [128290]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 3 July 2000]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced in April that nearly £8 million will be spent this financial year on extending the Learning Support Unit initiative to cover the primary sector. The intention is that, by the end of the year, 60 pilot units will be running in first phase Excellence In Cities areas. The units will be school-based centres for pupils at risk of exclusion due to behavioural problems, providing them with separate teaching and support programmes tailored to their particular needs.

Additionally, £140 million is available from the Social Inclusion: Pupil Support Standards Fund Grant to help schools and local education authorities tackle poor behaviour and truancy; and a further £6 million has been allocated from the SEN Standards Fund to support projects in 46 local education authorities focusing on early identification and action for primary-age children with behavioural difficulties.

Learning and Skills Councils

Mr. Geraint Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what further progress has been made in appointing the chairmen of the local Learning and Skills Councils. [129007]

Mr. Wicks: Following the appointment last week of the chairs of 21 local Learning and Skills Councils, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has today appointed a further 11 chairs. They are as follows:

Newly appointed Chairs
West Midlands
Birmingham and SolihullJohn Towers
The Black CountryLuke Borwick
ShropshireAndrew Pinder
StaffordshireAnne Williams
Coventry and WarwickshireUrsula Russell
Hereford and WorcestershireChris Swan
North West
LancashireAlan Dick
Greater ManchesterAnthony Goldstone OBE
Cheshire/WarringtonBrian Fleet
CumbriaRobert Cairns
Merseyside/HaltonJim Michie

A list of all the successful candidates has been placed in the Libraries of the House. A list of the remaining appointments will be placed in the Libraries in due course.

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The local chairs bring with them a wealth of experience, not least from business, which will be a positive force for success in shaping the work of the Learning and Skills Council.

Sport in Schools

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what discussions his Department has held with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on extending the number of hours spent on sport in schools. [128823]

Jacqui Smith: We have set a very clear aspiration that all schools should provide two hours of physical activity a week, both within and outside lesson time. We are now working consistently with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to inspire schools and partners in the sport sector to deliver this through the Sports Strategy. The Implementation Group, which my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport and I have established to drive forward the strategy, is meeting regularly and will report in December 2000.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will estimate the cost of advisers to the public sector for private finance initiative projects in schools, as a proportion of the value of the contracts. [128588]

Jacqui Smith: The Department is not directly responsible for the procurement of schools PFI contracts, and therefore does not hold comprehensive information about the costs of external advice. The Department provides financial assistance towards such costs, which is supplemented by project sponsors from their own resources. Experience to date shows that the cost of external advisers for schools PFI projects varies according to the size of scheme and the internal expertise available to project sponsors. External fee costs for large projects involving many schools are typically 1 per cent. or less of total contract costs.

Astra Training Services

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many former Astra Training Services employees have obtained employment following the implementation of the preferential training arrangements. [128871]

Mr. Wicks: No preferential training arrangements have been introduced for former Astra Training Services Ltd. employees. There is an ongoing commitment that former Astra staff will have a guaranteed interview for any externally advertised vacancies that arise within the Department for Education and Employment, including the Employment Service, for which they have the minimum competences being sought. In that regard, individuals who want to be considered for such vacancies have access to my Department's Learning and Development Centres to update their knowledge of the Department and its competence-based recruitment arrangements. However,

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no central record is kept of their success in gaining employment either in the Department, the wider civil service, or elsewhere.

Deaf Children

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what appraisal he has made of the implications of universal hearing screening for neonates for the delivery of services by local education authorities to deaf children under the age of two years. [128325]

Jacqui Smith: Following advice from the National Screening Committee, my hon. Friend the Minister for Public Health agreed that a pilot programme of neonatal hearing screening should be launched later this year. An announcement was made at the annual conference of the National Deaf Children's Society on Friday 23 June.

Pilot programmes will be set up in 20 areas around the country to assess the full implications of introducing a universal neonatal hearing screening programme, including any consequential requirements for education services. This Department will work closely with the Department of Health to ensure that the impact on education services is fully assessed.

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